7: Emergency Diapering

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, parents are wiping the grocery shelves in a panic not knowing when they’ll safely go shopping again. This has left a need for people who weren’t able to get to the store in time and wonder what they’ll do to diaper their kid when their stash runs out. Cloth parents all over the world are grateful that they don’t have this issue and in fact, some people have decided to bite the bullet and start cloth. But what happens when you don’t have the money to buy a stash of pocket diapers? As the upcoming flats and hand-washing challenge will tell you, it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to start.

In fact, you might have some things in your home that you could use to diaper your kid. Reader beware: Expect poop. Solid poop needs to be rinsed/sprayed/plopped in the toilet before putting the diaper into a washing machine.

Here are a couple of suggestions for how you could diaper your kid until the stores restock. There are links.

Note: Fabrics should be at least 90% a natural material to absorb. Go for the 100% cotton.  Similarly, knit materials work better than a linen. 

  • T-shirts
  • Receiving Blankets
  • Jersey blanket/bedsheet/pillow cover
  • Towels that aren’t too thick (not microfiber)
  • Really anything absorbent
Violet in a jersey pillowcase diaper, using anteater fold. Stretched and tucked wings into itself.

How would this work? Folds, my friend. You can meet my friends Jo and Origami. You can cut material up into squares or see the links above for ideas on how you can fold them without cutting. To contain poop, make sure to keep them tight around the bum or jellyroll them.

To keep diapers in place (without a snappi), fashion them with safety pins or see if you can tie each hip with a hair band or use a belt (or elastic band or tie some material) around the waist (you can fold into rectangles and hold them in place with a belt).

Alternatively, if you know how to, sew some layers together to make a winged flat diaper.


Keep in mind that while absorbent, these options are not waterproof. You’ll need to change them when you can feel the wetness  from the outside but to get the most out of the absorbency you might want an extra layer of water resistance.

Of course, you can always order some PUL covers –like this**. You can get a PUL cover, fold your t-shirt/blanket/whatever into a rectangle and lay it inside. But in the event of an emergency you could try….

  • Wool/Fleece pants – water resistant. If your kid already has wool or fleece shorts/pants then BAM you have water resistance. To increase resistance, they say lanolize for wool and fabric softener for fleece. I have experience with wool and I an attest to it working.
  • Bathing suit bottoms? In my head, this can keep the diaper on and be quick drying.
  • Cut up fleece (purchased fabric/a blanket/whatever) for a DIY no-sew cover**, pictured below:
    Violet sporting a no sew cover


Cut up old tshirts or use the millions of baby washcloths you got from friends – I have gotten 3 or 4 24-packs so far (lol) – and squirt some water on them. BAM. Wipes. I like them so much better than disposable wipes, too.

• • •

I do only have experience with some of these options and like many things, your mileage may vary. However, this is just me throwing ideas into the world. Let me know what you think or if you’ve tried any of these!

I won’t get into how to wash them because….that could be a whole other post. Just know that you don’t need 2 cups of detergent to do it. For more beginner information on cloth diapers, check out this page by The Cloth Diaper Podcast.

Extra extra extra: You can avoid poop as much as possible by trying Elimination Communication. This has helped decrease the number of times I’ve had to spray/rinse a poop diaper. Or use Viva Paper Towels to line the diaper so you can just throw it away.

* Mark’s sells diaper pins, for any of my Guåhan mamas out there.
** There are cheaper covers out there. I just like this brand. Look up “Cloth Diaper Covers”. And the cool thing is you can keep reusing the cover until there’s poop on it, so just get a handful and it should last until you wash.
*** I will update in another post how well this works after I wash the fleece


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