I have cloth diapered all 3 of my kids in various capacities. I am going to share a bit of my experience and the knowledge I have compiled over the years. It is a big world, and there are many, many diaper options. I have found it to be a bit overwhelming, so I opt for ease of washing and ease of wearing. Simplicity. Each mama finds her favorite brand, style, and method of operation.
Why Cloth Diapers?
Well, for us– we have opted to cloth diaper full time with our 3rd baby because we have 2 in diapers and the sheer amount of trash we accumulate with having 2 kids in diapers is insane. To me, the cloth is doing our part to reduce waste in the landfill.
Here are some mind-blowing statistics: disposable diapers create 60 times more waste than cloth diapers do. They take 250-500 years to decompose and require 20 times more raw materials to produce than cloth diapers. When cloth diapers are made of natural fibers, they take about 5 months to break down and are compostable if made of wool or cotton. Plus, they are actually easy to resell and have quite the market on social media and in consignment stores.
Yes, they cost more upfront, however, you can save a lot in the long run (unless you have a cute print addiction, lol).
Another huge benefit of cloth diapering is that they are safe for baby. There are many chemicals used in the process of making a disposable. There are safer, cleaner and greener options these days for disposable diapers, and their manufacturing quality is reflected in the price of the diaper. I calculated spending something like $150 per month with two kids in the best quality disposable.
To get started with cloth, you need about 12-20 diapers. Just think, a newborn dirties 10-12 per day, an infant around 8-10, and a toddler 6-8. I like to have about 24 just so I’m only doing laundry about every 4-5 days.
Different Types of Cloth Diapers
- Flat Diaper: A single layer of cloth that you fold and use as a diaper. This is probably what your grandma used. Requires a diaper cover to make it waterproof.
- Prefold Diaper: Someone took that piece of cloth and folded it into layers and sewed it, which is how they got the name “prefold”. You still have to do a minimal amount of (easy) folding here and diaper cover is required to make it waterproof.
- Fitted Diaper: Basically added elastic and sewed the fabric into a diaper shape. It also still needs a diaper cover to make it waterproof.
- Diaper Cover: Yup, this is what you will need to make all of the cloth diapers I mentioned above waterproof. Diaper covers do not have any absorbency but go over the top of what absorbs making the cloth diaper not leak.
- All-In-One Diaper: Take the fitted diaper and diaper cover and sew them together into an “all-in-one” diaper. They are basically like a disposable except you can wash and reuse.
- Pocket Diaper: Take a diaper cover and sew fleece to the inside (fleece is stay-dry and will wick the liquid away from the body) these have a “pocket” opening to put an insert (the absorbency part of the diaper) into and only the fleece is touching the baby.
- All-In-Two Diaper: A diaper cover that has snaps on the inside for an insert to snap into. You can reuse the cover and snap-in clean inserts.
There are many types of fabric used to make diapers. There are fleece, bamboo, microfiber, cotton of many types, and hemp to name what is on the top of my head. My favorite combo these days are cotton fitted diapers (from Green Mountain Diapers), with a waterproof cover or wool cover. I also really like prefolds and covers. I am not really into synthetic fabrics at all and have found opting for natural fabrics easier to keep clean and dry with minimal odor than some of the other AIO and pockets I have tried. Again, this is all a personal preference.
Now, for the fun part… Washing…
This isn’t as bad and you would imagine. After you get the hang of it, it becomes just another piece of the weekly routine.
- Dump solids into the toilet and put used diaper into dry diaper pail (if baby is solely breastfed you can skip this step or even use a biodegradable liner and just throw it away). I also use a diaper sprayer and just spray the poop directly into the toilet (and my baby is still solely breastfed).
- On washing day dump soiled diapers into washing machine.
- Cold water light wash cycle with no detergent.
- Hot water wash (highest water level, longer cycle) with 3/4 the amount of detergent you would normally use. I use just a tiny bit of Young Living Thieves laundry detergent. It is non-toxic, gentle on the skin and I completely trust the company/product.
- Extra rinse cycle.
- Tumble or line dry.
- If you notice stains on your diapers, you can put them out in the sun and the sun bleaches them nicely. Such a wonderful trick!
When using cloth diapers, you can also use reusable cloth wipes or even just a washcloth. You can prewet them or carry a spray to use when cleansing. I opt for a simple muslin version and a spray.
My go-to butt wipe spray is:
4 oz distilled water
1 tsp. baby wash (I use California Baby)
1 tsp. fractionated coconut oil
2-3 drops of lavender essential oil.
I mix all of these ingredients into a spray bottle and then just spray directly on baby when changing.
There are many other options for premixed sprays and cleaners, again I’m just sharing my preferences. In a few future posts, I’ll share how to prep wool diaper covers and how to strip diapers if they need an extra deep sanitize.
I hope this was helpful, and if you have any tips or tricks, please let me know!