adventures in cloth diapering: toddler edition

We’ve been cloth diapering for over a year now, and while everything is going great with it, there have definitely been some changes in the past year.  Well, changes besides MacKenna…


Adventures in Cloth Diapering


Adventures in Cloth Diapering:  2nd edition

Cloth diapers-changing table


We are still using bumGenius Elementals All-in-Ones and they have been nothing but great for us.  I am so happy these are the ones we decided on – they are easy to use, we have very few leaks, and despite the fact they are a bit bulky, they fit MacKenna really great.  We currently have 20 Elementals and added 4 bumGenius Free Times early last summer.  Free Times are also all-in-ones but instead of being completely attached to the diaper, they flap open, allowing them to dry faster.

I really thought I was going to love the Free Times and be upset that we didn’t have all Free Time diapers.  I really like the way they are made and I was really excited that they would dry faster,  but for some reason, they seem to be smaller than the Elementals.  They just fit differently and we’ve had a few more leaks with them.  They’re usually the last diaper when all of the other ones are waiting to go into to the wash.

Cloth diapers-pink legs


We have enough diapers in our stash to go about every 3 days between washes, which is really nice.  I know most people don’t want to do cloth diapers because of the washing, but we really haven’t felt it to be a burden.

Our wash routine has changed a little bit in the past year.  We were dealing with some leaking, stink, and diaper rash (I’ll get to that) issues which we thought might be caused by buildup in the diapers.  Buildup is usually either caused by the detergent or hard water, but it our case, it was caused by both.  We solved it a little by starting to strip the diapers (I’ll get to that too), but it didn’t completely fix it.

Cloth diapers-laughing

We were originally using Seventh Generation with really no problem, but after reading Emily’s great post, I decided to try Rockin’ Green detergent, since it is specifically made for cloth diapers and hard water.  After one wash, they came out of the wash with absolutely no stink and were cleaner than they had ever been with Seventh Generation.  I don’t think I’ll ever go back, even though it is a little more expensive, but we use so little that it will last us quite awhile.

Now that MacKenna is eating all solid food, we’ve also had to start spraying the diapers off before they go through the wash.  This is by far my least favorite part of cloth diapering, especially since Kenna’s poop doesn’t just plop off right into the toilet.  We Matt sprays them off at the end of the day before he gets in the shower.  It’s not ideal, but it works.

The other thing we’ve started doing is stripping our diapers on a regular basis.  Stripping them helps get rid of that buildup and before we found the Rockin’ Green, we were having to strip them once a month.  To strip the diapers, we go through a regular wash to get all the crap off of the diapers.  Then we do a wash with 1 teaspoon of blue Dawn (only the blue) and a 1/2 cup of bleach.  Two extra rinses to get the soap all out, and we’re done.  It’s time consuming and involve disposables, so when we could finally go longer between stripping them, I was happy.

Cloth diapers-booty


The detergent change and stripping the diapers were a huge step in helping keep Kenna’s butt diaper rash free, but they didn’t totally fix the problem.  We finally came to 2 solutions:

1.  More frequent diaper changes.  MacKenna’s diaper is dry for about 2 seconds before she’s wet again, and seriously, no one wants to change a baby every 5 minutes.  Waiting until a meal just wasn’t frequent enough, but changing her every 2 to 3 hours was just about perfect.  Once we started changing her more frequently, we saw her diaper rash frequency go down quite a bit.

2.  Vaseline.  First of all, I need to preface this by saying that you should NEVER put Vaseline directly onto a cloth diaper as it will ruin it’s ability to absorb.  We put a cloth diaper safe cream on her during the day, but at night, when she’ll go 10 to 12 hours in a very wet diaper, that cream just wasn’t cutting it.  Vaseline with a line in between her booty and the diaper was the best thing we’ve ever done.  Her diaper rash cleared up pretty much overnight!  Sweet.

