Winter Cloth Diapering: What’s Different?

By April Duffy •  Updated: 05/03/24 •  11 min read

As someone who has cloth diapered through a few long Canadian winters, I do have some tips to share with you to make using cloth diapers during those short, snowy days a bit easier, so let’s get into it!

Below you’ll find my top five tips to make using cloth diapers in winter a little easier for both you and your baby.

Tip One: Use a Cloth-Friendly Moisturizer at Every Cloth Diaper Change. 

During the summer, you want to be extra cautious that baby doesn’t sit in a hot, moist diaper for too long which can cause yeast growth, bacteria growth on the skin, diaper rash, or heat rash.

All of this is also true during the winter, but in addition, you’ll want to make sure to keep your baby’s bum extra moisturized due to the dry air caused by the combination of cold weather and indoor heating dropping humidity levels.

As those of us who regularly wash dishes in temperate climates know, dry air combined with consistent wetness and cleaning solutions (like at diaper changes) can severely dry out skin. This winter dry skin leads to chapped and itchy skin, which is no fun for you or for your baby.

The best way to keep your baby’s bottom itch and irritation free during the winter months is to use a moisturizer at every diaper change. Of course, you want to use a moisturizer that will wash cleanly from your cloth diapers to avoid any product buildup that can interfere with the diaper’s absorption.

So, what are some good, cloth-friendly moisturizers to use? I actually recently reviewed a ton of moisturizers to come up with a list of the best baby lotions over at BabiesforBeginners.com, and the three of those I’d recommend for your use with your cloth diapers are:

1. Burt’s Bees Baby Lotion for Sensitive Skin

Burt’s Bees Baby Lotion for Sensitive Skin is an excellent choice for daily moisturizing during the winter for the ingredient-conscious cloth diaper parent. It contains natural ingredients, including shea butter, jojoba, and aloe, which are known for their moisturizing properties. Even better, this lotion does not contain harmful chemicals such as parabens, phthalates, SLS, petrolatum, or synthetic fragrances, making it a safer and gentler option for a baby’s delicate skin.

It’s also worth mentioning this lotion has been accepted by the National Eczema Association, which indicates that it’s suitable for babies with sensitive skin and eczema.

In summary, Burt’s Bees Baby Lotion for Sensitive Skin is a great choice for daily moisturizing during the winter because it contains natural ingredients, is free of harmful chemicals, and has been recognized by a reputable organization for its efficacy in treating sensitive skin.

Our Pick for Daily Cloth Safe Moisturizer
Burt’s Bees Baby Lotion for Sensitive Skin
$9.99

While this is not a diaper rash cream, the Noursihing Lotion from Burt's Bees is a great everyday moisturizer that is cloth safe if you use it on your baby's bottom.

It contains natural ingredients including shea butter, jojoba and aloe but, importantly, doesn't contain parabens, phthalates, SLS, petrolatum, or synthetic fragrances. It's very light and thin, but that's ok as doesn't leave any residue on cloth diapers.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
03/08/2024 08:31 am GMT

2. Johnson’s CottonTouch Newborn Baby Face and Body Lotion

Johnson’s Skin Nourish Moisturizing Baby Lotion is another good daily solution for keeping your baby’s skin soft and smooth during the winter.

This particular lotion is formulated with moisturizers and a gentle vanilla and oat scent, though it also comes in a Shea & Cocoa Butter Scent, as well as Aloe Vera Scent with Vitamin E.

This lotion is mild and hypoallergenic, claims to be tested by pediatricians and dermatologists, and contains no parabens, phthalates, or dyes. This means it’s safe to use on a baby’s skin and is gentle enough to use every day, and won’t cause buildup on your diapers.

Johnson's Skin Nourish Moisturizing Baby Lotion for Dry Skin (Vanilla & Oat Scents)
$6.78 ($0.40 / Fl Oz)

Johnson's Skin Nourish Moisturizing Baby Lotion is a mild daily moisturizer with a non-greasy feel, and without any harmful chemicals like parabens, phthalates, or dyes, making it suitable for babies in cloth diapers.

