Have Diapers, Will Travel

If you’ve read this post, you know that we use cloth diapers exclusively. Because of Oliver’s sensitive skin as an infant not using cloth wasn’t really an option.  So, we took (and still take) our diapers with us everywhere, including countless camping trips, Disney, the beach, etc.  When Oliver was about 15 months old we had a week long trip planned to Walt Disney World.  At the time, more natural disposable diapers were just starting to become a “thing”.  I was hoping to not have to drag cloth through the Disney Parks, I figured I would buy some to use just for the trip.

My first trip to the store I stood in the diaper aisle at Target totally overwhelmed. There were so many choices! And different sizes? He was wearing a one-size system (made by Cotton Babies) picking a size seemed weird. I don’t know why, but that is what stuck out to me at the time.  Also? They were expensive, it had been a long time since Zoe was in disposable diapers and I had a little sticker shock.  I ended up leaving without diapers, but probably a cart full of other crap, because it’s Target.

At the time I worked for The Little Seedling, and we happened to have samples of the Grovia Disposables (no longer made).  The next time I was at work, I grabbed two in different sizes to try. Easy.  No commitment. That night we put one on Oliver, and he wouldn’t walk. He stood there totally still, every time he made the slightest movement the diaper made a sound and he looked behind him.  It was hilarious. I figured that he would get over it, but after a few minutes he took the diaper off. Well, that was a problem.  I didn’t think about the fact that he typically wore diapers with snaps, so even if he was inclined to take it off, it wasn’t easy. The disposable took him seconds, not something that I wanted to deal with, especially on vacation.

I decided that maybe trying the disposable inserts for my current diaper system was a better compromise.  I could use our current Flip Diaper covers and just use one of their disposable inserts.  Flip covers could easily be hand washed washed in the hotel room sink and they dry quickly.  That wouldn’t be so bad.  I bought some inserts to try. Like the young, only two kids, inexperienced mom I was, I thought it would be a great idea to try it on an outing to Target. As we were rolling through the front doors there was pee dripping down his legs.  OMG.  He was wet from his belly button down to his ankles. We took a detour to the bathroom and of course I didn’t have any extra clothes with me, because isn’t that life?

After that experience we tried a few more times, they leaked every single time unless I used three of the inserts.  At that point it made the cost of them outrageous, so we relented to the fact that we would be washing diapers in one of the beautiful Disney World washing machines.  Here’s hoping its magical!

Our travel diaper tote, it holds enough diapers for 2-3 days, wet bags, wipes, liners, and rash cream.

And you know what? It was honestly fine. Because we had the flip system with their inserts and flats that we used with the flip covers, they didn’t take up that much room and we had a stroller already to carry all the dirty diapers in the wet beg.   I also purchased “Saddle Bags” for our stroller and that was great for storing diapers we needed (and all the other crap you need for a day at the parks.) I had a lot of diapers so I got away with only washing twice that week.  The washing facilities at our resort were right next to a small pool, so I got to relax by the pool while they washed, that’s a win after running through the parks all day.
That trip pretty much sealed it for us. We’d be taking our cloth diapers with us everywhere.  Here are a few things that I’ve found helpful when traveling with cloth diapers.

  • We have a small size tote we always use to pack our diapers in. (See above picture) I can fit everything diaper related in there. And it’s really helpful having it all together.
  • Bring small samples of your regular detergent. We use Allen’s from here. You don’t want to be messing with new detergent while traveling, go with what you know.
  • You will use more wet bags than you think. I don’t know why, but I always regret not bringing at least 3-4 of them.
  • If you normally use a diaper sprayer, consider disposable liners or even fleece liners (go get fleece from the fabric store and cut it to butt size) It makes dumping those poop diapers easier.
  • An All in Two system or cover and insert system, is great for travel. They’re typically easier to wash and less bulky to pack. We really like flats and covers. If those aren’t your jam for every day use, it could be worth it to buy them just for travel.
  • For more rustic destinations (camping) hand washing isn’t as terrible as it seems. We made a camp washer and found doing small loads every night was the easiest. Be careful not to use too much detergent, or you’ll be rinsing for days.
  • For shorter trips, we’ve just waited to wash until we get home. This works best if you can give your diapers a quick pre-rinse and hang them to dry before throwing them in the wet bag. They don’t get stinky that way.
  • Know your laundry options.  Are you using Aunt Betty’s washer? Is it the laundry mat? Don’t stress about washing exactly as often as you do at home.  If you have enough diapers to make it longer, DO IT.
  • If you’re road tripping, natural fibers diapers tend to leak less than a microfiber based diaper. There’s less “squish” factor. Adding an extra hemp insert, is always a good plan for extra leak insurance.

