So after thinking about my last post, I realized that someone who really didn’t know anything about cloth diapering wouldn’t have learned much about “How” to cloth diaper if they read that. So I decided I would make a part 2.
I do get the question “How do you cloth diaper?”. It is always met with a kind of blank stare because it is so general. I could go on about it for a good long time. Obviously though, people who are asking, just don’t know what to ask.
So, this is my answer to “How do you cloth diaper?”.
There are basically two options when cloth diapering; you can use a diaper service, or you can buy and wash them yourself. I didn’t look into a diapering service at all. There wasn’t one where we were, or where we are now. Jillian’s Drawers is in Syracuse (but wouldn’t deliver to our area), and they charge $22/week, just for the prefolds. You still need to buy the covers yourself.
You can buy a pretty decent cloth diaper for $22, so if you just plan ahead and bought one diaper every week leading up to your baby’s birth, you would definitely be spending less.
Everyone that I know who cloth diapers, cleans them themselves. And they also own a wide variety of diapers:
Types of Cloth Diapers
Prefolds and Covers: This is what most people think of when they think of cloth diapers; a piece of cloth, usually cotton, hemp, or bamboo, that has been folded, and sewn together to provide extra absorbency (if you were to buy flats, they wouldn’t be pre-folded, you would fold them yourself. Even cheaper.). Then the wonderful invention called the Snappi keeps the prefold together, and you put on a cover over it.
Pros? The least expensive option. They’re easy to clean, they dry relatively quickly. If a cover doesn’t get dirty, it can be reused.
Cons? They are a bit more complicated than some of the other diapers out there. They probably present more of a learning curve for dads who aren’t changing them all day. You also need to buy different sizes as they grow, and they can be a little bulky.
Brands: Green Mountain Diapers, Swaddlebees, Babykicks
All-in-one (AIO) Diapers: This is probably the easiest type of cloth diaper to use. They are exactly what they sound like: everything is already sewn in, all in one diaper. They look and act just like a disposable (besides the throwing it away part). You just sit the baby in the diaper, close it up, and he’s crawling around. When baby is done with the diaper, you take it off, and throw it in the pail. No snapping in inserts, no stuffing inserts, no snappi-ing prefolds. These are becoming a popular option for newborn diapers.
Pros? Ease of use. Especially easy for those people in your life who aren’t used to cloth diapers. They’re also one of the trimmest options.
Cons? Expensive, and tend to take longer to dry than any of the other options. Also no option to reuse covers.
Brands: Bumgenius Elemental; GroVia AIO, Bottombumpers
Pocket Diapers: These diapers have a cover with a pocket inside where it is stuffed with an absorbent insert. The inserts tend to be made of microfiber, hemp, or bamboo. Some people prefer to use natural fibers, but the microfiber dries very quickly. When baby is done with the diaper, you need to unstuff it before washing the diaper.
Pros? They dry pretty quickly. The microfiber dries especially fast. Pockets keep baby the driest, because the pocket provides a barrier. There are a lot of options, since they’re one of the most popular types. You can also easily add or remove absorbency layers.
Cons? They have to be stuffed and then when they’re wet and/or poopy, unstuffed.
Brands: Fuzzibunz, Bumgenius 4.0, Kawaii Baby
Fitteds and Contours: The most basic way to describe a fitted diaper is that it’s kind of like a prefold that has been fitted to fit the baby. It has leg elastics and a closure that are snaps or aplix like a pocket or AIO diaper does. You could also think of it as an AIO diaper without the cover. The difference between a fitted and a contour is that a contour diaper doesn’t have a closure, you would use a Snappi, like with a prefold. It also needs a separate cover. Some have options for adjustable absorbency.
Pros? Breathable, especially depending on the cover you choose. Fleece and wool covers are popular choices used with a fitted for overnight absorbency and breathability. If you’re at home and its warm, you don’t even need a cover; ultra breathable just change when slightly damp to the touch.
Cons? They are also a little bulky, and aren’t the quickest to dry. You also need to put on two pieces, fitted, then cover.
Brands: Kissaluvs, Sloomb, Thirsties
All-in-Two (AI2) Diapers: This is closest to my heart, as it is what we use. There is an insert that is either snapped or are laid in a cover, so covers are reusable unless they are pooped in. When it’s wet, just unsnap and snap in a new soaker. Most of the versions also have the option to use a disposable insert instead of the cloth, which is why they’re often referred to as hybrid diapers as well.
