Diaper doldrums

It’s been 7 months since I wrote about Sir’s potty learning progress.  At that time, it seemed like we were very close to being completely, truly diaper-free!  In addition to a few months of daytime dryness under his belt, Sir had started staying dry at nap time and overnight, some nights.

That was in late August and early September.  After a few weeks, he reverted to wet diapers every morning and almost every nap time, and my diaper-free dreams went down the toilet.  ([Awake] daytime is still fine — he’s been daytime dry for almost a year now!)

As of a month ago, Sir is back to being dry at some nap times, i.e., the short naps (about an hour) that he takes at child care.  He is SO consistently dry at child care that Mrs. L puts him down for his nap without a diaper.  Brave lady, but zero accidents, so far.

On the other hand he almost always wakes up wet when napping at home, but he naps longer (about 90 minutes), so I don’t mind.  Nap time diapering is easy: a thick prefold and a Thirsties diaper cover.

Night time diapering is trickier.  Sometime after Sir’s first birthday, we discovered that fancy pocket diapers, with their feel-dry material, helped Sir sleep better and longer.  Good for him and good for us.  We bought four pocket diapers (3 bumGenius, 1 Fuzzy Bunz) which we use exclusively at night.

Except!  After awhile, I noticed that regular washing was not getting the stink out of those pocket diapers.  And the trick that so nicely and simply de-stinks my prefolds (a vinegar rinse) doesn’t work on the pocket diapers (vinegar would ruin their absorbancy or waterproofness or something).

Instead, you have to “strip” them.  Unfortunately, these instructions from Cotton Babies (an StL-based company and the makers of bumGenius diapers) are just a leeeeeetle bit off.

First, it does not take just two hot water rinses to get the stink out.  It takes many.  Like ten.  And all that time you’re using HOT water.  Suddenly the “environmentally friendly” cloth diapers are seeming much less so.

Second, the directions claim that, AT MOST (i.e., worst case scenario), you should have to strip your diapers “once every 3 or 4 months.”  In my experience, that is complete and utter B.S.  After following their instructions to. the. letter (plus eight more rinses), the stink went away for about two uses.  With four pocket diapers, two uses = eight nights, so barely over a week after stripping, I’m stuck with stinky covers again.

Unfortunately, whatever causes the stink also irritates Sir’s skin, and he’s had some nasty diaper rashes, despite the fact that he barely wears a diaper, except for overnight.

The diaper rashes necessitate using disposable diapers, since diaper creams and lotions are generally a no go with pocket diapers.  So we just cycle back and forth.  Disposables and cream to get the rash under control, then back to the pocket diapers until his skin gets irritated and forces us back to disposables.

On a side note, Sir almost always poops in the potty, but two weeks ago, we were a little off schedule, and he woke up in the morning with a poopy diaper.  Of course it was NOT a night when he was wearing a disposable diaper, but I swear I almost threw that $17 pocket diaper away anyway.  It was horrible, and I was literally in tears by the time I finished dealing with it.  If I never have to do that again, it will be too soon!

Anyway, I really prefer cloth diapers to disposable, in general, but not when they require this much work (and hot water) to keep decent.  I guess we could go back to the basic prefolds for nighttime, but I don’t want to sacrifice sleep.

It’s tempting to just stick with the disposables at night, and be done with the stinky pocket dipes, but for someone who’s used disposables very minimally, the idea of going through more than a handful of diapers a month is hard to swallow, both environmentally and financially.

I’m not sure where this leaves us.  There is really no end to night time diapering in sight.  It could be any day, I suppose, but it could also be a year or more from now, realistically.  I keep hoping that maybe this will be the last pack of disposable diapers I ever buy, but that dream has yet to be realized.


  1. Tracy says:

    We use wool at night or theses with microfiber layers underneath and a flip cover…pocket diapers aren’t my favorite either. BTW, wool only needs washing once a month (unless poopy) and only in the sink. I bought only the first one and made the rest.

    1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      Hmm, the wool sounds like an intriguing option. What do you do with them in-between the monthly washing? Do you rinse them, or just air them out? Curious what kind you bought.

      I’m not crazy about the idea of buying more cloth diapers at this point, but, depending on how long Sir needs them at night, it may still be cheaper than disposables, and certainly better for the environment!

      1. Tracy says:

        You simply airout wool between wearings since it is antmicrobial. You use a special wool shampoo every so often and a wool conditioner even less often to re-lanolize them. We call them woolies so that my underwear wearer can still be proud of being an underwear wearer. He loves his woolies so much he hates to take them off because they are so comfortable. They can also be worn over another diaper but we like them as is. They are so easy to wash out in the sink, Some people only use wool fir cioth diapering.

  2. EcoCatLady says:

    Oh, you have my sympathies! I have NO experience with diapers, but for cat pee smells I use either an enzyme based or peroxide based cleaner – but I think that sort of thing could cause skin irritation, so it might be a bad idea.

    I did read a post by a blogger a few years ago where she realized that her high efficiency washer was causing the urine smell to linger. Apparently the little stinkers needed more water flushing through them to get the pee smell out! I suppose you could try taking them to a laundromat if your machine is the HE variety, and see if that helps, but it sorta seems like a massive pain.

    Wool sounds like a great idea, but if it turns out the only real solution is disposables, I don’t think you should feel bad about it. You do WAY more than your fair share for the planet, and when push comes to shove, having a well-rested and sane you is vastly more important than a few disposable diapers.

    1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      Yes, I look forward to having a HE washer some day, but for the diapers, it’s just a well that we have an old-school machine. They should be getting plenty of water, especially with all the rinses.

      A friend mentioned that my issue might be the length of time the diapers sit before laundering, since we use so few. I may try a pre-rinse to see if that helps, though it now seems he may be getting too BIG for the cloth overnight diapers we have.

      1. EcoCatLady says:

        The HE washers are a mixed bag for sure. I think they are making some improvement, but when the time comes it’s worth it to do some deep research before buying.

        Back in the neolithic era (when I was a kid) all of the moms in the neighborhood used to keep a bucket of soapy water next to the toilet where they would soak diapers before washing them. I think that’s the lazy person’s pre-rinse option! 🙂

  3. Jennifer says:

    We used cloth when the boys were little, but at a certain point cloth wasn’t good enough for nighttime. I hate disposables too, but goodnites really work well overnight, so we just use them. I was unwilling to wash diapers just for nighttime, so it seems like it’s worth the waste of the disposables, to avoid the extra laundry and get more sleep.

  4. draedie says:

    We’ve been fortunate and had to do no stripping for the year plus we’ve been doing cloth. We primarily use prefolds and covers but have some Rumparooz pocket diapers and AIO Bumgenius diapers. There was some issue for a while with yeast infections which was a huge pain to get out. We use the regular Tide powder detergent with an older washer with b an agitator. I think our water is on the hard side. Maybe you need to adjust your wash routine?

  5. michelle says:

    This was a while ago so you may have found a solution, but we had a similar problem with our toddler. It’s ammonia, and when he was getting ammonia burns from brand new diapers, we gave up and went to disposables. We also just had to ditch the nighttime diaper entirely before he would stay dry overnight. There was about a month of frequent sheet washing, and then he was good. (found your blog searching for edgerunner info).

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