Things have changed in the diapering game and chances are you have no idea how easy and fun modern cloth diapers can be! More and more parents are choosing reusable diapers after seeing their benefits over disposable diapers- they can save you more than $1,500 per child, prevent tons of diaper waste from clogging the landfills, have no chemicals or fragrances that can irritate sensitive skin, and they come in fashion forward colors or prints! Before you can even ask- “but what about the poop”– I can answer that too. Solid waste gets dumped into the toilet or sprayed off using a handy bidet style sprayer that easily attaches to your toilet’s plumbing. Every parent has to deal with the poop; with cloth you get to choose your level of involvement, with disposables it chooses for you (think blowouts).
The good (and bad) of cloth diapering is that there are so many choices! Each style of diaper has pros and cons and what you choose will reflect your family’s lifestyle and budget. I like to break the types of cloth diapers available on the market into two main styles- One Piece and Two Piece systems. One piece systems are the easiest to use and are most like a disposable to put on and take off the baby but are often more expensive per diaper. Two Piece systems take more time to put on but are more budget friendly. Nearly every style of diaper comes in a One Size fits most style and they grow with your baby so there is no need to buy multiple sizes unless you want to diaper in the newborn phase.
One Piece systems include All in Ones (diapers that are a single piece, exactly like a disposable), All in Twos (diapers with a waterproof shell and absorbent inserts that are snapped in), and Pocket Diapers (a waterproof shell with a soft cloth lining that uses an absorbent insert stuffed into the shell). All three of these styles will go on and off easily and are easy for caregivers and daycares to use. These diapers often use microfiber (a man-made synthetic material) for their absorbent inserts. They also typically have either a stay dry layer made from microfleece or suedecloth (synthetic fabrics).
Two Piece systems are more like the traditional and “old-fashioned” diapers you probably think of when you hear the words “cloth diapers.” Two Piece systems include Prefolds, Flats, and Fitteds. All three of these diapers will need a separate waterproof over applied over the top. They are slightly more time-consuming to put on the baby since there are two-steps to the application but can also be more budget friendly. Prefolds, Flats, and Fitteds are most commonly made from organic or natural fibers such as cotton or bamboo. They’re also the sturdiest diapers and often last through multiple children. Fitteds will already have snaps or velcro to secure onto the baby but you will need a device called a Snappi to secure prefolds or flats. The Snappi is the modern version of diaper pins and won’t pose a poking risk to you or the baby!
Choosing your system can be overwhelming but there are questions you can ask yourself to narrow down your options. Do you need an easy on and off system that is daycare friendly? Are you more concerned with convenience than price? Are you concerned your partner won’t use the diapers unless they are as easy as a disposable? If so you will probably need a One Piece System. Are you using cloth diapers to save money? Do you want your diapers to last through multiple children? Do you prefer simple to complex? Then you may prefer a Two Piece System.
Once you have your diapers you will need to wash them! This is always the scariest part for parents but once you have established a routine it will be the easiest load of laundry you do! Dirty cloth diapers will need to be stored in either a waterproof bag called a wet bag (these often close with zippers to hold in smells) or stored in a diaper pail that uses a reusable pail liner. You’ll want to wash every 1.5-3 days. For all loads you will run a cold rinse to remove any residual solid waste. Next start a heavy wash cycle on HOT and add detergent (no fabric softeners) and allow to rinse. Tumble dry on Warm or line dry and they will be ready to wear again. The benefit of diaper laundry as opposed to regular laundry is that it isn’t picky- you can leave wet diapers in the washer for hours… leave dry diapers in the dryer for hours…. leave clean diapers in the basket for days or weeks. A busy lifestyle doesn’t mean you can’t wash diapers, it just means your diapers may never get folded and that is OK!
The great thing about cloth diapering is that they are nearly blow-out proof! Yes, you will be dealing with spraying or scraping out the poop once your baby eats solid foods (breastmilk poo is water soluble and can be thrown in the washing machine without removing it!) but you won’t be dealing with poop from the back of the diaper to the neck of the baby and trying to peel that onesie off without further casualties!
Want a few more selling points? I could go on for days but here are my favorites:
1. They come in trendy colors and prints.
2. Some see it as bulk, I see the thicker fabrics as cushion for new walkers when they plop down!
3. They’re a wise investment-the used cloth diaper market is booming. Sell and make 40-60% on your investment on average!
4. Cloth diapers are made from… cloth! The linings are materials are soft and breathable and babies with sensitive skin will see less rashes.
5. They can also be used a trainers and pull up and down for potty training toddlers!
If you decide cloth diapers are right for your family there are so many helpful resources available to you! DirtyDiaperLaundry.com has a New to Cloth Page with links to articles on various cloth diapering topics. ClothDiaperFinder.com is a searchable diaper database that allows you to select the options you want in a diaper such as the style, price, and materials and all the brands matching will show along with reviews and link to demonstration videos when available. You can also join the online support group for new cloth diapering parents called The Cloth Diaper Experiment on Facebook to ask your questions and get help from leaders in the cloth diaper community and other parents.