Sunday, March 21, 2010

Diaper rash while cloth diapering

I first encountered diaper rash when my oldest child was several months old.  Before my son was born I was given some zinc oxide ointment.  Because I was using cloth diapers I avoided using any ointment.  My son hadn’t needed any until then.  I applied the zinc oxide ointment and the rash didn’t go away.  I tried baking soda baths and the rash didn’t go away.  I considered the diapers I was using, but I hadn’t changed anything.  I tried giving him lots of air time out of a diaper.  This rash continued for a couple of weeks.  Sometimes it would almost go away and then it would come back again.  When it started to blister up above his diaper on his back I took him to his pediatrician.  As soon as the pediatrician saw the rash she prescribed medication.  Once my son was on the medication his rash went away and stayed away.

But this was not my only encounter with diaper rash through the years.  In most cases any instances of diaper rash were caused by not changing my baby often enough.  If I left my baby in a diaper too long the wetness would cause redness.  If I let it continue it would have turned into a full-blown rash.  The causes of diaper rash are varied.  It could be due to wetness, not changing the diaper often enough, sensitivity to certain chemicals or detergents, detergent build-up, chafing, introduction of solids, or the food the mother eats when breastfeeding.  The first thing I do when I encounter a little redness during a diaper change is to put the baby in a stay dry diaper like a Fuzzi Bunz, Happy Heiny, or BumGenius.  This helps the baby feel drier even if I miss changing a diaper as soon as my baby wets.  Ideally you should change a diaper as soon as a baby wets, but this may not always be possible.  If the problem was minor, a half a day in stay dry diapers usually took care of the redness. 

If the redness persisted or if I had a full-blown rash I would use a little zinc oxide ointment on the inflamed area.  Zinc oxide isn’t a friend to cloth diapers.  Depending on the cloth diapers you use it could damage them so it is always a good idea to use a barrier between the ointment and your diaper.  You can use disposable liners to prevent the ointment from getting on your diaper.  You can also use some microfleece strips cut up into rectangles.  Microfleece doesn’t unravel so no sewing is necessary.  If you don’t have either of those, use a soft washcloth or some wipes to help prevent the ointment from getting on your diaper.

If you encounter diaper rash, start off by making sure the inflamed area stays dry.  Consider any changes to your baby’s diet, your washing routine, the possibility of detergent build-up, or your food intake if you are breastfeeding and make necessary adjustments.  Some parents give their baby lots of air time where the baby is diaperless.  If you have a young baby you can lay your baby on a waterproof mat.  Baking soda baths can be soothing. 

While diaper rash is a common occurrence in babyhood in many cases it can be dealt with quickly at home.  You should always contact your child’s doctor for any persistent rash.      


  1. My son also had a problem with redness in his first few months of life. A friend finally told me about California Baby's Calming Diaper Rash Cream---it's amazing! It's gentle, safe for cloth diapers, and would clear up my son's redness in a matter of hours. It also has a pleasant smell and isn't as thick as the zinc oxide, but, in my opinion, just as effective.

  2. My boys have both had a problem with diaper rash, and I discovered using vasoline on their bottoms at each diaper change helped heal any rash and prevent new rashes. I haven't noticed it affecting my cloth diapers ability to function.


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