It is also available in Shea & Cocoa Butter Scent, as well as Aloe Vera Scent with Vitamin E.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
03/08/2024 08:16 am GMT

3. Earth Mama Natural Simply-Scents Baby Lotion

Earth Mama Natural Simply-Scents Baby Lotion with organic calendula is another safe and gentle choice for daily moisturizing during the dry winter months.

The lotion is made with natural and organic ingredients, including organic Rooibos and Calendula botanicals, plant oils, and butters making it a good choice for cloth diaper parents. These ingredients help to moisturize and soothe a baby’s delicate skin without any harmful toxins such as synthetic fragrances, phthalates, or parabens. The lotion is also free from petroleum products, mineral oil, Vitamin E, and dyes.

Earth Mama Natural Simply-Scents Baby Lotion with organic calendula is certified by Oregon Tilth to the NSF/ANSI 305 Standard for Personal Care Products Containing Organic Ingredients. This certification ensures that the lotion is made with at least 70% organic ingredients and meets strict standards for environmental sustainability and social responsibility.

The lotion is naturally vegan and gluten-free and has been formulated by a nurse and herbalist. It is a gentle, herbal skincare product that is perfect for sensitive babies of all ages, including newborns. Daily use of this lotion helps to moisturize and protect your baby’s skin during the winter months and beyond, keeping it soft, supple, and healthy.

Earth Mama Natural Simply-Scents Baby Lotion with Organic Calendula

Earth Mama Natural Simply-Scents Baby Lotion with organic calendula is a safe and gentle choice for daily moisturizing because of its natural and organic ingredients.

It is made without synthetic fragrances, phthalates or parabens and no petroleum products, mineral oil, vitamin E or dyes making it a great option for sensitive babies who use cloth diapers.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Pro Tip: After bath time, lather baby up with your moisturizer of choice and let them lay naked on a towel for a few minutes.  Allowing them to air out and the moisturizer to absorb into the skin will help keep irritation away and many little ones love this as part of their routine.

Tip Two: Don’t Use Coconut Oil As a Diaper Cream (Alone) During Dry Winter Months

Coconut oil is great as a daily barrier cream for babies with tons of natural benefits… but not when they have dry skin caused by the dry winter air.

Let me explain….

In several studies coconut oil was shown to be good for skin. Notably in this study that tested on children specifically, coconut oil proved to be even more effective at treating eczema symptoms than mineral oil. The children in that study showed improved eczema symptoms, less redness, and more moisturized skin.

However, as this Healthline article notes, coconut oil acts as a sealant, not a moisturizer. This means it locks the moisture within the skin in and creates a barrier against outside moisture. If the skin itself is already lacking moisture, the coconut oil won’t add any to the skin before creating that barrier. In this way dry skin can actually get dryer with coconut oil alone as it’s not able to absorb any additional moisture.

The way around this would be to use a moisturizer on your baby’s skin first and then use the coconut oil as a barrier against diaper wetness and irritation from a soiled diaper. Since this is just another step for already time-strapped parents, switching to just a daily moisturizer and a thick diaper cream when necessary (to combat diaper rash) is my recommendation; but of course if you love your coconut oil, just add a moisturizing step too.

Tip Three: Change Your Baby’s Cloth Diaper Frequently

A baby sitting in a wet diaper is never good, but It’ i’s extra important to change your baby’s diaper frequently during the dry winter months because the combination of cold weather and indoor heating can result in low humidity levels, leading to drier air. This dry air can cause your baby’s skin to become more susceptible to irritation, chafing, and even infection.

When a baby’s diaper becomes wet, it can cause further irritation to their already dry skin. This irritation can lead to discomfort, which can cause your baby to become fussy and restless. Additionally, a wet diaper can create an environment that is more conducive to bacterial growth, which can cause diaper rash or other infections.

Ideally, you should change your baby’s diaper whenever it becomes wet or soiled.

Tip Four: Dry Your Cloth Diapers in the Dryer or Up High

During the winter months when snow, freezing temperatures, and damp weather are present, drying cloth diapers can become more challenging.

