At first, cloth diapering can seem like an overwhelming task. Where do you start? What are the different types of diapers, and where can you find them? How much will it cost? Are cloth diapers really worth it? There’s a lot to learn and a lot of logistics to figure out!
But we're here to tell you, it's not all that hard! And once you know what you're doing and have your supplies set up, it becomes second nature. Below, we've created this easy cloth diaper guide to walk you through all the things you need to know to start cloth diapering.
Cloth Diapers Made Easy: Why Do People Use Them?
A cloth diaper is, simply put, a diaper made from cloth. While the materials used may vary, cloth diapers are most commonly made from cotton, hemp, or bamboo. Cloth diapers serve the same purpose as disposable diapers, but are reusable. This is why they are also known as reusable diapers.
Cloth diapers have been around for centuries. People use cloth diapers for all sorts of reasons:
The most common one is that they save money over time. Even if you include the cost of washing and drying the diapers, they end up being cheaper than disposables in the long run.
Some people choose to use cloth because they want their babies to have a natural, chemical-free experience.
Better For the Environment
Many are motivated by environmental concerns. Disposable diapers go straight to the trash after a single use. But cloth diapers can be washed and reused hundreds of times before they are worn out. This means you will use far fewer resources to keep your child clean and dry. Plus, you'll put less waste into landfills.
Cloth Diapers Provide Custom Simplicity!
For others, it's a matter of simply being more comfortable with cloth diapers. Cloth diapers are totally customizable parents can choose which materials and absorbents they prefer, how they want the diapers to fit their baby, and much more.
Simple Summary of Cloth Diaper Types:
Most people assume that all cloth diapers are the same. But that's not true! Cloth diapers come in many styles and materials and choosing the right one can seem pretty overwhelming.
Some are made from bamboo, some have waterproof exteriors, and others have all kinds of adorable prints. Some are fitted like disposables, and others need folding or snapping together.
Therefore, when you're about to buy your first cloth diaper, it's important to learn about the different types of diapers and understand the pros and cons of each. Below are some of the many types available:
All-in-One (AIO) Diaper
This is the simplest type of cloth diaper! It's a single layer that fastens with snaps or a hook-and-loop closure. This diaper functions as one unit, making it easy to use.AIO diapers offer a smart and fuss-free approach for busy parents on the go. They let you change your baby quickly by not needing to stuff an insert.
All-In-Two / Hybrid Diapers
All-in-Two (AI2) diapers are made of two components: a waterproof cover and a snap-in absorbent layer. They are easy to clean, dry faster than all-in-one diapers, and won't leak. It's the perfect combination of convenience, cost, and function. Just snap in the absorbent insert for a quick change!
Pocket diapers feature a pocket in the middle of the diaper for stuffing an absorbent insert. There are many different types of inserts that can be used, depending on your baby's needs and preferences. Pocket diapers are growing in popularity because they're easy to use and clean, and are comfortable for babies.
Fitted diapers have elastic around the legs and are made of absorbent material. Their stretchy, elasticized leg and back openings make them easy to fit and snug up against the baby's body for maximum protection. They are one of the easiest diapers to care for, since there is no stuffing or folding them. You just add a waterproof cover on top of the fitted diaper, and your baby is ready to go!
Flat diapers are large squares of absorbent, single-layer fabric. They're simple, easy-to-fold cloth diapers that babies wear with a waterproof cover. They come in a variety of types, fabrics, and styles and need to be fastened with a diaper fastener. Flats are a classic cloth diaper, and they're still as popular now as ever.
Prefolds are one of the most affordable cloth diapering options. A prefold cloth diaper is a rectangular piece of cloth that has an absorbent pad sewn in. They come in different fabrics, sizes, thicknesses, and styles so you can find the perfect diaper for your baby. Even the most budget-conscious parents love prefolds.
For a more in-depth look at the pros and cons of each cloth diaper type, check out our post oncloth diaper types.
Easy Cloth Diaper Essentials: What You’ll Need To Get Started
The essentials for cloth diapering are not unlike those for disposables. With either, parents will want to stock up on wipes, diaper rash cream, and baby wash.
However, cloth diapers also need a few extras to get started—specifically, a diaper pail liner and wet bag. The following list is a good place to start for what you'll need for your epic cloth diaper adventure:
If you're using prefolds, flats, or fitted diapers, you'll need a diaper cover.Diaper covers are waterproof outer shells that fit over your cloth diaper. We recommend having one cover for every three cloth diapers. This way, you’ll always have a clean cover ready when you need one.
Diaper covers come in a variety of materials (from PUL to wool) and are often adjustable or have some sort of closure system. Diaper covers come in newborn and one-size-fits-all, but there are also adjustable models for babies with chunky thighs or waists.
Extra Inserts or Doublers
If you’re using flats or prefolds, you probably won't need to use any inserts. But if you're using other cloth diapering systems,inserts or doublers can make all the difference. They can help your little one go longer between diaper changes and prevent leaks from occurring. Inserts or doublers also add extra absorbency for an overnight or for a heavy wetter.
