Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cloth Diapering Part Two

Now that I've gone over the basic facts about cloth diapering, I think it's appropriate to start discussing the different types of diapers and what you'll need to cloth diaper from birth to potty training.

Here is a list of what you'll need:

*24 to 36 diapers in order to do laundry every other day. The average newborn goes through about 12 diapers per day, but your baby will have days when they use more. Mikey once went through 18 diapers in a day! That being said, as they get older, they need less frequent diaper changes. Mikey is currently 4 months old and goes through about 8 diaper changes a day. I'd go with 36 diapers, but that's just me.

*A pail and a large wet bag. You can use any kind of pail you want. I have one of those small garbage cans with a lid and a pedal to open the lid. You don't have to use a lid, it's really a matter of preference. The wet bag lines the pail the same way a garbage bag does. It keeps poop from getting on your pail and makes transporting the diapers to the washing machine simple and clean.

*Small and medium size wet bags. These are for your diaper bag/bags. They usually come with a zipper, but mine actually look like the photo below. I have no problem with stink. Popular brands for wet bag include Planetwise and Bummis.

*Cloth diaper safe laundry detergent. You don't want to use standard laundry detergents that contain fabric softeners, dyes, optical brighteners and enzymes. These can cause stink issues and can buildup in the diapers leading to reduced absorbancy. Common brands include Rockin Green, BumGenius, Country Save and DeeTergent. contains a large list of detergents and a rating for usage with cloth diapers. This site also have lots of diapering info.

*A diaper sprayer, flushable liners, or a spatula. Pick the method you would like to use to remove poop when baby starts solid foods. You can also swish the diaper in the toilet, but most of us don't want to do that. I personally would go with a diaper sprayer. I feel they are more eco-friendly than flushable liners. Although the liners are biodegradable and safe, the trees cut down to make them, oil used in their transport, etc make for a less than eco-friendly product. Diaper sprayers can be purchased from BumGenius, Fuzzibuns, on Ebay, etc.

A diaper sprayer

*Cloth diaper safe diaper rash cream. You can't use regular brands like Balmex because it builds up in the diaper. Coconut oil is a great diaper rash cream and helps prevent yeast rashes (a common issue usually accompanied by oral thrush.) Other commonly used brands are Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm, CJ's BUTTer, Grandma El's and Thirsties Booty Love.

*Cloth wipes. If you're going to cloth diaper, you might as well cloth wipe too. It is easier to cloth wipe while cloth diapering, you just throw it all in the wet bag or pail! You can buy wipes from different companies and work at home moms, but I just used cheap baby washcloths. They work great. If you cloth wipe, you need to wet the wipes. Some moms use premade solutions, but I have found that using plain filtered water works just fine. I store the water in a peri bottle.

*IF you choose to use prefolds or flats (explained below,) you will need diaper covers and Snappis or pins. Diaper covers are waterproof covers that go on over prefold and flat diapers. They can usually be used for 2 or 3 diaper changes. Once baby get poop on the cover, it needs to go in the wet bag or pail. Diaper covers are made by lots of companies. Flip, Thirsties, Sprout, Bummis, and Softbums are just a few examples. A Snappi is what has replaced diaper pins. It is stretchy and T shaped and features claws at the end of each arm. The claws grab onto the diaper and keep it in place. Very few moms use pins.

A Snappi holding a prefold diaper in place

A One Size Thirsties Diaper Cover

That's pretty much all you need to cloth diaper! Some moms like to get little extras, like pins with saying for diaper covers, or Bac Out for the wash, but these things are not necessary.

Now for the different diaper styles. Keep in mind that each diaper style except prefolds and fitteds come in two versions: One Size and Sized. One size diapers keep things as economical as possible. Most babies won't fit in them til around 10 lbs though, so buying some sized diapers to use until then is a good idea. One size diapers fit from around 10 to about 35 lbs. They will fit until potty learning. The size is adjusted by rows of snaps on the front of the diaper or by elastic on the inside on the diaper.

Flat Diapers: The diapers your grandma used! Flat diapers are a large square of material, usually Bird's Eye cotton, that you fold around your baby. You secure it with a Snappi and put a diaper cover over it to prevent leaks. You can also padfold it, which means folding it into a rectangle and laying it in a diaper cover rather than wrapping it around the baby and securing with a Snappi or pins. I personally choose to padfold my flats. Flat diapers are the cheapest way to cloth diaper.

Flat diapers line drying

Prefold Diapers: Prefold diapers are the second cheapest method of cloth diaper. Prefolds are smaller squares of cloth, usually cotton or hemp, that you fold around the baby. They require less folding than flat diapers. This is because the middle is thicker than the sides of the prefold.They also require a diaper cover and Snappis or pins. You can also fold a prefold in thirds and lay it in a diaper cover. This is called trifolding. I trifold my prefolds. Prefolds come in different sizes in accordance to weight, however, if you choose to trifold them, you will usually only ever need the infant size.

