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Cloth diaper troubleshooting

Several weeks ago we started having problems with baby #4 and Freetime diapers. {What is a Freetime? Read my post "Cloth diapering an infant: BumGenius Freetime and Elemental diapers."} Everytime I put him in a Freetime diaper, he would break out in a rash. I started suspecting that his skin might be getting irritated by the liners in a Freetime diaper, which are different than the organic cotton in an Elemental. Well, one day he ended up wearing a Freetime diaper and taking a long nap. When he woke up and I went to change him, he had a bad diaper rash. Over the next couple days, the diaper rash turned into yeast and suddenly we had a full blow problem on our hands. How do I clear up yeast when in cloth diapers?

After some Google searching, I learned nystatin is not cloth diaper safe. The nystatin will get on the liners and form a waterproof barrier, apparently. {This is the same reason why a lot of diaper rash creams are not cloth diaper safe.} I read about two methods to clear up yeast while in cloth diapers:
1. use disposable liners to make a barrier between the nystatin and the liners in your diapers, adding bleach each time you wash them.
2. switch to disposable diapers until the yeast infection is cleared up.

While I was Google searching I started wondering how our little guy got yeast in cloth diapers. This was a reoccurring problem for us in disposable diapers with all 3 of our other boys. Baby #4 had his first bought of yeast right before 5 months, but his brothers all dealt with it several times before that in disposables. All the Google searching lead me down many roads: wash routine, detergent choice, etc. I ended up in this cloth diaper Facebook group that slammed homemade laundry detergents as well as "cloth diaper safe detergents." The conclusion of this group was that nothing would get your diapers clean unless you were using Tide {or a similar mainstream detergent} and bleach. I was so disheartened reading all these posts on the group. I kid you not, I started crying. I had a baby with a horrible yeast diaper rash {it flared up really bad by then}, all this money invested in our cloth diapers, and this website is telling me that nothing will actually clean our diapers {and yeast} unless we are using Tide and bleach, two products we don't use?

This bothered me a lot because part of the reason why we switched to cloth diapers is our environmental impact. I know that might sound lame, but we have 6 people in our house. We fly through products. I felt horrible about the landfill we no doubt created with our twins, despite my efforts to use biodegradable diapers {does anything biodegrade in a landfill?!}. We make a conscious effort to use biodegradable products and products with minimal packaging, buying in bulk where we can, and raw ingredients instead of processed. We make as much as we can at home, including most of our household cleaners {read "Homemade household cleaners"}. So hearing that we needed to use Tide-- a detergent I don't use for our laundry-- and bleach-- a product we don't keep in our house-- made me feel like, "What is the point of cloth diapering then?" If cloth diapering is going to make me introduce cleaning products that we don't use and detergents that don't biodegrade, what is the point of cloth diapering over disposable diapers?

The next morning I packed up our poor sweet baby with his, by that point, really bad diaper rash and headed to my favorite local baby store. When the owner greeted me, I am pretty sure that I came close to tears as I unloaded my problems on her. Thankfully she had all the answers. She started with a hug, which I needed, and then moved to the immediate problem: the yeast diaper rash. She recommended switching to disposables and focus on clearing up the yeast rash. She said it is the quickest way to clear it up, especially with how out of hand his rash was.

Then she moved to the diapers. There is a lot of chatter online about whether or not yeast grows on cloth diapers once there is a yeast infection. She told me to ignore the bleach comments and wash everything he's worn on the highest heat setting a couple times and put them in the sun. Since he was going to spend the next 2 weeks in disposables, he would not go back to cloth until after his yeast was cleared up, at which point there wouldn't be a problem with yeast anymore.

After that we had a long discussion on detergents and wash routine. She asked me why I was looking up the wash routine and I told her that we weren't really having a problem with our wash routine, but I was noticing that our Elemental diapers had a strong smell when I changed them. I didn't notice the smell when he was wearing them, but once I got him on the changing table and started the changing process, I really noticed the ammonia smell. I didn't feel like there was an ammonia smell the first couple weeks of cloth diapering so I was worried somewhat that our detergent wasn't making the grade, especially since he somehow got the yeast diaper rash. I talk about our wash routine in "Cloth diapering an infant {logistics};" we had been using unscented Babyganics laundry detergent. She told me that she recommends unscented Rockin' Green laundry detergent. I asked her about our homemade laundry detergent, but she said no since I use borax in it, which is somewhat of a question when dealing with the PUL {waterproof cover} on cloth diapers. Rockin' Green also makes a Rockin' Green Funk Rock Ammonia Bouncer. I asked her if she recommended I use that for a bit and she said she really didn't think I needed that with the problem I'm having.