Two solutions to this problem are to:

  1. Dry your cloth diapers in the dryer. Yes, you can dry cloth diapers in the dryer, but you should keep the heat to a medium heat setting or lower for many types of diapers. For more information about drying diapers in the dryer, click here.
  2. Hang them up high, preferably near (but not directly on) a heat source. Heat dries fabrics faster so hanging your cloth diapers higher up, or close to a heat source, such as a radiator or a space heater, helps to speed up the rate that the diapers will dry. Just keep in mind that, high heat can damage some of the plastic parts of a diaper (like PUL, snaps, Velcro, or elastic) so don’t place the diapers directly above or on a heat source.
    A hanging drying rack is a great tool for hanging diapers up high, only costs a few dollars, and is easily stored away during the summer when drying outside is an option, so I recommend everyone have one of these just in case (they are great in a power out too).
SteelFever Foldable Hanging Drying Rack
$9.59

This clip-and-drip hanger will fit just about anywhere and comes with 32 clips. It is available in five different colors, but since it folds up easily to hide away when not in use, matching your decor isn't really a concern.

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03/08/2024 01:01 pm GMT

Tip Five: Sun Those Diapers!  

Even though it feels like the sun doesn’t shine in the winter months (at least where I live) it’s helpful to sun our cloth diapers whenever possible.  Sunning not only removes tough cloth diaper stains but it is also thought to be a natural sanitizer.

If it’s too cold where you live to take them outside to sun, find a place in your house where the sun shines, like a window, and put them there. It doesn’t need to be in direct sunlight, any sun works!

Bonus Tip: Don’t Stress About Winter Cloth Diapering

Articles like this are meant to help you answer your questions and provide some tips to keep in mind while cloth diapering, they are not meant to complicate things.

Cloth diapering is easy no matter the time of year. Just change your baby when dirty, take care of their skin, and keep the diapers clean.

Conclusion: Winter Cloth Diapering is Not a Heavy Chore

In summary, cloth diapering in the winter does require some additional care and attention to keep your baby comfortable and irritation-free, but not a lot.

Using a cloth-friendly moisturizer at every diaper change to combat dry winter air, and avoiding the use of coconut oil as a diaper cream during dry winter months can help. Additionally, changing your baby’s diaper frequently, drying cloth diapers in the dryer or up high, and sunning them whenever possible are good steps to ensure your cloth diapering routine runs smoothly during the winter months.

It’s important to remember that cloth diapering is easy no matter the time of year. By following these tips and taking care of your baby’s skin, you can ensure that your baby remains comfortable and happy while using cloth diapers during the winter season.

Ultimately, choosing the right style of diaper that works best for your baby and family is key to successfully cloth diapering through any season.

Winter Cloth Diapering FAQ

Is Cloth Diapering Comfortable for Baby in Winter?

Yes! Cloth diapering is arguably more comfortable for babies in winter as it allows better air circulation than disposable diapers. The natural fibers of cloth diapers regulate the baby’s body temperature, prevent overheating, and are less likely to cause skin irritation.

Is One Type of Diaper Better For Winter Diapering Than Other Styles?

Any style of diaper works great as long as you keep the tips I mentioned above in mind.  Our family uses all-in-ones & covers with pre-folds and have no issues. Whatever style of diaper works best for your little one and your family, is the perfect winter diaper.

References

Evangelista, M.T.P., Abad-Casintahan, F. and Lopez-Villafuerte, L. (2014), The effect of topical virgin coconut oil on SCORAD index, transepidermal water loss, and skin capacitance in mild to moderate pediatric atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial. Int J Dermatol, 53: 100-108. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijd.12339

Leiva, C. (2021), Is Coconut Oil a Good Moisturizer? Healthline. Retrieved February 14, 2023 from: https://www.healthline.com/health/coconut-oil-moisturizer

April Duffy

April is the founder of Cloth Diapers for Beginners and author of The Cloth Diaper Wash & Care Handbook. Since 2015, April has helped well over 75,000 parents and caregivers cloth diaper their children through this website, her book, her YouTube Channel, and the Cloth Diapers for Beginners Facebook Group.