When I decided I was going to cloth diaper, I did tons of research. And, I mean tons…for months. The more I researched, the more confused I became. I had no idea there were so many different types and brands and sellers and lingo, it was mind boggling.
So, in an effort to save you some headaches, I am going to try to keep it simple. What has worked for us, our favorites and some tips to help you survive cloth diapering. Note, that I say what has worked for “us” because your husband will be doing this too. I had my husband review this post to make sure I didn’t leave anything out that he felt was important.
The Basics of What You Need
You will need a diaper pail and liner. I bought a very simple diaper pail from Babies R Us. It’s small, which I like because it reminds me to do the washing every second day or so. That way stains and smells don’t set in. Now, not everyone will think a diaper pail liner is necessary, but I do.
Plastic has a tendency to hold onto odors. When I do my washing, I throw the liner in as well and feel that this minimizes odors overall. I have two washable, waterproof liners. I highly recommend using one.
Obviously, you will need diapers. How many diapers you will want depends on how often you do (or don’t) want to do laundry. Newborns go through about 12 diapers a day, so you should probably have around 12 to 18 diapers for when they are small, then you won’t need quite as many when they get older. But, this is putting you at a load of diapers every day. If you don’t want to do diaper laundry that often, you will need twice this many. This was a big reason why we started with pre-folds. With our second son, however, we just bought more Fuzzi Bunz.
The type of diapers you decide to use will stem from essentially two things, price and ease of use. Here is an overview of the types of diapers available.
Pre-folds/Covers - the most economical of all the diapers. A flat diaper like our parents used, but you can hold it together with a Snappi, instead of pins. Then, just put a cover over it. Pre-folds average around $1.50 per diaper, so definitely the least expensive option. Covers range in price and type, depending on what you want.
Now, do not go thinking you can just get Gerber pre-folds from Target. Those are just not good enough, in my opinion. You need Diaper Service Quality pre-folds, usually referred to as either Chinese or Indian pre-folds. These generally have to be found online, as with most cloth diaper products.
Pre-folds are definitely a choice with price in mind. After you get the hang of it, they are pretty easy to use (my husband was better at it than me!), but there is definitely a learning curve.
Fitted diapers/covers – These are not unlike pre-folds (as they also require a cover), however there is no folding involved. These are fitted or contoured in shape. The most popular fitted diapers are probably Kissaluvs. I definitely preferred these to pre-folds for my newborn as they were much less bulky, but they get pricey. I only had a couple when I was first trying all the different kinds.
All-in-ones (AIO) – like the AIO Bum Genius. These diapers are the closest to disposables in the way you put them on. Everything is all put together already and you just put it on your baby. Many love the ease of these diapers, however they can take longer to dry after washing since it’s all one piece.
Pockets - diapers, like Fuzzi Bunz, that require an insert to be put inside the shell of the diaper.
One Size Pockets- these diapers, like Bum Genius, have three different sizes that the diaper can turn into with a series of snaps. They are meant to be more economical since they ‘grow’ with your baby.
Velcro vs Snaps - Another thing to consider when looking at diapers is whether they fasten using Velcro or Snaps. For example, Fuzzi Bunz have snaps, whereas Bum Genius have Velcro. If you have a preference, this will be another factor in the type or brand of diapers you ultimately choose. My preference is for snaps. I feel they last longer and my baby is less likely to be able to get his diaper off. However, I know others who swear by Velcro. It’s a personal choice.
My Fav0rite Diapers
I started off using pre-folds and covers. I am pretty sure I just used Chinese pre-folds, but honestly I just can’t remember. I used all sorts of different covers and found the Bummis Super Whisper Wrap to be my favorite.
When our son reached around 9 to 10 months he just got too wiggly. It was simply too hard for me to get the pre-folds on with him constantly trying to flip over while I was changing him. I had some Fuzzi Bunz and started using them almost exclusively and bought more. I also have some Bum Genius, but usually reach for these after all my FBs are gone. Also, they were not “one size” for us. Our chunky monkey son actually outgrew the One Size Bum Genius before he outgrew the medium Fuzzi Bunz, hence my preference for the latter. Plus, as I said before, I prefer snaps over Velcro.
