Cloth Diapering 101

Stack of cloth diaper isolated on white background

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.

cloth diapers

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.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Free and Fun Family Activities in Your Local Area 4/17 – 4/19

Each week I’ll post links with fun and inexpensive (or free) things to do in your local area and national deals that everyone can enjoy!

National Park

National Activities:

American Girl: April In-Store Events (Events vary by location and minimum age. Find events specific to your area online. Reservations required. For girls ages 8 and up.) During April, they include Grace’s Sweet Spring Break Event, Adorable Accents: Twists & Braids, Grace’s Apron Craft & Cookie Decoration, Meal & Memories with Dad and Mom and more!

Barnes and Nobles:  This Saturday at 11am you can join in the Aqualicious story time fun! Check with your local store before going.

Guitar Center: Free Classes through their Music Mentor Series. Register online. No age restriction.

  • Saturday, April 18th: 10:15 AM – Group Ukulele Class

Kindermusik: Try a free class (see all the information here). Kindermusik ~ Where Music & Learning Play!

  • Classes for children from newborn to age seven
  • Child development through music and movement
  • Immerse your child in a musical atmosphere of play, song, and dance – while developing fundamental skills
  • Connect with other moms, dads, and families

Lakeshore Learning: Saturday, April 18th from 11AM-3PM ~ Kids make and take a Whirly Twirly Windmill craft.

Michael’s Kids Club: Kids can enjoy making a craft every Saturday. This week they are making Clothes Pin Bug Magnet. Designed for kids ages 3 and up ($2/child). Starts at 10 AM and runs every 30 minutes on Saturdays. You can shop while they create.

National Parks: This is the opening weekend for national parks and to celebrate admission is free! Over 405 locations are free on the 18th and 19th. Don’t miss this great opportunity.

Williams-Sonoma Free Technique Classes (for kids and adults): Saturday, April 18th at 10 AM ~ This Saturday Junior Chefs will learn how to make different bundt cakes with three different glazes! Check the webpage for additional details and make a reservation.  For ages 5+.

Thanks, More with Less Today!

Local Activities:

If you are a blogger who posts a local round-up of family activities, then feel free to fill out this form to be considered for future posts.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

How to Build Up a Gift Closet

By contributing writer Laura

Gift giving doesn’t just happen around the holidays. It catches us by surprise all year round as the need for presents on birthdays, housewarmings, graduations, baby showers, bridal showers, and other little occasions pop up. If you feel like you’re constantly running out to buy full price items at the last-minute, then I have some tips to help you save money and avoid procrastinating.

How to Build Up a Gift Closet at The Happy Housewife

Here are my top tips for how to build up a gift closet:

Compile a List of Gift Recipients

Make a list of family and friends whom you know you will need to buy presents for throughout the year. Make sure to include the dates of birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions that prompt gift giving. List the names of gift recipients as well as some of their likes, latest interests or hobbies, favorite restaurants or food, etc., to help you keep them in mind when running across deals throughout the year.

Ask for Wish Lists

If you have friends or relatives who are hard to shop for, simply ask them what type of gifts that they’d like. I usually ask my sister and friends what they’d like as gifts, when approaching Christmas or birthdays. There will sometimes be an item on their wish list that is new or an act of service that I wouldn’t have thought of, such as babysitting, lending assistance with decorating, lending help with organizing a room, a meal planning/prep party, etc.

Set Up Price Alerts

If there are specific gifts you have in mind for your loved ones, be sure to set up price alerts for those products online. Sites like Camel Camel Camel will notify you when an item is for sale at its lowest price. If you have some flexibility in timing, you should look at the pricing history of that product and wait for it to drop before purchasing.

Check the Clearance Section

When shopping in store or online, I love looking for clearance items. Whether it is out-of-season products, markdowns, or discontinued products/styles, there are great deals to be found. Think strategically and swoop up post-holiday clearance items that will remain good until next year, particularly for stocking stuffers, gift exchanges, and holiday decor.

Use these tips to stock up your gift drawer or gift closet gradually throughout the year, so that you spend less money and are prepared for those last-minute parties or gift givings.

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This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Free and Fun Family Activities in Your Local Area 4/10 – 4/12

Each week I’ll post links with fun and inexpensive (or free) things to do in your local area and national deals that everyone can enjoy!

show-creatology-01

National Activities:

American Girl: April In-Store Events (Events vary by location and minimum age. Find events specific to your area online. Reservations required. For girls ages 8 and up.) During April, they include Grace’s Sweet Spring Break Event, Adorable Accents: Twists & Braids, Grace’s Apron Craft & Cookie Decoration, Meal & Memories with Dad and Mom and more!

Bass Pro Shop: This Saturday and Sunday, April 11th-12th, they are hosting a free Professional Bull Riders family event. The event will include free face painting, crafts, steer head roping and more! Event lasts from noon to 4pm.

Guitar Center: Free Classes through their Music Mentor Series. Register online. No age restriction.

  • Saturday, April 11th: 10:15 AM – Intro to Garage Band Workshop

Kindermusik: Try a free class (see all the information here). Kindermusik ~ Where Music & Learning Play!

  • Classes for children from newborn to age seven
  • Child development through music and movement
  • Immerse your child in a musical atmosphere of play, song, and dance – while developing fundamental skills
  • Connect with other moms, dads, and families

Lakeshore Learning: Saturday, April 11th from 11AM-3PM ~ Kids make and take a Sunny Days Birdhouse craft.

Michael’s Kids Club: Kids can enjoy making a craft every Saturday. This week they are making Lady Bug flower pot. Designed for kids ages 3 and up ($2/child). Starts at 10 AM and runs every 30 minutes on Saturdays. You can shop while they create.

Williams-Sonoma Free Technique Classes (for kids and adults): Saturday, April 11th at 10 AM ~ This Saturday Junior Chefs will learn how to prepare the best lunchbox meals ever! From sushi to sandwich wraps Check the webpage for additional details and make a reservation.  For ages 5+.

Thanks, More with Less Today!

Local Activities:

If you are a blogger who posts a local round-up of family activities, then feel free to fill out this form to be considered for future posts.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.