How To Cloth Diaper A Baby

IMG_0062I can’t believe I’m hitting publish on this bad boy. I feel a little embarrassed. Also, if the Internet still exists in 16 years (I mean, who knows?) all of Miles’ buddies could find out that his mom talked about his business on a blog. Sorry, love.

As weird as it is to say, I love cloth diapering! If you read my last post, then it should be pretty clear there’s no high horse involved in our decision to cloth diaper. There are lots of choices out there, this was ours, and we’re happy that it’s working.

I often receive e-mails and Facebook messages about cloth diapering and I always wish I had something I could point people to when they want to learn more. However, I didn’t feel like I had enough experience to truly write about it until we were a year in. And now here we are.

I think there are three main things I can attribute our cloth diapering success to so far:

  1. We’re all on board. When I was pregnant and mentioned to Robert that I thought it might be a good idea to cloth diaper our baby he didn’t think I was insane. We talked about the cost savings (which have absolutely panned out and will continue to do so), decreased environmental impact, and other benefits and he was on board. He changes diapers when he’s home and does diaper laundry when he’s able to, too. Miles was in cloth even during the short time he was in daycare and it was never an issue.
  2. I don’t mind the laundry. When you cloth diaper you do a lot of laundry (we wash every 2 to 3 days). I describe our routine at the end of this post, but the fact of the matter is it’s just something we do and it’s not a big deal for us. I actually find folding diapers relaxing (#weirdo) and usually do it while Miles happily crawls around me.
  3. Our wash routine works. We’ve never had any issues with stink, stains, or rashes. Our diapers come out perfectly fresh and clean. It’s hard to argue with success!

There are SO many options out there when it comes to cloth diapers. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed when you first start researching. Different things work well for different families. This is what’s working for us.

1. Our diapers

Cloth-eez prefold diapers, unbleached (aka “Prefolds”)

These are rectangles of thick, super absorbent cloth. We fold them in thirds and lay them in the center of a cover (more on covers below) and then put the whole situation on baby. We decided to make prefolds the majority of our stash because they’re among the most affordable options (about $2 per diaper) and work great. Tip: Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for prepping your diapers before you use them. This includes at least four cycles through the washer and dryer to remove natural cotton oils and increase the absorbency. You only need to do this process once.

How many? 24 newborn, 24 small, 12 medium

Cloth-eez workhorse organic diapers (no closure)

These are the same material as prefolds, but wrap around baby so there’s more surface area to absorb. I liked the no closure option, which I secured with a snappi because it let me get a more exact fit than having snaps. However, I wouldn’t say these are a must. I used them and liked them when Miles was a newborn, but I didn’t feel the need to get more once he outgrew them.

How many? 10 newborn size

Thirsties Duo Wrap Size 1 diaper covers

When you use prefolds and fitteds (the two I mention above) you need waterproof covers to go over them. I adore Thirsties covers. The prints are adorable and they work great. We have the Velcro kind, which are called “hook and loop.”

How many? 8

Flip One-Size diaper covers

Around 6 months Miles outgrew the size 1 covers and needed larger ones. We decided to use Flip covers, which should last us until potty training. Tip: You can reuse covers before washing. I usually have 2 or 3 that I use per day and alternate to let the most recently used cover dry before using it again.

How many? 6

Bumgenius Freetime All In One Cloth Diaper

All-in-one diapers are most similar to regular disposable diapers in how they look and function. There are many different brands and styles of all-in-ones (there’s also something called all-in-twos, but I’ve never used them so I can’t really comment on them). I chose the Bumgenius Freetime because I didn’t want to deal with stuffing pockets (another type of all-in-one). Price wise, all-in-ones are among the more expensive options at about $20-$25 per diaper when purchased new. They’re easier and quicker to change than using prefolds and covers so these are what I keep in my diaper bag. If you’re not too concerned with the upfront cost or you (or someone in your household) is a little intimidated by cloth diapering you could consider doing all all-in-ones.

How many? 8 (This is how many got us through the first year in addition to the other types of diapers we have. However, I recently added some additional Freetimes and Elementals to our stash, which is why we only have 12 medium-sized prefolds. Miles is getting squirmy on the changing table so I expect that I’ll be reaching for all-in-ones more often for quicker diaper changes.)

