Cloth Diapering a Toddler…

Cloth diapering a toddler is terrifying… to me. And I am having a hard time believing I am the only one who thinks so.

(A little warning: when talking about diapers comes talking about what happens in diapers… please stop reading if you do not wish to hear about my daughters bathroom habits.)

I started cloth diapering my baby, (now big baby toddler) Eliana, when she was four months old. I begged Philip for a solid two weeks to let me spend our money on cloth diapers. I bragged about all the benefits of cloth, the disadvantages of disposables and of course boasted about the money we could be saving. I even typed and printed out a comparison sheet with facts about the dangers of disposables and an estimate of how many months it would take to get our initial payment back once and if we switched to cloth. Thankfully, my hard work wasn’t put to waste, he said yes!

Now, I could cloth diaper an exclussively breastfed baby all the time with no complaints! I did experience some issues, including a yeast rash and of course the occasional leak or stinky build-up, but nothing a good stripping or change of detergent couldn’t handle. But fast forward several months and I was dealing with a whole new set of hurdles. Toddler poop was a whole new thing to me and not to mention Eliana had some impressive muscles to kick me with during diaper changes!

I became pregnant with our newest-in-the-making baby in February of 2012, Eliana was fifteen months at that point and pooping like a champ! The last thing I wanted to deal with in the morning was a stinky poopy diaper that I had to “roll off” or scrape off with toilet paper into the toilet. Pee-ew! I would put it off until I “felt better”, which was never. So the soiled diapers would pile up in a bag either in the bedroom or the bathroom, making it acceptable to wear a hazmat suit to enter those rooms. 
Then came laundry day, and I would be forced to face the diaper pile monster. I would hold my breath and brace myself as I scraped off all of the poo of every single soiled diaper into the toilet. And this wasn’t just two or three dirty diapers, this was seven to ten! Like I mentioned previously, she was pooping like a champ. This process would ruin my plans for that day, leaving me horribly nauseous and no longer craving that delicious spoonful of Nutella. Diaper laundry day was no longer the day to do laundry, fold the diapers, mop the floors, browse the local thrift store AND cook a great nutritious dinner, it simply became the day to wash the diapers. 
This went on for a few months… and then I caved in. I set my pride aside and fetched a box of disposable diapers and wipes. It was wonderful. I enjoyed every moment of the masked smell and ease of just tossing the stinky diaper into the trash! But that pile of clean cloth diapers kept haunting me, screaming out “What about us?”, “We’re lonely!”, and that cute owl-printed diaper specifically saying, “You told me our relationship meant something to you!” I came to understand that my affair with disposable diapers couldn’t last. As much as I love the convenience and one less responsibility that disposables offer, my husband made the investment in cloth and I had to keep my side of the bargain, which is to use them and save us money.
Therefore, I have come up with some solutions to make cloth diapering a toddler a little less terrifying.

1. Use disposable wipes. Cloth wipes are wonderful and easy to just throw into the wash along with the diaper, but when dealing with toddler poo, I am finding out that nothing beats the magic of disposable wipes. Sure, it is an extra step to pick them out of the diaper and throw them into a separate pail, but to me that is worth it.

2. Lay down that flushable liner. Goodbye are the days of scraping off poo stuck to the diaper. When I can remember, I just lay a flushable liner on the diaper in hopes she will poo on the liner. Then I just pick up the liner, toss it, and forgetta-bout-it! I understand liners aren’t the only option, and I hear such good things about a diaper sprayer or mini-shower. But, I have a fear of spraying the diaper at the wrong angle and ending up with poo all over the bathroom walls to clean up. So I will stick with my comfort of using liners.
3. Deal with soiled diapers immediately. Not three days after they happen. That gives the fruit flies plenty of time to make a home in the stinky mess. Plus, it ends up making the whole room reek! And my sensitive pregnancy nose just can’t handle that. I have learned to deal with Eliana screaming for a minute while I go rid the diaper of poop in the bathroom. She will learn to deal with it too, I am sure, and if that makes me a horrible mother then I am sure I can be forgiven.

4. Keep baking soda near the wet bag or pail. Multiple poopy diapers hanging out together in one bag can stink up any sized room! I found that sprinkling baking soda after [almost] every soiled diaper I put in the wet bag really helps keep the stink away. I keep my baking soda in a tin shaker I found at TJ Maxx, but since then have seen that poking holes in a mason jar lid accomplishes the same thing. I have also heard of using fresh lemon juice or essential oils but haven’t tried those. They also sell nifty containers with good smelling concoctions to freshen up a pail. However, baking soda works just fine for my needs.

5. Learn the toddler hold that works best for you. The last thing I want to deal with while having to change a soiled diaper is a wild foot landing in the mess. I have learned the best method of holding my toddler down is to grasps both feet in one hand, while using that arm to push down her thighs, leaving my other hand to do the dirty work. Sometimes there is a slip up, but learning how to hold her down has helped me get through those diaper changes with [some] ease.
Lastly, if you cloth diaper, we all could use a break sometimes. That lovely box of disposable diapers with that happy baby looking at you can provide some relief in times of stress and in those busy seasons of our lives. It gave me rest and now I am looking at cloth diapers with loving eyes again which I am hoping will last!
Is there anybody else that finds cloth diapering a toddler scary? Has anyone found anything to help with the terrors of cloth diapering a toddler?
p.s. I wrote this at least six months ago and it was since lost as a draft. Eliana, now a big two year old, is only wearing diapers for nap time and bed time. Now with one out of diapers there is another one in them. I am currently cloth diapering little Isabelle with her big sisters hammy-downs, and it’s going great.

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  1. My little girl is 7.5 months and we've been using cloth diapers for about 3.5 months now. And, like you, it was sooooo easy when it was just breastfed poop that I could put right in the wash, but now that she's started solids, it's definitely gotten trickier. I invested in a diaper sprayer and after having a spray-related disaster the first time I used it, it has been smooth-sailing ever since. Of course, it's already hard to hold her down (she's super squirmy), so I'm sure it will get worse as she gets to toddler age. And thanks for the baking soda tip–that's a good one. We're going to have to add that to our routine.

  2. Do you think the diaper sprayer was worth the investment? I might have to brave if once my youngest starts solids. Babies are tricky little movers, you think that buckle on the changing pad would hold them down at least slightly, right!?

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    Thanks again

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