The Diaper Cream Dilemma

I know that many of our blog readers are green parents and that cloth diapering is an important part of eco-conscious infant care for many parents. This weekend, I was talking with a green mama who brought to light an issue involving cloth diapering that I wanted to share.

This particular friend has a 4-month-old baby. While pregnant, she was adamant that she would be using cloth instead of disposables, and at her baby shower she received gift after gift of cloth diapering essentials. Still despite all this, when I was visiting her home, I saw her little one lounging under the play gym wearing a disposable diaper.

When she noticed that I noticed, she frowned and explained to me that she ran into a snag with cloth diapering. Her baby's sensitive skin had developed a severe case of diaper rash, and she couldn't use diaper cream with cloth diapers.

Surprised by this, I asked why, and she went onto explain the problem. Most diaper creams work by creating a barrier over the skin to prevent moisture from the diaper from irritating the tissue. When the cream rubs off on a cloth diaper, it makes the fabric less absorbent, leading to leaks. This doesn't happen with disposable diapers because the synthetic fibers are more absorbent than natural cloth.

My friend explained that she planned to stick to the disposables until the rash cleared up and then return to cloth. 

When I got home, I started doing some research about this problem and found that there are other solutions besides breaking one's commitment to cloth diapering. I wanted to share them with the Paperless Kitchen blog readers who may also be dealing with similar problems.

- Although the "big name" diaper creams are not cloth diaper friendly, there are several brands that are. Not surprisingly, these creams are also more natural than their counterparts. One brand that is recommended again and again is Angel Baby Bottom Balm from Earth Mama, which was made specifically for use with cloth diapers.

- Many companies now offer biodegradable, flushable liners for cloth diapers that keep diaper cream on the skin instead of on the diaper itself. If you opt for one of these liners, you can typically use any type of diaper cream that you wish.

- Irritation on a baby's bottom is not always caused by diapers. The rash could also be an allergic reaction to fabric or detergent, or it could be caused by yeast. If your baby has developed what seems to be diaper rash for the first time, consult your pediatrician to rule out other possibilities before you begin slathering on the diaper cream.

Are you a green parent who uses cloth diapers? How do you deal with the diaper cream dilemma? Share your tips in the “Comments” section.

1 Response


April 02, 2013

This is an old post, but I wanted to comment anyway. We ran into the same problem. The thing about all these “cloth diaper friendly” creams that everyone speaks so highly about (CJ’s, Earth Mama Angel Baby, Coconut oil) is they really do not work with a bad rash. At all. And when they’ve got deep, painful ulcers after 3-4 days of having them basically completely diaperless and using those creams with little to no improvement, it’s hard not t cave. Now I actually always go straight to a disposable and pile on the cream for an overnight, and rashes are gone by morning. There is not a product in any of the natural lines that could claim to do that, and it is so frustrating. They are good for preventative (and I use them for everything – I even use them on myself I love them so much), but not so much for dealing with actual rashes.

p.s. in our case the problem was ammonia buildup on diapers due to extremely hard water, which we’ve managed to improve but still deal with this once in awhile.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Back to the top