Looking at this list it looks a little daunting, even for me. You will find that just like everything you do in life, the more that you do it the easier that it gets.  Since we traveled so much with Oliver, by the time the other two came around it wasn’t a question if we would use cloth diapers while we traveled.  Soon enough you’ll be a cloth diaper pro and answering questions about your baby’s fluffy bottom in rest stop bathrooms.

This may not be for everyone though. Want to use disposables while you travel? No judgment from me, you gotta do what works for your family.


The Accidental Cloth Diapering Family

Through the years our parenting has evolved and changed. A lot of that comes from experience, a lot comes out of necessity. Cloth diapering was one of those things. I tell people that if I can cloth diaper, anyone can. I hate laundry and I’m kind of lazy about it, and yet it works for us.

When we had Zoe we did things in a way that was familiar to us. We were young parents, the first of our friends to get married, the first to have kids. We were sort of flying blind. Sure, I was around kids, as soon as I was old enough to take the American Red Cross Safe Sitter course I was babysitting any chance I could. I was no stranger to being around kids, but I did things the way their parents wanted them done. Most of the time that was in pretty mainstream ways. Pampers, formula feeding, jarred baby food, etc.

Then came Oliver, we had been doing this parenting gig for 3 years. Zoe had turned out pretty well (so far). We were probably over confident. Oliver taught us that everything we knew didn’t matter. He was a different person, his own person. We had to learn to adapt.

For the first two weeks of Oliver’s life he had chronic, bleeding diaper rash. I tried all my tricks, creams, switched diaper brands, everything. None of it worked. My sister in law, had her second child about a year and half before and she had decided to cloth diaper. She suggested trying cloth to see if it helped his skin.

I instantly balked. No way. I didn’t have time for that! (Oh, how silly I was. I had so much time back then.) She’s was a stay at home mom, I was slated to head back to work in retail management in a few short weeks. There was no way I could balance that and everything else. I couldn’t keep up on our laundry as it was. Washing diapers was not on the list. Also…. poop, in my washer. *gag*.

After everything else failed to help his poor bottom, we relented and went to the only local cloth diaper store in the area. (The Little Seedling) Torey, (who I knew from being a CPST) helped me pick out a simple and inexpensive way to try it out and taught me how to put them on. I started with 15 used prefolds, 3 kissaluvs fitteds, 3 Thirsties covers and a wet bag. At the time it was about $75, and enough to get us through about a day. My plan was if it helped, I was only going to do it until his skin cleared up, not any longer than absolutely necessary. I was not going to be washing diapers when I went back to work.

Oliver in his first cloth diaper, even he looks skeptical.

We got home, we were skeptical at best, but we jumped right in. Within two diaper changes his bottom was looking better. Crap, I guess we’re doing this, I thought. It seemed simple enough. Put the absorbent part in, waterproof cover on, change when wet. Do not throw in the trash, bag it up for washing later. Mark was a little more hesitant. I remember him telling me, “I’ll change the diapers, but I’m not washing them.” (Oh, how things have changed!)

It was all fun and games until he pooped. Instant panic. What was I supposed to do with that? I called Torey at The Little Seedling, I’m sure she could hear the urgency in my voice. She calmly talked me through dumping the it in the toilet. Why that didn’t occur to me, I’m not sure. We continued on and Oliver’s rash was almost healed at the 24 hour mark. It was a miracle. (Not really, it was actually lack of crazy chemicals next to his skin.)

