A diaper cover over a cloth diaperDiaper covers come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. They use different types of closures, like snaps or Velcro, and some simply pull on. Diaper covers are often made of wool, fleece, or PUL (polyurethane laminate).
The cloth diaper used under a diaper cover can be a prefold or a flat diaper that you fold yourself, or it can be a contour or fitted diaper that doesn't require folding.
The prefold diaper is a rectangular cloth with a thick, padded center section. It needs folding before you put it on your baby. So does the flat diaper, which is a large square cloth that's equally thick throughout.
Contour diapers are shaped like an hourglass. They usually need to be secured with fasteners or pins, though there are a few variations available with built-in snaps or elastic.Fitted diapers are the most like disposables in their design (except that they require a cover). They're shaped like an hourglass, have elastic around the legs and waist, and fasten with built-in snaps or tabs.
Most cloth diapers used with a separate cover need to be secured with diaper pins or another fastener (Snappi and Boingo are popular brands). Some parents prefer to forgo a fastener, instead letting the snug cover hold the cloth in place. But to avoid accidents, keep your baby comfortable, and protect the cover from getting dirty, it's usually a good idea to use pins or a fastener.
An "All in One" diaper, or AIOThis diaper consists of a waterproof outer layer, an absorbent "soaker," and an inner layer. It fastens with snaps or tabs and has elastic around the legs and waist, similar to a disposable diaper.
AIO diapers come in two forms – either with all the pieces sewn together as one complete unit or with pieces that partially detach with snaps (for faster drying). An AIO is used once, then washed.
An "All in Two" diaper, or AI2An AI2 diaper consists of an outer waterproof shell (similar to a diaper cover) and an insert that gets put into the shell and lies directly against your baby's skin. Some inserts attach with snaps or Velcro, and some get tucked under flaps in the cover.
The shell has elastic around the legs and waist and fastens with snaps or tabs. The insert is made of absorbent material. Some inserts are topped with a stay-dry fabric for your baby's comfort.
When your baby needs a diaper change, you can just swap out the insert and keep the same shell (unless the shell got soiled, in which case you change that too).
Hybrid diaper A hybrid is similar to an AI2 diaper, with two parts making up the whole. The difference is that a hybrid diaper's insert can be either cloth or disposable.
Pocket diaper A pocket diaper consists of a waterproof outer layer and an inner layer of fabric that has a pocket opening. An insert is stuffed into the pocket opening before wearing and then taken out for washing. Pocket diapers' absorbency can be adjusted by using more or fewer absorbent inserts.
The inner layer of fabric is sometimes made with stay-dry material to keep your baby comfortable. Pocket diapers have elastic around the legs and waist and fasten with snaps or tabs.
Because the insert and pocket will both get dirty when your baby pees or poops, pocket diapers are used once, then washed.
Pocket diaper tip: When removing your baby's dirty diaper, you may want to pull out the insert before dumping both the insert and diaper into the diaper pail. That way you won't have to deal with pulling it out on washday.
Cloth diapering extras Liners No matter which type of diaper you choose, you may want to stock up on some liners. A liner wicks moisture away from your baby's skin and into the diaper to help keep your baby comfortable. Liners are often made of paper, fleece, or other fabric.
Liners can also help in other ways. Disposable liners protect the diaper from creams or lotions, for example. And they make it easier to deal with poop: If the liner is flushable, you can lift out the liner with the poop on it and flush the whole thing down the toilet. If the liner's not flushable, throw it away after dumping the poop in the toilet.
Cloth liners also protect diapers from creams or lotions. When creams or lotions are used, cloth liners need to be washed separately from the diapers, since they can reduce diapers' absorbency (unless they're specifically formulated for use with cloth diapers).
Inserts An insert (also called a booster or doubler) helps a baby's diaper absorb moisture. Some inserts are topped with a stay-dry fabric that helps keep your baby comfortable.
Some of the diapers described above include inserts. For other types of cloth diapers, it's an optional addition that improves the diaper's absorbency.
Inserts can be made of any absorbent material, such as terry cloth, bamboo, hemp, or cotton.
Disposable or cloth wipes Disposable wipes are widely available, and flushable and biodegradable versions are on the market now too.
Cloth wipes are fabric versions of disposable wipes. Washcloths and baby cloths can also be used. Simply wet any of these cloths with warm water or a homemade mixture – you can find recipes online (most use water, a little liquid soap, and sometimes a drop or two of essential oil).
Diaper pails Diaper pails come in a variety of sizes and shapes. If you want, you can even use a regular garbage can.
