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Vacationing with Cloth Diapers
By Heather Sanders
Will you try them on a road or in a plane? This reminds me of my favorite Dr. Seuss book. I can hear the familiar rhyme slightly altered . . ."Would you, could you on the road? Just as in your own abode?" Or how about "Would you, could you on a plane? So luxurious and humane!"
Bear with me now, I'm usually not so strange (well, okay, there are moments when I'm not so strange). Still, cloth diapering really doesn't have to stop when you pass over the threshold of your front door.
On-The-Road? Storing and washing cloth diapers while traveling.
This is one that we have encountered over and over in our cloth diapering experience. When we lived in Georgia, we didn’t have the convenience of living close to relatives and friends for a good while, so there was always a road trip every few months or so, usually from Georgia to Texas or Colorado. Read on and you will see how simple the whole process can be!
What will you need
Changing, Washing, Drying
All you need for your diaper changes is a fresh diaper, a baby wipe, your wipe mixture in the squirt bottle and a good attitude. Change your baby as you would at home. If you notice that your soiled diaper tote is getting a little acrid-smelling along the road, place a few drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil on a baby wipe and place in the top of the soiled diaper tote. This will eliminate the odor
Dealing with the poop. If your baby's diaper is poopy and you are able to stop at a place where there are restroom facilities, change as you normally would and then transport your baby's solid waste in a small nylon tote/plastic grocery bag or a Ziploc® to the restroom to flush it away. DO NOT DUNK . . . just shake off what will come off and then roll the diaper up and place it back in the bag you used to transport it to the restroom. Don’t forget to wash your hands!
If you make a diaper change at a rest stop without facilities, fold the diaper over the solid wastes and store in a small nylon tote/plastic grocery bag or Ziploc® and close securely. You will need to travel with this diaper until you reach a facility where you can properly dispose of the remains. DO NOT put this diaper in with the other wet-soiled diapers until you are able to empty its contents. The small tote will be able to be washed once you reach your destination, but if you do use a plastic grocery sack or a Ziploc®, toss it in the trash once you are able to dump the soiled contents and place the diaper in the larger tote with the other wet-soiled diapers. Wash your hands with a few squirts of the baby wipe recipe mentioned above.
Urine-Only Diapers. Simply throw them into the large nylon tote for washing later! WASH HANDS!
Washing And Drying. This obviously depends on your destination. If you will be arriving at a relative or friend's home, most likely they will let you use their washer and dryer for your diaper washing needs. However, do not assume this . . . there are some that find washing diapers less-hygienic than clothing. Whether or not you are able to clear that up, you will still need to be respectful of their feelings regarding the matter. In which case, just follow your normal washing/drying routine.
If you will be staying at a hotel, then either the hotel will have laundry facilities, or you will need to locate a local laundry-mat. Here's a tip: hotel laundry facilities can be .25 to .75 cents more expensive per load to wash. So, consider taking a couple of hours to wash at the laundry-mat. Take a good book or a crossword and just RELAX!
1. You can use your regular method of washing, but avoid the pre-soaking by doing this in the bath-tub or sink in your hotel room. Rinsing and wringing out your diapers ahead of time will keep you down to two loads.
2. If you can't stand the idea of pre-washing in the tub or sink at the hotel, then expect to do three loads.
3. First load: This is simply to rinse your diapers clear. They could have been 'sitting' for 1 to 3 days. Use a cold water/cold rinse setting and put in 1/2 cup of baking soda to neutralize acidity. Let the water fill to full and start agitating the soda in with the water before adding diapers. Make sure you unroll your diapers and covers (pull soakers/prefolds out of pocket diapers) - they need to go into the wash 'open' and ready to be cleansed. Throw in the nylon tote as well - inside out - to be cleaned. Close the lid and WASH.
4. Second load: Use a hot water/cold rinse setting, allowing the water level to fill over the top of your diapers before adding a regular scoop of your detergent.
5. Third load: Again, this is to ensure you've rinsed out your diapers thoroughly. Set water on cold wash/cold rinse and add 3 to 4 drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil once the water level has risen up over the diapers/covers.
6. Pull out your covers and the nylon tote for air-drying and toss your diapers into the dryer. Expect to pay for two runs through the dryers - usually they are only 30 minutes each and not always as effective as your dryer at home. If your tote isn't drying enough to transport your diapers back to the hotel, throw it into the hot dryer for no more than 10 minutes.
Final Note on Car Rides. Once you do it once, you will learn what works for you and your family and what doesn't. It becomes easier the second time and you don't even give it a second thought on future trips. Fact is, disposables are HOT and your baby will be so much more comfortable in cloth on long car rides. Can you imagine sitting for hours in a paper pulp and plastic diaper waiting for the next stop to be changed? Sure they are trimmer, but they do not breathe. You think they are 'quilted' because there is that soft layer on the exterior, but it is a disguise atop a plastic layer - and that plastic is what will keep your baby feeling wet and clammy and hot.
"Leaving on a jet plane?"
This system is something of a repeat of the one above with a few minor changes.
In your preparation and packing, consider checking-in another suitcase that is simply diapers and baby wipes. Because your plane trip will not be anywhere near as long as a road trip (unless you are flying overseas), then the majority of your diaper stash for your trip does not need to be carried on the plane with you. Remember to include the necessary 'dry' items that you will need on your trip in your suitcase that will be checked. Any 'wet' items - like your Tea Tree Essential Oil, your squirt bottle of baby wipe recipe and the like, will need to travel with you aboard the plane. It would be horrible upon arrival at your destination to discover that your cloth diapers neatly stored and 'checked' in the suitcase were saturated from a leaky squirt bottle or broken Tea Tree Essential Oil bottle.
You will still deal with car seats on the plane, but you are in a better position to take baby out of the car seat more regularly, so you need not worry about 'compression' issues as much. However, not being in your car, you may want to keep baby fully dressed . . . so please remember to dress your baby in comfortable loose-fitting clothes for their comfort and to decrease wicking/leaking at the legs and waist from their diapers.
You can transport your diapers one of two ways. You can use a large nylon tote that can easily be carried on and stashed in the storage bins above or shoved under your chair. However, we recommend that you only bring a medium sized nylon tote for your soiled diapers and bring a large, formed diaper bag for your diapers, baby wipe mix in your squirt bottle, cloth baby wipes, etc. Most likely you will be bringing toys and maybe even snacks (depending on baby's age), so you'll need a place for those too. There are several great diapering bags out there, but our favorite has been a simple tall tote (not diaper bag) from Target. It can carry up to 10 diapers neatly folded and stacked, along with our diapering accessories, a medium sized nylon tote for soiled diapers and a couple of toys.
One advantage to plane rides is that you always have restroom facilities to flush your baby's solid wastes. I would not recommend you trying to rinse out any diapers in the sink (heh heh - as if this can be done in a plane's vanity-sink), but instead just dump whatever will shake off into the toilet and flush. You can rinse it more thoroughly upon reaching your destination.
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