Whether you are a green mom or not, washable diapers are now part of the good choices available to you. Here's all you need to know about them.
The characteristics of a diaper
Regardless of the type of diaper you choose, it should have some important features:
Good absorption: Diapers that can absorb a lot of liquids need to be changed less often.
Good ability to keep buttocks dry: A diaper must trap moisture, and the baby's bottom should not be in direct contact with the absorbent portion of the diaper.
Good ability to prevent leaks: For the same diaper model, the risk of leakage may vary from one baby to another, depending on the size and morphology of the child.
A child uses 4,500 to 6,000 disposable diapers during the first years of his life.
Disposable diapers are composed of several thicknesses:
An absorbent medium composed of wood fibers and superabsorbent polymers. Crystals also turn urine into gel and prevent the formation of a urine-stool mixture that could be irritating to the baby's bottom;
A sheet in direct contact with the baby's bottom, which traps moisture and keeps them dry;
A waterproof exterior.
The quality of the diapers varies from one brand to another. It is therefore important to try several diapers to find the one that best suits your baby. However, quality is often associated with a slightly higher price. To save money, it is recommended to buy wholesale, except for newborn diapers. Indeed, this size quickly becomes too small.
Disposable diapers may look dry even if the baby has just urinated. It is therefore better to change them regularly to avoid irritation. It is also recommended to avoid diapers that contain perfumes as this can irritate the baby's bottom.
Ecological disposable diapers?
There are now so-called ecological disposable diapers on the market. For example, some manufacturers claim that their diapers are made from renewable source materials and do not contain petroleum or chlorine based products. However, as these diapers are not certified by an independent body, it is not possible to know if these claims are real. In addition, no study has yet shown that these diapers are less damaging to the environment.
The so-called ecological disposable diapers can cost up to 3 times more than regular disposable diapers. From birth to cleanliness , this can be an additional expense of almost $ 2,000.
Washable diapers: Different models
The washable diapers consist of an absorbent cloth portion and an impermeable outer cover.
Several tissues can be used for the absorbent portion. Cotton is the cheapest option, but the least absorbent. The bamboo, hemp or microfiber diapers have a better absorption capacity .
Several models of washable diapers are available on the market and, for the same model, there are several variations. For example, some diapers are provided with Velcro and others with snaps. Some can adapt to the size of the baby.
Flat Diapers: These consist of a simple fabric rectangle that is folded and placed in an impervious cover. The risk of irritation of the buttocks is greater with this diaper model because they are directly in contact with the absorbent portion. However, this is the cheapest model.
Preformed: These diapers already have the shape of a diaper. They do not need to be folded before being placed in an impervious cover. As for the flat diapers, the baby's buttocks are in direct contact with the absorbent portion.
Pocket diapers: The waterproof diaper has a pocket in which an absorbent pad is inserted. An inner liner thus prevents the buttocks of the baby from being in contact with the absorbent diaper. It is also possible to add an additional absorbent pad to increase the absorption of the diaper. This model is more expensive.
All-in-one diapers: These look like disposable diapers. They are usually composed of a single piece, but some may have a detachable absorbent portion. This is the diaper model with the highest price.
The best model will depend mainly on the size and morphology of the baby as well as the preferences of each family. In addition, one-size diapers are less expensive. However, multi-size diapers allow a better fit.
Diapers that have a microsuedine or fleece liner keep the buttocks dry. This is generally the case of all-in-one diapers, pocket diapers and some preformed diapers. For other types of diapers, it is possible to add a washable sheet in the same material that can play this role.
Do you really save money using cloth diapers?
Washable diapers, although more expensive initially, are often more economical in the end than disposable diapers. In addition, some municipalities offer a subsidy of one hundred dollars for the purchase of washable diapers. The diapers can also be reused for a second child.
How do you wash reusable diapers?
The fabric diapers should be washed every 2 days. For flat or preformed diapers, it is therefore recommended to have 24 to 36 diapers and 6 to 10 bedspreads. For pocket diapers and all-in-ones , 12 to 16 diapers should be enough to start with.
To soak or not?
The maintenance of the diapers can vary enormously from one model to another. For example, some manufacturers strongly recommend avoiding soaking or the use of bleach, which could decrease the absorption of diapers. It is therefore best to follow the manufacturer's recommendations.
When changing diapers, you must first throw the stool in the toilet . It is possible to add a disposable slip that allows you to remove them more easily.
The diapers should then be rinsed with cold water and allowed to soak in water containing mild detergent and some bleach. The diapers can then be washed with hot water.
The washable diapers can be put in the dryer or hung on the clothesline. All-in-one diapers are generally longer to dry. In contrast, pocket diapers dry faster because they can be disassembled.
There are also commercial diaper cleaning services . These companies usually provide the diapers themselves. They then pick up dirty diapers at home and replace them with clean diapers.
Maintenance is the most common concern among non-users of washable diapers. Yet, the vast majority of the time, it is not a very busy task.
Most parents with just over 20 diapers will wash the diapers every 3 days. We must avoid spending a week, otherwise the diapers may rot.
