As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the nation, parents are finding themselves in difficult predicaments. Along with school closures making them scramble to find child care and ways to homeschool, many of them are being affected by bulk-buying during the COVID-19 outbreak.
These parents are being left without essentials—especially diapers. One mom even went viral after a TikTok video showed her crying in her local Walmart while unable to find diapers. “How am I supposed to diaper my child if I can’t afford to buy 20 at a time like you can?” she asked.
Being in such a situation is enough to cause any parent to panic. But if you’re waiting for your local store to restock or for a diaper delivery from your trusted retailer, experts say it is possible to make some safe and effective ones at home—aka DIY diapers to the rescue! Is DIY ideal? Of course not. But will it work in a pinch? Yes.
Step One: Choose Your Material
Caregivers can make their own diapers by using old shirts or other clothing lying around the house that they’d be willing and able to cut. Kara Carrero, a mom of four who runs the blog Extremely Good Parenting, says, “One of the best things that parents can do in a pinch to safely and easily diaper their kids is to use receiving blankets or an old flannel.”
As for the liners to catch the urine and stool, you can make your own out of fleece—ideally microfleece or polar fleece—which are very absorbent. “Fleece tends to wick away moisture from the baby’s skin,” says Lindsay Price, certified nurse midwife at Huntington Hospital in Huntington, New York. “If you used cotton, you’re just more likely to develop baby rashes.” But make sure to change the liners of any homemade diaper frequently to avoid those pesky rashes!
Step Two: Trace and Cut
You can use your eye for a quick measurement; cutting exact measurements of these garments may be tricky. Luckily parents can get some help online through places like Very Baby, which offers different sewing patterns to choose from. “You can just cut out those patterns so it would fit a baby’s torso and bottom and be able to fold around them in an easy enough solution,” says Price.
Step Three: Assemble
Sewing the diaper together would be the most sufficient option, but of course, running around after kids at home doesn’t make that the most feasible. Instead, use Price’s pro tip: Hold the DIY diaper in place with clothespins. Don’t have those handy? Opt for duct tape instead, says Diane Vukovic, a mom of two and author of Disaster Preparedness for Women.
It also doesn’t hurt to take a few extra measures with any DIY diapers. “Consider putting a waterproof mattress cover under the baby’s sheets,” says Vukovic. “DIY diapers often leak at night and this will spare you the hassle of having to clean the entire mattress.”
More Diaper Alternatives
If you're not up for making a homemade diaper completely from scratch, parents can opt to buy some cloth ones, which are easy to find or order online from places like Walmart, Target, Gerber, and Amazon, says Price. They tend to also be more cost effective and better for the environment than disposable diapers. You can find different types of cloth diapers, including ones that come with a soaker pad attached or a removable one.
No matter which route you take for your homemade diapers, both have an advantage: All these products can be washed by hand and hung to dry for parents who don’t have access to a washing machine and dryer at the moment.
And always keep in mind: “If you are going to be doing things at home and using your own products, you just want to make sure that of course you are continuing to practice good hand hygiene (washing with soap for at least 20 seconds) and keeping your distance as much as possible from outsiders to make sure you are practicing social distancing,” urges Price.
Anna Halkidis is the features editor at Parents.com. Keep up with her on Twitter and Instagram.