As an informed and an environmentally conscious citizen making the switch to a cloth nappy from a disposable diaper is the expected, however as a first-time parent trying a new experiment for your baby can be intimidating, to say the least. While it's granted that you need time to grow accustomed as to how to use cloth nappies, whether your child takes a liking and whether its skin responds well to a cloth diaper fastened around its waist might make you apprehensive.
Unlike a disposable diaper, when a rash occurs you cannot totally blame the product alone, for a cloth nappy rash could manifest due to several reasons, one such being the lack of care in securing the nappy to your child or in cleaning it properly after use. Just for a fact, you have to at least clean a cotton nappy 6-8 times during the course of the day. Hence it is judicious to go for a trial pack of the cloth nappies and then based on the positive factors decide your future course.
The first step to changing baby nappies would, therefore, be in understanding what elements are used in its making and the different styles of cloth diapers so that you can follow this guide with relative ease. Do not worry, the cloth diaper though is known for intimidating first-time parents it is just due to the fact that they are largely unaware of the mechanics of the cloth diaper. It can be difficult once, twice but the third time you would become a pro at changing cloth diapers and there is nothing else you would prefer to substitute it.
Table of Contents:
What does your average cloth diaper look like?
Gone are the days when the cloth diaper presented itself as a very ‘utilitarian’ piece of the pad that had to be moulded into shape using numerous pins that would have also accidentally hurt your baby. The modern cloth diaper has a patented fleece layer that keeps your baby dry and rash free. In addition to this, with the help of side snaps, you can rest assured that the cloth diaper would not slip as your child engages in its numerous acrobatics. The cotton nappy contains a leg elastic that ensures that your diaper extends to the maximum and prevents the waste from dripping outside the cloth diaper. If you are worried that the cloth diaper is way to large for your toddler’s puny waist, then you have not yet understood the uses of adjustable snaps that will by any cost tailor the cloth diaper to the perfect fit.
Knowing your cloth diaper style
The common materials used to make the different layers of a cloth diaper are TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) and PUL (polyurethane laminate). While these contain some amount of chemicals, the layer that absorbs liquid in the cloth diaper is completely organic and is made up of bamboo, fleece, cotton or hemp fibres. Wool fibre is sought after because apart from having pores for the skin to breathe, it also represses bacteria growth. Also engineered to its optimal functioning cloth diapers have evolved into different styles, hence you need not run around with a box of safety pins. Needless to say, while changing the diaper you must be aware of how to secure it depending on what its style demands. While fitted cloth diapers have hooks and closures, pocket cloth diapers require one to insert an absorbent pad into the pocket. For pocket diapers, go for ones with bamboo and cotton inserts than microfiber inserts as the latter are prone to making your cloth diaper stink over time. Snap in one's cloth diapers would mean extra work that is you have to wash each cloth layer separately. While the guide below talks in general terms, you need to also tweak the procedure slightly on the lines of the kind of cloth diaper you use.
Supplies needed to change the cotton nappy
At its rudimentary best, the average parent is tasked with two layers in a baby nappy – the interior cotton fabric and the waterproof pad. Hence along with a fresh cloth diaper, get a new cover as well. This is not required if you are a consumer of all-in-one diapers as in these the waterproof pad and the baby nappy are attached. You will also need grips and fasteners that will help you tightly wrap the cloth diaper in your baby’s dainty waist. However, what comes before all of this is that your child must be cleaned well so that it will not develop any skin issues at a later stage. Hence keeping a stack of cloth wipes handy will be the best way to exhibit your preparedness. This can be soaked in a warm bowl of liquid water solution. At last, one needs the dry towel before they can positively secure the nappy. Boosters, inserts and disposable liners are welcome additions that you can consider.
Before you change the cloth diaper, you must be able to prepare yourself, the environment and your baby. The preparation stage is hence phased into three parts accordingly.
You need to ensure that you are diapering your child with clean hands. Hence it is essential to wash your hands thoroughly or give it a quick dab of hand sanitizer before you can get your hands on the cloth diaper.
Preparing the environment
The environment is nothing but the changing area. Ensure that in your house you stick to one changing area so that you are mentally prepared accordingly for the cloth diaper time. The changing area must be cosy and needs to have a place to lay down your wiggling baby to comfort as you attend to its needs. Hence you can consider a table or a bed. However, a blanket or a water proof must be spread on top of this so that the soiled cloth diaper do not stain your furniture. You must always hold your baby firmly yet gently with one hand as you fasten the cloth diaper it with the other. Gather all the items required to soothe your baby’s skin before you secure it with a nappy. This could be a bottle of baby powder, fresh clothes for your child and a pair of rubber pants. The way you turn the changing area into a cloth diaper station speaks volumes in your confidence of handling diapering despite being a first-time parent.
