Tuesday, February 7, 2012

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Cloth-Wiping Bottoms

When we started using cloth, we purchased a number of cloth diapers. Yet, we did not buy any cloth wipes. The very first time I changed a poopy cloth diaper I realized that it made no sense to use disposable wipes. Since disposable wipes and disposable diapers are thrown out together, it appeared logical that cloth diapers and cloth wipes should be washed together. Further, it was inconvenient to keep a trash receptacle exclusively for wipes. The practical and environmentally friendly solution was to use cloth wipes.

The idea of buying more stuff was not appealing. As you know the initial cloth diaper expense can be a little overwhelming if you get carried away. But what to use as cloth wipes? I looked around and found newborn washcloths we rarely use. They are about the size of your palm and very soft. It was worth a try to use them in lieu of buying cloth wipes. What could be simpler? Wipe the baby and toss the washcloth into the dry pail with everything else. Yet a dry washcloth did not appear to clean my son well. An Internet search provided many different recipes for cloth wipes solutions.

The basic recipe includes water, soap and oil. Some people will tell you exactly how much to mix for each component. Just like trying to find cloth diapers that work for you, you may need to try different recipes before finding “the one” for you and baby. I am a simple kind of person and would rather not buy an expensive essential oil or a specialty wipes soap. Just like with the washcloths, I ended up using what I had on hand: baby soap, baby oil and water. An old used disposable wipes container currently holds the “solution”. I do not measure anything! Just add water, a squirt or two of your baby soap, a few drops of baby oil and mix. Then, place your clean washcloths in the box. Experiment! Add more or less soap. Use almond oil instead of baby oil. Or don’t use any oil at all.

Washcloths do not have to be folded, but you can do it if you have the time. Some people will even tell you how to fold them so that they come out of the box just like disposable wipes. I may try that sometime. For now, our routine for changing baby is to open the box, and with clean hands squeeze the solution out of one or two washcloths. Wipe baby. If needed, use washcloth to push poop into toilet. I keep some dry washcloths near by in case baby’s bottom is too wet. That is all there is to it. In fact, I believe my baby’s bottom is cleaner since I started using cloth wipes. When the washcloths get stained, I put them out in the sun. Sunning takes care of most poop stains and since sunlight has a lot of UV rays, it acts as an antibacterial.

Be wary of bacteria. Few things are grosser than to grow an experiment on your child’s cloth wipe container. Bacteria, mold and yeast can grow anywhere. In particular, they like dark, moist and warm places. Some bacteria can replicate in 20 minutes! That means that if a single poopy microbe gets into your diaper box, the next day you could have a stinky, gooey mess. To prevent this, have as many wipes as needed for about two days inside the box. When the box has no more wipes, wash it with soapy water. After rinsing, make a new solution and place clean cloths inside. If a mess was to occur due to an explosive baby poop and you accidentally put a dirty hand in the box… Well, wash everything.

Some people prefer a squirt bottle. But if your solution is home made, you still need to change it often to prevent bacterial growth. Other people prefer a wipe warmer. So far, my little reusable plastic box is working just fine. In fact, I may eventually try a few commercial cloth wipes. If you are starting out like me, I suggest you try cloth wipes. You may like them more than you think.

Bio: Sofia M. is currently a SAHM to a toddler and is expecting her second child.

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