The World of Cloth (Diapering)

Stack of Cutie Caboose diapers

When I first became pregnant I decided I wanted to do cloth diapering instead of using disposables. It was from a both economical and ecological standpoint.

Let’s get to the point: disposable diapers cost a TON of money. By the time my baby will be out of diapers we would have to pay around $2,000 in diapers and wipes.

There are times where you’ll be out running errands, enjoying time with family and oops you didn’t pack enough diapers so off to the store you go. You don’t realize that while the convenience of purchasing diapers and throwing them away is there, you’re not paying attention to how much you’re paying and throwing away!

Are cloth diapers worth it?

There’s a short answer and a long answer.

Short answer: yes.

Long answer: There’s pros and cons to everything, including cloth diapering! Unfortunately, cloth diapers have become a trend, and when things are trending that means there are a lot of varieties to choose from. Along with that it means there will be very expensive brands. But that shouldn’t deter you because there are always low-cost options and just as functional as well. Once you buy them — that’s it! You can wash and reuse them for a very long time.

How do I start?

First off, do your research. Look into what it takes to cloth diaper. Find out what kind of diapers you’d like to use. There are several kinds of cloth diapers out there and you’ll want to find the ones that’ll work for both you and baby.

Types of Diapers:

All-in-Ones (AIO) — Diapers that have the liner (absorbent pad) sewn in to the diaper.
All-in-Twos (AI2) —
Diapers that have the liner you can snap onto
Pockets — Diapers where the liner (known as inserts) inside the “pocket”. You will separate the inserts from the diapers when you wash.
Preflats/Prefolds —
Essentially like the old cloth diapers your grandma used on your parents. They are wrapped around the baby in different ways and “pinned” together. You’ll need to buy a cover (see below) to prevent leaks.
Fitted —
Sort of like a pre-flat but they are in the shape of a pocket diaper with snaps. You’ll need to buy a cover to prevent leaks.
Covers —
A waterproof layer to use over preflats/prefolds/fitted diapers. It holds in the pee/poop so that it doesn’t get the clothes wet.

Sizes:

Newborns (NB): up to 10 lbs
One Size (OS): 8–35 lbs
Sized (1, 2, 3): 8–20 lbs, 15–35 lbs, 30–65 lbs

Create a budget:

Find out how many diapers on average you will be using before washing. Babies usually go through on average 8–10 diapers a day. So if you want to wash every three days you’ll need about 30–40 diapers. Depending on some brands the kinds of diapers range from $7–18. So you’ll spend close to $500–720. But that’s a one time cost and less than HALF of what you’d pay for three years of disposable diapers!

Look into a wash routine:

Washing diapers can sound intimidating. There’s a lot to do with measuring out the right amount of detergent and making sure it rinses all out… you don’t want any residual detergent touching your baby’s bottom when they pee/poop! How much detergent and rinsing you need to do takes in consideration of how soft or hard your water is! So before you start diapering, look into your water hardness level.

There are wonderful resources out there to help find the perfect detergent amount and rinses per wash.

Where to go to buy?

So far, I’ve been finding most of the diapers online and a few at consignment events!

Thousands of companies are appealing to the new parent circuit. Brands like AlvaBaby, Mama Koala, Esembly, GroVia, and even Pampers have joined the cloth diapering crew.

There are also small businesses like Cutie Caboose, Texas Tushies, and Southern Fluff Butts, who are creating and selling cloth diapers with unique prints. And these prints are what will hook you in.

Picture of a 90s CD Album Cover cloth diaper on a baby.

A lot of parents joke that they’re buying certain prints/diapers for themselves (like me), which is mostly true. Babies don’t care what they’re wearing! So with that in mind, companies are creating prints that will cater to the 90’s nostalgia, pop culture, films, holidays, etc. There are a lot of different facebook groups dedicated to buy/sell/trades with cloth diapering brands. I recommend starting there to save some costs when you’re starting out!

If you’re wanting to go the small business route, make sure you join their Facebook groups. Unfortunately the small businesses will have limited inventory drops so you have to follow their group to find out when the new prints will be ready for pre-order or sale.

Accessories

Of course with all kinds of products there are accessories that comes with cloth diapering.