With flat diapers, there is a soaking solution, which avoids the rinsing cycle. By cons, it is not recommended to use this kind of solution with all diapers having elastics, which could damage them. So, for "stretchy" diapers or flat diapers that you do not want to soak, you must perform a first rinse cycle at the washer. This rinsing can be done with hot or cold water, as desired. Trying both can help you see what you think is most effective.
The washing cycle must be done with hot water. Choose a long enough cycle, and make sure to put enough water. Several soaps can be used. Find out about discussion forums and specialty stores. If you choose a soap that is not appropriate, it may leave a deposit on your diapers, which will waterproof them. And you do not want that!
With some organic soaps, it is recommended to use essential oil, to make the soap antibacterial. The most used essential oil is lavender. You can use it even if your soap does not require its use, the essential oil deodorizes the diapers very effectively. Pour a few drops directly into the soap before emptying it on the diapers, never pour the oil directly on the diapers, it could stain or damage the tissues.
Do not bleach diapers, bleach being very powerful it reduces the life of the diapers. For stains, there is nothing more effective than drying in the sun, even indoors, through a window!
To soften the diapers, you can use vinegar, but no liquid softener, it makes deposits on the diapers. And we remember that the deposits on the diapers, it is our enemy number 1!
For drying, you can use the dryer unless otherwise noted, which is rather rare. If you want to dry your diapers in the open air or on the clothesline, a 5-minute ride in the dryer will prevent them from being stiff. To preserve the elastics, the best is a flat drying or to suspend the diaper by the middle. You can use fabric softener sheets in the dryer.
Creams and Powder
When using your diapers, rest assured that your buttocks cream will not create deposits in your diapers. Use creams designed for washable diapers or put a polar slip in the bottom of the diaper. The leaflets also get dirty, but they only cost a few sous to replace! Powders (white clay or cornstarch) are safe for diapers.
Problems and possible solutions
My diapers stink
In a certain proportion, there is nothing to do! But when it becomes a problem, you can try the following stuff:
Use a washable bag inside your litter bin; tightly closed, it will reduce odors.
Try another brand of soap.
Add essential oil to your soap.
Make a scrub (wash your diapers, but instead of using soap, take a spoon of Dawn or Oxyclean) and wash again.
I have leaks
It is possible that the diapers are not well adjusted or that they are not adapted to the morphology of your child.
You may have a filing problem. Change soap or scrub.
Be careful not to use too much soap!
My baby has red buttocks, I think it's due to my diapers
Try a new soap, look for one that has a reputation for being hypoallergenic.
Rinse your diapers, soap deposits can irritate baby.
Stop using essential oil.
Use micro-polar leaflets if the fabric that is in contact with your baby's bottom is a natural fiber (such as bamboo or cotton), the micro-polar moves moisture away from the skin.
Most of the time, washable cloth users encounter few problems. When this is the case, the "trial and error" technique is often the most effective.
Which diapers are best for the environment?
The debate on the environmental impact of diapers is still not finished. Disposable diapers pollute more at the time of production and generate more waste. However, the maintenance of washable diapers require a lot of water and energy . The use of washable diapers also varies from one family to another, which complicates the analysis.
According to a UK independent study, the environmental impact of disposable diapers and washable diapers would be rather similar . An Australian study, however, concluded that washable diapers were less polluting. However, only if you wash them at home in cold water in a front-loading machine that uses less water and dry them on the clothesline.
The results obtained in Great Britain and Australia, however, may not apply here. Indeed, hydroelectricity, which is the main source of energy in Quebec, is low polluting. Quebec also has large reserves of water.
In this context, the use of washable diapers could be more advantageous from an environmental point of view in Quebec . However, no studies have been conducted in Canada to determine if this is the case.
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Note: Hypertext links to other sites are not updated continuously. It is possible that a link can not be found. In such a case, use the search tools to find the desired information.
AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS. Diapers: Disposable or Cloth? www.healthychildren.org
CHAPLAIN, Simon and Michael COLLINS. Life Cycle Assessment of Disposable and Reusable Nappies in the UK. Environment Agency.
CONSUMER REPORTS. Diaper buying guide. www.consumerreports.org
CORDELLA, Mauro et al. "Evolution of Disposable Baby Diapers in Europe: The Life Cycle Assessment of Environmental Impacts and Identification of Key Areas of Improvement", Journal of Cleaner Production , Vol. 95, 2015, p. 322-331.
DORÉ, Nicole and Danielle LE HÉNAFF. Live better with our child from pregnancy to two years: a practical guide for mothers and fathers. National Institute of Public Health of Quebec, Quebec. www.inspq.qc.ca
LAMARCHE, Clemence. 20 baby diapers tested. Protect yourself, March 2016. www.protect-you.ca
LAMARCHE, Clemence. 56 washable diapers on the test bench. Protect Yourself, May 2010. www.protect-you.ca.
O'BRIEN, Kate et al. Life cycle assessment: Reusable and disposable nappies in Australia. Environmental Engineering, School of Engineering, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, 2009.
Nandi Belsham created this blog in order to introduce you to the best nursery products for your baby to grow up in excellent conditions.
Nandi is a mom of three who understands that it can be overwhelming to pick the right product for your needs with so many choices on the market.
She enjoys sharing her reviews with you so that you won’t have to scan through hundreds of websites. She has done all the hard work and hope you find it usefull.