Cloth Diapering Update: What Real Life Experience Has Taught Me

I think it’s about time that I wrote an update to my original posts about cloth diapering.  I love it when I get a chance to talk to people about cloth diapers, especially someone who’s just beginning to consider cloth or is just starting to delve into the world of cloth diapers.  It always brings me right back to the time when I was pregnant with Alex and trying to make sense of all the options and advice out there.  It can be confusing, overwhelming, and daunting!  No, cloth diapering is nothing new (our grandmothers all did it, after all), but, unlike our grandmothers, we have a lot more choices now.  Cloth diapering is more convenient than ever, but the decisions are more difficult.

While I was pregnant the first time, I wrote a post detailing exactly what diapers we purchased to begin with before Alex was born, including prices, pictures, and where we bought them.  At the end there is a summary of the different types of cloth diapers, because that was really confusing for me at first.

Now, here is a short update on what I’ve learned since actually using cloth diapers for two years.  Our original stash was a good one, but there are just a few things we’ve learned along the way:

Types of Diapers-

  1. We really love using prefolds and I would absolutely recommend them as your primary diaper.  P.S. We quit using Snapis a long time ago.  We simply tri-fold them and lay them in the cover.  Snapis might still be nice for really little babies, but once Alex got a little bigger tri-folding was the way to go.  I’ll let you know if we use snapis again with the new baby.

    a size 2 prefold, before initial stripping

    a size 2 prefold, before initial stripping

  2. We have accumulated a few different brands of all-in-ones, but didn’t find them as reliable as the good old prefold and cover.  They are more likely to leak & aren’t as versatile.  They are easier, though, especially for grandparents or babysitters.
  3. We DO love pocket diapers, specifically several Kawaii pockets which we have gotten for free with our orders from Kelly’s Closet.  They’re easy to use, a little more trim than a prefold, and they keep the wetness off of baby’s skin.  Downsides: no double gussets for extra poo insurance, they aren’t made of that nice organic cotton like our prefolds, and you have to wash the whole thing after one use.

    a couple of our Kawaii brand pockets

       a couple of our Kawaii brand pockets

Sizes of Diapers and Covers-

  1. You can get by with using one-size diapers and covers, but I would recommend getting some that come in at least a couple of different sizes.  The one-size diapers can be really bulky on a tiny baby, even after they’ve left the newborn stage.  Another option is to just use disposables for the first couple of weeks until your baby grows into the one-size diapers a little more, but if one of your reasons for cloth diapering includes protecting your baby from the chemicals in sposies, that may not appeal to you. Alex was 8 pounds at birth, so if he was swallowed up in a one-size diaper, a 5 or 6 pound baby would be even more so.  Buying 2 sizes of prefolds and covers wasn’t a huge expense (and we didn’t have to buy the second size right away), but I recognize that if you’re going with pockets or all-in-ones as your main diaper then it’s going to get a little more expensive.  See my post about our beginning stash to compare prices.

    a package of size 2 prefolds

            a package of size 2 prefolds

Number of Diapers

  1. Although the number of prefolds we started out with (24) would have been ok if that was all we could afford, we did end up with another dozen or so to safeguard against running out.  You should estimate that your newborn is going to use at least 12-18 diapers a day at first, so if you only want to wash diapers every other day….. well, you can do the math.
  2. We started out with 6 covers and I think we now have at least 10.  If your baby doesn’t poop as often as ours you will maybe be ok with 6, but certainly no fewer than that!  Once a cover has been pooped in, you pretty much need to wash it.

Types of Covers

  1. We have answered the big velcro vs. snaps question for ourselves.  Definitely snaps.  Takes a little more time to fasten but lasts longer and looks better after a few months of use.
  2. We have tried a few different types of covers and our favorites, hands down, are Thirsties Duo Wrap covers.  We love the gussets for keeping everything in where it should be!  They come in 2 sizes.

    Thirsties Duo Wrap Cover photo source:

    Thirsties Duo Wrap Cover
    photo source:

Washing Cloth Diapers-

I also wrote a post before Alex was born about washing diapers, and not much has changed, but here are some points to recap:

  1. My husband actually, somehow, became the diaper-washer in our house, something I am A-ok with! He faithfully soaks them every other night, turns on the washer on when he wakes up in the morning, and usually puts them in the dryer before he leaves for work.
  2. We have always used a dry pail in the nursery (with a step-lever lid), and it’s totally the way to go.  We put a big wet bag inside, and then just pull the whole thing out when it’s time to wash.

    Kangarooz Pail Liner photo source:

    Kangarooz Pail Liner
    photo source:

  3. We still use and are happy with Charlie’s Soap (we actually use it for all of our laundry now), we use baking soda and vinegar for odor control, and we use a bit of peroxide to disinfect.  When we need to strip our diapers, we just wash them with some blue dawn and then give them lots and lot of rinses.
  4. We give our prefolds, pockets, all-in-ones, covers, and wet bags the same wash treatment, but we let our covers and wet bags air dry to prolong their life.  The covers dry very quickly on top of the dryer or hung on the laundry room shelf.  Every once in awhile we pop them into the dryer to make sure the PUL stays properly sealed.
  5. The sun is still our favorite way to get rid of stains, although (confession time) we’ve been super lazy about sunning them recently.  I’ve been thinking about where to put up a clothesline, however, so we can get back to that, especially once we’re dealing with those super stainy breastfed poops again…… in only a couple more months!!!!

