Parenting Choices

Cloth Diapering 101 : For the Interested but Anxious (or Confused) Mama

One way you can save money during baby’s diaper years is by cloth diapering. What I especially love about this is if you plan on having multiple children and can reuse them. Choosing cloth for your child will also prevent landfill contribution and is a great eco-friendly alternative. Here’s the process broken down for those who might be curious or even feel intimidated.

How It Works

Contrary to popular belief, cloth diapering doesn’t take a whole lot more effort than standard diapering. You put the diaper on your child, he or she soils it, you change the diaper, and then you start fresh. The only difference is that you also have to wash them.

Also contrary to popular belief : laundering diapers is far less gross and time-consuming than you may think. There are also options available to you depending on your commitment level and lifestyle.

Types of Diapers

There are a multitude of cloth diapering options, and what you choose is up to you. Some diapers have a gazillion snaps. Others have tricky Velcro closures. Some need covers. Others come in two parts. Here are the most common types — demystified.

1. Pocket

The majority of my cloth diapers were pocket style from bumGenius. Basically, the diaper comes in two parts — the waterproof outer shell and the absorbent insert. Our diapers fit our daughter from a few weeks after she was born until she was potty trained. Stuffing and un-stuffing does take a few extra minutes at wash time, but it becomes automatic.

2. All-in-Ones

If you choose all-in-one diapers (AIO), you’ll get everything you need in one convenient package. There’s no stuffing or covers required because it’s all sewn together. My only issue with AIO is that they take longer to dry than the other types. Otherwise, they’re super easy to use and come in a variety of fabrics.

3. Prefolds

A lot of people picture prefold diapers when they think of the cloth process. This type is much like what your mother or grandmother may have used with pins, but it’s still a popular choice today and most often the best choice for your budget. Instead of pins, you can use snazzy diaper fasteners. You’ll cover your prefolds with a waterproof cover.

4. Fitted

Fitted diapers also require waterproof covers. The key difference between fitted and prefolds is that they don’t need folding or any special fastener to stay closed. If you choose this type, you’ll have to buy different sizes as your baby grows. Each size fits a good range of weights, though.

5. Hybrids

I eventually added some gDiapers to my collection when we started traveling and using a sitter more frequently. As the name implies, hybrid diapers provide a mix of options depending on your preferences. You can fill the reusable waterproof cover with a disposable or cloth insert. They come in one-size and individual sizes. Hybrid diapers certainly offer the most flexibility in the bunch.

6. Used

Seriously. There are thousands of people who incorporate used cloth diapers into their stashes. In fact, that’s another reason cloth is a good investment — you can sell them or reuse them when your baby is done. Check out sites like ClothDiaperTrader or even Facebook marketplace where you can get gently used diapers for a fraction of their original prices.

Your Must Haves

Much of what is needing for a cloth diaper station is same or similiar to what is used for disposables. Having a set up will def help make things easier for you and others who will diaper your child.

1. Diaper Pail and Liner

You’ll need somewhere to store the dirty diapers while they’re waiting to be washed. We used a tall plastic garbage can with a snap-shut cover and wheels. Instead of lining it with a garbage bag, we bought two reusable diaper pail liners that get washed with the diapers.

2. Prep Your Diapers

If you use pocket diapers, prefolds, hybrids, or anything else with more than one part- stuff them ahead of time. I do this while watching television and sometimes when they’re fresh from the dryer. If you use all-in-ones, you can skip this step. Pre-stuffing makes it much easier for changes especially during outings because you wont be wasting time to stuff a diaper while trying to keep your child calm for the change. God forbid you have a blow out!

3. Diaper Liners

Over time, diaper creams can cause the diaper to lose its absorbency. If you need to use creams on your baby, you’ll want to use diaper liners to protect the fabric from buildup. To make sure you use them, stick them somewhere next to your wipes. Bonus: Diaper liners also make cleaning up solids much easier. You can purchase some, but I also made my own during pregnancy. It gave me something to do and I didnt spend alot of money on brand liners. I simply got a few yards of fabric and cut them into rectangles that fit the groin part of the diapers I chose (Pocket mama here!)

Once we got into solids it made for easier poop dump and flushes and sprayed the liners before throwing into the wash

4. Cloth Wipes

Using cloth wipes is entirely optional; its an option I chose. I also bought flannel fabric and cut my own squares; though we did also recieve cloth wipes at our babyshower. Since you’re already washing diapers, tossing in wipes isn’t that much more work. You can keep them soaked in a gentle wash solution (a mixture of water, soap, and oil) OR spray the wipes as needed with water for each change. I did the latter, and just keep a spray bottle in our house diaper tote and the baby bag. Keep your wipes in a plastic bag or container until you’re ready to use.


How often you wash is really up to you and can also depend on how many diapers you go through. I personally find it best to wash every other day at most I may wash every 3-4 if the week is extremely busy. Here is my wash routine:

Try sticking to detergents that leave little residue, fragrance, and other gunk on diapers. Skip fabric softeners. The buildup can make diapers lose their absorbency over time. You can use specific diaper detergents like Rockin’ Green or Molly’s Suds. A lot of people use plain Tide or Charlie’s Soap. My children have sensitive skin; ALL Free & Clear is our go to. Some parents also use Seventh Generation.

I know what you’re thinking….

What about the poop?

First note if you are going to breastfeed, breastfed poop is water soluble and can go right into the wash.

Also you can cloth diaper from birth. Meconium can be washed out just as easily as breastfed poop ; we experienced minimal staining which were removed by sun drying.

Also there are newborn prefolds and newborn pockets if you are wondering if baby being so little will be a hinderance. We really loved Alva newborn and BumGenius newborn diapers – and used them the first 4 months.

Mom Tip: for the newborn stage All In One (AIO’s) are the way to go. No stuffing needed and unless baby is a tremendously heavy wetter and you prefer a diaper with the insert option to regulate absorbency ; the pee and poo hold is very good.

Once your baby is eating solids ; poop consistency changes and your routine has to change a bit.

Its also great to install a diaper sprayer on your toilet. This is also an alternative if you arent comfy with thowing soiled breastfed diapers directly into the was. With this you can spray poop into the toilet so it doesnt sit on the diaper m; and its a great way to pre-clean soiled diapers. I love our diaper sprayer, it was an easy hook up and there is no mess. The biggest misconception about cloth diapering is that its a poopy mess but it really isnt.

When it comes to drying, the sun works wonders. If you can, put your diapers on a line outdoors ; the sun is a natural stain remover! Here in Maryland we only line dry in warm months as our winter seasons are fairly harsh. If you can line dry; dry prefolds and diaper inserts in your machine. Try hanging covers and other diapers on a line or drying rack. They’ll keep their integrity longer with gentler care.

What does your cloth diapering process look like? Any tips to share?

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