An unbleached prefold diaper

Fitted Diapers: These are prefold diapers that are cut in the shape of a diaper to eliminate folding. They often require a diaper cover and a Snappi or pins, though some do come with velcro or snaps. I personally don't find fitted diapers cost effective. Fitteds are expensive because they must be purchased in each size.
Fitted diapers

Contour Diapers: These are something between prefolds and fitteds. They need a diaper cover. Some come with snaps or velcro, others you need to use a Snappi or pins. I have seen these in one size versions before.

Contour Diapers

Pocket Diapers: Pocket diapers are super similar to disposables. A pocket diaper is a diaper cover and diaper in one. The diaper cover is lined on the inside with comfortable fabric and touches the babies bottom. There is a pocket or opening where you stuff an absorbent insert. The inserts that come with these diapers are usually microfiber, but there are a large variety of options including hemp, bamboo, minky, and fleece. These are very daddy friendly diapers and come in sized and one size versions. The closure can be snap or velcro. I recommend stuffing the diapers right after they are done drying, that way when you need to change a diaper, they are ready to use.

A Happy Heiny's diagram showing a sized pocket diaper.
All-In-Twos: Also known as hybrid diapers. These diapers are diaper covers with insert that you either lay in the cover or snap into the cover. The idea is that you just change the insert and reuse the cover for 2 to 3 diaper changes. The inserts are often microfiber, but the top of the insert that touches the baby's bottom is never microfiber. Microfiber cannot touch the baby's bottom because it can cause rashes and dryness. These diapers usually come in one size versions. My experience with hybrids is that poop often gets on the cover and during the early stages when babies are going through tons of poopy diapers a day, they really aren't all that economical. I personally prefer any other kind of diaper.

A diagram by Best Bottoms showing how a one size AI2 works.
All-In-Ones: These are just like disposable diapers. They are also the most expensive diapers, although very convenient. They look like pocket diapers, but they do not have a pocket. The insert is sewn in so you never have to stuff diapers. All you ever do is put it on the baby and wash them on laundry day. No folding, stuffing, pins or Snappis.  The down side is that they take forever to dry, sometimes up to three cycles in the dryer.

A BumGenius one size AIO diaper

I hope I've helped you understand the different types of cloth diapers and what their pros and cons are. There are tons of brands, I'll list some below along with places to buy diapers.These lists are by no means complete, they are just some of the popular brands.

Diaper Covers:
*Tiny Tush

Flat Diapers:
*Green Mountain Diapers
*Snooty Booty
*Hemp Babies

Prefold Diapers:
*Green Mountain Diapers
*Little Lions
*Cotton Babies

Fitted Diapers:
*Imse Vimse
*Green Mountain Diapers
*Itti Bitti

Contour Diapers:
*Imse Vimse

Pocket Diapers:
*Diaper Rite
*Happy Heinys
*Oh Katy
*Snap EZ

*Best Bottoms
*G Diapers

*Ones and Twos
*Itti Bitti

Here are some places to purchase diapers. You can of course get them from the manufacturer's site, but this is usually the most expensive. Other good places to find diapers include cloth diaper swap groups on Facebook. There is a forum on this site that has a for sale section. This site has a review system so you can see a seller's ratings in the forum. This is my favorite place to buy diapers, you can find diapers in fabulous condition for a great price.

If you have ANY questions, feel free to ask me in the comments section. I will get back to you and try to provide the best answer I can.


  1. Hi Veronica,

    Love your posts thus far. I am very interested in cloth diapering and I think you bring up some great info about it. Is there anyway you could show or lead me to a website that shows how to put the prefold with diaper cover or nonprefold on the baby. I know it sounds ridiculous but I have no idea how to do it. Thanks! :)

    1. Hey Sara! here is a site that shows how to fold prefolds: It shows three basic folds. There are many ways to fold the diaper, YouTube is a great source.

      Here is a site that shows a few basic folds for flat diapers:

      Again, there are some awesome instructional videos for folds and cloth diapering in general on YouTube.

      Once your fold is complete, you put the diaper cover on. Diaper covers work exactly like disposables. For contour and fitted diapers, you either put them on like a disposable and then put a diaper cover on, or you use a a Snappi to close the diaper and then put a diaper cover on. For pocket diapers, AI2s and AIOs, you put them on exactly like a disposable diaper! It seems confusing at first, but it's actually pretty easy. Hope I helped =)

  2. Awww... I was hoping to see a mention of wool covers. I am old school and like prefolds and wool covers. I also like to use covers but I rarely use pins when using a cover. On my two year old I find the cover holds everything in place without pins. Bummis make a cheap cover. I love cloth diapering, there really is no wrong way and enless combinations and styles. Thanks for sharing!!!

    1. Oh man I totally forgot about wool! I'll have to edit and add them in. i never use pins either. on the rare occasion that i actually do a fold rather than trifolding, i use a snappi.

    2. actually i think ill make a brief mention of wool here and link to a separate posting about wool and wool care.