Let me just start out by saying that I absolutely LOVE cloth diapering! I also want to point out that I’m a tired, stay at home mom of two toddlers and one infant. I should also add that I’m kind of lazy. I’m saying this to give you hope and so you realize that anyone can deal with cloth diapering…not just you awesomely motivated moms (but kudos to you guys, I’m jealous of your go getter-ness…seriously! I am jealous!)
I started cloth diapering about 3 months ago when our daughter was 2 months old and I’m so happy I made the change. I chose to do it because I decided I hated all of the disposable diapers we had tried. They were all thin and not what I remembered with our two boys. Plus they looked so uncomfortable and according to my husband, I have become a big hippie. I take that as a compliment.
I wasn’t always into cloth diapering. I flat-out refused to do it with our boys, plus I didn’t have a lot of friends with kids so there was no one to influence me in either direction. But I now have friends who do have kids and who have cloth diapered for years. One friend in particular helped me so much when deciding to start this journey. I asked her a million questions and she very patiently walked me through what to buy, where to buy, how to wash them and everything in between. I’ve obviously worked out my routine and found diapers I like better than others but so far it has all been excellent.
Plus, the diaper prints are absolutely ADORABLE! Seriously, picturing our baby girl crawling around this summer with her cute little cloth diaper bum makes me so happy!
So let’s get into the details about cloth diapering and what has worked best for our family. These are all of the questions I have had people ask and the ones that I think are important to know for first time cloth diapering families. I’ll explain the basics and then i’ll explain what I do.
WHERE TO BUY CLOTH DIAPERS?
I bought all of my cloth diapers off of aliexpress. I will warn everyone that the ones I bought are not made in the USA. However, the quality of the diapers is excellent and the ones I purchased are all bamboo / microfiber blend, which absorbs amazing! So back to ordering them. I bought mostly the brand Happy Flute. I typed “happy flute cloth diapers” into the search bar and then bought the prints I liked. They can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks to arrive so order accordingly. If you want specifics on the exact ones I bought please leave a comment or send me an email so I can help more.
Now, if you want to stick with diapers sold in the USA or want diapers made from different materials, you can order from other online stores. You will have to research which stores are the best because I didn’t do much shopping outside of aliexpress. You can even purchase cloth diapers at stores like Target. If you want all handmade diapers I recommend etsy. There are tons of places to buy cloth diapers so do some research on what exactly it is you want and buy from stores that sell what works best for your baby.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF DIAPERS?
Please remember I’m still new to this so if I miss any kinds I apologize.
FLATS and PRE-FOLDS ~ These are probably the least expensive. They are pieces of cloth (usually made from bamboo, cotton or hemp), that you fold into thirds and secure with a clip. You have to put a waterproof (like the one shown below) or a wool diaper cover over the top because the flats and pre-folds aren’t waterproof. The flats and pre-folds are generally one size fits all and they are very absorbent (great for overnight).
FITTED ~ Fitted diapers are similar to flats but they usually are shaped more like a diaper. Some attach with Velcro or snaps, others may still need to be clipped. These diapers also need some sort of cover (I use the one in the picture above).
POCKET ~ Pocket diapers have two layers. They have an outer waterproof shell and an inner soft layer of fabric (bamboo, hemp, cotton) that lays again the baby’s skin. You then stuff the pocket between those layers with an absorbent pad. These can come in multiple sizes from newborn size up to one size fits all.
ALL IN ONE (AIO) ~ These are like pocket diapers but the absorbent pad is sewn into the diaper so you do not have to remove anything to wash them. Some AIO diapers have a pocket so you can stuff them with more pads, some do not have this option, it depends on the brand. These come in multiple sizes.
ALL IN TWO (AI2) ~ These diapers are like AIO’s but they also have an extra absorbent layer that is only sewn on one side of the diaper so it flaps out during the wash. Some have two flaps, some have one flap, and others have a sewn in layer plus the flap. These also come in multiple sizes.
ABSORBENT PADS ~ These are what you stuff the pocket diapers with. They are generally made from materials such as bamboo, microfiber and hemp. I have a lot of blended ones that have bamboo outer layers and microfiber inner layers.
NEWBORN ~ Newborn diapers are smaller diapers that fit a newborn. Most one size diapers don’t fit babies until about 10 lbs, so if you plan on cloth diapering from birth these may be a good idea to purchase. Also, many newborn diapers come with a snap in the front so that the diaper doesn’t rub against the umbilical cord stump. Whether your baby fits in newborn diapers greatly depends on the size of your baby and the brand of diaper.
ONE SIZE FITS ALL ~ These diapers fit babies generally from about 10 lbs all the way up to about 30 lbs, give or take. They have rows of snaps on the front to make them smaller and as your baby grows you move the snaps to different heights.
HOW MANY DIAPERS DO I NEED?
