Cloth diapers have been around for hundreds of years in one form or another.
The introduction of disposable diapers for mainstream use in the 1960’s totally transformed the way in which moms dealt with the messy business of changing their babies. Convenient, but not necessarily eco-logically sound.
The tide is turning once again, as more moms are now switching cloth diapers to keep their babies clean and dry.
Modern cloth diapers and accessories have come a long way from the white cloths and huge pins of yesteryears. Today, there are so many different styles of cloth diapers, some of which are just as convenient as disposable diapers! Not to mention, they are way CUTER.
- Why Choose Cloth Diapers Over Disposables?
- How to Choose the Best Cloth Diapers for your Baby?
- Cloth Diapers Types
- How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need?
- Cloth Diaper Storage
- What to Do with Soiled Diapers?
- How to Wash Dirty Cloth Diapers?
- How to Dry Cloth Diapers?
- What is the Best Detergent for Cloth Diapers?
- What Other Cloth Diaper Accessories Do You Need?
- How to Prevent Cloth Diaper Rash?
- What Is a Cloth Diaper Safe Diaper Cream?
- Will I Still Need Disposable Diapers?
- Are Cloth Diapers Allowed in Daycares?
- Cost Analysis of Cloth Diapering
- Becoming a Cloth Diapering Mom
Why Choose Cloth Diapers Over Disposables?
If you are thinking of using cloth diapers for your newborn or looking to switch from disposables to cloth for your baby, here are some great reasons why cloth diapering can be the way forward for both you and your baby:
Cloth diapers save you money
Do you know that an average baby uses 6000 disposable diapers? Cloth diapers will save you a significant amount of money over the course of your child’s diapering years as they can be reused.
Most brands allow you to adjust the size so that the cloth diapers can grow with your child, providing a perfect fit. Moreover, they can be handed down, so it really provides great savings if you have more than 1 kid.
Do your part for the environment
You will also be able to do your part for the environment as cloth diapering helps reduce both your carbon footprint and reduces landfill waste.
Better for your baby
Most importantly, there are SO MUCH harmful chemicals in disposable diapers!
These chemicals may irritate a baby’s sensitive skin, giving rise to diaper rash and discomfort. Your baby will definitely benefit from wearing a comfortable cloth diaper made from natural materials, such as cotton, hemp or wool.
Helps with Toilet Training
Cloth diapers may also help in the potty training process. Cloth diapers are not as dry as disposables, so the toddlers will be able to feel the wetness and discomfort when they have an accident.
Cloth diapers are cuter than disposables
Last but not least, cloth diapers come in such a wide range of SUPER CUTE diaper cover designs that you will be spoilt for choices!
How to Choose the Best Cloth Diapers for your Baby?
Thankfully, choosing a cloth diaper is not just about finding a piece of material and wrapping it around your baby’s bottom.
On the flip side, this means that it could be overwhelming for a new cloth diapering mom to decide which type of cloth diaper is best for the family.
There are many different types and styles of cloth diaper, all designed to suit your baby’s individual needs, and also your time constraints and budgets.
Cloth Diapers Types
Also known as AIO cloth diapers, these nappies resemble disposable diapers as it consists of just 1 single piece.
For an all-in-one cloth diaper, the inner absorbent layer is already sewn onto the waterproof cover that prevents leaks.
They are practical and super easy to use as you do need to insert any stuffings or pull out the liners for washing. It offers the added convenience for changes on the go as no foldings are required.
Most of them features easy to use snap closures. (p.s. I prefer snap closures to velcro closures as velcro may get worn out more easily over time.)
But it tends to take longer to dry.
Popular brands like bumGenius offer all-in-one diapers in a wide range of lovely colors and cute patterns. It also features a 3 x 3 adjustable snap system so that you can customize the size to fit your growing child from birth to potty training age.
bumGenius also introduced the Elemental 3.0 series which makes use of 100% organic cotton for the inner lining. While some parents prefer such natural fabric, a downside of such natural fibers is that it takes longer to dry.
Pocket nappies are a two-part cloth diapering system. They include a waterproof outer shell (or pocket) and a separate absorbent insert tucked inside via an opening at the back of the shell.
The inner layer of the pocket diaper is made of wicking material, so your baby will feel dry as the moisture is drawn into the insert. You can make these as absorbent as you need to.
