Cloth Diaper Basics
Cloth diapers cost HOW MUCH? Why are they so expensive?
The price of cloth diapers varies a lot, based on what you buy. Fabric type, brand, country of origin- all of these influence price. The least expensive option is prefolds or flats with covers. Some WAHM diapers can go for $30+ each. It depends on many factors. You have to think of cloth diapers as an investment. Cloth diapers will work out to be cheaper in the long run 99% of the time, especially if you diaper more than one child using the same set of diapers.
|Thristies Duo Size 1 in Scottish Storm AIO|
|THX Newborn AIO|
|Newborn Sized Snap Cover|
|FST with Boingos|
|Newborn size fitted diaper with hip snaps|
|Small sized fitted with hook & loop|
|One Size pocket diaper with snaps|
|One Size pocket diaper with hook & loop|
|Prefold with snappi|
|2 footie woolies, and one longie.|
What are the different types of diapers? How are they different?
AIO- All In One. This type of diaper is the most similar to a disposable. They can be sized or one sized, hook and loop or snaps. Some AIO's are stuffable and have a pocket where you can add absorbency if your child needs it, or for nap times/overnight. Having a pocket AIO also helps with drying time as there is more room for air to get around inside the diaper.
AI2- a two part diaper system. Typically there is an insert and a waterproof cover that the insert snaps in to. If the waterproof part isn't dirty you can reuse the cover and just replace the snap in liner when it is soiled.
Cover- A cover is to cover a diaper that isn't waterproof, such as a flat diaper or a fitted. The cover is usually made of either PUL or TPU, two types of laminate fabric used for diapers. There are also wool covers.
Flat- A square piece of fabric that is folded so the absorbency where it is needed. These are usually Birdseye cotton and range from 24x24 inches up to 32x32.
Flour Sack Towel(FST)- A Birdseye cotton kitchen towel that can be picked up inexpensively at big box stores like Walmart or Target. Ikea also carries them. They run around $1 each, but usually come in packs of 4-6.
Fitted- An absorbent diaper that needs a cover to be waterproof. Usually made out of all natural materials, you can get them in hemp/cotton and bamboo/cotton blends, or 100% cotton. The whole diaper is absorbent, which makes these a good option for night time use or naps.
Hybrid Fitted- A fitted diaper with a hidden layer of fleece that helps keep the outside of the diaper dry longer. Hybrid fitteds come in a lot of very cute prints. They need a cover to be fully waterproof. These are another good breathable option.
Pocket- A diaper that has a pocket that you stuff with an absorbent insert. Pockets are good for customizable absorbency. Most new pockets come with a microfiber insert (MF). Prefolds can be used to stuff pocket diapers. Flour sack towels and flats also work well in pockets.
Prefold- A prefold is basically a “pre folded” flat diaper, with the most absorbency focused in the middle. They are rectangular and can either be pinned, snappied, or boingo'd to your baby.
Wool: Shorties/Longies/Soaker- Wool covers require being lanolised in order to be waterproof, but are a good option if your child has a sensitivity to man made materials, or if they are a heavy wetter. Soakers are similar to a regular diaper cover in coverage. Shorties are like wool shorts, and longies are long, like pants. Wool is very breathable and good for if your child has a rash and their diaper area needs to breathe. Wool can absorb a lot of liquid before feeling wet.
What are different types of fasteners? Which one should I use?
Boingo, Snappi, and regular old fashioned diaper pins. It's really a matter of personal preference. I use all three, but I mostly reach for my Snappis. Boingos can be useful when you are almost in the next size of prefold. Snappis can only reach so far.
How many diapers do I need for a newborn? Can I cloth diaper from birth?
The newborn period is exhausting already, you probably don't want to be doing laundry every day! Babies poo and pee a lot in the first few weeks, so planning to change at least every 2 hours is a good base line. If you wash every other day, that would mean you need at least 24 diaper changes to make it that long. I personally would recommend around 36 diaper changes if possible. This can be mixed up however you want. I used 25 newborn AIO's and a few newborn sized covers with prefolds, and we washed every other day.
Cloth diapering from birth is possible! Our son has been in cloth since birth. If you are going to cloth diaper from birth, you may want to make sure that whatever newborn diapers you use have a notch for the umbilical stump. I didn't start using the prefolds and covers until after his stump had healed, but it is possible to use strictly covers and prefolds. You just want to avoid the diaper going over the cord stump or rubbing against it. Velcro covers/diapers are unlikely to have an umbilical cord notch.
What do you do about poo?
If you are diapering an exclusively breastfed (EBF) baby, then you don't have to do anything special with the poo. It is water soluble, so you can go directly from the pail to the washing machine. While it is technically true that you don't need to rinse/dunk/spray EBF diapers, rinsing somehow will cut down on stains.
If your baby is not EBF, all you have to do is scrape/rinse the poo in to the toilet. A diaper sprayer is helpful for this! Once EBF babies start solids, their poo will need to be rinsed off/plopped in the toilet before being washed. You are supposed to do this even with disposables!
How many diapers do I need for an infant/toddler?