I spent days trying to figure out how many diapers I would need to full-time cloth diaper one baby. The general rule of thumb is this. Newborns go through about 12 diapers a day. As they get older that amount obviously goes down. But to be safe, to full-time cloth diaper, while washing diapers every 2 to 3 days, you need between 24-36 diapers. This number obviously depends on how many kids you are diapering, how many days you want to go between washing’s and how many diapers your baby goes through each day.
In my case I own 40 diapers. 14 of them are AIO diapers. I love AIO diapers because they are easy. I put them on and take them off in one step. They mostly all snap shut but I do have a few that are Velcro. At the moment I hate the Velcro ones. That is a personal preference though. 16 of the diapers are pocket diapers. I love the pocket diapers as well. Especially for when we leave the house. They are less bulky and Elora fits in her car seat better with the pocket diapers. I have 8 AI2 diapers that I only use at night. I use about 2 a night. Sometimes I only use one. It really depends on when she goes to bed and what time we get up. I love the AI2 diapers but not for the day time, they are too bulky for her now to wear during the day, but they work amazing at night. I also have one fitted diaper with a cover. I have no problems with it and its all made from bamboo so it is really soft and absorbent. Plus the cover has butterfly’s all over it. Those are all the diapers I have and that number works perfect for my wash routine.
HOW MUCH DO CLOTH DIAPERS COST?
This one vastly depends on what you choose to buy. In my case, I did not ever pay more than $10 per diaper. Most were about $8.50 a piece (those were the AIO diapers). The pocket diapers were a little less. However, if you buy from other companies the price can range from inexpensive like the ones I bought, all the way up to over $30 a piece. Etsy has an amazing amount of handmade cloth diapers that are extremely cute. They are not cheap and there is good reason for that…they’re handmade. Buy what makes you happy and is in your price range.
I spent about $300 all together on all 40 diapers. In the end they will definitely payoff. We will no doubt save money compared to using disposable diapers.
The price in terms of water, detergent and electricity really isn’t that much different in my case. My water bill went up $1 and I can’t even confirm if that was because of washing diapers. Detergent is something we have to buy anyways so it hasn’t made much of a difference in terms of the amount spent on detergent. I only do about 7 or 8 extra loads a month so by the end of the year we might end up buying one extra detergent container compared to the year before. Our electricity went up a tiny bit but I line dry all the diapers so the dryer never gets used more than it used to.
Our little girl goes through about 20-24 diapers every 4 days. I didn’t start cloth diapering until she was 2 months so I can’t say, from my experience, how many cloth diapers newborns go through in that same amount of time.
WHAT DO I STORE CLOTH DIAPERS IN?
There are multiple ways to store dirty cloth diapers. You can put them in a wet bag, which is a waterproof bag that you simply throw the dirty diapers into. There is the option to use a wet pail. A wet pail is basically a bucket full of water, with maybe a little bleach in it, that you soak the diapers in until wash day. I’m sure there are more options, but those are the two I am most familiar with.
I keep all of my diapers is wet bags, or dry bags, whichever name you want to give them. I have a large one in my laundry room. I put it in my diaper pail and it works amazing to hold all the diapers. I also have a few small wet bags around the house in the areas where I mostly change her so that I don’t have to run upstairs every time I change her diaper.
HOW DO I WASH CLOTH DIAPERS?
To wash cloth diapers you take out all the pads from the pocket diapers (or any other diaper you’re using them on). Separate all pieces from each other so they wash right.
Place all the diapers, pads, covers, etc, into the wash and run a cold or warm rinse cycle. The reason I say cold or warm is because there is debate about which way is better. I learned to run the rinse cycle on warm because stains tend to remove better when washed at the temperature that they occurred. I’m sure many people would argue with this and if that is you then go ahead and rinse them in cold water. Either way, they need a rinse cycle first. You can run this cycle with or without detergent, that is purely preference.
After the rinse cycle is complete, put in your detergent and run a deep water wash. Do not add fabric softener, bleach, or anything else but detergent to the wash cycle! I recommend running this one on hot, but once again this is a topic for debate. The water in your washing machine does not get hot enough to technically sanitize anything. However, with the addition of detergent, the hot water does a better job cleaning. So once again, use your best judgement and wash with the heat that works best for you.
VERY IMPORTANT! I can not stress this enough! Please do not go and try to wash your cloth diapers with a tiny amount of detergent. I don’t know where the rumor of having to wash diapers in less detergent started or why it did but YOU NEED TO WASH DIAPERS WITH THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF DETERGENT! By this I mean that you need to read the instructions on your detergent and use the proper amount of detergent for the load size you are washing. Remember, you are washing something that goes on your baby. When you wash them they are filled with pee and poop. They need to get clean and the only way to do this is to wash them with a good amount of detergent.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I WASH CLOTH DIAPERS?
Once again, this is another topic that can be argued about. I don’t recommend going more than 5 days without washing your diapers. They are full of pee and poop and when they sit in a bag all day, for multiple days, they start to get stinky. If you wait too many days there is a chance of them growing mold and that is no good. Most people who I have spoken to wash their diapers every 2-4 days. It just depends on how often you want to wash and how many diapers you have.
