Of Cakes and Diapers

Diaper cakes are a relatively simple, but fun gift for a new baby.  Since I’ve promised several people that I’d show them how to construct one, here’s the directions, followed by illustrations of a cake that I recently made for a niece who’s expecting.

The basic supplies that are required are: a base to support the cake, one or two packages of diapers, an internal support such as a large bottle of baby lotion,  rubber bands, tape, and decorative embellishments.  How many diapers you use will depend on the size cake you decide to make.  Choosing a theme (such as rubber ducks) or a color scheme will help bring the look of the final cake  together.

The basic instructions are as follows:

1. Roll all of the diapers into little round cylinders and secure each one with rubber bands or ribbon.

2. Affix your internal support (e.g., a bottle of baby lotion) to your cake base.
3. Create each tier by encircling your internal support with the rolled diapers standing on end.  Tie off each ring of diapers to hold them securely. Keep adding rings of diapers to the outside until the first tier reaches the desired size.  Build each consecutive tier on the previous one using the same method.
4. Decorate the cake using ribbons, toys, or whatever you like.

Ok, I admit that’s the really quick and basic version of the process.  Here’s what the process of constructing a diaper cake looks like in reality.
For my niece’s cake, I wanted to do a rubber duck theme, as I’d found a hat and ‘onesies’ with ducks. I used a 10-inch cardboard cake base (available at most craft stores) and one package of newborn disposable diapers.  The items pictured to the right also all went into the cake – two bottles of baby products, two fleece blankets, 8 baby washcloths, a hat, two’onesies’, a little cloth hat, 4 pairs of socks, two ‘binkies’ (pacifiers) and three rubber ducks.  The colors I picked were primarily blue and yellow, with a good dose of green and splashes of other shades.
Step 1 – Preparing the Diapers
This is probably the most time consuming part of the cake construct, but the simplest.  The diapers get rolled from bottom to top and secured with rubber bands.  I’ve used ribbon in the past, but have found that rubber bands are easier and more effective for this.  Forty-eight diapers later, I had enough to get started on the actual construction.  If I wasn’t including baby blankets and other cloth items in the cake, I would have needed to roll up more than one package of diapers.
Step 2 – Creating the First Tier
I’ve taken a bottle of baby lotion and taped it to a cardboard cake base using a bit of clear packing tape folded over on itself and placed between the bottle and the cardboard.
The lotion bottle was then surrounded with a ring of diaper stood on their ends.  The first ring was tied off with ribbon and a second ring of diapers was added to the first tier.  This layer was then wrapped in a fleece baby blanket that had been folded up to just fit the height and circumference of the cake.  The blanket was secured with diaper pins on the back side of the cake.  Ribbon was wrapped around the blanket and a pacifier tied to the front side of the layer (as seen in the photos below).
Step 3 – Creating the Second Tier
Because my internal support (i.e., the lotion bottle) wasn’t tall enough to reach into the third layer of the cake, I taped a smaller bottle of baby powder to the top of it, as shown in the picture to the left.   This gave the internal support just enough height to support all of the tiers without sticking out of the top of the cake.  Once this was done, I began encircling the support with diapers just as I did for the first tier.
For the outer ring of diapers on the second tier, I wrapped colorful baby washcloths around every other diaper to give a bit of color and contrast to the relatively simple decorations on the first tier.  The diapers I used had pre-printed designs, so it appears at first glance that the entire second tier has been ‘decorated’.   This layer was then wrapped in a ribbon, secured at the back of the cake.
Step 4 – Creating the Third Tier
  After creating the second tier, I only had three diapers left, which were not enough to encircle the top of the cake.  Instead of picking up another package of diapers, I wrapped the support in a cloth hat and the onesies and then surrounded the entire thing with the other fleece blanket I’d bought. Diaper shortage was solved and the clothing was incorporated into the cake structure.
Step 5 – Finishing the Cake
I’d already embellished the cake as it was built, but I did add a few finishing touches to the final cake.  The cake was topped with a large rubber duck and the second tier with two smaller ducks.  Little pairs of sock in were then pinned to the outside of the cake.  The finished cake is shown above complete with ducks and socks.
And that’s ‘all’ there is to making a diaper cake.  The basic construction is simple, but there’s plenty of opportunities for creativity in the process.

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