Are you considering cloth diapering your kid? Using cloth diapers is great for the environment and can be much easier on the wallet (as long as you don’t get sucked into buying the adorable limited prints, which can be a challenge).
This post will give you all the information you need to get started cloth diapering your child. And – surprise! – it probably isn’t quite as gross as you think.
Benefits of Cloth Diapering
There are a ton of benefits to using cloth diapers. Because you reuse the same diapers over and over again, even for multiple kids, you can save thousands of dollars.
You can also prevent thousands of diapers from ending up in landfills.
Here are a few facts:
- Disposable diapers take an estimated 250-500 years to decompose.
- Disposable diapers were first mass produced in 1948. (Which is why we aren’t totally sure how long they take to decompose.) So, cloth isn’t a newfangled trend, it is actually what most of our parents wore when they were babies!
- The average cost to diaper one child in disposables from birth to potty training is $2400. While you can purchase a used or off-brand cloth diaper lot for just a few hundred dollars, and they can be used on more than one child.
- Disposable diapers include instructions to dump fecal matter in the toilet, although most caregivers do not. So the added step of dumping the poop once your kid eats solids is actually what you are supposed to do anyway!
Cloth diapers can also be a great option for children with sensitive skin to prevent diaper rashes.
The Most Popular Types of Cloth Diapers
There are four main types of cloth diapers. Which one you should choose will be based on your needs, your budget, and plain old personal preference!
In general, there are two parts of a cloth diaper – the cover, which is waterproof and prevents leaks, and the absorbent layer.
Different cloth diaper styles combine these components in different ways. Here is a break down of the most popular types of cloth diapers.
AIO(All In One)
These diapers are just one piece – the absorbent layer and the waterproof cover do not separate, you just toss the entire diaper into the wash. These are the easiest to use and mimic disposable usage closely.
Instead of tossing in your trash can, you just toss the diaper in your wet bag. (Unless your kid is on food, then you dump the poop into the toilet first.)
- Easy to use, very low learning curve
- No ‘stuffing’
- AIO tend to cost more
- They take longer to dry
- Harder to adjust absorbancy (though you can place another soaker on top)
These diapers have a waterproof shell and a (usually) flannel liner that goes against the baby’s skin. The absorbent layer is ‘stuffed’ into the pocket, but can also be laid on top of the flannel. These are ideal if you have a heavy wetter.
- More affordable than AIO
- Easy to adjust absorbancy by adding more soakers
- Tons of prints to choose from
- Slightly steeper learning curve than AIO options
- Require ‘stuffing’, which is an added step
Popular brands of pocket diapers include bumGenius and FuzziBunz. Most of my stash is made up of Alva Baby Cloth One Size Adjustable. I was worried about the quality, but they have held up over two years and still have plenty of life left in them!
Prefold Cloth Diapers
This is likely what comes to mind when you tell your mom or grandmother you are thinking about using cloth diapers. They are plain rectangular pieces of cloth, usually with an absorbent middle layer, that are fastened using clasps or diaper pins.
They are less convenient, not as cute (Have you seen some of the cloth diaper prints out there? Adorable.), BUT, they are much more affordable. Most of the time, you would use a cover of some sort to keep everything contained.
Since one size diapers don’t usually fit newborns well, they can be an economical option for the first few weeks.
Hybrid Diapers (All in Twos)
This type of cloth diapers features a waterproof outer shell that can be used with a variety of absorbency inserts – including disposable ones. This design makes them very flexible and ideal for most families. For example, you could use only disposable inserts if the thought of washing poop grosses you out. Or, you could stick to cloth inserts at home, but use disposables when the grandparents watch the kids.
- More flexibility for using disposable or reusable inserts
- No ‘stuffing’ like with pockets, but you do have to add soakers
- Fast to dry
- Last for many years and many washes
- Options may overwhelm some caregivers
- Using disposable inserts is still creating a great deal of trash
- Soakers may shift during wear since they are often just placed in the shell
How to Wash Cloth Diapers
For most parents, washing cloth diapers is quite simple. Take the diaper off, toss it in a wet bag or bin. Every two or three days (or every day, if you are so inclined), toss in the washing machine. Simply wash your diapers on warm or cool with an extra rinse cycle and Tide detergent. Yes, they are specific detergents but for most people, Tide works really well.
Since this is a short guide, I am not going to get into issues that might arise if you have hard water or an HE washer, or if your diapers start to smell. I highly recommend digging into Fluff Love University if you are having issues!
How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need?
The number of cloth diapers you will need totally depends on how much you plan to cloth diaper (We do cloth during the day and disposables at night and when we go out.) It may also change by age; newborns may need more, while older children need less.
In general, a solid cloth diaper stash is 15-24 diapers.
Are Cloth Diapers a Good Choice For My Family?
Cloth diapers are not the best choice for everyone. While cheaper overall, some families may not have the resources to purchase cloth diapers out right. Or, your state might not allow day care providers to use cloth.
Doing more laundry might sound like your own personal hell. Or, this might just be a crunchy battle you don’t want to fight. And that is totally okay. #nojudgement
But, I do hope you have the information you need to make the decision for your family. And, cloth might not be quite as difficult or gross as you thought. (Also, if the poo part grosses you out, you might consider using flushable liners. )
This is not a comprehensive guide to cloth diapering, just a beginner’s guide to getting you started.
Here are a few trusted resources if you would like to learn more:
Got tips, favorite cloth diaper brands, or other resources to share? Please leave us a comment!
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Inpost Image: By Author
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