Line your pail with either a special liner designed for that pail or a regular plastic garbage bag. Some of these liners are disposable, while others can be washed along with the diapers. Make sure the pail you use has a lid, especially if you have other children or pets in the house.
Some diaper pails have touch-top lids, and some have swing lids. Others can be opened with a foot pedal, and some even have a motion detector. Domed lids allow air to circulate in the pail and seem to reduce odor. Some pails have air filters to reduce odors.
Note: If you use the wet pail method for your diapers (where you fill the pail with water), you won't need a liner. Choose a small, strong pail that has a comfortable handle for carrying (it'll be heavy) and a spout for easy pouring. You'll need to store it safely away from young children and pets.
Wetbags These waterproof bags are an alternative to diaper pails. They can be hung on a doorknob or hook and are used to hold dirty cloth diapers, covers, wipes, or clothes. Wetbags come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are big enough to hold a couple of days' worth of diapers, and others are small enough to carry in your diaper bag for changes on the go.
Diaper sprayers A diaper sprayer is used to help rinse poop from a diaper into the toilet. It's similar to a kitchen sink sprayer, hooks up to the toilet's water supply line via a hose, and typically hangs on the side of the toilet tank.
A diaper sprayer isn't necessary, but it does make rinsing a poopy diaper easier. (The alternative is to swish the dirty diaper in a clean toilet bowl.) If you have an aversion to putting your hands in the toilet, even when it's clean, you may appreciate a diaper sprayer.
When it's time to rinse your diaper, pick up the nozzle and spray. Some sprayers have options like anti-drip technology and safety locks (a good idea if you have small children in the house).
Not all plumbing can accommodate a sprayer, so it's a good idea to check the directions before purchase.
A bonus: Diaper sprayers can also be used to rinse out potty chairs.
1. Cloth diapers will leak more: At first, I would have emphatically agreed with this one. It seemed that in every diaper, under two hours, we were changing serenitys pants. It was driving me nuts! But once all our cloth diapers had been washed enough to reach maximum absorbency, we figured out which ones were the best and the leaks were less. (But disposables still hold more, if you want my opinion.)
2. You will have to touch poop. What parent doesn’t? Yes, you do have to get the poop into the toilet after the baby starts solid food. But did you know that every box of disposable diapers I ever purchased instructed me to dispose of solid waste via the sewer system as well?
Besides, as a parent, you quickly become inoculated to bodily fluids as you get covered in them regularly.
The silver lining? Cloth diapers contain those newborn blow outs MUCH better than disposables, so you might touch poo more later, but you’ll get covered in it much less at the start.
3. You’ll have to do more laundry. It can’t be denied! Cloth diapers will add two to four loads per week to your schedule. The good part is that you don’t really have to fold the loads, and they’re small and not time-intensive. The laundry thing was a major concern for me but has turned out to be the easiest part. Thank goodness for main floor laundry!
4. You have to change the baby more often. Alas, this one is 100% true, and I can’t even make it sound better. Unless you have a super bulletproof diaper like the Motherease all-in-one you really can’t go more than three hours in one diaper. And you shouldn’t, even in the heavy duty ones, because the urine touching baby’s skin isn’t very gentle for them. Disposables, on the other hand, wick that moisture away and you know you can sometimes get away with four to five hours when you’re out and about and not thinking about diaper changes. Bummer.
5. Cloth diapers are an expensive investment. It can’t be denied that there’s an initial investment in cloth diapers, but it definitely doesn’t have to be more than disposables over the long run. You can spend more on cloth than disposables if you get fancy dancy kinds and buy more than you need to, but there are frugal routes, too.
Looking back, I do wish I would have started cloth with my oldest child when I considered it at eight months old. I worried so much at that point that we would end up spending more on cloth than ‘sposies if we didn’t have a third child, but I’m pretty confident now that we would have saved money, third child or not.
6. You won’t be able to figure out which diaper to buy. There are SO many kinds of cloth diapers out there these days. , “If you were starting from square one, which ones would you really buy?”
I tried my best to answer the question of the “best cloth diaper” and ultimately, there’s no perfect answer. Every family will have different needs, like quickest, least complicated, most frugal, or chunky baby/thin baby.
In the end, you just have to jump in with both feet and know that, even if there are bumps in the road, you’re making a good choice for baby and the environment.
5 Steps to Starting Your Cloth Diaper Stash
1. Educate Yourself - Visit Cloth 101 at Kelly's Closet and familiarize yourself with Basic Types of Cloth Diapers and What You Need to Get Started. This will help you narrow down your choices and determine which diapers you'd like to try. Once you select the style(s) you like, compare brands with criteria like price, closures (aplix or snaps), natural or synthetic fibers, and available colors and patterns.
