Cloth Diapers – The Diaper Station

In my last post, I detailed the basic system we have for covering baby’s bottom.  However, much to the delight of many retailers, there is a bit more to any kind of diapering than the means you employ for containing the waste.  You need a place to change the baby and a strategy to keep that little butt happy and clean!

We elected to stick to the basics in an effort to keep our budget and the clutter in our small house under control.  Really, it is possible to avoid spending hundreds on diapering accessories.

Here is how we did it:

Our diapering station:

We have one diapering station in our house.  Since we have one floor and only two bedrooms, this makes the most sense for us.  You may want to consider more than one if you have a larger space.  Ours is currently in our bedroom because that is where he sleeps at night.  We will most likely transition this to his room when he starts sleeping there all night, but for now this is perfect.

Changing Pad

The central item of our diapering station is our changing pad.  We have it perched on a shelving unit under a window in our bedroom.  The pad comes with a kit to fasten it to any surface, so voilà – changing table!


Avoiding the cost and bulk of a traditional changing table does have its drawbacks – mostly storage!  The shelving unit we chose for the changing station does have room for some of his clothes, but the other space is taken up with plenty of other stuff.

Sadhana Mama - Cloth Diaper Storage

photo by AmySelleck, used under Creative Commons license

Unlike disposables, which come in their own box, cloth diapers need their own containment device.  We chose a shallow basket with a handle like this one for our flat diapers.  The handle contains a tall stack really well, although it doesn’t quite hold every single diaper we have.  We also bought a small (about 8 x 4) rectangular basket to store wipes, covers, and snappis.

Speaking of Wipes…

I did not cover wipes in the diapering basics because I don’t think they are a true necessity.  We generally use the dry bits of the diaper to dry him off if his diaper is only wet.  If the situation is more dire, we do use homemade wipes made of terry cloth (read: old towels) and leftover flannel scraps from a quilting project.  Minimal time and sewing skills required.  Tutorial to follow!  The wipes get washed right along with the diapers.

I spent lots of pregnant time searching for the best way to replicate the disposable wipes experience, but in the end I realized that none of that was really necessary.  Instead, we keep a stash of about 24 dry wipes in a basket.  At some point early in the day, one of us will usually wet four wipes under the bathroom faucet for use throughout the day, but Jewish mom spit works in a pinch (I’m sure spit of any ethnic background would be just fine).

If you would rather get a bit fancier, there are are oodles of cloth wipes solution recipes online.  In that case, I would recommend a spray bottle with a good, soaking mist (like a hairdresser would use to spritz your hair).  If that seems too complicated for you, don’t fret: we have gotten by perfectly with the water/spit combination.

Homemade wipes may not be for you.  If that’s the case, I’m sure a good quality paper towel would do the trick – although I think our flannel/terry cloth combination is a bit gentler on baby’s bum.  I highly suggest avoiding the commercially available baby wipes, as the chemicals that go into making them smell nice and stay mold and bacteria free are pretty heavy duty, too much so for baby (or mama) in my opinion.

Keeping Rashes at Bay

Baby butt cream is another heavily represented topic on the internet.  I myself bought some raw shea butter with the intention of creating a fancy concoction, but it is still sitting unopened in our bathroom cabinet.  Why?  Because coconut oil is awesome and we already use it all the time.  The amount needed is very small, so the residue does not get on the diapers and reduce absorbency. We have been vigilant in applying tiny amounts whenever we see a bit of redness crop up, and so far there have been no major rash events at all (five months and counting!)

I took an old screw-top face cream container and spooned some coconut oil in.  Since we live in a northern climate, the oil is hard year round.  A finger at body temperature is warm enough to melt just a little bit on the surface.  If you live in a warmer climate, the coconut oil will be slushy or even liquid for some or all of the year.  In that case, I would suggest a deeper jar and an applicator (like a Q-Tip) to minimize the mess and possible over-application.

Dirty Diapers

Yes, cloth diapering requires that you store dirty diapers for some period of time – but disposables carry the same burden!  Instead of heading to the dump at least twice a week with a pickup full of stinky trash, we are able to wash away the waste in the washing machine and live in a relatively poo free house.

Our “disposal” solution at home is quite simple.  I ordered a cloth pail liner with the intention of using it in a small pedal-operated trash can.  Once we realized how quickly that little thing filled up, the pail liner became its own receptacle on the floor.  The smell is a non-issue – my only concern is keeping the open bag away from curious little hands once mobility and curiosity become more of an issue.  So, for now, we have this bag sitting right on the floor.  When laundry time comes, we simply flip the bag inside out over the washing machine and then throw it in once the diapers have all fallen out.  Easy!

And that’s it.

Really.  Changing pad, diaper storage, wipes, cream, and a pail liner.  This is the basic make up of a cloth diapering station, whether we are at home or out and about.  Next time, I will go over our portable kit.

Our system is super bare bones.  Do you have more creature comforts when it comes to diapering?  What is on your must-have list?


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