Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Adventures in Cloth Diapering: The Post about Poop

"It's that poop again."

It's one of those parenting truisms: once you have kids, talking about bodily functions is no big deal. Pee, poop, boogers, vomit -- it's all up for conversation. (Same goes for women talking about their latest appointment with the OB-GYN. It always strikes me a little odd how a woman can talk so openly about how dilated or effaced her cervix is. But that's another post entirely...) Discussions about poop -- color, consistency, frequency, smell -- are commonplace for a lot of people when they have kids.   It's crazy (and sometimes disgusting) the things people will post as a status on Facebook...

I only mention this because I'm a really private person when it comes to my kids. Even though my baby is pooping in a diaper on a daily basis without a second thought, I still like to give him a little privacy and dignity, you know?  That's why I feel a little weird writing this post. 

So why write it?  Because, without fail, whenever someone finds out that I'm cloth diapering my baby, I can just tell that they want to ask what it's like to deal with cleaning the poopy ones. Sometimes they do ask. Most of the time it's just a genuine, I-didn't-know-people-still-use-cloth-diapers curiosity. Of course, there's the disgusted curiosity, too. Why would anyone deal with that when it's so easy to just toss the poopy diaper in the trash? I'm sure if babies only peed, cloth diapering would be way more popular. But poop happens (ha ha) and you have to deal with it.

So that's what this post is addressing: how we deal with the stinkier side of cloth diapering. Consider yourself warned -- plenty of potty talk follows.

The Stages

  1.  Milk-Only Diet:  Cloth diapering for the first six months was really easy for us, even with the poopy diapers.  Granted, there are a lot of diaper changes in that stage (especially the newborn months), but it's easy. Breastfed baby poop is actually water-soluble so you don't have to do anything with them except toss the diapers into the diaper pail. No need to worry about liners or sprayers or any of that stuff. I don't have any experience with the formula-fed baby poo, but I imagine you would have to rinse them off before sticking them in the diaper pail (correct me if I'm wrong).
  2. Transitioning to Solids: This is the point where baby starts eating the cereals and pureed food in addition to breastmilk/formula. This is when you're going to start using the sprayer. The liners are good, too, but they didn't seem to catch everything since the poop in those diapers is still pretty loose. Yes, I'm writing about loose baby poop. Hey, you were warned.
  3. Mostly Solid Diet: At this point, baby is eating regular meals; breastmilk or formula isn't the main source of nutrition anymore (or not even a source of nutrition at all, as is the case with my recently weaned baby). With more solid food you're going to deal with...you guessed it...more solid poop. This is where the liners are so helpful. Sure, we still get those ultra-poopy diapers that require some time at the toilet with the sprayer, but lately, the liners have been catching it. I just dump it into the toilet and give the diaper a few sprays of Bac-Out.

The Gear

  • Wipes and Solution -- Obviously, you're going to need wipes. Some people cloth diaper but still use disposable wipes. No offense to those people, but this doesn't really make much sense to me. I made our cloth wipes out of an old receiving blanket and they do the job really well. Before I use them, I give them a few squirts of my homemade wipe solution (just a mix of water, olive oil, and baby shampoo).  Once I'm done with the diaper change, the wipes go right into the diaper pail with the dirty diaper and I wash them with the diapers. I still keep disposable wipes in my diaper bag for poopy diapers away from home.

  • The sprayer (A MUST) -- Personally, I don't think I would do cloth diapering without it. At least not for long. I hardly used the sprayer while my baby was exclusively breast-fed, but once he started solids, that sprayer became a must. Sure, you can do the dunk-in-toilet cleaning method (that's how I remember my mom cleaning off my brothers' diapers before putting them in the diaper pail), but the diaper sprayer is so much better. Not only does it rinse everything off better, but it gives me a little distance from it all. I don't have to stick my hand in the toilet bowl to rinse the diapers -- I simply hold a clean corner of the diaper and spray. If you follow my tutorial for a DIY diaper sprayer, you can make it for around $30 in less than 20 minutes. It's worth every penny.

  • Flushable diaper liners --  Flushable liners make cloth diapering easier, period. There's not much to them -- they look like a dryer sheet. The idea is that when the baby soils his diaper, the liner catches the poop (or at least most of it). When you're ready to rinse out the diaper, you simply dump the liner into the toilet and, if all goes as planned, the stinky contents of the diaper go with it. No need to do much, if any, rinsing with the diaper sprayer. When I'm folding and assembling the diapers, I'll put the liner in the diaper, so it's ready to go.  My favorite liners are the Imse Vimse flushable liners because you can actually wash and reuse the liners that have only been peed on (they'll last around 2-3 wash cycles). 
  • Bac-Out -- I give every soiled diaper (and the wipes) a few sprays of Bac-Out before putting them in the diaper pail. It's an odor and stain remover that contains live enzyme-producing cultures that actually digest the waste away between laundry loads. The diaper pail, even when full of diapers, doesn't really stink that much. Honest. The stuff works!