I wash diapers every 4 days. So for example. The last batch of diapers I washed was last Sunday. So my next batch will be washed on Thursday. This works great for us, but if you want to wash more often that is definitely something you should do. I hate doing house work so I wash less often. The reason I ended up with 40 diapers is because I can basically wash half of the diapers every 4 days. This means the diapers aren’t washed as often and they stay nicer.
HOW DO I DRY CLOTH DIAPERS?
You can dry cloth diapers in the dryer on any heat. Keep in mind that the higher the heat, the more worn out the diaper material can become. You can also line dry your diapers.
I line dry my diapers in our laundry room on a drying rack. It saves us money and I have enough diapers to not have to use them right away. They can dry overnight without me running out of diapers the next day. I do occasionally dry some of the pads and the AIO / AI2 diapers in the dryer if I’m in a hurry. They take longer to dry on the rack so keep that in mind.
CAN I USE DIAPER CREAM ON CLOTH DIAPERS?
Yes you can, however, there are certain creams you need to use. Some ingredients can ruin cloth diapers and make them less absorbent. One that I am familiar with is Zinc. There are many brands of safe cloth diaper creams. Just do your research before you use any to make sure they are safe.
I choose to make my diaper rash cream and I love it! It works amazing with the cloth diapers and I haven’t had any trouble washing it out. It is all natural and does not contain any ingredients that are harmful to baby or the diapers. Here is the recipe to make it if you are interested.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CHANGE CLOTH DIAPERS?
Cloth diapers do not last as long as disposable diapers. You need to change your baby at least every two hours. Obviously if he or she is peeing or pooping more often, then change them more often. It depends on your baby. Cloth diapers do leak easier than disposable diapers if left on for long periods of time. This is because they do not have any of the chemicals that are used in disposable diapers to make them more absorbent. And, just to throw this out there, you should be changing your baby’s disposable diapers every few hours as well. No one wants to sit in their own pee and poop.
DO I NEED TO STRIP MY CLOTH DIAPERS?
I have only stripped my diapers once and it was only because I wanted to try the product I bought. I’ve been cloth diapering for a little over 3 months and I haven’t had any problems with ammonia or build up (I believe that is because I use the right amount of detergent and don’t skimp). To strip the diapers I bought these little pod containers called Mighty Bubbles by GroVia. Every six weeks you run a load with all your diapers, throw that pod in and it strips them of all the yucky stuff that can get stuck in them over time. Like ammonia, diaper cream or anything else that is preventing them from absorbing properly and making them smell a little funky. I liked how the mighty bubbles worked, there was no smell afterwards and all the diapers and pads seemed very clean. I definitely recommend using them every 6 weeks or so just to get your diapers back to a really clean state.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:
98% of the time I love everything about cloth diapering but here are a few things to consider before jumping into the cloth diapering world.
~ A few of the diapers I have bought leak. This was something I couldn’t control and it’s not worth it to send them back. I will still use the few that leak, just not when we go out.
~ The one size fits all diapers do not fit newborns. I didn’t start when Elora was a newborn but I can tell you now, unless you gave birth to a baby that was 10 lbs or more, the one size diapers will not fit your newborn. Elora was a few ounces over 10 lbs when we started cloth diapering and it worked fine.
~ It annoys me sometimes that the diapers are bulky. This will get better as she gets older and lengthens out more but at the moment, and definitely when we first started, she has a hard time bending at the waist because the top of the diaper digs into her belly. We’ve gotten used to it and know how to position her now. Plus she is not as small as she was so it’s not as big of a problem anymore. But it’s definitely something to think about if you are going to have your baby in a sitting position a lot before they can actually sit on their own.
~ Cloth diapers are not something I will ever choose to travel with. Unless you want to do laundry wherever you are going. I will put Elora in disposable diapers if we ever go somewhere for more than a day, because frankly, it’s just less work.
~ Lastly, clothes fit snugly, well mostly pants. This doesn’t bug me that much but it might bug others. I just put her in some larger size pants now so they aren’t as tight on her hips. Cloth diapers are bigger than disposable diapers, that’s just a fact of life.
You do not have to be extremely organized and on top of things to cloth diaper. I’m a pretty lazy person in terms of doing housework. I never wanted to use cloth diapers because of all the work that I thought went into it. But honestly, it really isn’t bad at all. I have a routine and I actually get excited to sit down and put together all the diapers. They’re adorable and I love looking at them and having our daughter wear them. I can’t wait for summer when she can move around, she’ll look so cute in her little diapers!
If you have any questions or more input on cloth diapering please leave a comment. I love to hear about other people’s experiences.
So overall I absolutely love cloth diapers! If you are having any thoughts about trying them I strongly recommend it! You can always start with just a few and see how you like them and then expand as you go along.