Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cloth Diapering: Basics and My Recommendations

And now a break from our regularly scheduled programming, otherwise known as trip recaps, for a little pre-earth day P.S.A.

Several times in the past few months, I've written friends (that have shown interest) detailed emails about cloth diapering and how we do it. I know I already wrote a post about this a while back, but thought I should share some of the basics and my new perspective after transitioning to solids. This is the email I sent with very few edits:

In general there are 3 types of cloth diapers:
1- Prefolds that you use with a cover, basic and cheap because you only change the inside most of the time and can reuse the cover (around $2 for prefolds + $12 for covers)
2- All in ones- the absorbent material is sewn into the cover, very easy but expensive ($20 +)
3- Pocket diapers- the median between the other two- like a cover with one layer sewn, and you can add more layers into the "pocket", (around $15)- we don't use these but a lot of other people do*.

So like I mentioned, we got two sets of diapers: newborn size (about 5-9 lbs) and then regular size (8-30 lbs)**. The number of diapers you buy will depend on how often you want to do laundry: I think around 36 is good, since it allows you to do laundry every third day.

For the newborn phase I decided to get prefolds + covers since it lasts such a short time. We got 4 dozen prefolds and a few different covers, to make things easy. (Newborns easily go through 12-14 diapers a day).
My favorite prefold was by Green Mountain Diapers. there is a ton of information about diapering on the site.
For covers I was pretty indecisive so I just got a whole bunch of different ones. My favorites ended up being Thirsties covers.
We also got a Snappi, which is a cute plastic thing that holds the prefold in place, kind of like an ace bandage. This can seem overwhelming but the learning curve is really quick. Within a few days both M and I had figured out how to do diaper changes really easily and quickly.

Now we use a combination of all-in-ones and prefolds. The all-in-ones we started using at night because they were thicker and also easier to change in the middle of the night. As I've accumulated more I also like to use them when we're out of the house for a while. I think the best ones are made by BumGenius. During the day we primarily use prefolds + covers. For larger covers I like the Econobum and the Flip covers. (All three brands are by Cotton Babies- again there's lots of information about cloth on the site).

Everything I use is cotton. This is just a personal preference- because it is very low maintenance in terms of laundry (plus very absorbent and soft). Speaking of laundry:

All the dirty diapers go into a wetbag as is***- we use Bummis brand- inside of a Simple Human trash can. (We have the trash can in our bedroom and there is no smell, so it seems to be working well). Every third day, I take the entire wetbag and flip it into the washing machine (no touching the diapers), and toss in the bag itself as well. The main thing with washing is not to use any softener because that makes the diapers repel. Other than that it's just a matter of finding out what wash works best with your machine. (I usually do a pre-rinse cold, then wash on hot with about half the amount of detergent, and extra rinse). I usually hang dry them (because we can here), but it's also really good for getting out stains- the sun takes away the stain.

Bigger babies wet more but less often. We now use about 6 diapers a day, but at night I add a "doubler" (an extra layer of fabric) just to be safe. The reason I still recommend a large stash for this stage is because you will be using the diapers for a much longer time period; this way you get less wear and tear (and don't have to do laundry as often). Once you start solids, poop needs to be dumped into the toilet. I use a bidet and it is quick and easy and the nice thing is that by the time you need to use the bidet, they poop a lot less often and it is not messy anymore.


*There are also "hybrid" diapers which are similar to a pocket diaper, but you can use disposable inserts some of the time. I find these pretty useless, as the disposable inserts cost just as much as a normal disposable diaper but you still have to wash the covers.

**If you cloth diaper to save money, for the first child you will break even on a newborn stash, and save a lot on the regular stash. Additional children mean a lot more savings.

***This is assuming breastfed poop, for formula, or after starting solids, you need to rinse off the poop using a bidet since it is not water soluble.

  • Reasons to cloth diaper: healthier, cheaper, environmentally friendly
  • Type to get: prefolds to save money, all-in-ones for ease of use
  • Number to get: at least 3 dozen
  • Accessories to get: a bidet (diaper sprayer), a snappi for prefolds, doublers
  • Online stores I have used and liked, in this order: Kelly's Closet, Green Mountain Diapers, Cotton Babies

So that's my personal introduction. For more FAQ including- why we chose to cloth diaper, why we love it, and how much money we're saving, see my first post HERE.


  1. Great post! Love the way you concisely explain it really is easy! :)