Guest Post: Diaper Creams 101

We get a lot of questions here at Motherlove about diaper creams, especially about how to use a diaper cream with cloth diapers. We asked Jennifer Labit, the co-creator of bumGenius, Flip and Econobum and operator of Cotton Babies for her expert advice.

What do parents who are new to cloth diapers need to know about diaper creams?

Parents who are new to cloth diapers need to remember that diaper creams are a “sticky” subject in the cloth diaper world.  Diaper creams are a sticking ingredient, meant to stick to the baby’s bottom and keep the moisture off their skin so the same process applies to diaper creams and cloth diapers. The diapers are made to absorb moisture, if they come in contact with a diaper cream they will ultimately repel and leak so generally we recommend avoiding use of diaper creams when using cloth diapers.

However, we know there are times when it is necessary to use a diaper cream when caring for your baby in those cases we encourage using natural creams that do not contain fish oil or zinc oxide and placing a cloth barrier in the diapers, something as simple as cutting up an old t-shirt or flannel shirt will do the trick.

If a parent needs to use diaper cream, they should always wash their cloth barriers separate from the cloth diapers.

Do you consider zinc to be a non-cloth diaper friendly ingredient? Why? If so, what other ingredients besides zinc should cloth-diapering parents avoid?

Zinc is not a cloth diaper friendly ingredient; it’s made to repel moisture from a babies skin so if it comes in contact with a cloth diaper unfortunately it will also work the same effects in the place where you really want absorbency.  Other ingredients to avoid are cod liver oil or any fish oils for the same reasons.

What if a diaper becomes non-absorbent, what’s the next step? Is there a way to salvage the diaper?

If a diaper stops absorbing, all is not lost. We encourage our customers to strip their diapers with Dawn dish detergent and bleach.  It doesn’t always save the diapers but we do recommend going through the stripping process before considering their diapers a lost cause.

What do you recommend for staining? Do you have any tips/tricks on helping avoid stains and also treating stains?

All natural sunshine is actually the best method for removing stains even if stains are older. Otherwise, we suggest the cold wash/ hot wash laundering steps.  The cold wash actually removes waste and fights stains. Regardless of stains we encourage customers to bleach their diapers once a month for sanitary reasons but to promote longevity with their diapers we recommend doing this no more than once a month.

How should cloth diapers be laundered?

One of the most important keys in laundering your diapers is to remember you always want a detergent without brighteners, scents, dyes or fabric softeners for the exact same reason you need to avoid using diaper creams or when using creams include a cloth barrier – these different additives can also absorb and stay in your diapers causing them to repel moisture.

Cleaning your cloth diapers means that you need to get all traces of pee, poop, sweat, dirt, and detergent out of the fabric before you are done.   Our universal washing instructions are simply this: wash cold, wash hot, double rinse, and line dry.  We recommend line dry because it will promote longevity with your diapers.

On the subject of laundering, are there certain considerations you need to make as a baby grows (for example, different laundering for newborns vs. when a baby starts eating solid foods)?

Laundering your diapers is basically the same no matter what the baby’s age however, there is one special tool that quickly becomes a cloth diapering family’s best friend, the diaper sprayer.  It simply attaches to the toilet and is perfect for spraying even the messiest of messes down the toilet.

Do you have any diaper creams that you recommend that are safe for cloth? What tips would you give to parents to help clear up/treat diaper rash?

First, always consult with your physician; they will help you decide which diaper creams are best to care for your baby.  We love Motherlove products because they are a natural healing option and don’t include the typical ingredients that are totally unfriendly to cloth diapers.  Depending on the type of rash, sometimes it’s best to temporarily switch to a disposable option so that cloth diapers can be stripped and sanitized giving baby time to heal. Remember, technically no diaper cream is “safe” when it comes to your cloth diapers, a fabric barrier should always be placed in the diaper when a cream of any kind is being used.