Friday, June 1, 2012

Cloth diapering and peanut butter poop

Everyone’s favorite question when I mention we use cloth diapers on my 6-month-old, following a thoughtful pause and then a semi-grossed-out-look, is “What do you do when they poop?” This seems to be what people imagine is the most terrifying piece. (Here is where we decided to cloth diaper. Here is where the fun began.) 

Dealing with dirty cloth diapers is really not that scary, in my opinion. We adore BumGenius diapers, and those things contain major poops like no disposable I have ever met. I’ve heard stories from my Mom friends about blowouts that extend all the way up baby’s back, and I have never encountered such a situation with my BGs. If it’s a really full dirty diaper it might occasionally leak, but even then it’s only a spot.

Jake has been exclusively breastfed while we’ve used cloth diapers, which makes dealing with the poop a whole lot easier – the runny, mustardy breastfed poop is water soluble. You do nothing to these diapers except toss them in your pail and then put them directly in the wash on laundry day, no scrubbing or rinsing or scraping needed. 

But now that Jake has started eating solids, we are moving into a phase of dirty diapers filled with that peanut buttery poop that is a bit more high maintenance. You have to do the best you can to get this out of your diapers. At first, we fretted that we’d need to get every spec out of the diapers before washing them, but we’ve since learned that as long as you remove the majority of it your washer can handle the rest. That has made us feel a lot less anxious about this next phase of poop!

So, what do you do with peanut butter poop? You have some options:

  • Dunk the soiled side into the toilet, swish it around, and flush so that the swirling water suctions and pulls on the material. Repeat as needed.
  • Take a cheap spatula and scrape the stuff into the toilet (suggestion: label this spatula clearly with the word POOP so that it doesn’t get accidentally used in the kitchen!).
  • Buy a diaper sprayer. You attach this to your toilet’s plumbing, and spray solids into the bowl. I’ve heard great things about these though I’ve never tried one. 
  • Use flush-able diaper liners. These resemble dryer sheets but are much softer, and they catch a lot of the solids. Just remove a soiled liner and flush – and you’re done!
Dealing with the poop is not a fun part of cloth diapering, but it’s not awful either. The environment appreciates the effort -- when flushing solids from a cloth diaper down the toilet and washing the diapers in a washing machine, the contaminated, dirty water from both toilet and washing machine go into the sewer systems where they are properly treated at waste water plants.  This is much “greener” than dumping untreated soiled disposable diapers into a landfill.

We’ve started using the flush-able liners as our first line of defense, though Jake is still learning to eat solids so his poop hasn’t changed much yet. But when the peanut butter makes its appearance, we’ll be ready!

Cloth diapering Mamas, how do you deal with your dirty diapers? Any tips to share?

Megan Brooks is a Sr. Public Relations Specialist for Texas Health Resources, Stepmom, Mom, and cloth diapering advocate.

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