Friday, August 6, 2010

Cloth Diapering 101 - Using Diaper Cream with Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers need to be as absorbent as possible, to absorb body fluids and not leak or repel.

Diaper cream is intented to be a moisture barrier, to keep the skin from absorbing too much moisture and becoming irritated and inflamed.

This, my dears, is what one would call "cross purposes" - moisture absorption vs moisture barrier.

This, my dears, is why cloth diapers and diaper creams do not always mix well.

The good news is that most babes that wear cloth diapers regularly have fewer bouts of diaper rash, and therefore require fewer applications of diaper cream.  However, there will come a time in even the most avid cloth diapering mama's life when she will face a red butt, a bumpy butt, a butt that needs diaper cream.

The first few times I encountered that scenario, I reverted to disposable diapers.  This is a viable option.  You can still consider yourself a cloth diapering mama even if you use disposables with diaper cream, to save your gorgeous, expensive cloth diapers.

The problem came when I realized how sensitive my daughter's skin is.  She would get a rash - usually from teething.  I would apply diaper cream and a disposable diaper, usually after her bath, so she would stay in it all night long.  In the morning, that rash would be better, but then she would have another breakout from where the diaper rubbed her legs or chafed her skin in another area.

I really wanted to use diaper cream with my cloth diapers.  Here are some suggestions that I have found by reading and my own trial-and-error:

(1) Getting diaper cream on diapers is not the end of the world.  It happened to me at daycare, and I got it all out (eventually). 

Remember these?  Follow the link above.
One mama I met on Diaperswappers hand washes all her diapers as the first wash anyway, so she scrubs the diaper cream out with Dawn and a toothbrush to get the diaper cream out.  So it is possible to use diaper cream with cloth diapers without protecting the diapers.  However, it can take ALOT of work to get the diaper cream out of most diaper fabrics, and most of us don't have that kind of time to spend on our diapers on a regular basis.

(2) Enter diaper liners.  There are several types, but diaper liners are designed to line the inside of the diaper and protect it from the diaper cream.  I have had daycare use these with some success - some diaper cream still got on the edge of the fleece lining beyond the edge of the liner.  If you are very careful when you apply the cream and liner and diaper, you can keep the cream from getting on the diaper at all.  The liners I use are disposable - flushable and biodegradable.  They come rolled up in a little package.

This is what happens when you let the little one play with the package of liners.

You can also cut diaper liners from thin fleece, and have reusable diaper liners.  I haven't tried this, but I have heard that it works for at least a few uses, and if you use a cheap fleece blanket, you can throw away any liners that aren't in top shape and not feel so bad.  Some bamboo fabrics also work well as liners, and a strong detergent like Tide can sometimes get most of the cream out.

(3) "Cloth diaper safe" diaper creams.  I am leery of this statement, because of the statements I made when I introduced this post.  Anything that is designed to repel water - oils, like Tea Tree Oil, creams, and emollients, even if they are not petroleum-based - will eventually cause repelling when it coats your diapers.  If you use Dawn in each wash, or a strong detergent like Tide, you might be able to do that for a period of time and get away with it.  But even with Dawn and Tide, the oils and emollients will likely coat your diapers and you will probably get some leaking and repelling eventually.

Grandma El's is a common type that is touted as a CD-safe diaper cream, and I know of at least one mama that had to hand-scour diapers that were repelling after using this cream.

I would still use a liner, even with "CD-safe" diaper creams.

(4) Dedicate certain diapers as "diaper cream" diapers, then you know which ones you can only use for a short time because of the reduced absorbency. You also know not to wash them with your other diapers so the cream doesn't coat all the diapers in the wash.  This is similar to number (1) - but with this method, there are a few diapers that you don't even try to get the cream out of, you just know those are diapers that aren't very absorbent.  Most of the time these are prefold diapers, and if you need more absorbency you can just double up.

My hope is that you will have a rash-free diapering experience with your child.  However, in the real world .... I hope this helps you to treat the rash without compromising absorbency in your diapers.

Questions?  Let me know ....

Because you want your diapers to be nice an absorbent ... even if they don't stay on!

The index post for the Cloth Diapering 101 series can be found here.


Funky Mama Bird said...

I swear that I was JUST about to ask you about liners and if they worked with butt cream!

Those teething rashes are really acid burns and I HAVE to put SOMETHING on his butt when the occur. And the cream we use doesn't seem to bother our daytime diapers too much - it washes out with Free and Sensitive Tide - but it's AWFUL on our nighttime diapers, which is when he needs the cream the most.
I'm totally going to the fabric store and purchasing some fleece on clearance to cut up into liners. BRILLIANT.

MommieV said...

The good thing about the fleece is that it is a soft layer next to the skin, and doesn't ravel so you don't have to hem. You want the thin stuff. Cut them just a bit narrower than the edges of the diaper, so if they do start repelling bad, the liquid can get around them to the diaper.