Cloth diapers-rear


I think the biggest problem any mom has with diapering their child is figuring out with what to do overnight.  MacKenna is a VERY heavy wetter.  When she was breastfed, the cloth diapers alone could absorb everything, but solids was all new territory.   Every night, like clock work, she would wake up totally soaked.  And you know how hard it is to get a baby/toddler back to sleep…

After nightly wakeups, I was fed up and gave in and bought some overnight disposables.  They worked great, but I just couldn’t stand watching my money get thrown away every single night (sorry, that’s just how I feel about disposables).  Again, fed up, I turned to my local Cotton Babies store and asked what I should do.  The answer:  hemp liners!

Cloth diapers-hemp liner

They are super duper absorbent, making them perfect for overnight.  They sell them as regular liners, but we went for the squares that we fold into thirds and stick in her diapers (they have to stay off her skin, so they go under the diaper liner).  Guess what?  No more leaks!  We have 5 hemp liners, enough to get us through washes without running out.  They are about $5 a piece, so they don’t break the budget either.

Cloth diapers-hemp liner folded

We are so happy with our decision to cloth diaper!  We cloth diaper probably 95% of the time, using disposables only when traveling and when stripping the diapers.  We have had far less blowouts and leaks, and we definitely feel like we’ve gotten our money’s worth and more.

Cloth diapers-blue bubbles

Now, just to get them to last until potty training and the next child!

If you have any questions you’d like to ask about cloth diapering, please feel free to leave them in the comments!

  • Hilary

    I’ve been meaning to buy some hemp liners for my heavy wetter – glad to see they worked for you! I’m tired of using disposables at night too.

    My two cloth diapered kids haven’t ever had much trouble with diaper rash, but the few times my daughter has had a bit, I’ve used coconut oil on it and it clears right up. From what I’ve heard, it doesn’t effect the cloth diapers absorbency at all.

    • Kristen

      We tried coconut oil but it didn’t work great and of course it was the end of the jar and hard to get out, but I think I’m going to try it again for every diaper change and Vaseline at night.

  • Ashley

    I have the Bumgenius Elementals as well. We do use Kawaii Pockets at night and have just started to stuff 3 liners instead of 2 b/c of the heavy wetting. I agree that spraying sucks! I was hoping you had a suggestion to improve that process but I guess not:) My son is 18 months and I have noticed some holes starting to form in the corners of the elementals on the liner. There hasn’t been any leaking yet, but was very disappointed to see this. Have you noticed anything like this on yours yet? Thanks for this post!

    • Kristen

      I haven’t noticed anything yet. That really stinks! I figure before we have another child we will have to replace some, just hopefully not the whole stash! And no, I wish I had a way to make spraying easier. Darn peanut butter poop! 😉

  • Meghan

    We cloth diapered my daughter from 4 months until a couple months ago when she grew out of them. I was so bummed she out grew them (we used fuzzibunz and bum genius) before she was ready to potty train!!! She’ll be 2 next month but is very tall for her age. I’m with you on the money down the drain for disposables! Ugh!!! Just curious-do you use the rockin green just for the diapers or for all of your laundry? I had a tough time finding cloth approved detergent and had settled on Charlies soap which is pricey. Was told to use it for all laundry to avoid residue buildup from non cloth diaper detergents, but it sure would save money to just use it on the diapers! Gearing up for baby #2 so trying to get back in the cloth diaper mindset!!! 🙂

  • Sara O

    Hi there! This is an older post, so hopefully you still remember… Did your kiddos ever get chafing around the thighs from the diapers? Not a rash, and not in the private areas, but where the covered elastic grabbed their skin? It isn’t just red marks (ie from tight fitting pants) but it looks like a rash from chafing. Our daughter is 6 months and very active and we are noticing this after she’s been in cloth for the day (it does not happen with disposables). If you did ever have this, did you do anything about it? Can anything be done? I am stumped. I know she has sensitive skin and chunky thighs that never stop moving. I’d take any suggestions. Thanks!

    • Hi Sara! I don’t remember MacKenna having it and we haven’t had an issue with Miles either. They have both had diaper rash from the detergent though. I typically lanolin for rashes since it is cloth diaper safe and keeps moisture off their skin. If you suspect detergent, I ended up switching to just Tide and haven’t had an issue since. I hope that helps a little!