GroVia O.N.E.

These are our nighttime diapers (plus I add a hemp doubler). We’ve used them since he was about 9 months old, but you can start younger than that. Miles sleeps 12 to 13 hours in them and they work great. Tip: They come with a removable Velcro option on top of the snaps. I didn’t use the Velcro at first and we were getting leaks until I discovered that keeping the Velcro option on gives a much more snug fit and we haven’t had any issues since.

How many? 3

2. GroVia Cloth Wipes

If you’re going to cloth diaper I say go all the way and use cloth wipes (just my two cents!) This way you don’t need multiple bins for wipe trash/diaper laundry or risk mixing up the two. Our system is super simple: We keep a spray bottle on his changing station filled with water and just spray the cloth wipe before using. Then toss it in with the diapers to be washed. For what it’s worth, I’ve never felt the need to have a wipe warmer.

How many? 2 packages of 12 wipes

3. Diaper cream

With most cloth diapers, you can’t use regular diaper cream because they can make your diapers less absorbent. We use coconut oil (the same kind you use to cook with – separate jar of course!) or Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm

4. Diaper pail

Most diaper pails are too small to work for cloth diapers. The opening is too narrow and you’ll fill it up with like 4 diapers. We have a big plastic Rubbermaid garbage pail that I got from Bed Bath & Beyond (I can’t find the exact one on Amazon—this is similar). Tip: It’s counter-intuitive, but you’ll get less stink if you leave the lid of the diaper pail open to allow air to circulate.

5. Planet Wise Reusable Diaper Pail Liners

These fit great in the pail we have. All of the diapers go into the liner. When we do diaper laundry we lift the pail liner out of the pail, dump all of the contents into the washer machine and then throw the liner in there to be washed, too. We have two liners so when one is being washed we have a clean one to go inside the pail.

How many? 2

6. Planet Wise Wet/Dry bag

When you’re on the go, you need something to put your dirty diapers in so you can bring them home to wash. This is what we use.

How many? 2

7. What to do with poo?

We can’t talk about cloth diapering without discussing #2. So here’s the deal. If your baby is exclusively breastfed you don’t have to do anything with the poo. Take the dirty diaper, throw it in the pail, and wash when you do your diaper laundry. There’s debate about whether you can do the same with a formula-fed baby, but I can tell you from my own experience that we followed the same approach and they always came out perfectly clean. Some people prefer installing a diaper sprayer to spray the poo off before adding to the diaper pail. (If a diaper just has pee, don’t do anything–just put it right into your diaper pail to be washed.) When baby starts eating solids, you definitely need to get rid of the poo. I’ve always been able to plop it off of the diaper into the toilet or you could use a diaper sprayer.

8. Laundry

As I mentioned, we do diaper laundry every 2 to 3 days. One thing that people often find surprising with washing cloth diapers is that you actually want to make sure you have enough diapers to make a full load instead of washing every single day. The washer should be about 3/4 of the way full in order to agitate properly and get your diapers totally clean (I learned this from an awesome Chicago-based cloth diaper Facebook group.) If you don’t have enough diaper laundry you can throw a bath towel in there to bulk it up.

Detergent: Tide Ultra Original Scent Powder or Tide Free & Gentle powder This is pretty much the most chemical-filled thing we have in our home, but lots of cloth diapering families swear by it. Getting our diapers absolutely clean is super important so I didn’t want to risk a sub-par job from some more eco-friendly brands. A lot of people also really like Charlie’s Soap and I had success with Country Save (I just didn’t love the smell). Always use powder detergent, not liquid.

Our wash routine:

  1. Warm pre-wash, no detergent
  2. Hot wash with enough detergent for a heavily soiled load (a full scoop when using Tide), cold rinse
  3. Hang diaper covers on drying rack, dry everything else in the dryer (never use dryer sheets). Some people prefer to hang dry all-in-ones, but I find they take forever to dry that way so I put them in the dryer. When everything is dry, I stuff it all into the pail liner and carry them upstairs to fold.

So that’s how we do it! If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out. And if you cloth diaper feel free to offer your input on what’s worked for you. I hope this is helpful!


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