Monday, April 18, 2011

Cloth Diapering for the Newbie.

As you all know, I love to talk. AND, I love to talk about fluffy little bottoms. We've been meeting many people with new babies and it compels both The Raconteur Daddy and I to ask the same question that was asked of us that started this journey....."Have you thought about using cloth diapers?"

We get a good amount of people saying that they've thought about it, or they are interested in learning more. So now what? We don't want to take up hours of their time and become too aggressive and turn them off of the subject (like a hyper little puppy that's so excited they want to piddle on the floor.) But at the same time, we want to save them a little time and save them some of the frustration that we experienced when we started off with no one to help us with the details. So that brings me to this. I hope to make it short and sweet with good information to help start off your own research into the subject of Modern Cloth Diapering.

(Everything in red is a link to an example.  Right click and open in new tab to keep this page up.)

Types of diapers:  There are many styles, abbreviations and types of diapers.  Here is a list and what they all mean.

 - Prefolds and flats:  These are what you think of when someone says 'cloth diapers'.  They are what our grandparents used with pins and rubber pants and what we use as burp rags.  Don't rule these out though.  They are very reasonable in price and extremely easy to clean.  There are new fasteners called 'snappis' that are not pins and you can use waterproof covers.

 - Fitted:  These are like prefolds and flats in the sense that they are not waterproof.  They are the interior of the diaper.  What makes them easier than prefold and flats is that they are contoured in shape and require no folding.  They also can come with fasteners like snaps and velco (or aplix as it is sometimes called).  They are also nice to use for those times when your little one needs a 'little air' but you don't want them watering the furniture.  They absorb a lot and if you catch them right away, you will not have to deal with leaks.  Otherwise, they are best used with a cover.  You can get fitteds from mainstream companies or you can find them made from Work-at-home-moms (WAHMs).  A good place to find WAHM products is Etsy.

 - Covers:  There are all types of covers.  They are waterproof and go over your non waterproof diaper.  The nice thing about covers is that you can usually use one cover for a few changes just by replacing the interior diaper.  This is a very economical and easy to clean way to use cloth diapers.  You can get them from large manufacturers or WAHMs too.

 - Pockets:  This style is my favorite.  It fits very well into our needs and lifestyle.  The pocket diaper is a waterproof shell that has microterry or other type of fabric sewn to the inside with one end opened to make the pocket.  Then you can use your choice of insert to put inside to meet your varying absorbency needs.  Then the inserts come out to wash, which makes washing and drying very efficient.  Pockets are put on just like disposables and are a one step process.  They can come with snap or velcro closures.  They can come in sized styles or one size fits all.  One Size diapers have different ways of adjusting the size depending on the manufacturer.

 - AIO - All in One diapers are just like disposables.  They have a waterproof cover with a cloth interior and the absorbent insert is sewn in.  These are great if you don't want to have the extra step of taking out and putting in the inserts like pocket style diapers.  The downside is that they take longer to launder and to dry.  They also come with snap or velcro closure and can be sized or one size.

 - AI2 - All in Two diapers are almost like a hybrid.  They are a waterproof cover that you can reuse for a few changes.  They have inserts that you snap into the diaper to hold them in place.  They are like a pocket diaper without the extra cloth between your baby and the insert.  They are convenient and easy to clean like pocket diapers.  They can also come in sized or one size.  Usually the one size require different sized inserts.

 - Hybrid - Hybrid diapers are what I suggest to people who are worried about cleaning and starting their cloth journey.  They are like AI2 and have a reusable cover that the inserts snap into.  What makes these different is that you can have your choice of a reusable cloth insert or a biodegradable throw away/flushable insert.  These are great because even though you have a part that you throw away or flush, they are still better than disposables that are not biodegradable and have so many harmful chemicals in them.  Charlie Banana and GroVia are also hybrid type diapers.

My favorite brands:

For Pocket diapers our favorites (so far) are FuzziBunzGoGreen PocketOh Katy, and DinkleDooz.  I am very interested in others though.  I also like the Best Bottom system for AI2s.  My favorite WAHM cover is Zookies.  We have not had the opportunity to try too many other kinds.  I have heard rave reviews from friends about the gDiapers and how easy they are...a great conversion for new cloth diaper parents.


