Almost Free Cloth Diapers: How to diaper your baby when you can’t afford disposable or cloth diapers.
Over the weekend, a customer shared with us this news report from Manhattan’s NY1: High Cost Of Diapers Forces Some Parents Into Risky Practices. It breaks my heart because I personally know what it feels like to have to choose food OR diapers. When my husband and I started Cotton Babies, we were living on $30 a week for groceries plus a WIC check. That certainly wasn’t enough to buy a cloth diaper stash and it didn’t buy very many disposable diapers either. Thankfully, we were given three months of diaper service at one of my baby showers and then a friend gave me her stash of prefolds and diaper covers. Without those gifts though, we would have been looking for information about how to diaper your baby when you can’t afford disposables OR cloth diapers.
30 years ago, most babies were cloth diapered using flat diapers or prefold diapers. 100 years ago, most babies were cloth diapered using homemade diapers. Those diapers were simple squares constructed from cotton fabric. The diaper was covered with rubber pants or a wool sweater, if a cover was even used. Believe it or not, diaper covers were a source of parenting drama years ago because doctor’s were sure that they would cause diaper rash (we will talk about diaper rash another day… that’s a topic for a week of blog posts).
We have seen several media reports recently about low income families reusing disposable diapers. These families are forced to choose between diapers and food. In an effort to keep budget available for groceries, they are blow drying a disposable diaper dry and putting it back on their baby. We recently heard about a local family who almost lost their baby to an infection as a result of reusing disposable diapers.
Within the cloth diaper industry, it’s widely know that prefolds and covers are the most economical way to cloth diaper. But what if a family doesn’t even have $5 dollars to spend and they are out of diapers? Our goal today is to TEACH you how to use things around your house to diaper your baby. Your great-grandmother probably did this. Your grandmother might remember… it’s time that *we* re-educate ourselves, our friends and our families that before modern disposable or cloth diapers, people found safe, healthy ways to cover and protect their little ones.
- No Sew, Folded T-shirt Cloth Diaper This one takes no sewing, no cutting and just a diaper pin to secure it. This would be great for anyone to know, just in case. You never know when you’ll be short a diaper, and this works.
- Receiving Blanket Origami Fold Diaper No t-shirts? Out with just a diaper bag and a receiving blanket. This video shows you how to fold a cotton flannel receiving blanket into a diaper that can be secured with diaper pins or a snappi.
- Start Cloth Diapering for $20 This tutorial and video shows you how to create a budget stash with a dozen prefolds, 4 fleece receiving blankets, a Snappi and an infant bodysuit. This could idea would be great for a family’s emergency kit.
- Need a cover? Upcycle an old wool sweater into a diaper cover. There are lots of tutorials online, but I like the photos and directions on The Sewing Dork.
- No sewing skills? Find a pair of little girl “bloomers” (the matching panties that come with most little girl dresses). Using a can of Atsko Permanent Water Guard, spray the outside and inside of the bloomers to create your own pull-on cover. Let it dry before using. This solution will not be completely waterproof, but it will certainly help .
Keep in mind: Many household linens, hand towels, kitchen towels, bath towels, washcloths, flannel or cotton sheets, etc. can be folded or cut into a prefold size or insert shape suitable for diapering. Have an old t-shirt, cotton flannel shirt hanging in the back of your closet? Take a look at the label. You’re looking for a natural fiber. Natural fibers are made from plants, not chemicals. That class of fabrics typically includes cotton, hemp, bamboo, etc. If the shirt you find was made of a natural fiber, you can repurpose that into a cloth diaper as well. Overwhelmed with what to do with a square or a rectangle? You can cut just about any absorbent fabric into strips, fold it into enough layers and you’ll have an absorbent pad that will function as a diaper. If you go this route though, you’ll need to have a diaper cover to hold the pad on your baby. The directions for making a diaper cover out of a wool sweater above are great… in a pinch, you could even cut up an old tablecloth.If you’d prefer to buy a diaper cover, the least expensive diaper covers on the market, are these Dappi Nylon Pants. At Cotton Babies, we sell these in packages of 2 diaper covers for $5. At $3.95, a Snappi is another good purchase. It holds fabric, a cloth diaper, a towel… whatever… on your baby without the use of pins. Our free shipping on any order gets that package to your door hassle free.
Washing diapers: If you don’t have a washer and dryer, you can easily wash your diapers out in the sink with a little dish soap. If the diaper was poopy, rinse it out in the toilet before washing in the sink. Wash each night and hang the diapers to dry in the bathtub or over a railing. Depending on your climate, most diapers will be dry by morning. As long as you stay on top of it, this will only take a few minutes.