Cloth Diapering 101

Many people are leery of cloth diapers but you don’t have to be.  I am here to simplify the process for you today. You may be choosing cloth diapering for the financial factor. $200-$500 investment from birth to potty trained sounded a lot better to me than $2,000-$3,000 for disposables. Or maybe you just want to protect your baby from the harmful toxins in disposables. Maybe you want to protect the environment from non-biodegradable matter. Whatever your reason, I am going to help you understand a little more about cloth diapers and how they might be able to work for you.

What are the different types of cloth diapers? 

There are a few main types: pocket, all-in-one, all-in-two, and prefolds.

The pocket diaper is the kind I like best. It has a waterproof outer layer and then removable liners that you stuff inside a pocket on the back of the diaper. I like these because if I am using them during the day I can use one insert and if I am using it at night I can stuff two or three in.

All-in-ones (AI1s) are the closest you get to disposables with cloth cuteness. You put them on your kid, take them off, wash them and repeat. They are also often the most expensive. Convenience has a price tag.

All-in-twos (AI2s)have a waterproof cover and removable liners that you simply lay inside of the cover. I have heard it compared to a feminine pad on underwear which helps you kind of picture it.

Prefolds are the old school way of doing things and can be used with diaper pins or snappies around your child’s bum. I personally use my prefolds as inserts for my pocket diapers since messing with pins and squirmy babies isn’t my idea of fun.

How expensive are they? 

That is like asking how much shoes cost. I could get some flip flops at the dollar store or I could get some nice boots for over $100. There are many different types of cloth diapers for varying levels of spendiness. We bought ours second hand and didn’t pay more than a couple dollars per diaper. You can get cheap Chinese made cloth diapers on Amazon or other online retailers. You can also get some super nice fluffy cozy top of the line cheek kissers for your little prince or princess. Expect to spend between $3 and $30 per diaper depending on which brand you choose. You can also make them yourself if you are really thrifty.

What brand should I buy?

I am not going to recommend you buy a certain brand because honestly what works best for one baby does not work well with another. It has to do with anatomy. I liked Sunbaby and Charlie Banana best for my kids but please don’t limit yourself to just those. My friend who helped convince me to try cloth diapers loved BumGenius and Fuzzibunz and I found neither of those worked for my kids. Try a few different brands in a price point you can afford to see which ones you like best. One word though about longevity: velcro wears out a lot faster than snaps so if you can afford diapers with snaps I would purchase those.

How many cloth diapers do I need? 

The short answer is it depends on how often you want to do laundry. I would say between 20-30 adjustable diapers as well as some newborn diapers. We bought a gigantic stash secondhand since we had three in diapers and honestly I loved it. If you can afford to splurge on purchasing a few extra it might help your sanity especially if you are a new mom.

How do you cloth diaper at night? 

Charcoal and bamboo inserts help. You can buy AIOs with these inserts sewn in or purchase them individually for use in your AI2s or pocket diapers. You can use a fleece liner (just a scrap of fleece) on the part that goes right up next to your little one’s bum to keep them dry. I also sewed my kids fleece soakers that fit over the top of their pocket diapers. Imagine all fleece underwear a little bigger than a cloth diaper. Using multiple regular inserts at a time may also be useful depending on the brand of diapers and inserts you buy. If you make it too puffy it may minimize efficiency in some brands.

Do you still use disposable wipes? 

No. That would be pointless. Buy fabric wipes or sew your own. Make a trip to the fabric store if you need to or cut up some of the gazillion receiving blankets you likely have laying around. Cut them into squares or rectangles and sew two pieces back to back. If you have a serger, use it. If not you can just use a zig zag stitch around the edges. Put them in a nice pile or reuse a disposable wipes dispenser if you already have one. Some people squirt them with fun solutions when they use them. I honestly just run them under warm water for a few seconds before putting it on the baby’s bum and it seems to work just fine. After use just toss them into the wash with everything else and you are good to go.

What do you do about poop?

This seems to be a big worry. Get a dependable Cloth Diaper Sprayer and possibly a Cloth Diaper Sprayer Splatter Shield. My husband loves the splatter shield. I think it is ok but frequently forget to use it. The sprayer however is a must. Yes you can swirl around your son or daughter’s poo in the toilet  until it all falls off but it is more time efficient and less disgusting to hold it by the corner (or clip it to a splatter shield) and spray it like crazy for a few seconds.

If you really honestly can’t handle spraying poop into the toilet get some Flushable Diaper Liners. Take the liner out of the diaper, throw it in the toilet, flush, and you’re done. Breast fed baby poop is easy to wash and doesn’t even need to be sprayed. Once your baby eats anything else you enter the world of stinky poop that you want to wash off as quickly as possible.

How do you wash them?

You will need to do a quick rinse off right after a poop but then throw it directly into a garbage can with a Reusable Diaper Pail Liner. If you are out and about or have multiple changing stations in your house I recommend also having some Cloth Diaper Wet Bags you can toss soiled laundry into. Both the wet bags and pail liners can be easily sewn up yourself if you are a good seamstress to save you a little extra cash.

Pocket diapers will need to have the liners pulled out before going in the washing machine but all others can go as they are. You can use a cloth diaper friendly detergent or simply something without a bunch of toxins and bleach. Seventh Generation, Simple Truth, and even Tide Pure Clean are all detergents I have used on my diapers. A prewash cycle is always nice if your washing machine has one. Once they have gone through the wash you can dry most inserts in the dryer but the covers and AI1s will need to be line dried. It is pretty typical to wash a load of diapers every other day. When I first purchased cloth diapers I had three kids in diapers so we did a bit more laundry than that. Yes your water bill may go up a tiny bit but not enough that it is super noticeable. Also if for some reason there are still stains on your diapers, let them sit in the sun for a few hours to naturally bleach out the stains.

What about diaper rash? 

Do not use Desitin on your cloth diapers. It will ruin them. If you need to use something on your baby’s bum there are special ointments you can buy or you can use a dab of coconut oil on the sore spot. I think you will find, though, that your baby gets diaper rash a lot less with cloth diapers than with disposables.

Did I miss a question you had about cloth diapering? Post it in the comments and I will be sure to answer you!

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3 thoughts on “Cloth Diapering 101

  1. Sweet blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News. Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Thank you

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