This is probably the easiest part of using cloth diapers compared to how it used to be.  But, it can also be the most frustrating part too.  Everyone has their own way of washing cloth diapers.  One thing to be careful of is what type of detergent you use.  Be wary when people say it's OK to use Tide.  This is important because enzymes can build up on cloth and cause really bad enzyme rashes that are similar to chemical burns.  They can also cause your diapers to repel instead of absorb.  It is best to use a detergent that is specific to cloth diapering.  These detergents are made all natural and have NO enzymes.  My favorites so far are Rockin' Green and Crunchy Clean.  We use these on all of our laundry now and love them both.  They are no more expensive than Tide or All either!

Cloth Wipes and other accessories:  There are three very important accessories to have when cloth diapering.

 - Diaper Pail liner or large wet bag.  These are where you store your dirty diapers until wash day.  We've found that the liner will fit a standard sized kitchen garbage can with a flip top lid.  The lid secures around the pail and you don't smell the dirties (except when you open it, but there are ways to get around the smell!!).  Otherwise, you can opt for the large wet bag that has a zipper closure.  You can usually hang these on a door knob or hook.

 - Cloth Wipes - There are lots of different types of cloth wipes.  Our favorites are the flannel wipes because they are thin, cheap and do a really good job of cleaning, and the Terry Cloth wipes that are thick and soft on their bottom if they are sensitive.  It is much easier to just use a little warm water on a cloth wipe to clean the diaper area than it is to use the chemical filled disposable wipes.  That way, you just wash the wipe with the diaper and not have to worry about having a garbage can close by to throw it away.  We also use a Wipe Warmer for our cloth wipes.  It is great because it keeps them wet and warm and ready to use so we don't have to make a trip to the bathroom before a diaper change.  It's very handy to have around.  You can also choose to use a wipe solution if you want a little extra cleaning power to your wipe, but it's not necessary.

 - Travel Wet Bag - These are very important to have when out and about.  You can put your soiled diaper (or any wet clothing!) inside and be confident that it won't smell or leak.  Also, if your daycare provider is leery, you can always suggest one wet bag per one diaper and a small wet bag would work for that.

Other accessories include hemp, bamboo or other types of inserts to increase absorbency.  Diaper sprayers for connecting to your toilet to spray off solids if needed.


The Raconteur Daddy sat down one night and figured out the cost of our cloth diapering adventure.  He found that the detergent was $.30 a load (half that for an HE machine and slightly less now because we switched brands).  It is $100 extra a year for the added cost of detergent and utilities (water, gas and electric) for the additional 3 loads a week for our diaper laundry.  Our initial startup cost was $360 for 24 diapers, $30 for wipes and warmer, $45 for our pail and 2 pail liners, $15 for travel wet bags, and $25 for additional hemp inserts.  So that was $475 upfront, but that is all we have spent since!  And we purchased an expensive brand to start.  You can do it for half that price or less.

There are plenty of people that are converting to the more natural way of diapering.  Some do it because they are environmentally conscience.  Others because they are worried about the chemicals on their babies skin.  We started because it was economically smart and we didn't have the budget to afford disposable diapers and wipes.  The other reasons are perks in my book.  No matter what your reason is, there is a style of cloth diapering that can fit into your lifestyle and fit your needs.  Even if you are a family of two full time working parents or if you don't have the money saved to start all at once, it can be something that you can achieve.  Doing your diaper laundry overnight while the little one is in the bath or just got to bed.  You can start slow and work your way into it...spending part of your disposable diaper money for the week on a few cloth diapers and putting them into your rotation until you have enough to cloth diaper full time.  I'm full of tons of ideas and would love to help you!

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  1. Love this!!!!!!!!!!


  2. I am a huge cloth diaper fan! I started out with coolababy pockets. I didn't want to invest too much money at first not knowing if we would like it or not. I was hooked! I have a bit of a CD addiction and just ordered a new one on Etsy. Can't wait till I can put it on my little fluffy bottomed boy!

  3. Thanks for all the feedback everyone! I forgot to mention that it is never too late to start either. Even if your little one is 2 years old and about to embark on the journey of potty can still save money. So I think I will follow this up with a post about switching to cloth with older babies and using cloth training pants!

  4. Thank you so much for the breakdown in cost near the end.. I think that's the biggest argument for people not switching is "really, how much money am i saving?". Obviously, a lot. If you don't constantly buy WAHM diapers like i do..!!

  5. You are very welcome! I wanted people to see that you can cloth diaper on a tight budget and there are ways to do it very frugally. Or you can splurge and spend a lot. I forgot to add that you can win diapers online by following blogs and entering giveaways....we've won 3 so far! Also, ebay is a good source too. And there's always the option of buying used too...I always check Craigslist. But I don't suggest that to new cloth diapering parents unless they have a seasoned cloth diaperer to help them out so they get quality for a good price.


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