What I like about using pocket diapers is that you can customize the absorbency by switching the insert material (e.g. microfiber, bamboo or hemp) and the amount of inserts to meet your baby’s needs,
ALVABABY pocket diapers also feature a 1 size fit all all snap system so that you can adjust the size to fit your child.
All in Two cloth diapers (also known as AI2) is a 2 piece cloth diapering system, similar to that of pocket diapers. It consists of a waterproof shell and an absorbent insert.
Most AI2s feature snap-in or lay-on inserts, which are easier to use as you wouldn’t need to stuff the inserts into the pocket.
However, the snap-in feature loses the flexibility to customize the absorbency though some brands may offer inserts of different absorbency. If so, you will want to buy higher absorbency overnight inserts.
Lay-on systems may allow you to use the shell along with prefolds or flats, in addition to the brand specific inserts.
The advantage of using All-in-Two is that if the cover is not dirtied, it can be wiped and reused with new fresh inserts.
Popular All-in-Two cloth diapers include Grovia, which also feature adjustable snap closures to fit babies from 8 to 30 Ibs.
Some systems also feature disposable inserts, which can be convenient for travelling, making it a hybrid system.
Flats (also known as Flat Diapers or Unfolded Diapers)
Like the traditional cloth diapers our Grandmother used, these are rectangles of flat fabric.
The cloth is then folded to fit your baby, and held together with diaper pins or the more modern snappi cloth diaper clips, which are t-shaped grip fasteners that hook the fabric in three places (left, right and middle).
You can choose from natural materials such as 100% cotton, wool, bamboo or unbleached hemp.
There are a number of benefits of flat diapers. They are cheap, and easy to wash and dry since they are essentially just 1 piece of cloth.
However, there is a steep learning curve to picking up how to fold the cloth diaper as there are many different folding techniques. (p.s. you may take more time in the beginning.)
Once you have mastered the art of folding cloth diapers, you can customize the folding to meet the absorbency needs of your child. For example, you can increase the folds at the back when your child is sleeping or increase the thickness in front for boys.
By itself, the cotton flats may not be as good as pocket diapers or AIO in containing masses. So you might want to consider getting a diaper cover.
Similar to flatfolds, prefolded diapers are rectangular pieces of cloth. However, they are thicker and more padded in the middle section to increase the absorbency.
Here’s a quick video on how to use prefold cloth diapers:
Contours are pieces of hourglass-shaped fabrics. It has a narrow crotch and wide wings, so you will be able to wrap the cloth around the baby’s waist without having to fold it around the leg area. Similar to flats and prefolds, contours need to be secured with pins, snappi fasteners or velcro.
Fitted diapers are made entirely with the absorbent material, unlike AIO or Pocket Diapers where only the central area is absorbent. As the material is not waterproof, you will need use them with another waterproof diaper cover (such as a wool or PUL cover), which are often sold separately.
It is much easier to use compared to flats as the fitted cloth diaper is already fitted to the baby with the contours and elastic legs, so no folding is required.
Fitted diapers, such as Ecoable, also include extra night booster inserts that can be easily snapped-in to increase the absorbency, so that it holds up well overnight without leaks. You can also choose from natural materials such as bamboo/cotton and hemp/cotton.
Similar to AIO and Pocket Diaper, the fitted diaper also features a system of snap buttons so that the size is adjustable for babies from 10 to 30 pounds.
How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need?
Your cloth diaper stash will be one of the most important pieces of baby kit you own for the first 2-3 years of your little ones life.
Considering how much you will be relying on these cloth diapers, you may be tempted to buy a gazillion of them in a desperate bid to never, ever run short of them.
The truth is, you don’t actually need to buy that many.
Given that washing the diapers on a regular basis is paramount for good hygiene and keeping your baby clean, a typical diaper stash of around 20 diapers should suffice. With this amount, you can comfortably count on a wash cycle every other day.
A newborn baby will need changing around every 1-3 hours. Of course, this will be around the clock for the first few months at least. As they start on solid food, you will be able to get away with changing them less often (at least, that’s the plan).
You should also consider your storage options, budget, washing and drying facilities and the amount of space you have to store them before any buying spree.