We also discussed the Freetimes. Since I was very confident that the rash started in the first place from the Freetimes {my children have inherited my sensitive skin}, I decided to shelve the Freetimes until much later before trying them again.

I left her store with a plan:
1. disposables and nystatin until the yeast is cleared up
2. wash all my diapers twice on high heat and sun them
3. switch from BabyGanics to Rockin' Green detergent
4. put away our Freetimes and stick to Elementals

I was fairly certain that I would be back for the Rockin' Green Funk Rock Ammonia Bouncer, but she insisted I wouldn't need it. I went home and followed all the instructions. Baby #4 spent almost a full 2 weeks in disposables. His rash started clearing up immediately when we put him in disposables with nystatin. The diapers were washed and sunned and I used up the last of our BabyGanics on our household laundry, not our diapers.

When we finally put baby #4 back in cloth, the Rockin' Green detergent worked amazing. The ammonia smell that I noticed went away. She was right that we did not need the Funk Rock. I have been exceedingly pleased with the Rockin' Green. {Maybe too pleased. I flew through our first bag because I started washing all of our household laundry in it, just to experiment with it's cleaning capabilities.} We kept the rest of our wash routine the same because we really didn't have issues with our diaper laundry.

Of course in a house of 6, mistakes are made. Baby #4 accidentally ended up in our remaining Freetime {I swapped the other Freetime for an Elemental on a local b/s/t page}. When I went to change him, his bottom was covered in rash. Thankfully we caught the error quickly and have not put him back in a Freetime. I do believe that his skin reacts badly to the Freetime liners. I am going to trade my last Freetime for an Elemental. We only had the 2 Freetimes because they dry quicker than the Elementals, but I pulled out all the used Elementals I bought on a swap page {11 used diapers} plus the new Elementals I've bought for baby #4 {10 new diapers} and so our stash is large enough to support using Elementals exclusively, even with a longer drying time {21 Elementals total}.

Having the box of disposables in the house from the yeast has actually been handy. We've had some colds pass through the house and the craziness of getting ready to move again has lead to days of forgetting to either do or move the laundry, which is a problem since for some reason I only have one night diaper {a problem I plan to remedy}. When we move this time, we are going to be traveling for a couple months before settling in our new state, so we will be using disposables during that time. It has made me reluctant to invest in more cloth diapers for the time being, even though we will resume cloth once we settle.

Have you had to deal with yeast and cloth diapers? Have you had to use disposables while cloth diapering? What are your cloth diaper troubleshooting tips? :)

Comments

Spring said…
I had trouble with ammonia in my microfiber inserts & had to strip them every so often with dawn dish soap. I wish we had had a local baby store that knew about cloth diapers but I only had the internet to rely on. I did have better luck with cloth diaper detergents once I finally made the switch and will pass this info on to my sister who is currently using our old stash on my niece. We never had any diaper rash or yeast though in cloth. We had terrible diaper rash while in the NICU using disposables & my sister is having a terrible time with my niece having yeast in disposables, she uses them when leaving the house but it doesn't look like she's going to be able to do that anymore.
Kimber said…
I had read about stripping diapers and that thought that was the direction we were going to have to go with the yeast and possible ammonia issue. I only noticed the strong ammonia smell during changing, when I was taking off the diaper. You couldn't smell it when he was wearing the diaper. Since we've switched to Rockin Green, it has gone away. I've been really pleased with that detergent! I also followed her instructions for washing following the yeast problem and we haven't had any issues since I put him back in cloth after the nystatin. I truly think our problem was his rash from the Freetimes {which got BAD after that long nap in them!} became infected with yeast; he had horrible yeast by the time we put him in disposables with the nystatin. I felt so overwhelmed trying to figure out how to clear it up in cloth and was so grateful for this local baby store. She is awesome! It is great to have a local resource and place that I can buy the things I need right then without having to wait on shipping! :) I've read your posts on cloth diapering triplets. After cloth diapering baby #4, I'm just kicking myself that I didn't do this earlier with our other three, even our twins. It is so much easier than I ever thought before we got started!!

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