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Tips for a Cloth Diaper Newbie?


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I've been on a cloth-themed binge this week after I saw this adorable Pikachu design diaper cover. I've been waiting for more supplies to come in, namely proper inserts - which haven't arrived yet. In the meantime, I've been stuffing it with layers of those Gerber brand baby cloth prefold diapers you can get at Walmart. I think I understand the concept of how cloth diapers work (i.e. wicking) and their struggle against floods.

I'm not 24/7, but I've been wearing them the past couple nights and using them for testing purposes. The first night I used 2 layers of the Gerber prefolds (2 front, 1 back) and threw in some microfiber cloths in the front and back for more feeling than anything else. I had lots and lots to drink before bed, and did a pretty good job relaxing and wetting a little at a time throughout the night. In the morning, they had leaked and the bed was totally soaked (hooray for waterproof mattress covers!), bummer - but not surprised.

The second night (last night), I skipped the microfiber, did 3 prefolds in the front, two in the back, and also added a boys goodnites in there (sides ripped off) for an added boost. I ended up just sticking with regular fluid intake throughout the day, and didn't end up wetting at all in the night. In the morning, I slowly emptied my bladder in it, and it held up well for a few hours. At one point, I could tell that the inside was pretty wet all the way through, and when I went to change, a very small wicking leak had started to form on the inner crotch right leg hole that made a small wet spot on the onesie I had on (my first one ever!).

So I'm two nights in, and I don't want to give up on them - they're so fluffy and plush - very comfortable to be in. I'm a long-time disposables boy, so I'm new to this. I haven't had a messy one yet, but I do plan on it.

Long story short, does anyone have any tips and tricks, helpful hints?

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4 hours ago, bwakee said:

Long story short, does anyone have any tips and tricks, helpful hints?

Where to start?  Firstly, I'm in cloth nappies full-time, and have been for about 4 years, and part-time for years before that.  I wear disposables only when we're away on holiday without access to a washing machine, and for long walks, to avoid chafing.

As far as leaking overnight is concerned, that hasn't happened to me for a year or two.  I'm wet every night, but no leaks.  I wear different nappies at night from daytime.  My nighttime nappies are terry squares (4ft square) with an extra washable soaker pad, folded in the butterfly fold (aka Chinese fold, origami fold). I fasten the nappy with a Snappi at the waist, and pins at each thigh.  The objective is to keep the nappy pretty tight up against me, with no gaps to allow leakage at waist or leg.  I tuck the fabric in round each thigh as well.  Then a pair of large plastic pants - big enough for there to be no risk of the nappy getting out at waist or leg, with elastic taut enough for it to keep my nappy properly enclosed.  Finding the right pants is important - I've been wearing Gary polyurethane pants for the past year.  They are expensive, but they're bombproof, and they fit me properly.  I've no idea how long they last as I've been alternating the same 2 pairs for the past year, and they're still as good as new.

What will fit you depends on body shape, but the principle of leaving no gaps is key, whatever your shape.  My waist is 34 inches, my Gary pants are Large size, to give an idea of what sizes work for me.

My experience of other cloth nappies overnight is limited, but my daytime nappies do work overnight, as they are a snug fit.  Again I use an additional soaker. They're Mediums from the Dotty Diaper Company here in the UK).  I wear Medium disposables overnight on holiday, and I've found that the addition of a soaker makes leaks a lot less likely. 

Of course if you drink too much you'll saturate any nappy, but 'normal' fluid consumption is easily handled by a cloth nappy overnight once you've worked out what works best for you.

Good luck!

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Cloth diapers are hopeless without good panties over them. I recommend "rubber panties"; that is those made of the traditional baby panty material. To learn about these things and how come they are best, with a century plus record of success, as well as care, shere to buy how to select sized and some things about cloth diapers read my work RUBBER PANTIES 'R' US: From the ground up

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Thanks Christine & Stroller! I'll give your tips a try and check out that resource you posted. Gary pants look relatively straightforward, it'll be weird to not fasten on the outer-most layer and instead do so inside.

Oh, also an update: Last night my diaper was fairly messy, it was a good test anyways - it didn't leak at all! I would've worried about a disposable leaking with what I had going on. My only problem now is the diaper cover has a residual poo smell, despite me rinsing all of the solids out first and washing it twice... Any ideas there? Something I can throw in the washer to deodorize? My best guess right now is I had too much in there with it during the wash.

I also thought I'd give Nullo a try, it arrived today but I haven't taken any yet.

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Use hand soap and wash it out in the sink. Then rinse real well with water. Lastly, cork the sink drain, add some vinegar to the sink and let your pants soak in that for a few hours before drip drying.

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Advantages of cloth is its reusable and better for the environment than adding to the ever growing mountain of disposables that take so many years to biodegrade. Disadvantages are the initial costs, laundry, and each pair of plastic pants which if worn continuously will only last perhaps 4-6months before going hard and brittle. Waterproof PUL pants last well over a year. And do you want to be out and having to carry a heavy and wet or soiled cloth diaper around with you.

Key to using cloth is layering. Do you wet a lot or not, and how often, will then determine how many layers you will need. Can you change frequently during the day or need to be in a wet diaper for hours. Which is the best for your needs.

Being full time in a organic terry cotton /hemp day and night for me is the normal, rarely in disposables. Cloth has the wonderful wicking effect so seem to last me longer than disposables. Daytime I either wear a 600gsm terry cloth or a hemp one, with a bamboo soaker/booster. That is usually enough for me if its not for too many hours, otherwise I go up to a 800gsm terry with 2 soakers. I use pins for a snug fit, two at the waist and two at the legs. A medium or large size of plastic pants over the top, but if out for a long time a large pair of plastic pants and a extra large pair as well, and make sure all the cloth is tucked inside.  I don't use powder as it clumps up but use everyday baby cream to prevent a rash every time I change. Shapewear keeps everything in place and helps prevent sagging when wet.

Night time is usually a organic a 600gsm terry cloth and also two hemp cloth ones, with two hemp soaker/boosters. Over that I wear 2 pairs of extra large plastic pants. I'm a heavy wetter day and night.

Hemp and bamboo have higher absorbency than terry cloth, so hold more liquid, so will hold more wetting than terry cloth will. Bamboo is softer than hemp, but hemp is more durable and will hold more and has better stain resistance. Bamboo has a higher immediate absorption rate than hemp. Hemp retains heat better so not always so good for hot summer months, but needs fewer chemicals to make the fabric than bamboo. Both take a long time to dry, hemp taking the longest. To get full absorbency both need to be washed several times beforehand.

Cloth is a much better option for side sleepers, and also has the additional benefit of wicking for heavy wetters as its distributed over time to more areas of the cloth.

Putting white vinegar in the conditioning cycle of the wash helps to deodorize and make the cloth softer.

day & night wear .jpg

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  • 1 month later...

Tip for a messy cloth diaper: I mess my disposable diapers nearly every morning, but occasionally I like some variety and wear, wet, and mess a cloth diaper covered with plastic pants of course. I wear panties, then a disposable liner in my diaper. Panties contain my poopy, the disposable liner helps with minimal staining in my diaper. My messy panties are easy to rinse out in the toilet, and then I hand wash them in the laundry sink. No need to rinse out panties this morning because my Cushies disposable diaper is not leaking and my poopy is nicely ensconced in my diaper as I sit here this morning enjoying the warm squishy potty in my diapee.

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They sell, or used to sell, for baby diapers and may adult ones. disposable liners for that so you could just flush the crap down the toilet. They liners may have also been flusable too. This was to keep the cloth clean

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