The Facts About Cloth Diapering May 30 2011

I talk to a lot of people about cloth diapers. A lot. I talk to people who have never used cloth diapers but want to, and people who used cloth diapers with their children in the 80s or in the 50s and wish they hadn't. Moms, grandmas, great-grandmothers, aunts, sisters, husbands, friends. You name 'em, I've spoken to them.

The thing is, most people have a pretty outdated perception of cloth diapering. Your baby's grandmother (or great-grandmother) remembers something very different than what is available today. And your friends that think cloth diapering is too much work, or gross, are simply buying into the myth. So, I'm going to set the record straight, by debunking some of the myths about cloth diapering over a series of posts here, on our blog.

Myth #1: Cloth Diapers Leak.
True, cloth diapers that are ill-fitting, or poorly cared for, or old, leak. But there are hundreds of styles and systems available today that are clean, secure, and virtually leak-free.

Fit: Cloth diapers must fit correctly to prevent leakage. The most common place, I've found, for a major leak (or blowout) is between the legs. If the diaper gaps or sags between the legs, pee or poop will leak from the diaper, especially if your child is in an awkward position, like sleeping on his side, or climbing out of her Bumbo (as happened to me once). Your child's unique build can make finding the best fit even trickier; skinny legs, fat legs, long waist? It can take some experimentation to find the best fitting diaper for your child. But once you find the right diaper system for your child, you will see a majority of your leaking issues resolved. Fitted diapers are considered the very best at containing leaks. Even breastfed poop and runny diarrhea are well-contained with fitted diapers. Pocket diapers are another reliable option. And while prefolds and contours are not considered leak-proof to most people, you can achieve the same level of overall leak protection, with a snug-fitting diaper cover.

Care: Cloth diapers require special care and cleaning. Many manufacturers explicitly state that you should never use diaper rash creams with cloth diapers because the zinc oxide can coat the fabrics and cause them to lose their absorbent properties. Or, in the case of polyester fleece, can create a barrier, preventing the easy passage of liquids into the soaker. Known as "repellency," this is a common cause of leakage. Some laundry detergents can also cause repellency, and hard water build-up is a common source as well. If your diapers should become repellent, or if you obtain diapers that were improperly cared for, they may need to be "stripped" to remove that build-up. The most common product used for stripping cloth diapers is Dawn Dish Soap. We don't recommend putting dish soap in your washing machine, but instead suggest scrubbing your diapers by hand. Grab an old toothbrush, and a bucket, and scrub, scrub, scrub. Once you have stripped your diapers, an occasional soak with Rockin' Green Cloth Diaper Detergent can help prevent build-up. *If your child has diaper rash, we recommend using all-natural products OR using a diaper liner.

Age: At some point, even the most luxurious, absorbent, and cute cloth diapers will lose their ability to absorb and retain liquid. Luckily, they are easy to rejuvenate, or repurpose. You may find it necessary to replace the microterry inserts in your pocket diapers after Baby #1 has outgrown them. And, one of the many great things about prefold diapers, for example, is their long life after diapering - even ragged, old prefold diapers can be used as rags around the house.

I have two children, our oldest was in disposable diapers for 10 days following his birth, and our youngest was in and out of disposables for a few months due to some infectious diaper rash which required medicated diaper cream. In our experience, no disposable diaper has ever performed as well as a properly fitting cloth diaper.