The cloth diaper fold
It's better that you keep the cloth diaper folded and ready so that you do not have to struggle to wrap your head around this otherwise mammoth task what with your restless kid trying to break free. There many kinds of cotton nappy folds, some of the easiest and popular ones are:-
It's otherwise called as the standard cloth diaper fold. Take out two one or two layers of cotton nappy and unfold them into their original shape of a vertical rectangle. The layers must one on top of the other. Begin by folding the left and the right corners of the cloth diaper into triangles that meet at the bottom of the rectangle. Now fold the third side at the bottom upwards into a rectangle.
2. Triangle fold
Your baby nappy must be square shaped for this so that you can get the perfect triangle. Ensure that the edges are sharp by creasing along the lines with your fingers. While placing the baby on the cotton diaper its feet are pointed towards the arrowed -end of the triangle. Now all the three sides are pulled inwards to both the feet of the baby and it is secured with a cloth diaper pin at the centre where all the corners meet.
3. Angel wing fold
The vertical rectangle of the cloth diaper is folded into equal thirds and they make a pad of sorts. The bottom side is folded upwards to the quarter of the length of the baby nappy. You have to concentrate on the top that will be spread out and twisted like a fan to create two wings. This is then placed under the baby. The bottom that has been folded quarter up is now fastened between the legs of the baby whereas the other two wings follow their way back to both the legs and they converge at the centre. This is then fastened with a cloth diaper pin.
4. Jelly roll
The first 6 months of breastfeeding would guarantee breastfed poops, hence folding your cloth diaper to a jelly roll is the best option as the nature of these wastes are runny. Take your pre-fold diaper cloth and roll the edges inwards while the back is flat. This is then folded up and the wings are pinned to the front of the cloth diaper.
Preparing the child
Ensure that after you pull out the old nappy, you clean your child’s genital region with baby wipes and add diaper rash cream if required. In case there are no baby wipes, then use a wet cloth soaked in warm water and ensure the region is cleaned from front to back at least 4 times in a repeated cycle.
Changing the cloth diaper
Spread the clean cotton nappy in between the legs of your child. Now, disengage the diaper cover and remove the front part of the cover. The dirty cloth diaper is then pulled out and the baby is cleaned and prepared. In case there is any waste found in the diaper, the front half of the diaper is used to wipe the waste from the baby’s bottom.
The dirty baby nappy underneath your baby is folded in half, the clean side facing up as this would provide a barrier for the baby’s unclean bottom and the new cloth diaper. You can then settle into cleaning your child and slowly remove the old cloth diaper. The new nappy which is folded well is kept underneath the child and is placed in a manner where the portion at the back is higher than the one in the front. Use pins to attach the cloth diaper and now fasten the diaper cover over it.
Washing the old diaper
Keep a separate bucket used only for the purpose of washing your baby’s cotton nappies. In this add washing powder and water. Before you can soak the soiled cloth diapers, ensure that any solid waste is removed with a spoon into the toilet and this is flushed. After a cold presoak, clean the baby nappies in a washing machine. While washing the cloth diaper, you must adhere to its specific kind. While pocket cotton nappies are washed, inserts must be removed beforehand. Ensure that you air dry your cloth diaper to kill the circulation of bacteria. Before you put the cloth diaper for wash find out what kind of liner it has. The liner of the cloth diaper needs special care while washing. While disposable liners are one-time use are flushed immediately, cloth liners need to be washed separately from the cloth diaper. The liner protects your child from all the lotions and creams you would have applied to ward off a cloth diaper rash.
A wet bag crafted from a pull fabric is the best option to carry all the soiled cloth diapers as you are on a carefree trip with your kid in tow. The wet bags helps contain the smell and the mess of the soiled cloth diapers. It's also essential you replace the baby nappies once every 3-4 months.
Making cloth diaper changing time a fun ritual
There is a high possibility that your child would become distracted and would not co-operate with you as you change its nappy. You need to ensure that it is kept occupied and does not kick away the cloth diaper that you would have tediously spent time on folding. This can be done by singing some songs, or by hanging a toy by the bedside that your child would play with as you are fastening the cloth diaper. Or else you can change the baby nappy time into a naptime for your baby by slowly pulling it into rhythmic sleep.