When the poop hits the fan: Cloth Diapering During a Natural Disaster

Before disaster strikes, it is best to have a plan in place and emergency supplies available. We all know we need bottled water, flashlights, and food, but it’s easy to forget things for our babies. Whether you use disposable or cloth diapers, you need a plan for the inevitableness that is poop!

While you can easily throw a pack of disposables into your disaster kit, you have to remember to keep updating the size because a size 1 diaper will not be used for a size 4 baby. It’s also difficult to determine how many diapers you will need because you never really know what the outcome of a disaster will be. You may find yourself unable to get to a store, and if you can, who knows if there will be any diapers left! Who wants to be having a fight over the last pack of diapers or spending time worrying if their baby is going to be stuck in a soiled diaper for extended periods of time? Certainly not something you want to be dealing with on top of the craziness of the disaster itself.

Even if you cloth diaper, modern diapers such as pockets and all-in-ones may not be ideal without electricity to wash them. What’s a mom to do then? You may be surprised to know there are lots of options open to you, including free items that you may have around your house. If you have a few covers and a Snappi, you have even more options available to you.

If you have an itty-bitty newborn around, you likely know that there are a lot of diaper changes to be made. One solution for diapering a newborn during a disaster is washcloths, and most families have quite a few around.

If you pair the washcloth diaper with the no-sew fleece diaper cover, you have a (likely free) solution for a water resistant (meaning you could still get wet if baby pees a lot) diaper.

Cloth Diapering

For an older baby, your options for emergency diapering are almost limitless. Flour sack towels, receiving blankets, t-shirts, and pretty much any other natural fabric (meaning cotton, bamboo, etc. as synthetics are usually meant to wick away moisture but not absorb) can either be folded or cut into a diaper if necessary.

If you want to prepare ahead, flour sack towels can be found at most large retailers for $1 or less per towel, and receiving blankets can be purchased for cheap at a thrift store. These options can either be folded into a diaper or folded in a “pad fold” that can be placed in a cover. You can either utilize the no-sew fleece cover above or use commercially available covers and Snappis or pins.

If you really want to plan ahead, you might consider purchasing commercially available flats or pre-folds along with covers for your emergency kit. Do keep in mind that natural fiber diapers do need to be prepped before you put them in the kit, otherwise, they may not absorb very well. These diapers are very economical and you can do all of the above folds with commercially available flats.

Now that you have diaper options, you are probably wondering what you are going to do with the poop if you have no electricity?!? After all isn’t that why disposables would be preferable since you can just throw them away? If conditions aren’t safe for you to go outside, that stinky diaper is probably the last thing you want to smell in a hothouse for days on end! With any of the types of the flat diaper, whether commercial or homemade, you can easily hand wash with a camp style washer. All you need is a bucket with a lid and a plunger. You can likely get all of this at your local home improvement store for less than $10.

I know what you are thinking. “Hand washing when I am already stressing about this disaster, you cannot be serious?” Well, I’m here to admit that I once participated in a flats and handwashing challenge for seven days for no reason than to see if I could do it. While I will admit, it was a lot of hard work; I quickly realized this was actually a useful skill to have. I was also shocked how clean those diapers got without the use of a modern washing machine!

After the diapers are washed they can be hung to dry anywhere you have a place to hang them. Shower curtain rods, towel bars, etc. all work, and since your diapers are generally only one layer of material, they dry pretty quickly.

Wipes are one other thing you need to remember when prepping for a disaster as what good is a diaper if you have no way to clean the poop off your babies bottom. Disposable wipes are one option, but you may run out. Cloth wipes are a great solution, and just like the emergency diapers above, they can be made out of many materials. Receiving blankets and old t-shirts can be cut into small squares, as can flour sack towels. Baby washcloths also make great wipes. Alternatively, there are many brands of cloth wipes for purchase. These wipes only require some water for cleaning bums and can be thrown right in with the dirty diapers for washing.

Cloth Diapering 2

Now you have all the skills and know how to diaper your little one through a hurricane, blizzard, earthquake, or zombie apocalypse.

Summary of Supplies Needed to Cloth Diaper in a Disaster for a 24-Hour Period (You’ll likely want to wash once a day to keep smells, bugs, and germs at a minimum).

  • 12 Washcloths, Flour Sack Towels, Receiving Blankets, T-Shirts, or Flats to use as diapers
  • At least 2-3 Waterproof Covers or Several Fleece No-Sew Covers
  • Snappi or Diaper Pins (optional)
  • 5-Gallon Bucket with Lid
  • Plunger
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Water
  • Towels, Washcloths, T-shirts, etc. Cut Into Squares or Premade Cloth Wipes

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