2. Narrow Down Your Choices - When I first started cloth diapering, I narrowed down my choices, then tried several brands of diapers. I discovered which styles and brands I loved, the ones I liked, the ones that worked, and the ones I wouldn't use. I also considered durability and re-sell value.
This then informed my budget. I knew that some of my favorite diapers would cost too much to make up my entire stash. I also had a 4 year old and didn't want to continue buying disposable diapers and saving for cloth diapers. So, I created a "Dream Stash" list and compared it to my budget, ultimately choosing a variety of diapers from the love, like, and works list.
I didn't get it perfect the first time, buying a stack of prefolds and snappis that never received much love, but I had the minimum number of diapers I needed to begin full time cloth diapering.
3. Create a Budget - Budgeting for cloth diapers will look different for each family, depending on your circumstances. A couple expecting a baby can potentially set aside funds each month to purchase cloth instead of buying disposables in advance. They can also add cloth diapers or gift cards to natural parenting stores to their baby registry.
Families with older babies starting out may opt to budget for a minimum stash at first or try a part time stash combined with disposables until they can build enough money to buy more. Others may choose to continue using disposables until they have saved for their dream stash.
However you choose to budget, don't forget to include things like wet bags, detergent, water costs, and wipes and to join theKelly's Closet Rewards Program to earn points for purchaes. Also, give yourself some room to buy that new must-have pattern or the 10 in 1 diaper that everyone is raving about!
4. Try Before You Buy an Entire Stash - I can't emphasize this point enough. Cloth diapering can mean an investment of hundreds of dollars, depending on the style and brand you choose. Begin with a minimum number of diapers and try them before putting your money all toward one brand or style.
While aplix might seem like the only option today, snaps might be more practical in the future. While one fit might be ideal for a younger baby, you might decide to add some new styles as baby grows. Plus, don't underestimate the fun side of cloth diapering! Manufacturers release new styles, seasonal patterns, and more to tempt you to add "just one more to your stash." Add a cushion into your budget for this.
Be sure to reference the brands covered under the Kelly's Closet Wee Guarantee Program. These brands include an extra 30 day warranty from Kelly's Closet and can be returned or exchanged for credit under certain terms.
5. Join the Cloth Diapering Community - Look to your local community and online for a vibrant cloth diapering community full of friends ready to talk about their favorite brands, troubleshoot washing or fit issues, and celebrate (or mourn) with you when your toddler potty trains! Kelly's Closet offers the Cloth Diaper Support Group through Facebook, a fun way to meet like-minded moms, ask questions, and see the latest news in the cloth diapering world.
You may have heard there are a few "rules" when using cloth diapers. One of the biggest and most important is to be careful when choosing a diaper cream.
Because you aren't throwing away your diapers, you can't use just any diaper cream. Many of the cloth diaper safe diaper cream. There are many brands available and they work great!
mainstream diaper creams sold at your local drug store contain ingredients that can be problematic for cloth diapers. You want to avoid creams that contain any fish oils or petroleum based ingredients. When using many of these diaper creams, you may find build-up and repelling with your diapers.
If you find yourself in a pinch and must use a cream that isn't cloth diaper safe, a liner is suggested. It is also important to check the diaper manufacturer's recommendations when choosing a cream. Some brands say that no diaper creams are safe (even cloth diaper "safe" creams) and you should always use a liner to protect your warranty.
Sometimes you don't love your cloth diapers. That brand may not be a good fit. You may be bored with the print. You may have purchased a whole stash of pockets only to find you hate stuffing them. You may want to switch out all of your synthetic fibers for natural fibers. Unfortunately you've made the investment and you feel stuck.
Good news! You have a way out! You can trade in your diapers and trade up for what you love! Send us the diapers that aren't working for you. We'll purchase them, give you store credit, and you can buy all the diapers you've been drooling over!
How it works:
1. Take a look at our trade-in value chart. We accept diapers, inserts, and accessories!
2. Wash your diapers and inspect them for dirt, lint, and stains.
3. Mail them to us!
4. We'll inspect your trade-ins and send you a store credit within 3 days.
5. Go shopping! Use your store credit for anything you want in our store!
For more information, check our Trade in page on our website.
Now what are you waiting for? Start sorting through your stash!
Cloth diapering converts, we should be counting our blessings. As someone who has used both cloth diapers and disposables, I can see the benefits of cloth even more clearly now that I've done it both ways. Here's my list of reasons to be thankful for cloth.