We made it through the whole “stash” of diapers I bought and it was time to wash them.  I had my instructions, also from The Little Seedling. I took some deep breaths and put them in the washer. It was a few more steps than regular laundry, but it wasn’t terrible. After they were done and had gone in the dryer, they were clean and ready to go. It was honestly way easier than I expected.

Since I had used all the cloth we had bought and it was all washing, I put Oliver back in the disposables. After one diaper the rash was back. It was clear that they were the problem. I was feeling pretty OK with how things were going, I successfully cloth diapered for a day. I could do this at least until I went back to work.

As the days and weeks went on we got into a groove and really came to not mind using cloth diapers. I even sort of liked it, they were way cuter than disposables. Remember this was before they started putting cute prints on possibles, way back in 2010.   Washing them was really no big deal (and Mark helped despite his initial protest), they smelled way better than that diaper genie full of a weeks worth of disposables, and we were saving money. Which at the time, was huge, because we didn’t have a lot to spare.

Cute, toddler Oliver, pants are pretty much optional in our house. Those baby blues, tho.

We bought some different kinds and tried them out and ended up using a combination of pocket diapers, all in twos, and those same prefolds and covers. Since it was clear that Oliver wasn’t going to tolerate disposables we decided we’d just keep doing it. It was either that or have a miserable kid with a bleeding butt. It’s amazing what you do when you just have to.

Honestly, I’ve kind of grown to like it. It’s not nearly as complicated as some people make it out to be. I’ve learned that almost everything you read on the internet about caring for and washing diapers is over complicated. (Except for this of course!) I’ll include some of my favorite links at the end.

I don’t know why, but hanging diapers outside looks so pretty to me.

We’ve been using cloth diapers ever since, it wasn’t even a question with the younger two. They wore cloth from the day they were born (at home) and I haven’t bought a disposable diaper since. (With the exception of a recent emergency hurricane pack,  just in case, that we never used.) We take our cloth diapers when we travel, really everywhere. I have even hand washed them while camping, while not super fun, it wasn’t nearly bad as I thought it was going to be.

Eli in a home made fitted (Thanks Jessica!) at less than 24 hours old
A fresh Isabel, don’t ask me how old she was, shes the fourth child

Because of the spacing in age of our kids, we’ve had someone in diapers solidly since 2010. At one point both the boys were in diapers. We did have a short 3 month break between Eli and Isabel when Eli was only wearing them at bedtime. I couldn’t even begin to figure how much money we’ve saved. I still have some diapers that Oliver wore, so they’ve been through three kids. Those original 15 prefolds? All three of my kids wore them, a friends kid, and I passed them on to another friend when Isabel was done. Sure some things have worn out and needed to be replaced, or I’ve bought some new just because, but I’m not adding $30-$50 a week to our grocery bill for diapers. Plus, I’m not putting all those diapers in a landfill and exposing my kids to nasty chemicals that are in disposable diapers.

Using a Flip Diaper Cover at the beach
Same diaper as above, almost 2 years later. One of the pros of using a one-size system

Mark Says

Whenever cloth diapering comes up in a conversation with new parents I always try to convince them to do it. Sure it takes time to get used to putting dirty diapers in the wash, but the benefits far outweigh any negative aspects. You will save a ton of money, potentially side-step issues with sensitive skin, and you can feel good about keeping all of those diapers out of landfills. You’ll also pick up new and interesting skills, after a few months of cloth diapering you’ll be a regular diapering MacGyver, able to make a diaper out of anything.  All joking aside though, if you run out of disposable diapers you are going to have to run to the store, if you run out of clean cloth diapers you can just use an old t-shirt, a hand towel, or anything else clean and absorbent you have around the house while your diapers wash.


If you’re local to Ann Arbor, Michigan, check out The Little Seedling for a cloth diapering workshop, knowledgeable associates, and an awesome selections of quality cloth diapers. (Disclaimer, I am a former employee, but that’s a post for another time.)


Check out The Real Diaper Association for info on washing and diaper care:


The Dirty Diaper Laundry is a great online place to get info on basics:


Also a shout out to Cotton Babies (the makers of Bumgenius and Flip Diapers) because we almost exclusively use their diapers. We love their commitment to responsible manufacturing and making quality products. Oh, and friggin’ adorable prints.