If you are already diapering a baby and want to know how many diapers you are going to need, there are a few things to take in to account to discover your magic number. How often do you change your baby/toddler in disposables? How many days will you go before washing? You will probably end up changing more frequently when using cloth, as you can feel when baby is wet. It is harder to tell in disposables if baby is wet. Add a couple of changes to your current amount. Typically 24-36 changes is a good amount to go by. Just remember that the more diapers you have, the longer they will last. Washing the same 24 diapers every other day will wear them down faster than if you had a diaper stash of 48, even if you still washed every other day.
How do I store dirty diapers? What do I do when we're not home?
You can use a wet bag or a pail liner to store dirty diapers. These are made of PUL/TPU and keep the mess contained. In my opinion you can't really have too many wet bags! Wet bags typically come in 3 sizes- small, medium, and large. Pail liners are usually around the same size, and will fit in a small kitchen sized garbage can. When you are out, just fill up a wet/dry bag with diapers and put the soiled ones in the waterproof part until you get home.
What type of detergent should I use to wash my diapers?
What type of detergent is safe for cloth diapers is something widely debated. It's pretty simple- if it works for you, that's all that really matters! Some manufacturers warranties will be voided if you use the incorrect detergent, so make sure you are comfortable with that before you use something that isn't on the approved list. My favorite list of what detergents work well is found here: http://www.diaperjungle.com/detergent-chart.html
What detergent works for you is going to depend on a number of factors, but the most important one is what type of water you have. If your water is hard you are going to probably want to use a water softener to avoid hard mineral build up in your diapers.
How do I wash my diapers?
You will have to figure out what wash routine works best for you. Make sure that you are using the right amount of detergent- diapers are heavily soiled! We want those puppies to get clean! Don't over do it, but do not skimp on your detergent.
My wash routine is:
Cold rinse to remove most of the EBF poo with ½ the normal amount of detergent.
Warm long cycle wash (“Super wash” on my machine) with full amount of detergent.
Normal (short) wash cycle WITHOUT detergent as my rinse cycle.
What are different sizes of diapers? Can I use a “One Size” diaper from birth?
Some babies will absolutely fit in “One Size” (OS) diapers from birth. Keep in mind that OS diapers are pretty bulky on newborns, and won't fit most babies until they are close to 10 pounds, sometimes even more. One size diapers are great and economical, but newborn diapers or small sized diapers will give you a better fit with less bulk.
Should I get snaps or hook & loop? What is the difference?
Whether you prefer snaps or hook and loop (one name brand is Velcro) is really a matter of personal preference. I'm a snap gal. My husband likes h&l for its ease of use. If you are looking for what is closest to a disposable, then hook and loop AIO's are where it's at.
What is “Prepping?” Why do I need to prep my new diapers?
Natural fibers need to be “prepped” to reach full absorbency. Some people believe that you do not need to prep your diapers more than one wash to remove dirt and chemicals from the manufacturing process. In my experience, diapers have worked better after prepping. Depending on the fabric, this can be 4-8 full wash/dry cycles. Some people will boil certain fabrics to prep them faster. NEVER boil anything with microfiber, snaps, elastic, or PUL/TPU!!! I have never boiled diapers, it just seems too unsafe for my comfort. Man made fabrics do not need to be prepped- you just need to wash them once and they are ready to go on baby. Organic fibers do need to be prepped usually to reach full absorbency.
What is “Stripping?” Why do I need to strip my diapers?
If your diapers stop absorbing, or start repelling liquid, you probably need to strip them to remove build up. Stripping can be done different ways. The way I strip my diapers is with additional warm washes & rinses. I wash my diapers like normal, and once done I do 3-4 additional washes. I will strip until there are absolutely no more suds and the water is clear. Sometimes this takes a couple loads, other times it is more. Mostly this is done with my night time diapers, as the urine sits in the diaper longer (and there is more of it) so the urine crystals will start to build up.
My child is a heavy wetter/leaks overnight. What can I do to stop leaks?
Doubled up inserts, and natural fibers are great for heavy wetters. Wool is also a good option, as it can absorb a lot of liquid before it feels wet. Something that seems to work well with heavy wetters is a fitted diaper with a wool cover or longies over it.
How can I safely buy a diaper online? How do I know what I am getting? What if the diaper isn't what I expected?
If you are buying a used diaper online, and can't physically look it over, make sure you ask the seller any questions you may have. Is the PUL/TPU intact, waterproof, and not delaminated? Is the Velcro/hook & loop in good condition? How are the snaps? Is the fleece inside the diaper pilly(this is cosmetic and should not effect the function of the diaper)? Ask for detailed pictures, including the inside of the diaper. Take a screen shot of the listing and save it. You also want to ask how the diapers were washed and what type of detergent they used.
Always pay through PayPal or a similar service that has buyer protection. NEVER EVER send money as anything other than "Goods/Services". Gifting the money removes buyer protection and leaves you in the lurch if something is wrong with your item and the seller refuses to make it right. If you have to dispute a transaction, you only have 45 days from when you paid, so keep an eye on the clock. Once you open a dispute, never close it until the situation is completely resolved in a manner you are comfortable with. Once you close a dispute in PayPal, you CANNOT reopen the dispute. Don't close the dispute because the seller promises something, but wants you to close the dispute first. This is a huge red flag.
Troubleshooting issues with your diapers (work in progress):