Things to Consider When Deciding Whether or Not to Cloth Diaper (Part 2)

Last week we began looking at factors that parents should consider when deciding if disposable or cloth diapers are best for their families. We discussed the financial implications of cloth diapering, if cloth diapers are “greener” than disposables, and what it takes to wash cloth diapers.

Are you trying to decide whether disposable or cloth diapers are right for your family? Here are some important factors to ponder.

Let’s examine two additional factors today: Your willingness to clean poop out of diapers and if your childcare provider will accept cloth diapers. Please note that a few of the following links are affiliate links. Click here to read about what this means.

Are you willing to clean poop out of cloth diapers?

Having a baby means dealing with poop. Period. It doesn’t matter what type of diaper you use. When using cloth diapers you have to take care to deal appropriately with poop once your baby starts on complementary foods (e.g., solids). This often freaks parents out a little (it did me…and I have a background in nursing so I’ve seen a lot of gross things).

Diapers filled with breastmilk poop are very easy to handle. There’s nothing special you have to do! Because this poop is water soluble, it can go directly into the washer. Once your baby starts having the wonderful stools associated with sweet potatoes, peas, and whatever else they are eating, you have to take care to shake, scrape, or spray this poop off into a toilet before tossing the diapers into a wet bag or washer. Many families use a diaper sprayer to help with this. We purchased one, but have never installed it. I just swish diapers around in the toilet if the poop won’t shake off. When my daughter had really sticky poop during the first weeks she was eating complimentary foods, I found flushable liners to be very helpful.

To provide a balanced view here, let me say that disposable diapers come with their own poop issues. Blowouts are super common with disposables. When these happen, you have a lot of poop to clean up (it’s on the baby, on his or her clothes, on the person who was holding the baby, etc.). Blowouts like this almost never happen in cloth because the diaper covers fit much more snugly than disposables. Also, you should keep in mind that the manufacturers of disposable diapers instruct caregivers to dump the poop from disposable diapers before throwing them in the trash. Don’t believe me? Look at the image below. Do any parents actually do this? I doubt it, but the poop isn’t supposed to be thrown in the trash.

Disposable diaper instructions

If your baby will be in childcare, will the provider allow cloth diapers?

I’m a stay-at-home mom, so I don’t have to worry about any other caregivers being okay with cloth diapers. This is something you need to consider, though, if your child will be in the care of anyone else (a daycare center, a nanny, etc.). A large number of childcare facilities tell parents that they won’t use cloth diapers. There are a number of reasons for this, but it’s often because they are unfamiliar with cloth and think cloth diapering a child will be messy or too much work. Very few states place restrictions on cloth diaper use in licensed childcares (see an overview of state laws here).

If you are thinking about using cloth, then check with your provider to see if this will be an issue. It may not be, which makes things very simple. If your provider refuses to use cloth, then you’ll have to consider your options. If the provider is a private babysitter or nanny, then you have to abide by her wishes unless you want to find another provider. However, if you are using a licensed daycare facility, then you may be able to sway the director by going to the center with the following:

  • A copy of your state’s statutes. This keeps providers from giving you inaccurate excuses about cloth being against state regulations.
  • An example of the diapers you want to use. The term “cloth diaper” often brings to mind images of safety pins and crinkly plastic pants. If you bring in a modern cloth diaper, your provider may realize that modern cloth diapers are very easy to use.
  • A list of other daycare providers in your area that allow cloth diapers. This shows your provider that disallowing cloth is putting the facility at a competitive disadvantage.

If your provider remains unwilling to use cloth, you can always use a combination of cloth and disposables. Many families use cloth in the evenings and on weekends, but send disposables with their child when he or she goes to daycare.

Final thoughts

There’s no one correct way to diaper your children. Each family has to identify the approach that works best for it. I hope these posts on cloth diapering considerations have given you some useful things to ponder!

If you already use cloth diapers, then please share from your experience. What additional factors should expectant parents consider?

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  1. Whoa, that is so interesting that disposable diapers are technically supposed to be emptied of poop before being thrown away!

    I totally agree-there is no one “right” way to diaper, because all kids and situations are different! We’re super new to this cloth diapering business, and as I’ve asked different people for advice and input, I’ve enjoyed seeing the various ways in which everyone deals with different things! Speaking of which, do you have any methods that you have found work well with diaper rash? I’ve gotten a couple different recommendations from other moms that I’ve been trying out (we’re battling minor rash right now), and if you have anything to recommend, I would love to hear about it!

    • Hi AnneMarie,
      I don’t know a single person who actually empties disposable diapers of poop…but every box I’ve ever read says you are supposed to!
      Rashes can be tough because you are supposed to use “cloth diaper safe” creams. Many people just use coconut oil. Personally, I never found this to be effective. 🙁 Coconut oil isn’t a very effective moisture barrier (it absorbs into the skin too quickly). The best product I’ve found is Maty’s Baby Ointment (affiliate link). It has a texture similar to Vaseline or Aquaphor, but is made of a mix of oils (jojoba, coconut, olive, etc.) and is safe for cloth diapers. The only drawbacks to it are that it is a bit pricey and I can’t find it in stores around here (Houston area). There was a grocery store where we lived near DC that carried it, but I’ve never seen it in stores here.
      Also, diaper free time is helpful. If you can take his diaper off and lay him on a towel for a couple minutes of tummy time it will help a lot!

      • Thanks for mentioning that product, that’s really good to know about! I tried some diaper free tummy time yesterday, but he was pretty mad at the time, so I should probably just try it again when he’s happier 🙂

  2. I’ve just gotten to the complementary foods phase – and it sucks! LOL I’ve basically been scraping bits of poo off with toilet paper – I think I’m going to start with the liner idea.

  3. I remember when I first found out that you’re suppose to dump poo out of a disposable diaper. Talk about shock! No one does that!!!!! We’ve bounced between cloth and disposables for various reasons. Cloth is my all time favorite!!!! Except when camping or traveling. At one point and time I was washing our diapers by hand and line drying them. That was a year we actually had a decent winter in TX. Hanging diapers up in freezing temperatures was a new experience that brought a lot of, surprinsgly, satisfaction with it.

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