If you had asked me five years ago what kind of diaper I would choose when I had children, I would have said disposable. Back then, the words “cloth diaper” brought to mind Gerber prefolds, safety pins and vinyl pants. Yet, we’ve been cloth diapering G since she was just a few weeks old. So why did we choose cloth diapers?
I first started considering cloth diapers when a friend posted about their stash of cloth diapers. No safety pins, no vinyl pants, but something called a snappi with a prefold and a cute printed cover. Clearly, there were more options to cloth diapering than I knew about, and I decided I wanted to learn more.
Reasons Why We Cloth Diaper
1. To Save Money
That’s it. Our number one reason, and to be honest, the only thing that makes me loyal to cloth diapering with the temptation of easy, no washing required, disposables. For me, the extra work cloth diapers require dim in comparison to the extra cash disposables would take from our budget. To see a cost comparison, click here.
Of course, there are other benefits to cloth diapering, such as less environmental impact and reducing the amount of chemicals in contact with your baby’s skin. Honestly though, those were just nice perks for me when it came down to choosing cloth vs. disposable. For me it was all about saving our family money. So, when it came time to choose which kind of cloth diaper system our family would use, cost was a big deciding factor.
How We Cloth Diaper
Goodness, there are soooooo many options when it comes to cloth diapering. Below, I’m sharing information about what we’ve tried, and what works for us. To see more options, check out the videos linked at the bottom of the post.
The Materials We Use:
For the first 12 months we used:
- 9 Flip Diaper Covers
- 12 OsoCozy Unbleached Prefolds
- 6 Charcoal Bamboo Inserts
- 6 HappyEndings Hemp/Organic Cotton Inserts.
We chose to use diaper covers with separate inserts because the cover can be reused multiple times. If the diaper is wet, simply toss the inserts into the diaper pail, wipe down the cover and hang to dry. Then reuse with fresh inserts at the next diaper change.
We started with a variety of inserts to figure out which we liked best. We simply laid one insert inside the diaper cover. I originally tried fastening prefolds with a Snappi, but quickly realized that trifolding the prefold into a rectangle and laying it inside the diaper worked just as well for us.
When G began to require 2 inserts to prevent leaks between changes (around 11 months old), we decided to add to our stock. We had two BumGenius 4.0 Pocket Diapers that we rarely used at that point, but decided to take a chance on ordering pocket diapers instead of covers. We chose to do this mainly because the pocket diapers we ordered were such a great deal. We ordered an Angel Love Pocket Diaper 6 Pack that included 6 microfiber inserts. Microfiber should only be used inside a pocket diaper, not a cover, as it can be irritating to the skin when in direct contact. So we also ordered an Alva Baby 5-Layer Charcoal Bamboo Insert 12 Pack to use with our Flip diaper covers. I love our pocket diapers, but if I had to choose between having a stash of pocket diapers only, or diaper covers with inserts, I would choose covers with inserts.
Notes on absorbency:
For the first ten months, one insert in each diaper was enough. After that, we had to switch to two inserts to stay dry between changes.
We used disposable diapers overnight for the first 11 months. When G started sleeping on her tummy more around this time, we started experiencing leaks, even with the more expensive disposable diapers. I ordered a two pack of Thirsties Hemp Inserts, and triple layered a pocket diaper with a Charcoal Bamboo Insert, followed by the Thirsties insert, and then a HappyEndings Hemp/Organic Cotton Insert. We rarely have leaks with this combo!
Update: G is now a few month older and this combo no longer works as well for us. We now use a pocket diaper with one large microfiber insert, a Thirsties hemp insert, a newborn microfiber insert and a HappyEndings Hemp insert. If what you’ve been doing stops working, don’t be afraid to mix it up!
Cloth diapering when out of the house:
Many people successfully cloth diaper when out of the house, even on trips. However, we use disposable diapers when out and about because it works best for us. If you plan to cloth diaper when not at home, you can purchase a small wet bag to keep in your diaper bag. Place the used diapers in the wet bag until you get home.
How we manage wet/dirty cloth diapers:
The wet diapers go into a large trash bin with a lid, lined with a Reusable Diaper Pail Liner. Every day, or every other day, I toss a load into the wash.
Dirty diapers are rinsed down in the bathroom with a Diaper Sprayer. To make my own “shield” to contain back splash, I cut the bottom out of a $1 bucket from The Dollar Tree. While rinsing, I lay the diaper in the bucket and spray, while the water runs through the open bottom of the shield into the toilet. Then I toss the diaper into a small trash bin to soak with water and white vinegar until laundry time and wipe the shield down with a disinfecting wipe. *If your baby hasn’t started solids yet, you can skip this step. Waste from breast milk will wash out easily in the wash! And most people agree diapers of formula fed babies who are not on solids do not require rinsing.
Flushable diaper liners can help make cleanup easier for dirty diapers, but add to the cost of cloth diapering. An alternative is to wash used baby wipes (from wet diapers only). Once dry, they can be used as a liner. They are not flushable, but allow you to lift waste out of the diaper and reduce the amount of rinsing you have to do.
How to wash:
I throw the diapers, inserts and the diaper pail liner into the wash on light mode. I wear a set of yellow cleaning gloves to pull the inserts out of the pocket diapers before tossing in the wash because they don’t always agitate out on their own. After the light wash, I wash again on heavy, sometimes with an extra rinse at the end. There are many methods for washing; just do a web search for more ideas!
I do not use a special detergent made for cloth diapers. Instead I use Free and Clear Tide, and we haven’t had to strip our diapers yet! When the diapers are done washing, I lay the covers and empty pocket diapers on a drying rack from Ikea. Everything else gets tossed in the dryer. I used to hang inserts and diaper covers in the sun to dry, which is a terrific way to get rid of stains and naturally sanitize your diapers. However, when I found myself cheating with disposables more frequently throughout the day because I hadn’t done a wash yet, I realized it was time to make it easier on myself.
When it’s all dry, I stuff each cover and pocket diaper with inserts, placing them in a drawer. I then pile all of the extra inserts in another drawer.
How they fit:
We use one size diapers that grow with the baby. We’re still using the same covers we used when G was only 10lbs. The diapers have adjustable snaps to allow you to shorten them, and several snaps to adjust the fit around the waist. The back of the diaper should be about level with your child’s belly button. If an insert is too long for the smaller diaper settings, simply fold the end of the insert down to size to fit.
Feel like you want to know more?
Feel free to leave a comment with any questions you have, or check out the two videos I found to be the most helpful when I was getting started:
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