Well I've got babies on the brain these days (something about having a newborn!), so let's talk about doing cloth diapers overseas. Before I moved to West Africa with my 3-month-old, I wrote to one of our colleagues there who had used cloth diapers for both of her babies. She sent me an email packed with lots of advice, and I wanted to share it here today! This is written from the perspective of someone living in a remote area, doing laundry by hand. Not all of it will be applicable to every situation, but I think you will still find her recommendations helpful.

Here's Charity:

I have used cloth diapers for my boys and really liked it, but I certainly understand why someone may choose to use all disposable. I kept some disposable on hand and used them if I was having a really busy day, or maybe I was sick, or we were traveling. I also used disposable for the first couple months after they were born. I liked cloth in the village because I found the disposable not so disposable in a village setting. Especially in the rainy season they don't burn the greatest and if you had a lot of observers when you burned trash, it was a bit embarrassing to have this huge pile of diapers. And to just let them pile up until you can drive them away to the dump can get pretty smelly!

Here is the diapering system that I came up with and felt like I could handle. I was given some diapers as a gift in the States.The ones that I prefer are the long thin cotton ones that needed to be folded. Some people don't like all the folding, but they washed out SO much more easily than the pre-folded ones that I would choose them any day over any fancy, thick prefolded or pamper shaped diapers. They dried so quickly even in rainy season that I never had a problem of them getting smelly. There are likely rubber pants here, but not good quality. I would bring some. Bad rubber pants can give you a bad diapering experience. My preferences on rubber pants are called "Doppi". I would NOT recommend Gerber. They get holes in them so much faster and are much more "plastic-y" and hot. The "Doppi" brand is so nice and soft and have lasted a long time. Remember that you will need all sizes and I would bring a couple packs of each size.

I also made diaper liners out of old cotton sheets and shirts. I lined each diaper when I folded it, then if it was just wet, the liner got washed, and the messy ones got thrown away and burned. It saved a lot of washing. I kept a bucket of water with disinfectant in it, and put the wet diapers in there. If they were extra dirty I immediately rinsed them out in some other water and then put them in the disinfectant water. I washed the diapers at least every other day, so they didn't get so smelly. Unless they were unusually dirty, I simply wrung them out of the water they were soaking in, then rinsed them twice and hung them out in the sun. They have stayed amazingly white and smelling nice. If you use laundry soap, you have to make sure they get rinsed VERY well, as the detergent can be harsh on the baby's skin. Occasionally, I felt they needed the extra cleaning and did use the soap, but the disinfectant really did a good job for the most part. As far as how many diapers, I'm trying to remember, but with washing them every other day, I probably didn't use more than 12-15, but you may want to bring 2 doz. just in case you don't want to wash them as often.

I used diaper pins for awhile, but found something here that I like WAY better. It is Snappi Cloth Diaper Fasteners. They work SO well and pins can be such a pain.

A couple things that I would add from my experience - instead of using traditional plastic pants, I used 'Thirsties' brand diaper covers. They worked great for me, and almost never leaked! I also had a friend give me homemade flannel diapers - long, thin ones (like Charity mentioned) but made of flannel. These are super easy to make, soft for Baby, and very absorbent!

So what is your experience? Have you tried cloth diapering overseas? What tips do you have, or what brands/supplies would you recommend?

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