How to Cloth Diaper
- Thinking about cloth diapering?
- Looking for some other great brands?
- Feeling overwhelmed by choices?
As a cloth diaper-aholic, I’m here to give you my honest, unbiased thoughts on what works and what doesn’t. From my faves to the not-so-great, washing to wipes, travel to terms - it’s all here.
I’ve picked links from places I buy personally at – many offer great deals and free shipping. Like them on their Facebook and follow them on Twitter for more specials.
Cloth Diapering Terms:
CD – Cloth Diapers
AIO – All in One. There is no stuffing or snapping. This diaper is like a disposable in ease of use.
One Size – From birth (I say 10ish lbs) to potty training.
Pockets – These diapers can come in a range of sizes, but they can also be stuffed with more or less depending on your baby’s need for absorbency.
Shells – Diaper usually snaps or lays on top of a diaper cover that is coordinated with it. Once wet (not soiled), the insert is put in the dirty diaper bin, while the cover can be reused several times.
Flats - Large, square pieces of cloth that are folded into a diaper and worn with a waterproof cover. These are the least expensive cloth diapering option.
Prefolds – Rectangular layers of absorbent fabric sewn together to make a diaper that needs to be pinned once put on. These diapers also need a waterproof cover.
Fitteds – A diaper that is premade to fit your baby. Usually one size, and needs a cover.
Covers – A waterproof “shell” contoured to babies that goes around a prefold or fitted diaper. These can be a one size or multiple size.
Aplix – Velcro
Snaps – Um. Snaps.
Inserts – Fabric made of cotton/hemp/terry/flannel/etc that is stuffed inside a pocket diaper for better absorbency.
Doublers – Like an insert, used for “doubling” up on the absorbency, usually at nighttime.
Wet Bag – Keeps the dirty diapers in, usually with a zipper and waterproof liner inside, patterned cover on the outside. Great for travel, comes in many different sizes.
Pail Liner – Used to line the inside of a trashcan to keep diapers until washing day.
Cloth Diapering a Newborn:
Newborns are hard to cloth diaper because of the umbilical cord.
For those of you with extra cash or a determination to never touch a disposable, I recommend Rumparooz Lil Joey Newborn All in One Diapers. I have heard so many good things about them, I plan on using them the next time around as well.
If you want to save money, you can start with diapers that go from birth to potty (see One Size above) but truly, it’s hard to get a good fit on an infant less than about 10lbs for any of these. They are just so skinny and small at that point.
If you do want to go this route, I recommend Thirsties Duo Diapers – 2 sizes from birth to potty and tend to fit better because of this. I think they are coming out with snaps soon on the Diapers. These can be stuffed but come with a hemp and cotton insert and are simply heaven.
Doing it Cheap:
Covers are a must if you use any type of diaper without a built in cover (sized, prefolds). I love Thirsties covers – as well as their Duo Wraps that, like Duo Diapers, come in 2 sizes and then unsnap as your baby grows. The snaps are in the front and allow you to “let out” the diaper to get bigger.
Wool covers, while expensive, are perfect for nighttime. I got tired of Bella having red marks on her legs in the morning, and occasionally wetting through a diaper. We bought the Aristocrat Wool Cover and Kissas Wool. I was skeptical at first because wool makes me itch, but this kind is super soft and gentle on Bella’s’ skin.
I use cloth wipes, because to me it’s just as easy as disposable, and they wash just the same. I even use them when we travel.
My two favorites are the Two-sided Wipes from Green Mountain Diapers (great for blowouts), and the Imse Vimse Organic Cotton Wipes (great for quick changes). Runners up are Thirsties Fab Wipes, and the Cotton Velour Wipes.
Sam loves GroVia Shells. The inside is made from organic cotton, and snaps twice into the shell.
As long as the shell isn’t soiled, it can be used 3+ times during the day. Sometimes I let them air out in between changes. Easy to clean, easy to store. They can be bulky so I don’t use them for travel, but at home they are wonderful. We had them sent in to have snaps put on them as the Velcro didn’t work great for us, but that is because I threw them in the dryer. (Try not to do that.)
I use California Baby Diaper Cream. If it came in bulk I would buy it by the pound. It rinses out of all my CD’s, works like a charm on Bella, and isn’t sticky. Another great choice (especially if your baby has diaper rash a lot) is Grandma El’s.
Prefolds/Flats need something to pin with. I buy Snappis. They have little grips and stretch across the cloth to keep it in place.
Liners are meshed, sheer fabric that is placed in the diaper to hold poo. Flushable and biodegradable. Really, these only need to be used once you start feeding solids. Otherwise it just goes right through.
I love the BioSoft Diaper Liners. If you use diaper cream that isn’t made for cloth diapers (Desitin) I recommend a liner so the staining it leaves behind will be less. There are also flannel liners (I love Bummis) that you can use in the wash.
Wash and Dry:
Washing CD’s can be intimidating. Companies claim their detergent is the best, you can’t use any other, you have to use warm/super hot/cold with vinegar. So to help, I’ll break it down for you.
I do a cold water rinse/spin first because it starts to clean without setting stains like hot water will. Then I do a full cycle with a prewash and second rinse on Whitest Whites (or Hot/Cold).This is the detergent/oxygen bleach part. Sometimes, if I accidentally added too much detergent (you see bubbles at the last rinse) or need to get them a bit cleaner, I’ll do one more warm water rinse at the end.
I throw prefolds, and inserts into the dryer on Casual (low) and hang the covers. This helps the elastic last a lot longer.
Best for Traveling:
I love AIO’s for traveling because you just pull the diaper out and it’s over. No stuffing or searching for an insert. The trimmest I’ve found are GroVia AIO’s, but Bum Genius also work well. Also, a few fitteds with some covers would work too.
For short trips I have a medium wetbag that holds 4-5 diapers. This is great for day trips to my parents or afternoon visits with friends. I use a Planet Wise large wet bag for long trips – it holds around 20 soiled diapers and all the dirty wipes. I have a small wet bag for clean, dry wipes I take in the diaper bag. To wet them, I bought a squeeze bottle ($1) and keep it filled with water.
I carry the travel size Thirsties Booty Luster with me for when water just won’t cut it.
Best birth to…?
This one diaper I have had since Bella was born, and I swear, it’s like it’s never going to be too small for her. Green Mountain Diapers Infant fitted diapers. I bought them before Bella was born, used them after her cord fell off, and up until she was about 25lbs they fit her. I know. They are awesome.
The Velcro still holds, the absorbency is wonderful – these are my favorites and next time around I’m buying at least 3-4 more. It says 5-13lbs, but Bella is 25lbs and we literally just put them away. They come in snaps or velcro.
Eh – these aren’t great:
Sometimes diapers just don’t work. Happy Heiny’s pockets XS for Bella when she was born weren’t my favorite. They leaked, didn’t fit right, and were a pain to stuff.
Bum Genuis XS One Size didn’t work either – but only because Bella, at 7lbs, seemed to barely squeeze into them. Once we got her into the small size, it was heaven. Like I said above – 2-8+ months with the smalls.
Dream Eze Fitted is by far the diaper I hate the most. It has snaps that are tough to work, and it’s stiff, doesn’t form to Bella’s’ body, has to be stretched to get back into shape, it is super bulky, and leaves red marks on her bottom and legs. Dislike.
I might cut you with scissors for these:
Still have questions? Want to know more on a product not talked about here? Email me - I’d love to hear from you and am happy to help you find your own love of cloth diapers!