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Dealing With Diaper Rashes and Cloth Diapers #fallfluff

When I first started cloth diapering one of the things I thought about was how to deal with diaper rashes. Before I learned of the modern options, I was warned about rashes from lack of air flow through plastic pants and detergent. As I researched about cloth, I kept reading about needing to use cloth safe creams. But how the heck would I know what was safe for cloth or not? And what do I do with all the known rash creams that I already have (like Desitin)?

Overall, it seems like fluffy bum babies experience fewer rashes, but that doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t get them. Rissa doesn’t get really bad rashes but she will get some mild ones now and again. Right now we are dealing with the worst case we’ve ever had – one stubborn area is slowly getting better after about 3 days or so. Normally any irritation she has clears up within a day.

What Causes Diaper Rash?

Diaper rash is usually the result of baby’s delicate skin being irritated by the bacteria and ammonia from exposure to urine mixed with feces. Other things can irritate the skin too, such as certain materials and detergents. Diapers that are too small can also irritate the skin, especially if baby is mobile.

How to Prevent Diaper Rash

The most ideal way of dealing with diaper rash is to prevent it in the first place! Easier said than done, sometimes, I know! Some of my methods from earlier on just aren’t feasible anymore. I used to let Rissa have naked time when she was smaller. I could lay her on top of a few prefolds and let her pee as she pleased. Now that she’s mobile… well… that doesn’t work anymore! Here are some of the things I try to do to prevent diaper rash.

  • Change frequently – every 2-3 hours. I will change prefolds more often than pockets though
  • Air time – I try to let her air out a bit during changes. I also pat her bottom dry with a cloth wipe too
  • Wash baby’s bottom after stooling – soap and water mix, a cloth wipe solution or baby bottom cleanser can be used
  • Use pocket diapers or some sort of stay dry lining for naps and bedtime
  • Wash and rinse diapers well
  • Use cloth safe creams to provide a preventative protective layer

Cloth Safe Rash Treatment Options

No matter how much you try to prevent it, your baby will still likely be affected by diaper rash at one time or another. Here are some ways to treat it without ruining your stash!

  • Avoid petroleum jelly and creams with “bad” ingredients cod liver oil and zinc oxide (like Desitin) because they will cause build up on your diapers
  • If you do use a cream not deemed safe for cloth diapers, use a liner in the diaper. It can be a disposable liner or a fleece liner that you can wash separately from your cloth
  • Breastmilk – I have not actually used it on a rash, but I’ve heard it can do wonders!
  • Coconut oil – This is one of my favorite treatments. Baby smells yummy, it’s easy to apply, and it rinses out of your diapers.
  • Olive oil – I have not used this method, but the idea is the same as coconut oil.
  • Cloth safe rash creams I’ve used: Motherlove and Grandma El’s. I’ve also used a natural baby salve. While it wasn’t made specially for cloth, it doesn’t have the “bad” ingredients.
  • Not sure how your rash cream or ointment measures up? Here’s a helpful chart with a rating system for cloth friendliness.

What are your secret rash fighting tricks?

Don’t forget to check out how Mama on a Green Mission and Formula Mom deal with rashes too!


Tuesday 27th of September 2011

We switched to cloth with our first child because of rashes.

I've had good luck with the EMAB and California Baby diaper creams. Coconut oil is amazing as a preventative and just for an all over moisturizer as well. I like that the EMAB has some TTO in it. Great stuff.

If you use something like Desitin, you will end up with fishy smelling diapers. Vomit.

Stephanie-jean Weber

Monday 26th of September 2011

I actually have used breastmilk on rashes before and like you said, it does do wonders. We are frequently fighting yeast for my daughter though, which can be a hard one to deal with :(

Melynda Rainsbarger

Monday 26th of September 2011

My secret rash fighting tip is a nice warm bath.

Sarah W.

Saturday 24th of September 2011

My daughter had a pretty bad diaper rash right after we started full time cloth diapering...I think it was because she also had just started sleeping through the night...I bought some CJ's BUTTer spray and that cleared her right up! I'm now trying different things on her at night time as a preventative! Next I am trying coconut oil! :)

heather stewart

Friday 23rd of September 2011

haven't had too many rashes so luckily haven't had to deal with this much. That being said, when I have had to do something, I've used the desitin we received as a gift, and a disposable diaper so that it wouldn't ruin my cloth ones. It'd be nice to have cloth diaper safe stuff on hand in case a rash does happen.