How to DIY a Homemade Diaper

If you can't get diapers—or you're looking to save money, there are ways to make safe and effective homemade diapers at home.

baby in cloth diaper with clothespins
Photo: Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Disposable diapers are a huge convenience, but if you've ever experienced the sheer alarm of realizing your local store is sold out, you might wonder what options you have available to keep your baby clean, dry, and healthy.

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.

Check out these simple instructions for making your own DIY diaper in three easy steps.

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, a 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 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 extra measures with 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 are also more cost-effective and better for the environment than disposable diapers. You can find different styles and cuts of cloth diapers, including ones 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.

For parents who looking for help with the cost of diapering their little ones, you can also try reaching out to the National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN). According to NDBN, one-third of American parents are in need of help to diaper their children. You can find resources, tips, and advocacy at one of their many branches across the country.

Anna Halkidis is the features editor at Keep up with her on Twitter and Instagram.

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