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>I’m sure it’s no secret to any of us that babies (and even young children) love being naked. You’ve seen your little one’s face of utter glee when the diaper and clothes come off and they’re lying free as a jaybird atop the changing station. You watch that little face brighten, eyes dart around proudly, and little hips and knees and feet start jiving and flicking. I’m free! he or she is probably proclaiming inside. This is how I was meant to be!

Now, we all know for practical reasons, our little darlings cannot go naked all the time. Most obviously, it is very easy for babies to get chilled quickly as they lack the temperature control mechanisms that we have to keep our body at a more even temperature. Clothing is a vital protection for them, even against the mild elements within our own home. For most of us, being naked can also be a time filled with anxiety for us as parents as we wonder just what our baby might do without a diaper on. We cringe at the thought of pee in our carpets or a yellow stain on our pristine white bedding. Yes, it is possible for parents to become in tune enough to practice full or part time elimination communication, thus enabling more diaper free time and reducing the chance of accidents. However, even if you are not willing to go quite that far, it can be a terrific idea to allow your little one some diaper free time every day.

In the early days of a newborn, it has now become research-supported truth that skin-to-skin contact is an important part of the parent-child bonding experience. Mothers are now insisting to see their babies from the second they are born, and share delicate moments with them, bare chest to bare chest. Even once your baby moves out of the newborn stage, they (and you!) will appreciate time spent without the obstruction of clothing and diapers. Skin-to-skin cuddles or feeding sessions can develop a feeling of nurturing closeness. Even when my daughter was several months old, there were quiet times at home where we would come out of a bath and snuggle without clothes on under a warm blanket. Those were precious times of closeness and getting to know one another. My baby girl could begin to feel warmth and touch and softness without the artificial harshness of a zipper or set of buttons or bra straps getting in the way of our snuggle.

Even though our baby girl is now six months old, we still have at least one session of nude baby time a day–it is usually shortly before bed time at our house. This is a time that baby Aurelia absolutely adores. The minute her clothes come off, she wriggles around, content to experience her world with all her senses. She can feel the textures things around her more fully, loves the feel of my hair sweeping over her bare timmy, and loves to air out her little bum, which spends most of its time covered up. Diaper-free time is one of the best ways to keep diaper rash at bay. In fact, rather than reaching for soaps or creams, the first thing I do when I see a bit of redness creeping in is I give baby some extra naked time. It’s almost always a no-fail prescription to clear things up. Diaper rash, after all, is caused by moistness, bacteria, or yeast that can build up within unbreathable diapers. Disposable diapers are made with plastics and chemicals, and are not very breathable. Even cloth diapers are often covered up with PUL (artificially laminated materials) or “rubber pants” which trap humidity in the diaper area. Add to that that we often cover our baby up even further in sweats, jeans, snowsuits, and blankets, it’s no wonder they wriggle with glee when that little bum sees the light of day! Diaper free time is a great idea for any baby.

If you’re scared of diaper free time and the mess that may ensue, here are a few practical tips for how to lessen those worries or at least learn to “go with the flow” (pardon the pun!):

– practice diaper free time at a reliable time of day when you know your little one doesn’t wet or dirty their diaper as heavily. Every baby has their own routine, so go with your own instincts. However, most babies will pee shortly after eating or waking up, so give them a few minutes to relieve themselves before removing their diaper after these activities 

– remove the diaper after it has recently been wet or dirtied; although not foolproof, this can mean that baby may not have to go again for a little while 

– if possible, lay baby on a waterproof pad (such as a mat backed with PUL or a waterproof material). If you don’t have one, you could layer a towel/blanket with a little plastic (such as a garbage bag) underneath. However, don’t leave baby unsupervised in this setting as the plastic underneath is a suffocation hazard if they were to manage to get it up near their face 

– if you prefer not to use plastic (or don’t have any available), grab some dirty laundry (towels, blankets) or extra prefolds to create a soaker space under the baby’s bum. Cover it with one clean mat/blanket/towel and position baby on top 

– stay with baby to watch for signals (a certain face or body position can indicate that they need to “go”) — this can help you to “catch” a pee or poop in a diaper or on a tiny potty 

– practice on a non-carpeted area that can be easily wiped up in case of accidents (but put something cozy under baby to soften the surface and provide some warmth)

Apart from bringing some much needed air time to your baby’s bottom, your baby will love the different sensations of being diaper free. Gently blow on their body or tickle them with soft objects. Provide items of different textures for them to play with (not just with their hands–think of their feet, legs, elbows, and tummies too!). Let them feel the light of a subtle sunbeam on their skin. Keep a careful eye on your baby for signs of discomfort, especially coldness. You can also partially cover them with a blanket or just certain items of clothing (a t-shirt, socks) if need be.