Pros? Covers are reusable, so you don’t have to buy as many. Quick to assemble and disassemble. Trimmer in your diaper bag because there are fewer covers to pack. Also pretty dad-friendly (my husband has specifically mentioned that he likes them).
Cons? No stay dry layer, unless soakers are stay dry.
Brands: GroVia, Flips, Softbums
Some Other Things to Consider
Sized vs One Size
Beyond the type of diaper you’re using, this is probably the biggest decision to make. One size diapers typically say they can be used from 7-35 lbs. In addition to the waist closures, there are also snaps going up the rise of the diapers that you will unsnap as baby grows. A sized diaper ranges in size from XS to L or even XL. The benefit is that you don’t have the rise snaps, and they are supposed to provide a more precise fit. Obviously you need to buy a lot more sized diapers than you would one-size diapers. But, sized diapers also tend to cost a little less. Decisions…
Snaps vs Aplix
Right now we are using aplix diapers, and I love them. They are the easiest to get a good fit with, especially when baby is small, and for people who aren’t used to diapering your baby. Snaps are a great option too though. When baby gets bigger, its a lot harder for them to pull off. They’re also more durable. There are laundry tabs for aplix closures, but the aplix can still crack, or wear out a little. We have been using ours for 8 months and they’re still in great shape. This is one of the plus sides of options where you don’t need to use a new cover every time, the covers don’t get washed as often, so aplix doesn’t get worn out as quickly.
I mentioned keeping baby dry in some of the descriptions above. If you aren’t using pockets or something stay-dry, you might end up wanting to use some diaper liners. These are commercially available, either cloth or disposable, but you can also buy microfleece (microfleece, not just the fleece you buy from JoAnns to make blankets) and cut it up. The idea being that the urine will travel through the liner, keeping baby a bit drier. They also can protect your diaper if you need to use a diaper cream that isn’t safe for cloth diapers. Some people also like using liners, especially disposable, so that they can easily lift poop off. The disposable ones can just be flushed.
Disposable: GroVia, Kushies, Imse Vimse
Cloth: Bummis, Kanga Care
You can’t just use any diaper cream with cloth diapers. Think about it. Diaper creams are meant to repel urine. If you get repelling diaper creams on your diapers, they are going to start to repel urine. Not the point, right? Here is a comprehensive list of what is safe, and what is not. We also really love powder, especially California Baby Calming Non-Talc Powder.
Diapers do get stained. Breastfed, formula fed, or toddler solids. Put your diaper in the sun, and it will take out most poop stains. They need to be wet when they go into the sun, but they do not need to dry. So, it’ll work even if its cold out.
You can use disposable wipes, but that doesn’t make sense to me. You’ll need to have both a receptacle for your cloth and your disposables. You also can’t just roll up a poopy wipe in a poopy diaper and throw it in the diaper pail. Cloth wipes are easy. You can put a bunch of wipes in an old disposable container with wipe solution, you can use a cloth wipe warmer (in the winter, we do), you can just spray your baby’s butt with water, and swipe him down. But it all just gets thrown in and washed with the diapers.
You have a couple of options when it comes to storage. I talked a little about what we do in Part 1. A dry pail with a liner, in my opinion, is your best at home option. Everything has the chance to breathe, and it doesn’t smell up your room. Your other decent option, is a large wetbag. Don’t be deceived, there is nothing wet about a wetbeg besides it holding wet diapers. It is just a cloth bag with a PUL lining that is zipped shut. When traveling, use smaller wetbags.
When baby is young, if you are exclusively breastfeeding, you don’t need to do anything to diapers before they go into the wetbag. Breastmilk poop is completely water soluble, so it just washes away. Really. If you are formula feeding, or baby has started solids, you have a different story. The solids do need to be washed away before it can be washed. You can use a liner to make that easier, as I mentioned above. You can dunk and swish in the toilet, or you can use a diaper sprayer.
There are many websites with detailed information on washing cloth diapers. Make sure you are using a cloth diaper safe detergent; this is a good list.
How to Convince Your Partner
Chances are, if you’re considering cloth diapers right now, someone thinks your nuts. What I did for my husband was make him a slideshow of all the information I just compiled into this and the Cloth Diapering – Why post. The best thing you can do, when trying to convince someone to see your side of something, is to educate yourself on it. Then educate them on it. That way, even if they disagree with you still, at least they are making a decision that is equally as educated as yours.
I hope that if you have cloth diapering questions, that might have answered some of them! If you think I missed something, or want more clarification of something, or think I need to add another category, leave me a comment, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Just for the record, if it isn’t clear, we use and love GroVia hybrid diapers!*