How to STOP disposable diaper blow outs. Why you NEED to buy two cloth diapers, even if you use disposables on your baby.
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If you’ve been here a while, you know that I love cloth diapers and pretty much all cloth products. I love how cute they are. I love that they’re ecofriendly. I love that they save me money long term. I love them so much that I even wrote a book about them.
I also know that they’re not for everyone.
And that’s cool- I’m not here to sell you on switching to cloth diapers. I’m here to explain how you can use a cloth diaper over your disposables to make your life easier.
What you get? The perks of disposables combined with some of the perks of cloth diapers.
I love cloth diapers, but we also use disposables here and there. Some weeks I use disposables because I’m sick (I had mono AND shingles this year!) or because I’m traveling or because our schedule that week is crazy.
And using disposables AND cloth diapers has taught me a lot about the pros and cons of both- as well as some clever tricks.
How to Prevent Blow Outs and Have LESS Mess to Deal With.
So you’re not cloth diapering. You’ll use disposables and everything will be fine.
But you MIGHT want to consider buying TWO (or so) cloth diapers for these three reasons… and they’re all about saving the CLOTHING your child is wearing and preventing blow outs.
Until about 6 months old or a bit later, your baby is likely going to have blowouts. A lot of them. I’m not sure if there’s such thing as a baby who doesn’t… but if you have that baby, that’s amazing.
If you’re like most of us, then you know the deal- the poop shoots up out the back of the diaper, up the back, into the baby’s hair, and allllll over the clothes (plus the car seat, your body, or whatever the baby was touching while it happened).
When at home, this is the sort of thing that breaks you in as a parent. Congratulations, it’s a right of passage. Not a big deal.
When you’re out, it’s an absolute disaster.
Early with my second son, I had to go get my allergy shot. This requires sitting for 30 minutes after the shot. During this time, the baby had a blow out in a disposable diaper. Clothes. Soaked. I had to attempt to save this situation with a toddler in tow. Fortunately, I had a spare change of clothing for the baby, cloth wipes, and a wet bag.
I wet the cloth wipes in the sink and washed the baby down. Tossed the wipes and outfit in a wet bag, and zipped it up. I was able to take it home and wash everything. And I had a clean, happy baby for the rest of the appointment… and we lived happily ever after. (wink)
This is where cloth diapers come in. Blow outs are pretty uncommon in a cloth diaper because the back elastic is tighter. It helps prevent blowouts. If you have a disposable on, you can put a cloth diaper cover OVER the disposable to help prevent a blowout from happening.
Worst case, the diaper cover gets the mess all over it. Toss it in a wet bag and clean it when you get home. But you saved the outfit and reduced how much mess you have to clean up.
Actually I guess worst case is that the cloth diaper fails, but if it does it’ll probably still help make it less of a catastrophe.
Best case, the diaper helps contain the mess inside the disposable diaper so you can just change the disposable. The best way to ensure this happens is to make sure the elastic for the legs on the cloth diaper cover goes over the sides of the disposable diaper, and the same for the back.
Once your baby starts solids and their poop is a bit more solid, your odds of a blow out lessen. But it’s never a bad thing to pop a cover on if you are going to be out for a while.
Every single baby of mine has had a blow out on the airplane. Not sure what the deal is OR if it’s just my children. But this is NOT the time for a blow out.
The airplane bathrooms are small and hard to change diapers in… and other people are almost always waiting to use it. It’s not ideal to be doing a complete baby wash.
I’ve started putting a cloth diaper cover over a disposable for air travel for this reason. It helps prevent a disastrous mess.
A case of diarrhea is the other time that a cloth diaper cover comes in useful. Again… blow outs. The cloth diaper cover will help contain things a bit and reduce the mess.
I’ve found that cloth diapers usually contain blow outs if they fit properly and are put on correctly, but diarrhea is one of those times that sometimes they fail. Sometimes it’s just toooooo wet.
But they don’t hurt. So I usually will give them a try.
Why Cloth Diapers Help with Blow Outs
There’s a few reasons that cloth diapers help with blow outs.
- Elastic Quality: The quality of the elastic in the back and legs of a disposable diaper isn’t as good. Disposable elastics aren’t meant to last for a long time… they’re meant to do the trick until the diaper is thrown away.
- The BACK elastic on disposables isn’t as tight.
- I think when you use cloth diapers, you get really good at making sure your diapers have a good fit. I imagine this helps.
What Should I Buy?
I recommend owning two “covers.” These type of cloth diapers have one layer of PUL (waterproofing layer) and are easy to wipe down. There’s no stuffing them, there’s nothing extra to wash, and they can even be hand washed in a sink or bucket.
