I started cloth diapering my son long before he was diagnosed with his disability. See, it wasn’t until he was nearly two years old that doctors realized he had an invasive and deforming bone tumor. Up until then, we were using regular cloth diapers and have continued to do so. Through our journey, we learned about cloth diaper rules and medical imaging like x-rays and MRIs and even used cloth for our toddler in the hospital. I prefer cloth to disposables. Cloth Diapers are chemical-free, don’t have the same uplesant texture and feel that disposables do and are better for the environment. But what happens as he gets bigger and outgrows the baby sized diapers? Here are cloth diapers disabled.
As an Occupational Therapist I know that there are many factors to consider when cloth diapering for disability. The person’s physical condition, limitations and bladder control are key. In addition, truth is, some older children like my son don’t care to be in a ‘diaper’ once they reach a certain age and he tells me “cloth diapers are for babies.” He’s right! I cloth diaper both of his younger brothers and should not diaper him from the same collection. When he goes to bed at night I stuff a OS pocket diaper with a prefold and a microfiber insert and it works well, but I have to wait until he’s asleep or he feels bad about needing one. This has pushed me to purchase a different set of diapers for him. Through my research and trials of products, I’ve found some great options for cloth diapering a disabled child and all the way through adult. There is a big order on it’s way to me and here are some of the products I purchased and found online. This post contains affiliate links to shops I adore.
What’s different about cloth diapering a disabled child, teen or young adult? While a person around the same age may already be potty trained, or need less absorbency from a cloth diaper trainer, a disabled child may need both a larger diaper and the potential for full-bladder absorbency. Finding these diapers has had me online for many hours and I want to share my findings with you. Weather your child needs a light larger sized trainer or a heavier sized diaper, there are quality options out there! Things to consider:
- Physical Abilities; Pull-on cover -vs- snap on or velcro:
- Will this diaper be changed by the person wearing it or by a caregiver? How easy will it be to get off and on?
- A larger training child may need a bigger diaper that they can pull up and down like underwear, but another product with more absorbency for car trips, night time or school.
- Someone with difficulty standing or leg conditions may be unable to pull down slip on trainers over their legs. If the person is unable to stand, a caregiver can pull the pant down in bed, but this is not ideal for bowl soiled diapers. For this instance, snap or velcro may be ideal.
- Are the fine motor skills of the person changing the diaper able to work diaper snaps? Or is velcro easier for their fingers to manage. Is a slip on better?
- Level of Absorbency Needed
- Does the person need full-bladder absorbency or are they having light leaks that a regular trainer could handle?
- Natural fibers -vs- synthentic like microfiber. While some people love one or the other, I find that having natural fibers and microfiber with soakers, boosters or main diaper components creats the best of both worlds.
- Nighttime vs Daytime & Frequency of Changing
- Day diapers are changed more freuquently then night diapers and should be changed every 2 hours for someone who has incontinence. Unless someone wakes frequently at night or has a caregiver changing their pants at night, this diaper will need even more absorbency and probably a pre-rinse before getting tossed in the wash. There are bedwetting pants and adult sized prefolds that offer tons of absorbency.
- Personal Preference for Designs and Styles
- A few months ago, I was shopping on Etsy and my toddler saw a Bubble Puppies diaper. He was very excited and exclaimed “I need that diaper!” It has been such a relief to have a product that he likes to wear, as opposed to trying to get him into a “diaper” that he views as a baby product.
- Storage of Soiled Diapers
- Most cloth diapering parents keep soiled diapers in a stainless steel can or other storage bin at home. However, when on the go it’s important to have a WetBag to place diaper in until you get home. This is a zippered bag made from the same waterproof material the diaper covers are constructed from and come in a gigantic assortment of colors and patterns.
- Washing Soiled Diapers
- Do not fear washing cloth diapers. I’ve been completing my cloth diaper laundry for 4 years now. I wash our diapers with mainstream detergent, All Free and Clear, and pre-rinse diapers in water if they have a lot of pee or spray to remove soilds if necessary into the toilet. In addition, I wash our diapers in hot water with an extra rinse in our poorly performing HE frontloader. It took some time to get the amount of detergent right, diapers that come out dirty may need more and diapers that feel a little soapy need less, but overall the washing routine is very simple.
- Diaper Leaks in Bed
- Before we discovered cloth, our disposable diapers leaked constantly in bed. Luckily we don’t have as many leak issues with cloth, but I did pick up some reusable bed pads that are great for leaks. They save our bedding from needing to be changed and are reusable just like the ones in the hospital. Placed on top of or under the sheet gives different options. We have 3 of the pads you see below and ours are over 3 years old!
This is a very trim fitting diaper. My son at 41 pounds feels close to the end of the size range on this. I hope we make it to 50, but the tightness of the elastic panels has me believing that this is probably more of a 45 pound max trainer for us.
These diapers pull off and on like underwear, but go all the way up to adult. Starting at training pants and continuing up through an adult diaper line, these offer the most options for color and night vs daytime absorbency. While the larger sizes don’t have the fun prints that the smaller sizes do, they do come in many colors. My only wish? I wish the bigger sizes snapped at the side to make getting a soiled diaper off easier. With sewn in synthetic fiber absorbency, many of the diapers have an area to add a booster when needed. This is one of the best options for absorbency, even offering a bedwetting pant that can be worn for daytime use for someone with high absorbency needs.
(Infant through Adult)
Prefolds and Covers
Finding a large enough prefold can be difficult once a child outgrows traditional prefolds and covers (one of my favorite ways to cloth diaper) and finding a bigger size can be challenging. One of the largest covers we own is our Bummis Whisper Wrap in XL (40+ pounds) and this, in combination with a toddler sized prefold, makes a great combination. These are reasonably priced and carried by Nicki’s Diapers, who also carries Toddler Prefolds and offers free shipping on diapers and covers.
Adults sized Prefolds and Covers: However, if you need a larger size then this cover and prefold, this company on Amazon sells prefolds and covers from adult x-small all the way through large made with PUL, the same durable, functional fabric baby diapers are made from. Downside is unlike the the etsy diapers, these are plain white and don’t have patterns and designs.
I would love to open a discussion. Do you cloth diaper a disabled child or older? What works for you? I’m happy to talk with and share my experience with anyone.
Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. This post contains affiliate links and I get a small portion of sales if you shop through them…so thank you! It helps keep this website running. This article is in no way meant to diagnose, treat or make individual recommendations but instead to share our experience and open discussion on this topic. Thank you for stopping by!