Diaper free time is such a fun time for both baby and me. I get to watch her explore her world in a whole new way. We are no longer suffering through stressful and painful bouts of diaper area redness and rash. I’ve also found that her motor and mobile abilities have been enhanced without the obstruction that a fluffy cloth diaper sometimes contributes. Baby Aurelia has done all her best experimentations with pulling her legs up to her chest, sitting up on her own, and beginning to roll over while she was diaper free. She has been able to gain an awareness of her body and the world around her, and her smiles beam that news up to me. The only extra trade-off I’ve made is a little extra wet laundry here and there. Still, I’m sure it’ll be nothing next to the laundry I’ll be doing for Aurelia when she’s a teenager 😉

I’d love to hear your take on your baby’s diaper-free time and experiences as well!

>Who can help a mama out?

Question: What do you do for yeast? My little guy just came down sick and now has a yeasty rash. I’m trying rinsing his bottom with a cidar vinegar wipe solution. I’m not ready to pull out the gentian violet. As for the diapers I washed on hot (that’s in most of the instructions anyway) And I put the dryer on high for the last few minutes (I wish it were summer so I could sun them). I’m freaked out by the washing instruction on my bumGenius 4.0 to put bleach in the wash once a month. And, I’m considering boiling my prefolds. The last 2 days I’ve been putting him in them with out a cover so he gets more air and letting him have naked time.

Please leave a comment if you have some experience or advice!

>When it comes to changing toddlers’ diapers, often the visions that diaper companies portray on television are scenes with cooperative babies that go smoothly and leave both caregiver and child both happy and clean. However, more times than not, that is not how diapering a toddler is in the real world. Add cloth to that mix, and it becomes a race to outrun the child’s temper tantrum as well as your own eventual meltdown–all for just trying to change a soiled diaper! Toddlers have an agenda, and staying still for you to change their diaper is not high on their list. As the mother of a toddler, I often muse to myself about the simpler days of so many more frequent newborn diaper changes. Nevertheless, from my supporting role on the stage of cloth diaper changing a toddler, here are some hard learned lessons and earned tips.

Preparation is Key

No matter what system you use to diaper your toddler, you must be ready before you even get your child on the changing table. Diapers should be laid out and ready to go, wipes and rash-fighters all within reach, and you should have a second diaper just in case your first attempt is thwarted.

I always put my toddler in his crib to await diaper changes. It keeps him out of trouble and lets me set up his diaper in readiness for a quick change. I have dedicated the top drawer on his dresser to hold my stash. I also leave this open during changing so I have a little extra surface area just in case I start losing the wiggling match. I pop the top open on my wipe container so that no matter what I may meet inside his diaper, I am ready with as many back-up dancers as necessary. I open my diaper stick because who has time to fumble with a screw top once the show has begun!?

Now, you may have already learned all that by yourself while diapering an infant and are saying to yourself, “I’m not learning anything new here. How is this any different than before?”

Razzle, Dazzle ‘Em

Billy Flynn’s advice to Roxie Hart in Chicago before her trial began was that the point of the song is to keep them looking one way so they never know what you are doing in the other direction. The same principle applies to cloth diapering a toddler; distract them through whatever means you have available so they don’t know they are laying still while you are changing their diaper. I always keep two or three special, easily cleanable toys that my toddler can only play with while on the changing table. If he is onto me with the toys, I have also been known to start singing or making crazy noises and faces. The more fun you are having, the more likely it is they’ll join you in the fun.

Toddler-Friendly Cloth

I have found that cloth diapering, despite claims to the contrary, has a huge advantage over disposables when diapering a toddler. For one, the diaper stays in the room while the poop doesn’t. I don’t know about you, but when I visit disposable homes with toddlers, I often baulk at the smell coming from the diaper pail. Plastic does not keep that smell from assaulting our nose–it only ripens it. I love cloth because I can either use a diaper sprayer and rinse the poop down the toilet, or I can invest in diaper liners and catch the poop to flush down the toilet as well.

The second advantage cloth diapers have over disposables with toddlers is the option of having snap closures. Snaps are a little trickier than plastic tabs to undo , so it is a little extra security to guard against your little star’s need to disrobe and run straight to your clean whatever and plant their bum on it.

The third advantage is of cloth is with the wetness factor. This is key because when a diva is wet, a diva is unhappy. Wetness alerts your toddler that they have gone to the bathroom so they can let you know it is time for a costume change, thus minimizing the time they spend in their diaper and cutting down on diaper rash occurrence. An added bonus is that the knowledge you are wet can increase the likelihood of success during potty training.

Hopefully, with these few tips—and with cloth on your side—you, too, will be able to master the art of changing a toddler! Now go break a leg!

About the Author: The ArtsyMama was cast in the supporting role of mother to her son in February of 2010. She has since tirelessly worked to perfect her craft in what is said to be the ‘role of a lifetime’. The ArtsyMama would like to thank her fellow castmate and husband for always being there to lend an extra hand during diaper changes and on laundry days. The ArtsyMama blogs about nursing, cloth diapers, and greener living at http://theartsymama.blogspot.com. You can also find her on Facebook