Friday, February 12, 2016

Cloth Diaper Ins and Outs

basics of cloth diapers

While I knew they had changed, when I first saw one of the new ones, my reaction was, "Well isn't this slick!" While they are called "cloth diapers," they have SO much more to them than the old fashioned white ones.

My client, Jessica Nollett, has kindly created the following guest blog post to discuss the ins and outs of cloth diapering.

I have added my 2 cents into a follow-up post from a provider's perspective Cloth Diapers & Child Care. [I have my favorites, too! Along with some tips.]


That look when you tell someone you cloth diaper your child. It’s often one of horror/disbelief, that is quickly covered up by the fakest smile you can imagine, and then followed by comments like “the poop is too much for me,” “just wait till he is older; your tune will change,” or an ominous “Hmmmm.”

Those interactions humor us at this point. My husband and I made the decision together to cloth diaper our children long before our son was born. It wasn’t just because of the environment or the cost savings, but was almost a ‘why wouldn’t we cloth our kids’ thought. From all of our research, we found out we would be saving money if we cloth diapered more than one child (it’s a breakeven on one), and we do care about the environment, but there were other things that we liked: 

  • cloth diaper kids are easier to potty train
  • they tend to potty train sooner
  • diaper rash isn’t as bad with cloth diapers, 
  • and frankly, tell me that a disposable is cuter than this!

If you haven’t seen a cloth diaper like this, let me quickly get you up to speed. Cloth diapers these days are innovative, adorable, and nothing like what they once were. They used to be what you used if you couldn’t afford disposable. Now, they are much more expensive upfront, but you can save over time. The stigma has changed from poor people cloth to rich hippies cloth. 

They are constructed of a PUL (polyurethane laminate) coated fabric shell with snaps or Velcro (hook and loop) that are adjustable in rise (up/down) and waist. On the inside, there is either bamboo, cotton, hemp, or a microfiber system of pads and fabric to absorb everything. On the back of the diaper and leg holes, there are elastic gussets to keep everything inside the diaper. 

THE INs and OUTs


1) Diapers:

The diapers that work best for our situation are the All-In-Ones (AIO). This means that the absorbent pad is ATTACHED to the rest of the diaper. We do have a decent collection of Pocket Diapers (there is a pocket that you stash the pad into), but it’s a hassle for daycare. At home, we pull that pad out of the pocket after use, but daycares can’t legally do that, so you are left digging through your wet bag, touching wet and dirty diapers. Gross. (Warning: AIO diapers are more expensive, but worth it for us). Some of my favorite brands are Bum Genius, Smart Bottoms, GroVia, Thirsties, and Blueberry

cloth diapers

When diaper shopping, I prefer diapers that are also one size fits most; they are bulky on your baby at first, but become more trim fitting as your child gets older. If money is a factor, I strongly suggest looking at the big picture, and realize if your child wears a diaper 2x per week for 100 weeks, $20 for that diaper is no big deal, BUT there are online coops where you can buy off-brand diapers for less. We have found they aren’t as great as my favorite brands, but they get the job done.

2) Pail:

We use a Dekor diaper pail, and it does a good job. A fancier option is the Ubbi. Both brands offer wet bags if you choose to cloth diaper. Be sure to get two wet bags for the pail, that way one can be in the wash. We also have a regular trash can with a lid/peddle for the wipes.

3) Wet bags:

These are the bags that are lined with a polyurethane laminate (that is also used on the diapers) and are where the diapers are placed after use. We have about 5 of these, and send them daily to daycare full of clean diapers, and the dirty diapers are sent home in the same bag at the end of the day. Wet bags are also great for swimsuits.

4) Liners:

When babies are exclusively breastfed, diapers can be tossed into the washer, poop and all. Once food is introduced, majority of the poop needs to be removed from the diaper before washing. There are lots of ways to do this, but we use flushable liners. They catch the poop, and can be tossed in the toilet with the poop.

5) Rash Creams/Sprays:

Regular rash creams will RUIN the absorbency of your cloth diapers, but there are great alternatives that can be used. Grandma El’s offers a great one for a bad diaper rash, but my favorite is CJ’s Butter (I use the spritz). I like it the best, because it is not just for diaper rash, but can be used for dry skin, bug bites, sun burns, etc.


Our son (17 months) wears cloth diapers during the day every day (home and daycare), but wears a disposable at night, if we are out and about, and when we are out of town. And honestly, we could do cloth for the last two, but we are lazy. We have a “stash” of 30 diapers, only really use 16-18 of them (because we definitely have favorites), and do a diaper load of laundry 2x per week. As he has gotten older, we use less diapers per day, but definitely need more absorbency than before. When he was younger, we were doing laundry every other day, and then 3x per week after that.

The hardest part about cloth diapering is the laundry. It’s not that it’s difficult, it just takes time, and lots of rinse cycles. While there are special cloth diaper detergents, most people prefer regular powder Tide, and less is more. Too much detergent can affect the absorbency. How you do it: pre-rinse your diapers, wash with detergent, rinse again, and then dry. To speed up drying, invest in wool dryer balls. They are amazing for all of your laundry.


1) Take a class. We found that our local cloth diaper store (Itsy Bitsy Bums) offered a class on cloth diapering and explained all of the ins and outs of it, for free!

2) Register for diapers. This was great! We got some adorable prints and our friends had fun picking them out.

3) Look for a newborn rental program. Newborn diapers are smaller and are outgrown quickly, so they are not worth the investment. Itsy Bitsy Bums offers a great rental program for the first 12 weeks, for $200, and if you return them for $160 store credit, you can buy lots of cute diapers. You also have the option to return for cash/credit and get $100 back.

4) Build slowly and based on your needs. Your preferences may change and the speed at which your baby goes through diapers will change, so no need to get them all right away.

1 comment:

  1. It is nice to see an article dedicated to this important topic. Thank you for sharing.

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