Todays question comes from Christine Mitchell, actually it is three questions!
- 1) Sunning diapers - sometimes doesn't work. What am I doing wrong? I live in the midwest. What should I do in the winter?
- 2) What is the best detergent? Does it really make a difference? What about Charlies vs. CJ’s vs. Rockin' Green, etc.?
- 3) What is the longest time I should leave a diaper on my baby’s bum? What about overnight?
Those are all excellent questions!
First, regarding sunning your diapers, you may have a stubborn stain that needs a little more help. If it is an insert, you could soak it in some detergent and hot water for a couple of days and then add it to your wash cycle. Bac-Out may also help you, but be sure to check your manufacturer’s warranty and instructions prior to using it. Another reader recently recommended using a mixture of lemon juice and water. Spray it on your inserts as they are sunning and leave them out all day. (I wrote about sunning here and here).
You can definitely sun your diapers in the winter. Hang them out – even if it is freezing! Your diapers may be frozen when you bring them in, and you may need to run them in the dryer to soften them up, but the sun can still do it’s work! I’ve even read about a mom in Seattle who “suns” her diapers when it is raining, and then brings them in and dries them!
Your second question is one of my favorite topics, but I am certainly not an expert! The important thing to remember is that you do not want any additives in your detergent. Avoid optical brighteners, bleach, fabric softeners, and excessive fragrance. You want to have as clean rinsing of a detergent as possible, so that the micro-pores of synthetic fibers such as fleece and microfiber will not be clogged.
However, I am a firm believer (perhaps going against the grain of mainstream cloth diapering “experts”) that enzymes are absolutely necessary in your detergent. Enzymes are what help to pull the “junk” out of your diapers to leave them clean. For this reason, and after studying the subject a lot, I recommend Tide detergent.
*Read what Julie Ekstrom, creator of the Rumparooz diaper, has to say about detergent here. Julie has done extensive testing and research on this subject, even using a third party to conduct the research.
Of course, as mentioned before, you do not want to void your warranty by going against manufacturer guidelines. But Tide has spent incredible amounts of money on research and testing. That is why their product works so well – they have put in the effort to develop a detergent that cleans with power and gets out all of the soil.
I have never used Charlies, but I have read that many, many people have encountered skin reactions with that particular detergent. I have used Rockin’ Green exclusively for several months, but I felt that I was left with dingy, grey, not-so-clean diapers. After the first wash with Tide I could not believe the difference in color – my diapers were actually white again! Read more on that here.
Your third question has to do with how frequently to change your baby’s diaper. It varies, to some extent, from baby to baby. And even from baby to toddler, as your baby grows. Newborns and small babies eat a liquid diet and eat often, therefore they need changed more often. A toddler who drinks primarily at meals and snacks may only wet a few times each day.
My son is three months old, and he goes about every 2-3 hours between diaper changes. My daughter is almost two, and she only uses about 4-6 diapers a day. However, when my daughter “goes” she really goes. I am amazed at how long she can hold it! My son can soak a prefold diaper in about an hour and a half.
Try letting your baby go without a cover for a day or two, if you are around the house. You will be able to tell as soon as they wet, and then you can establish the pattern for your child. Does he wet frequently but not very much? Is she a heavy wetter? Does he only pee 2 or 3 times in the day? As a general rule, you should change your baby every 3-4 hours.
When it comes to overnight, find an absorbency combination that will hold your baby through the night without leaks. It is fine to leave your child for 10-12 hours. They don’t wet as much during the night. He/she will probably have a soaking diaper in the morning, but if you are using a pocket diaper (or a stay-dry liner) he won’t feel the wet and won’t be uncomfortable.
My son usually sleeps through the night. However, if he does wake to eat, I don’t change him. I use microfiber inserts right now, but soon I think he will need hemp inserts because they are more absorbent. As he grows and changes I will change the overnight solution to meet his need.
I hope that helps! Please chime in with your experience and advice so other moms, and Christine, can reap the benefit!