For detailed information on inserts and doublers, consider reading our post about thebest cloth diaper inserts for absorbency and comfort. The post provides all the information you’re looking for to buy the best inserts for your baby’s needs.
Cloth Diaper Cream
Cloth diapers are popular with parents who worry about their children’s sensitive skin. But even the most eco-friendly cloth diaper wearer needs a little help sometimes.
Regular diaper cream will leave a residue behind and can cause repelling issues if not thoroughly rinsed out after each use. Therefore, before you buy, do some background research to ensure it is compatible with cloth diapers.
In 2020, approximately 1.54 billion U.S. dollars’ worth of baby wipes were sold. Most parents spend about 2 to 6 cents per wipe, $10-$50 per month, and $120-$547 per year on baby wipes. Imagine the waste and its impact on our environment!
Thus, we recommend using reusable wipes. They work similarly to disposable wipes and come in a variety of styles. Cloth wipes are easier than you think and a great alternative to store-bought wet wipes. They're better for the environment and save money in the long run. You can wet them with anyDIY cloth wipe solution or just water.
Wet Dry Bags
A wet dry bag is a waterproof bag used for storing wet and dry items. It’s one of the most valuable tools for any cloth diapering parent. Wet bags can be a lifesaver when you’re out with your baby and want to keep your cloth diapers separate from other dirty laundry.
Snappi or Pins:
If you're planning to use a flat or prefold diaper on your baby, you need to fasten it with either a pin, or a less pointy version of a pin called a Snappi. This is so it will stay on your baby's bottom.
Both of these fasteners will keep the diaper on the baby's bottom. But cloth diaper pins are sharp and dangerous. A Snappi is safer than pins because you don't poke yourself when you use it.
Prepping Cloth Diapers
Prepping is one of the first steps in the cloth diaper process. If you don't prep your new cloth diaper properly, it won't work as well as it should.
Preparing cloth diapers before use helps to increase absorbency and greatly improves the overall functionality and longevity of your cloth diaper set. Prepping also helps prevent staining by removing any excess moisture that may have accumulated during cloth diaper storage or manufacturing.
Natural fibers tend to not be 100% absorbent when they first arrive in your home. The oil from manufacturing can repel liquids and decrease absorbency, as well as leave an unpleasant odor on the fabric. Pre-washing your new cloth diaper products before use will increase their absorbency, make them safe, and smell fresh for your baby.
All in all, knowing how to properly prep your new cloth diapers will help them reach their full absorbency and save you money in the long run.
To know how to prep cloth diapers properly, consider reading our article onprepping new cloth diapers. The article shares everything you need to know for prepping cloth diapers.
Washing Cloth Diapers
There are a few different methods of washing your cloth diapers. Which one you use depends on your machine and your water but keeping your diapers clean is actually pretty easy.
In general, to wash cloth diapers, you need hot water, a laundry tub or sink, and cloth diaper-safe detergent and bleach, if applicable. The following articles will explain to you how to wash cloth diapers in a way that will keep them as clean and healthy as possible:
- Best and Worst Detergent for Cloth Diapers
- How to Clean Cloth Diapers?
- How to Dry Cloth Diapers?
Establishing aCloth Diaper Wash Routine
How To Store Cloth Diapers?
Cloth diapers can be bulky, so any item that can help you store them more efficiently is a blessing. Here are some tips for storing and organizing cloth diapers:
For Clean Diapers
- You can store your folded diapers in a hanging shoe organizer. This will keep them organized but still accessible while keeping them off the ground so they can air out.
- A diaper stacker is also a great way to store several diapers at once and keep them off the floor.
- If you're on a budget but still want some extra space, try installing some hooks on the inside of your closet doors or walls to hang things from, like wet bags, extra inserts, or diapers.
For Dirty Diapers
- Diaper pails are great at-home solutions for storing dirty diapers until it’s time to take them to laundry, and they’ll help keep the room from smelling. You could also use something like a laundry basket or an old trash can for storage. If you are using a laundry basket, it would be best to line it with a waterproof bag or plastic liner.
- Wet bags are another great solution for dirty diaper storage, especially when on the go. They don’t take up too much space, but keep the dirty diapers separate from the rest of the diaper bag contents. Combinationwet/dry bags are a particularly popular choice, because you can store clean diapers in the dry compartment in preparation for changing.
For more ideas, check out our article,Cloth Diaper Storage & Organization Ideas. The article has many budget-friendly ideas to store your cloth diapers.
The Bottom Line on Easy Cloth Diapering:
If you're a busy parent, cloth diapering may seem like an extra burden on top of all the other things you need to do. But the truth is that it's not as intimidating as it sounds!
In fact, cloth diapers are a simple, smart choice for busy parents that want to save money while caring for their baby's sensitive skin. Compared to disposable diapers, cloth diapers are less expensive, better for the environment, and super easy to use!