I hope the things I’ve learned will be helpful to you.  I always welcome questions on things I might not have mentioned.  Happy cloth diapering!!!!


Cloth Diapers…. So Many Choices!!

I’ve previously done some research on the topic of cloth vs. disposable diapers, and my husband and I agree that cloth will work for us. I plan to stay home with the baby, so he/she won’t be going to daycare or anything, and I will be home enough that I can do the extra required laundry (ugh-laundry-my favorite). So then the next step was to try to decide what kind of cloth diapers to get and how many.

I found this great step-by-step that helps you do a little compare and contrast on all the types of cloth diapers out there, from flat cloth diapers (think old-style with the safety pins and everything) to All-In-Ones (basically just like disposables except you wash and reuse them).  They range in price (the simpler they are, they more expensive they get), but overall you will still save money using any type of cloth diaper over disposables.

I was incredibly confused when I first started looking at all the different types of cloth diapers!  It can be overwhelming when you are first delving into the cloth-diaper world (amidst all the other important decisions you must make before baby is born), so let me break it down for you as I see it:

  • Flats– these are the oldest kind of cloth diapers and are probably what your mother or grandmother used. Disadvantages: They require folding and pinning with pins or Snappis, and you must use a waterproof diaper cover.  Advantages:  They dry very quickly and are the most inexpensive option ($20 for a dozen-  less than $2 each)
  • Prefolds– these diapers are similar to flats, but have several layers.  Disadvantages: They also require folding, pinning, and a waterproof cover.  Advantages: They are very economical ($1.75-$5 each) and extremely absorbent.
  • Fitteds– they look like disposables and fasten with snaps or velcro.  They come in a variety of cute colors and prints.  Disadvantages: Like prefolds and flats, a waterproof cover must be used, and they will cost more than a simple prefold ($8-$25 each).  Advantages: No pinning is required and they are still very absorbent.  A variety of commercial and homemade fitted diapers are available.
  • All-In-One’s (AIO’s)– these diapers, like fitted, and pocket diapers, look like disposables and fasten with velcro or snaps.  Advantages: They combine the absorbent part of the diaper with the waterproofing of the cover.  Basically, they come as one piece and are extremely simple to use.  The only difference between these and disposable diapers is that you wash them after use instead of throwing them away. Disadvantages: Some people find them less absorbent than fitteds or prefolds, and you don’t always have the option to increase their absorbency when needed as you do with pocket diapers.  They are also more expensive then prefolds ($15 each for newborn sizes, $22-$30 each for other sizes or one-size).
  • Pocket Diapers– this type of diaper is basically a waterproof cover with a fleece liner into which you may stuff any absorbent material, from specially made stuffers to prefolds.  Advantages: The fleece liner keeps the baby dry, and the absorbent material can be chosen based on the absorbency you are looking for.  These diapers are also quite easy to use.  Disadvantages: They aren’t quite as straightforward as an AIO, and they cost more than prefolds ($15-$25 each).

To potentially complicate things, cloth diapers come in different sizes as well.  There are some pocket and AIO diapers that have a one-size fit (they are adjustable for a range of baby bottoms), but they don’t always cover the really small newborn sizes (they may go from 12 to 35 pounds, for example, but your newborn isn’t likely to be 12 pounds from the get-go!).
Another matter to consider is how many you will need.  The recommendation given by the step-by-step guide (and the one I’m going by) is that you will need 20-24 diapers for a newborn to 4 months, 16-20 diapers for a baby 4-10 months, and 12-16 diapers for a child 10+ months.

So there you have it.  Most people don’t use flats anymore, but I do have a friend who used prefolds with her son and seemed very happy with them.  So far I’m thinking that the AIO is the best choice for us since it seems to be the simplest.  I need to research pocket diapers a little more, though.  Who knows, maybe we won’t know for sure what works for us until we try them.  I went ahead and made a registry just for diapers, though, more for my peace of mind than anything else (putting something on a registry makes me feel like it’s “decided”).

I decided to have special newborn diapers and then use one-size diapers after that.  I chose a mixture of Rumparooz Lil Joey Newborn Diapers, GroVia Organic Newborn AIO Cloth Diapers, and Kissaluv’s All-In-One Newborn Cloth Diapers for the newborn sizes.  I like the Kissaluv’s and the Rumparooz because they have a special button in the front so you can get the diaper out of the way of the umbilical cord.  I like the GroVia because they are organic. (I’ll let you know right now that organic clothing and bedding has been sort of my crazy obsession lately- I just don’t like the thought of chemical stuff being next to my baby’s skin all the time.  Important or not, it makes me feel better.)


For the one-size diapers that we’ll use when Baby outgrows the newborn size, I chose bumGenius! Elemental All-In-One One Size Diapers.  Again, I like that they are organic.

So.  Obviously I don’t yet have any personal real-life experience yet with these (or any) cloth diapers, so I’d love to hear from anyone who has used the diapers I plan to buy and has either loved or hated them.  I don’t know, am I making a mistake using AIO’s?  Should I go with pocket diapers for more versatile absorbency or should I not waste my money and just get some good old prefolds?? (I will be purchasing prefolds anyway because they are awesome for a variety of other uses: burp cloths, changing surface, rag to wipe up spills and messes, etc.)

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