Purchasing too many cloth diapers could actually defeat your objective of keeping your costs down and carbon footprint low, as well as keeping your home and baby sweet smelling. Having too many dirty diapers stored in a pail would cause the stink to set in.
Moreover, the longer you keep the dirty diapers, the harder it is to wash off the stain. TIP: Try not to keep more than 3 days between washes.
The other problem with planning how many cloth diapers or diaper covers to include in your stash is the fact that they are SO CUTE!
You many well start off with a set figure in mind. But before you know it, you will have a huge pile of brightly colored, cute patterned diapers piled high in your nursery.
Cloth Diaper Storage
It’s a common misconception that being a cloth diapering mom requires you to give up a huge amount of storage space for bulky piles of folded diapers and their many accessories.
In reality, storing your stash will only take up as much or as little space as you want it to. While cloth diapers are a little on the bulky side, they are not much bigger than disposable diapers.
You might want to set aside a designated space as the changing area in the nursery or bedroom, and your cloth diapers will fit in there just as well there as disposables would.
If you and your baby are spending more time outside the nursery or bedroom, you may want to consider setting up a secondary changing area as might not want to be dashing half way across the house when you are in the middle of a messy change.
The diapers can be kept in a drawer, on a shelf or even on a trolley. Most importantly, make sure they are easily accessible from your changing pad. You will also need a dedicated space for accessories like wipes, wet bags, diaper cream and of course, the all important, diaper pail.
If you don’t want to buy a whole new storage unit or changing table, why not re-purpose something you already have?
Shoe storage trolleys make excellent diaper storage, as do those wooden units that contain small tilted boxes used for toys. Bonus points for these, as you can turn them back into toy storage once your baby is past diapering age.
What to Do with Soiled Diapers?
It’s nice to keep your costs down while doing your bit for the planet. It can also be really fun and addictive to shop for cute diapers.
But when it comes to dealing with dirty cloth diapers, things can start to get a little trickier and undoubtedly smellier for a new mom.
If you are dealing with a wet diaper, you have 2 options to collect them before it’s time to wash:
- a diaper pail with a waterproof washable liner
- a hanging wet bag
For really dirty diapers, you’d need to take the extra step of knocking or spraying off the solids (and by this, we mean poop) from the cloth nappies into the toilet.
Only then do you toss the poop-free diaper into the diaper pail system or wet bag. The job gets easier as time passed. As your baby move on to solids, their stool becomes more solid and easier to shake off. A diaper pail system is a simple and effective way to store the soiled diapers between washes.
They are usually operated with a foot peddle so it’s hands-free. Such convenience is much needed as you’ll probably be holding your baby in 1 hand and the soiled diaper in the other.
Here are MORE TIPS to ensure that your nursery is always hygienic and fresh smelling, free from stinky diapers smells:
- Buy two wets bags or pail liners (if you are using a diaper pail), so that you will always have one on hand when the other is in the wash.
- Use a diaper sprayer to wash off the poop from the soiled diapers right into the toilet. The high pressure spray nozzle can be easily installed to the side of your toilet without much plumbing expertise.
- Baby proof and pet proof (if you have pets) the wet bag and diaper pail. If you are using wet bags, hang them high enough to keep them out of reach of the curious hands and noses. Look out for diaper pails with child proof features or purchase separate child proofing locks. You wouldn’t want your curious toddler to be rummaging through the soiled diapers or tossing fresh cloth diapers into pail.
- In the past, our grandmothers may have used a wet pail to soak the used diapers in water (or a solution containing some baking soda). However, keeping a pail filled with water in the bathroom poses a drowning risk for babies and toddlers. Soaking the dirty diapers for more than a few hours may also cause the stains to set in.
How to Wash Dirty Cloth Diapers?
Before you start washing your cloth diapers for the first time, ALWAYS check out the manufacturer’s washing instructions.
With our modern day washing machines, generally speaking, you can transfer the dirty diapers (free from poop) from the diaper pail directly into the wash.
I typically run a pre-wash or pre-soak with cold water, especially if there’s a few messy ones. Some parents have found that this is not really necessary.
This is followed by a regular wash with detergent in hot water to help destroy as much bacteria as possible, unless the manufacturer’s wash instructions said otherwise. Cotton should be washed in hot water, but some waterproof diaper covers or outer she