Snappies:

Snappies, pick from grassrootsbabystore.com

Snappies are what you use to pin together your preflats and prefolds! Instead of using safety pins. They are an ouch-proof way of keeping the diapers together. These work just as well and come in different colors.

Wetbag:

To store your dirty diapers you’d want to have something called a wet bag. It literally holds anything wet without leaking and if you find the right kind, you’ll find it traps in the smell. I usually hang the wet bag on my door, but others find a laundry basket with holes and stores the bag in there. You want some air circulation so it doesn’t grow mold.

You’ll also want smaller wet bags to carry around with you when you’re on the go!

Pods:

This is something new I’ve stumbled upon. Pods are great storage bags to carry your diaper stash when you’re on the go. They also make great “diaper bags” to store everything you’ll need instead of bringing a huge diaper bag with you.

Cloth wipes:

This is something for the ultimate cloth diapering parent. If you want to continue to save costs, you can either make or buy cloth wipes! Simply wet it with water or a homemade wipe solution and throw in the wet bags to wash with your dirty diapers.

You don’t have to cloth diaper full time!

So most people feel intimidated about cloth diapering because they don’t want to have the hassle of bringing dirty diapers with them while they’re in public. That’s perfectly fine! Also, if you can’t afford the 40+ diapers and only want to wash twice a week you can most certainly just use two or three diapers a day and use the disposables the rest. There’s no shame in using disposable diapers. There’s a reason why you want to do cloth and if it means to reduce the amount of disposables you’re using, then that’s exactly what you should do.

As for myself we part-time cloth, meaning I only use three or four a day and wash twice a week. I have about 15 diapers in my stash.

To finish off here’s the list of things I or my friends wish they knew before starting cloth diapering:

  1. Dilute the bleach when you want to sanitize your diapers. If you use too much bleach you’ll ruin the waterproofing liner AKA PUL and the diaper will not be usable! (SN: you don’t need to sanitize every wash. Just when there’s been an infection, you bought used diapers, or a bad smell that just won’t go away)
  2. Don’t feel intimidated by the wash routine! Once you got it down it’ll be easier. Also if you’re not sure if you got all the detergent out… you can always put them on rinse again.
  3. Set realistic expectations when it comes to cloth diapering! Don’t stress yourself out that you need to use it all the time. If you need a break from the washing — it’s okay to use disposables.
  4. Newborn cloth diapers are nice if you want to start of cloth diapering right away, but they grow quickly and you’ll won’t be able to use it after a certain weight! Don’t go crazy buying a ton of newborns.
  5. Don’t worry about cloth diapers inhibiting babies from hitting milestones. They can walk, crawl, roll, just fine! (In fact my baby hit all their milestones wearing cloth diapers!)
Baby wearing a cloth diaper and standing up!

6. The diapers can leak and it can be frustrating. It’s all a trial and error! It all depends on how much absorbency your baby needs and if you’re fitting them correctly. It takes time and practice but once you get the hang of it, it’ll work!

7. Wash and stuff day is a pain — always.

I hope you learned a lot about cloth diapering in this post! If you have any other pointers, suggestions, or anecdotes please feel free to drop them in the comments!

If you’re liking the #momlife articles I’ve been writing and would like access to more get a membership for access to these articles and more!

--

--

--

Emi Sano is a self-published author of “Voices: a short story collection” and YA novella “We Don’t Talk About That.” She freelances as a writer/blogger.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

My Top 7 Tips for Self-Care as a Special Needs Parent

‘Something has to change’: The realities of being a teen parent

The Boychild; Transitioning Alone

I Failed My Daughter by Staying Quiet

How school can cause a lack of sleep and what a lack of sleep leads to for teens and children

Dinosaurs, Superheroes, & Playing With the P Word

What you can do this holiday with your kids!

Melania Wasn’t the First Wife to Be Cheated on While Pregnant

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Emi Sano

Emi Sano

Emi Sano is a self-published author of “Voices: a short story collection” and YA novella “We Don’t Talk About That.” She freelances as a writer/blogger.

More from Medium

It’s called over parenting.

The First Dive

Kids’ Health Links Foundation Partners with Everyday Heroes Kids

Does Public Service not Entail Service to the Public? A Question for Canadians.