1. I've kissed blowouts goodbye. With my second child, a daughter, I started cloth diapering from birth. She's three months old now, and seriously, she has yet to have a blowout in a cloth diaper. (I hesitate to type this for fear of jinxing myself.) My trusty prefolds, Kissaluvs fitted diapers and Thirsties covers just seem to contain the mess. By contrast, when my son was a baby and using disposables, I probably changed his clothes three times a day for the first six months of his life. Well, okay, maybe not quite that often. But it sure felt like it sometimes.
2. The fresh, clean scent of ... nothing. Disposable diapers just seem to have an odor to them. I suppose it's all the chemicals reacting with the waste, but I can smell 'em coming a mile away. My daughter's cloth diapers don't smell like anything when wet or soiled. It's a nice change for this beagle-nosed mama.
3. An empty trash can. This is sort of a follow-on to the previous blessing, but I really appreciate not lugging out a huge, smelly trash bag full of diapers to the curb every week.
4. A larger checking account. The beautiful thing about using cloth is that after the initial shell-out of cash to purchase your cloth diapers, you're done spending. (If you can restrain yourself, that is.) Thinking about the money our family has saved by using cloth puts a smile on my face every time. Bonus perk: it makes my husband smile, too! And hey, all of us could use a smile and a few extra pennies in our pockets these days.
5. Pretty colors. Another perk to using cloth diapers: they can be pretty! I may be style-challenged myself, but I am enjoying dressing up my daughter in super-cute clothes, and it's nice that her diapers can be as cute as her outfits.
6. A learning experience. This might sound a bit strange, but I am thankful for the freedom to do something not everyone is doing, even a little thing like choosing how to diaper my children. I want my kids to grow up knowing that it's okay to be different and to make decisions that are best for them personally, even when their peers are doing something else. It may not be much, but we can all tell our children, "I chose to cloth diaper you when it wasn't the most popular thing to do." It's an important life lesson we can all embrace!
No matter what type of cloth diaper you use, they'll need washing so you can use them over and over again. (In fact, new cloth diapers should be washed at least once before using, to increase their absorbency.)
One option is paying a diaper service to do the dirty work, though diaper services are getting harder to find, depending on where you live. Even if you're near one, the company may not offer a wide variety of service packages. Still, some parents say the service is worth looking into at least for the first few weeks that your baby's home, while you're adjusting to life with a newborn.
If you plan to wash the diapers yourself, start by checking the directions provided by the manufacturer on the label or packaging. Some require special handling. (For example, most wool covers need to be hand washed, lanolized, and air dried.) Special instructions aside, here's how to wash most cloth diapers.
Preparing dirty diapers for washingIf you choose, soak stained diapers for a couple of hours before washing them, to help with stain removal. (Some diaper covers and diapers with waterproof outer layers shouldn't be soaked at all – read the manufacturer's washing instructions to find out.)
Generally speaking, you can just put the dirty diapers from your diaper pail or wet bagstraight into the wash.
Some parents keep dirty diapers in a wet pail, which means the pail is filled with water (and possibly a little baking soda to fight odors). This isn't recommended for two reasons – the liquid poses a drowning risk to small children and soaking diapers for more than a few hours can actually cause stains to set. But if you do use a wet pail, pour the liquid into the toilet before starting your wash routine.
Products to use – and avoidUse detergent (not soap) that is free of fragrances, enzymes, and other additives, such as whitening and brightening ingredients.
Avoid fabric softeners and antistatic products, as they can irritate your baby's sensitive skin and make cloth diapers less absorbent.
You may need to use bleach when fighting an infection, such as a yeast diaper rash, but don't rely on it regularly. Bleach breaks down the fibers in cloth diapers, causing them to deteriorate. It can also ruin some diaper covers.
To help eliminate odor, some parents like to add a little baking soda (about half a cup per load) to the wash. Another option is to add white vinegar (about one cup per load) to the rinse water, but some manufacturers don't recommend it, so check the directions. In addition to helping with odors, vinegar also helps to soften the diapers.
If you find that your diapers have detergent buildup or other washing problems (they're not getting clean, for example), you may need to experiment to make sure that the detergent you're using is compatible with your water. Also make sure that you're not using too much detergent. Some experts suggest using about half as much detergent for diapers as you would normally use for a load of clothes.
Washing cloth diapersWash dirty diapers and diaper covers in a load separate from your other laundry. You can wash the diapers and the diaper covers together unless they have different washing instructions from their manufacturer. Don't overload the washing machine, or the diapers won't get as clean and the friction between them will cause pilling of the fabric. For most machines, this means a maximum of about two dozen diapers.
For water temperature, consult the washing instructions for your particular diapers. Cotton diapers should be washed in hot water, for example, but some diaper covers and diapers with a waterproof outer cover may deteriorate in very hot water (especially if your hot water heater is set at an exceptionally high temperature – not recommended for a childproofed home – or you have a high efficiency washing machine with a sanitizing cycle).