Here’s a picture of a basic newborn one that I made. This diaper adjusts in the front for the baby’s umbilical cord, but it only fits smaller/newborn babies. Most sellers will add an additional layer of PUL to the inside front too, but I didn’t. My sewing isn’t super pretty here, but this worked.
Make sure the covers you buy have a good elastic around the legs and back. There are adjustable diapers called one size diapers for babies 12lbs+, but you may want to consider getting sized diaper covers as they don’t require adjustments (plus you only need two of each size so it’s less of a big deal). This is easier when you aren’t familiar with adjusting the diapers.
I’m going to link you to Etsy to buy this stuff because a lot of the homemade products are cuter than what you’ll find at a local store or on Amazon. And honestly the 4th benefit to getting a diaper cover is just to cover up the disposable.
MAKE SURE the cover you buy is a PUL diaper cover- not a wool diaper cover. Those aren’t easy to wipe down and need to be washed in a special way. There’s nothing wrong with them, but they’re not as ideal for this use.
PLEASE understand that cloth diaper covers can’t work as a standalone item. Normally if you were cloth diapering, you’d add a prefold (old fashioned diaper) or a fitted diaper for absorbency UNDER the cover. In this case, you’re using a disposable for absorbency.
Don’t Forget the Wet Bag
Honestly a wet bag is my #1 must have item to give to friends at their baby shower. These zippered bags are great for holding wet bathing suits, dirty clothing, or dirty diapers until you get home.
YOU NEED THIS even if you decide not to buy the covers because you’ll have dirty clothing to take home occasionally.
They’re also useful once your kids are big enough to go swimming because they’re great for holding damp swimsuits.
How to Put Them On
First, this diaper cover isn’t a great example because I made it with a inside layer of minky. It’s super soft against the skin. You should probably stick with a wipable PUL for inside… I use and wash cloth diapers normally so these work for me fine.
But let me show you how I put this on.
First we put the disposable diaper on. Make sure the diaper is on correctly.
Once that’s done, you can put your diaper cover over the disposable. They go on in much the same way… if you have hook & loop (Velcro) diapers, they’re pretty much the same. If the diaper has snaps, you just snap them on.
Make sure the waist is tight enough, but not too tight. Baby should be able to breath easily, but if the baby is standing up the diaper shouldn’t fall down.
If you’re using one size diapers, they have snaps under the waist band snaps. Those snap down to make your diaper smaller for when the baby is smaller… and you unsnap them to make them bigger for when the baby is bigger.
The idea is that the diaper should be up to the baby’s waist. The leg elastic should be tight enough around the baby’s leg that when you bicycle the legs the diaper doesn’t open at the leg, creating a gap.
How Should I Wash the Covers?
When you use covers over a disposable diaper, you’re in a unique position where you don’t REALLY need to wash them frequently. If nothing comes through the disposable, you can reuse it. If it gets wet, you can wipe it down with a wet cloth and reuse it.
This is where it gets kinda gross, but bear with me. Don’t forget- if the poop isn’t on the cover, it’ll be on the outfit, the car seat, and/or your clothing. It’s a matter of reducing how much poop you’re dealing with so that $50 outfit from Grandma and Grandpa doesn’t get ruined.
If there’s big kid poop on it, you’ll likely want to rinse it off in the toilet. Breastfed baby poop can wash off in the washing machine, but honestly you can wipe it down first too.
Don’t want to be all gross swishing the diaper in the toilet? Take wet paper towels or baby wipes, wipe down the diaper cover to remove the poop, toss the paper towels in the disposable diaper garbage).
NOW you can wash the diaper cover in the washing machine or by hand, following the directions from the manufacturer.
One Last Thing…
I know that many people survive without a cloth diaper cover. We’re parents… we survive! That’s what we do. But a cloth diaper cover or two may help make things a little easier for you- and save that special outfit.
Whatever you decide, good luck!
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Danielle Pientka is the sewing and DIY blogger behind DIYDanielle.com. She taught herself to sew in 2011 when she wanted to make cloth diapers for her first son. She’s been sewing everything from ecofriendly items to kids products to clothing since, as it has become a passion. She loves learning how to do new things and teaching others in the process. She hopes to inspire other moms to take time for themselves to find their own creative passion.
Danielle lives in Maryland with her three young sons and her husband, Brandon. In her spare time, she gardens, reads, horseback rides, and has a small homestead with goats and ducks. Visit her shop to buy patterns or her sewing eBooks. Subscribe to her newsletter to get blog updates, free patterns and other printables by clicking here.