The Dirty Truth

I'm going to be completely honest:  there have been more than a few times I've been bent over the toilet, poopy diaper in one hand, sprayer in the other, and muttering, "This is completely ridiculous. What was I thinking?!" This was especially true in that whole transition period I mentioned above.  It was around that time, too, that my little guy decided to poop every. single. time. we went somewhere. I still dread changing poopy diapers away from home a little, though it's definitely gotten easier.

Changing poopy diapers, whether it's cloth or disposable diapers, is gross. There's no getting around that fact.  There have been times, like when we were on vacation a few months ago, when the baby was in disposables and we were able to just throw away the stinky diapers. I remember saying to my husband after changing a soiled diaper, "I forgot how easy this was!"  That said, I haven't forgotten what it's like to deal with explosive diapers, where the poop squishes out of the back and into baby's shirt. That has never happened with cloth diapers --  not a single poopy leak. So, really, there's a trade-off no matter what kind of diaper you use on your baby. 

I'm totally used to the whole poopy cloth diaper routine. It's just how it was diapering my first child (in disposables) -- gross, but you just get kind of numbed to the whole thing. (But only if it's my kid. I still dry heave a little when it's someone else's child).  I don't enjoy it, but it doesn't bother me. And when it's really bad, when the ick factor is higher than usual, and I have those "Why on earth am I doing this?" thoughts, I just remember why I'm going with the cloth diapers. Less money thrown in the trash. Less plastic. Less waste. I'm more than willing to rinse off a poopy diaper for a few minutes a day to keep diapers off my shopping list.

Note: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

{This post is linked up to Your Green Resource, Frugal Friday, and Little House Friday}


Carrie said...

Or.. you could have a baby that hates pooping in her diaper and has done it on the potty since she was 4 months old!! I lucked out with my second little girl. I have never had a diaper sprayer but on occassion with my first I used the utility sink. She trained though at around 19 months so I put up with using my own home made liners out of fleece from around 8 months until she trained. If the liners were too awful, then I just shook it off and I threw it away. That was very rare though.

Roxie700 said...

I have been changing diapers for more than 40 years. I have done day care from my home for years and years....so to say I have done more than my share of diapers is the truth. I still get that 'ick' factor from time to time. When it is a really really gross diaper I pull on my rubber gloves to deal with it.
No throw away wipes in my day care either. I use wash cloths, warm water, and baby wash. (baby shampoo) I do the laundry. I don't mind it at all. I wash the wash cloths with borax and hot water and Purex laundry soap.
No cloth diapers in my day care. I would use them in a heart beat and not care but the state has rules for day cares.

Heather said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heather said...

@Carrie -- Wow! At four months?! I've been hearing from a bunch of people that cloth diapering leads to earlier potty training, so we'll see!

@Roxie700 -- 40 years of diapers! I'd say you're an expert on the subject! :) I agree with what you said - using cloth wipes and diapers is not a big deal. I'm impressed that you do the cloth (that you can) in a daycare setting. And your comment reminded me of my mom - she always dons the gloves when the "ick" factor gets too high, too.

Anne said...

Just from my experience- I liked spraying out bf poo diapers, probably because my son poo'd do much I couldn't handle storing it all till wash day. I also used liners at that time cause it was at least a little less to spray out. Come solid sampling time, liners were more effective, and sprayer use still happened but not as often. And now (well like 9mos+) poos just fall right off the diaper into the toilet. I haven't had need for a liner or sprayer since. Even if they've been a bit flat/pasty they usually just fall right off. There's my tmi on cloth and poo!

Pat Wheele said...

Thank you for posting this. I am about to have my first, and have done a lot of research on cloth diapers. After all that, we have decided to go with them. I do, however, have a question and a comment for you.

Comment: Great info on the 3 stages of poop. This is super helpful in making a decision on which type of diaper to go with at each stage.

Question: The Grovia diaper says not to use enzymes on them. Do you have any idea why? I thought your suggestion to use Bac-out was brilliant, and I am curious if you know why they would suggest otherwise?

Heather said...

@Pat Wheele -- Glad that I could help you with cloth diapering. I hope it works out for you and your little one! :)

As for the Grovia diapers, I'm really not very familiar with them. I did a little research and the company says that letting them soak with enzyme cleaner on them makes them rot and decay more (their words). Maybe it's something to do with their diapers, I don't know. I haven't seen any problems using Bac-Out on diapers. Hope that helps a little!

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