Monday, September 26, 2011

Confessions of a Cloth Diapering Mama

I have a big confession to make. It's about cloth diapering. All those Flip diapers and covers that we bought  for Baby Girl before and after she was born. The big diaper pail and the Penguin wet bags. The Imse Vimse cloth wipes and the cute carrying case my friend made from a disposable wipes container. The Jack's Magic ointment and the Allen's Naturally detergent. All of it... is out of use. For the past month and half we haven't been using any of it. Baby Girl has been wearing Huggies. I wrap the dirties in a plastic bag (either a leftover bag from the grocery store or one of those awesome scented bags I get at Target) and toss it in the trash can. I have fallen off the cloth diapering wagon.

Why? Two reasons. First, convenience and second, diaper rash.

Convenience. Ahhhhh convenience. Trust me, this wasn't just a matter of waking up one morning and saying "Dude, I hate laundry. I'm going to the grocery store. This experiment is oh-vah!" It was a sort of series of small cracks that brought down the dam. First she had a terrible diaper rash (more on that later) and I had to put her in disposables while it healed. It was so much easier, but I was sticking to my guns, so when her butt was better, it was back in cloth. Then another diaper rash, another small package of disposables, another period of feeling spoiled by not having that extra load of laundry every three days. Still, it was short lived. Repeat a couple more times. Then, seven weeks ago, we had some unexpected house guests who came to stay with us. A lot of them. We suddenly had a family of five in our basement (I wish that were an exaggeration, but it's not) and with all of the extra work and running around of suddenly becoming a party of nine, there was no way I could keep up. Baby Girl got a diaper rash just before all of this started and was back in the disposables as a result, and because of the sudden avalanche of busy-ness she just stayed in them. They moved out last week and I'm still not back to cloth because we're back in the magic window for our adoption. When our new daughter comes home, it will be another crazy and wild time. Do I want to put the extra effort of cloth diapering on top of that? No, I'm sorry to say, but I don't.

Then there's the diaper rash. I know the claims of cloth diapering, and to a degree they are totally valid. One of the greatly touted benefits of cloth is that your child will have less diaper rash because they will spend less time sitting in a wet diaper. That's true. Totally true. But, unfortunately, in our experience when a baby in cloth diaper does get that rare rash, it's a DOOZY. Baby Girl had maybe four cases of diaper rash in her almost-year-and-a-half of cloth diapers, but each one lasted over a week and was near impossible to get rid of without switching to disposables to allow her skin to heal. I know a lot of people will smugly say "Well, you must not clean your diapers properly. It's your fault." But they can, frankly, shove it. I cleaned them meticulously. I used only Allen's Naturally - and a very tiny amount of that. I rinsed them fanatically, sometimes six or seven rinses to get the water totally clear (our washer is old and inefficient). I dried them on the line when I could and the rest of the time I was certain that they didn't get any sort of dryer sheet or anything thrown in. I stripped them with boiling water from time to time, just to be certain. I took damned good care of those diapers. After her third run-in with the incurable diaper rash, I started periodically bleaching the little suckers to be sure. I used ONLY cloth diapering butt ointment, and I even put a flushable, biodegradable diaper liner between the ointment and the cloth, just to be sure.

Someone else might say "Well, how long were you letting her sit in the wet diapers?" Again, shove it. I change my daughter as soon as I realize she is wet, and in cloth it shows up right away. I wasn't leaving her for hours sitting in a dirty diaper, like some deadbeat parent. And the fact that I wear my baby, carry my baby, and generally hold my baby all day means I find out she's wet pretty darned quick.  For some reason, when my daughter gets a diaper rash it gets out of hand very quickly in cloth. She actually has a scar on her butt from the last rash she got wearing cloth. I am not kidding or exaggerating on that one. Every time she has gotten a diaper rash while in the cloth, it refused to go away until I switched her to disposables and A&D ointment.  Since she's been in the disposable the last month and a half, she's gotten two diaper rashes. Each one went away in a day, pretty much within one application of the ointment.

Logically, this seems to make no sense on the surface. She almost certainly sits longer in the wet diapers now than before because 1- it's harder to tell when they are wet in disposables and 2- she's walking now so I'm not always holding her. Plus it's disposables, loaded with chemicals and such. But I think the difference is in two places. One, the ointment. A&D is some heavy duty stuff. Jack's Magic is great, but it's just not the same thick barrier loaded with zinc. Second, and this is counterintuitive, I think the fact that each disposable diaper is brand spanking new makes a difference. As meticulously as I cleaned my cloth diapers, it would seem that they were still able to retain some bacteria or yeast or something that caused a huge infection as soon as the skin degraded even slightly. Perhaps it's the fact that I was using the microfiber inserts - maybe microfiber is harder to get thoroughly clean. Perhaps all those crazy wonky fibers trap bacteria in a way that straight cotton doesn't. All I know is that those bugger should have been CLEAN. Like, sparkling and spotless. I should have been able to bring them into a clean room and use them to buff solar panels on a satellite. But somehow, as clean as they "should" have been, they were still hanging onto something that made my poor daughter's butt into one giant festering sore.

Is the cloth experiment totally over? No, I don't think so. I think that, when she's ready to potty train, they'll come back out. I'd rather potty train her in cloth than put her in some franken-diaper that has "cooling" chemicals added to it. But for now I think she, and her new sister, will be in disposables. I hate to say it, but the cloth experiment doesn't seem to be truly working for us. Unfortunately, it took a scar on my poor daughter's @$$ to figure it out. It's a shame, too, because now she has nothing to hold up her pants. I miss the cloth badonkadonk.

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