Start with a cold pre-wash cycle, then a regular wash in hot water (unless your directions say otherwise). Follow with a rinse.
Make sure the diapers are very well rinsed. The rinse water should be completely soap-free by the last cycle. If necessary, re-rinse the diapers.
When you take the diapers out of the washing machine, they should smell fresh and clean. If they still smell of dirty diapers, even faintly, then rewash. (Odors can mean that the diapers contain lingering bacteria, which can irritate your baby's skin or cause diaper rash.)
Drying cloth diapersClose any Velcro fasteners before putting diapers in the dryer, to prevent them from linking together or damaging the diapers.
While drying in the dryer is fine for most cloth diapers, some diapers and diaper covers may not withstand high drying temperatures, so check the manufacturer's directions.
Line drying cloth diapers is a cheap, environmentally friendly option. The sun can help whiten cloth diapers, too. Hanging cloth diapers in strong sunlight may cause them to dry quickly and get somewhat stiff. If that happens, you can throw them in the dryer for a few minutes to soften them a bit. Line drying diapers when it's windy, in the early morning or late afternoon, or indoors can help them dry softer.
How often you'll need to wash diapersWhile you'll no doubt come up with a laundry schedule that works for you, most parents find that washing diapers every other day works well. This way you don't have to wash daily, but you'll still wash often enough that you won't need to own an enormous number of diapers. It also helps keep odors under control, since dirty diapers often become especially smelly after a couple of days.
How many loads you'll need to do depends on how many diapers your baby goes through in a day. Here are some approximations, assuming your machine can wash 24 diapers:
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
DO survey any friends who have used cloth to see if they have newborn/tiny diapers to lend to you. Or even do a search on CraigsList to find some used ones. The truth is, babies are in the super-duper small size for such a short time (about 4-6 weeks) so the diapers get very little wear and tear. I lent all of mine to a friend and was so happy to get some more use out of them.
DO buy two Perfect Size cloth diapers in extra-small. They are just too cute for words, they fit those teeny tiny bodies best and many of them have indents so they won’t bother the cord stump.
DON’T go overboard with the newborn-only diapers. Think about how many you’ll realistically need for those first weeks (hint: I would go with just 4-5). Round out your stash with some One-Size Elite cloth diapers that will last. These are fully adjustable and will last you until you potty-train your little bundle (hard to imagine right now, isn’t it!?). Depending on the size of your baby, they may not fit right away even on the smallest setting, but will fit before you know it! And they are the most cost-effective, longest lasting option.
DON’T be afraid of pre-folds! I would invest in a up to a dozen (or more!) of high-quality cotton pre-folds. They are the workhorse of any cloth diaper stash. They are fully adjustable for even the tiniest newborn and they get deliciously soft after a couple of washes. Diaper covers work well over the top of the pre-fold to keep her precious clothes – and yours! – dry. Check out YouTube for some how-to videos and practice on some dolls if you’re nervous about it. (Even if you absolutely can’t do it, you will use them as burp cloths, wash cloths or doublers).
DO wait until the meconium has passed before cloth diapering. This is my own personal opinion, but I would wait that day or two so you don’t have to worry about that sticky black mess staining your diapers.
DON’T wait too long! Start using your cloth as soon as possible after you get home from the hospital (and the meconium has passed). The longer you wait to start, the easier it is to NEVER START. And the more disposables you put out in the trash.
DO plan on doing diaper laundry almost every day in the beginning. Newborns go through approximately 10 diapers a day in the beginning and I would not recommend having enough diapers to get you through three days – they are just not in them long enough to make the investment worth it.
DON’T worry about the poop. Newborn poop, especially breastmilk poop, is liquid so you don’t need to rinse it in the toilet or spray it out before putting it in the wash. Just throw them in. Believe me, they come out clean. One day, your little sweetie’s poops won’t be quite so pleasant and you will need to rinse them, but you’ll be a cloth diapering pro by then! Baby steps…
DON’T wait until baby arrives to prep your diapers. Practice washing and stuffing or folding your diapers a few times while you’re still in pre-baby nesting mode. It will make the process less scary and give you one less worry once he’s born.
DO give yourself credit for doing this! Cloth diapering is a wonderful thing you’re doing for your child, our environment (and your wallet!), so you can feel really good about your decision!
My blog is filled with product reviews (that I love to write) and giveaways (I host most of them)- I will blog about any and everything family friendly and you can always find new stuff (Please wait for pages to load fully)I hope you have a great time.