Are you interested in using cloth diapers but don’t have any idea how to get started?
When I started researching I had no idea there were so many different types and brands and sellers and lingo.
It was mind boggling. Pockets vs all-in-ones, snaps vs velcro, do one size fits all really fit all?
In fact, I didn’t use cloth diapers with another child because I couldn’t figure out what was the best option! I was in analysis paralysis!
Finally after researching for practically 9 months I thought I figured it out. However, I want you to take away one thing from this article. Don’t make a huge purchase before trying the diapers!
Every child is different and every mom is too! What worked for us, may not work for you.
When I got started I purchased 1 or 2 diapers of each kind so I could decide what would work for us. The diapers I thought I would love the best, ended up being some of my least favorite.
If you have a consignment store near you try purchasing a few diapers there to get an idea of what works. Then you can make a decision and purchase cloth diapers with confidence.Everything You NEED to Know About Cloth Diapers
As with just about everything, there are things you need, things that are nice to have and things you shouldn’t waste your money on.
Obviously you need cloth diapers, but there are few other accessories that you must have.
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.
Types of Cloth Diapers
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.
When using prefolds you will need to purchase diaper covers as well. 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. 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.
Total cost per diaper for prefolds = $4.83
I didn’t include the cost of the snappi because you don’t need to have as many of those as you do diapers or covers.
Fitted Diapers/ Covers
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.
With fitted diapers you still need to purchase covers, but the price per diaper is significantly more than prefolds.
Total cost per diaper for fitted diapers = $13.24
I wouldn’t have been able to cloth diaper without the convenience of all-in one diapers like 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. Each diaper has adjustable snaps so as your baby grows they don’t outgrow the diaper.
Many love the ease of these diapers, however they can take longer to dry after washing since it’s all one piece.
Total cost per diaper for all-in-ones = $16 – $24 per diaper
Pocket diapers require a cloth diaper (similar to the all-in-one) plus a thinner absorbent insert that slides inside the diaper.
These diapers dry quicker than all-in-one diapers because you dry the inserts separately.
Personally I thought the pocket diapers held up better than the all-in-ones. I replaced the inserts once or twice, but over all these were my favorite option.
One Size Pocket Diapers
Get more bang for your buck with one size pockets. these diapers, have several different sizes that the diaper can turn into with a series of snaps or velcro.
They are meant to be more economical since they ‘grow’ with your baby. I do not recommend these for a newborn baby as they are also supposed to fit a 40 pound child. My newborn was lost in the one-size diapers.
Total cost per diaper for pocket diapers = $5 – $21 per diaper.
Typically the price goes down when you purchase in bulk.
Velcro vs Snap Fasteners
Another thing to consider when looking at diapers is whether they fasten using Velcro or Snaps.
If you have a preference, this will be another factor in the type or brand of diapers you ultimately choose. Snaps tend to last longer and my baby is less likely to be able to get his diaper off.
However, I loved the velcro diapers as they made middle of the night changes really easy.
Diaper Pail and Liner
You don’t need a fancy diaper pail when you cloth diaper. You basically need a bin to hold the dirty diapers.
Most diaper pails are designed for disposable diapers so I’d actually skip searching for ‘diaper pail” online. I used a plastic trash can with a lid that “snapped” shut. This combined with the liner kept odors to a minimum.
Now, not everyone will think a diaper pail liner is necessary, but I do. It keeps your trash can clean so you don’t have to clean it out every time you wash the diapers.
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 at least one.
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 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 – 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.
However, 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.
Once your child outgrows diapers the wet bag can be used as a swim bag. If you don’t want to pay the $10 for a wet bag you can use a gallon size Ziploc. However Ziploc bags don’t last forever so you end up going through multiple bags.
Laundry Detergent – I like Rockin’ Green. It is $20 for 45 loads.
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.
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. If you have a ‘heavy wetter” these inserts help absorb without being super bulky.
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!
Where to Buy Cloth Diapers
When I started using cloth diapers they weren’t as readily available as they are today.
Thankfully that has changed and now you can get most cloth diaper supplies via Amazon Prime!
Unfortunately, some of my favorite smaller diaper shops are no longer in business.
Diaper Junction has a wide variety of diapers, accessories, and their own line of cloth diapers. Their prices are reasonable and they typically have a large assortment of products on clearance as well.
Another option for saving on diapers is to buy used. Most people take very good care of their cloth diapers, so they are in excellent shape when they sell them.
Check Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and local consignment stores for cloth diapers. You have to check regularly, but they are posted every once in a while.
Another way I have saved money is by purchasing accessories like inserts, wipes and liners from WAHMs either off 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?
Cloth diapers are better for the environment and cheaper. You can read my article which breaks down disposable vs cloth diaper costs over two years.
You might also enjoy these articles on Diapering and Potty Training:
- Cloth Diapering – so easy your husband will be changing the diapers!
- Cost Breakdown: Cloth Diapering vs Disposables
- Why I Stopped Potty Training My Kids
- What to Do with Dried Out Baby Wipes
I could have written a lot of this post – from what you’ve tried to what you recommend 🙂 I’ve been cd’ing for over 2 years and love it! Glad you shared all those resources.
I’ve cloth diapered 10 years but I still like to try out new stuff occasionally. I discovered Thirsties covers with my sixth baby. I like them a little better than Bummis which had always been my favorite.
The jump from infant to premium prefolds is huge and I found that the premiums were way too big for awhile and infants too small. The red edge prefolds Green Mountain Diapers sells are perfect for “in between”. They sell lots of sizes that other places don’t carry.
Man! I wish I’d had all of these resources when my kiddos were in diapers! I had a pile of cloth diapers I bought at Walmart, a couple packs of rubber pants, a few sets of pins, some borax, an old plastic garbage pail (repurposed) and I was set! This new stuff actually sounds fun….considering!!! LOL!!!
This is a great overview of cloth diapering. I would like to add, though, that no matter what route you decide to go with cloth diapers, it ends up being a lot easier than most people *think* it is going to be! You just have to find your groove.
Also, GreenMountainDiapers.com is a great site, because you can SEE real babies wearing different kinds of diapers. Even though I bought the majority of my diapering items elsewhere, I kept referring back to that site to look at the babies in the diapers!
Amanda…I totally agree that it’s a lot easier once you have your groove. My sister didn’t cloth diaper with her first, but did with her second (after I showed her how it all worked and helped her get set up). She loves it now and is a total pro! And she is NOT an organized person. She’s borderline ADD and will the first the admit it.
And Amy and Amanda thanks for the tip on Green Mountain Design…I will have to check them out! Always nice to learn something new!
I love love using cloth diapers! I usually use prefolds at home, then fitteds or pockets when out and about, and pockets at nightime. Great post :o)
ashley r says
I can sew so I bought a bunch of all in one kits from diaperkit.com and I love them. I do like the stay dry liners from cotton babies. Also the KCKone is great too it is a one size pocket diaper pattern. I used the prefold/pins/and gerber vinyl on 2 of my older and it was ok but with my youngest 2 diaperkit has been a huge blessing!
My husband and sister-in-law were appalled at my suggestion for cloth diapering but I told them to suck it up and I was trying it. Can’t wait to have my own kids to diaper.
Great source of info on a practice that has ended up very much the exception nowadays.