Another diaper brand that I have tried and liked is Green Acre Designs (GAD). They actually have a wonderful nap or nighttime diaper that is made of polar fleece. As my son got older, it was the only diaper that we could put our son to sleep in that he would not soak through.
Having said this however, I’ll be honest. We use disposables at night. My son simply wet too much during the night for cloth to ever work for us. We value our sleep too much to be getting up all the time during the night to change clothes and sheets. We tried it and it didn’t work. You have to find what works for you with cloth diapering and not beat yourself up for what doesn’t.
My Favorite Cloth Diaper Accessories
Liners – I like using thin, fleece liners in my diapers. It helps when shaking poo off into the toilet and helps protects from staining (from poo and diaper rash cream). You can also get flushable paper liners that are nice to have too, though I find myself using the fleece ones far more often.
Diaper sprayer – I am unsure if I would have survived the toddler years without this little handy thing called a diaper sprayer. It attaches to the back of your toilet and allows you to spray off sticky poo so there is less of an ick factor (notice I said less…there is still an ick factor).
Cloth wipes – I purchased some off ebay from a WAHM, but I have since found that those thin baby washcloths work the best. I have a water bottle and a pile of these washcloths next to my changing table. Put a bit of baby wash in the water bottle. You can find lots of cloth wipes options here!
Wet Bag – Face it, if you leave the house with a cloth diaper on your baby, odds are you are going to have to change it while you are out and about. This was always such a nightmare to me. But, now that I have a wet bag, it’s no big deal. I pack a clean diaper in my wet bag, then replace it with the soiled one after changing. Nothing to it. The wet bag that I bought has a zipper and holds 2-3 diapers. It can also be used as a swim bag when the boys get older. I have two, so if one is in the wash, I still have one to take with me…plus I have two boys, so I figure I will have two swim bags later on for camp or whatever. Yes, you can just use a plastic bag, but this was never that appealing to me since you just have to throw it away afterward.
Laundry Detergent – I use Allen’s Naturally. I have never had a problem with staining or smelly diapers. It’s not the cheapest, but it’s not the most expensive either, plus it’s green and cruelty free. It’s a big upfront investment, but lasts for ages. I switched to another brand at one point, but then switched back to Allen’s Naturally.
Hemp Inserts – Hemp is nice if you don’t like the bulk of cloth diapers. They are absorbent, but thinner than the cotton terry inserts. Both of my sons are “super soakers”. They require two inserts in their diapers or I would have to change them constantly. I like using a combination of a cotton babies’ insert and hemp insert, so the diaper is not overly bulky.
One-Size Inserts – I love these, because not only are they super absorbent, but they fit all sizes of any brand diaper, saving you money in the long run!
Cloth Diapering Resources
Diaper Pin is a great resource with loads of reviews of all the brands that are out there. It can be a little daunting however, since you are exposed to all sorts of diaper brands.
You can save money and still have a great cloth diaper stash!
There are definitely ways to save money with cloth. One big way is to buy second hand diapers. I have bought most of my diapers second hand. Diaper Swappers is the best resource for second hand diapers (buying and selling). Diaper swappers is also a great resource for WAHMs who make/sell diapers, inserts, liners, and everything else you can think of.
Another source is Craigslist. You have to keep checking, but I have found Fuzzi Bunz and Bum Genius on Craigslist for fantastic prices.
Another way I have saved money is by purchasing accessories like inserts, wipes and liners from WAHMs either off Diaper Swappers or Ebay. If you are crafty and can sew, you can save even more money. There are all sorts of tutorials and patterns out there for making your own cloth diapers and diapering accessories.
Still Have Questions?
Nurtured Family has a very good Cloth Diapering Basics page with answers to all sorts of questions.
Wow, thanks MB for this extremely informative post! As for me I decided to go with the Bum Genius One Size pockets and the Fuzzi Bunz pockets. They are way too big for Cora right now, but I can’t wait until she is big enough to wear them.
Cloth diapers are better for the environment and cheaper. You can read my cloth diaper post which breaks down disposable vs cloth diaper costs over two years.
The following is a guest post from Mama Bird who blogs at Fly Away Family. Mama Bird (or MB) likes to blog about green and frugal living and how her family lives on less so they can travel to Australia (where Papa Bird is from) each year, on one income. She also loves to blog about Australia (her second home); her two boys and wonderful hubby; and anything else she finds interesting.