So, if you are thinking about cloth diapering or you are just curious to know more about it, read on! It is really overwhelming when you consider cloth diapers due to the different types (these aren’t your old school diapers with pins, although they still have those!) and the care that goes into them. There are about 5 different types of cloth diapers one of which has about 4 subcategories. (THIS ISH IS SERIOUS!) So, I want to go over the different types as gently as possible because as I said, it’s really overwhelming.
First, for newborns, you should get newborn diapers unless your baby is a monster and comes out weighing 9 lbs like my husband did. 9 lbs, 4 oz to be exact. What he lacks in height, he makes up in bulkiness. So, since I am assuming my little Piper won’t be gargantuan we opted to chose the NB (newborn) sized diapers. Cloth diapers can be NB, sm, med, lg or OS (one size). Now, NB diapers can fit babies anywhere from 6-10 lbs maybe up to 12 lbs depending on the brand. Mike and I did buy a box of Charlie Banana 2-in-1 diapers which we will go into, but ultimately decided to rent cloth diapers. Renting cloth diapers is EXTREMELY cost effective and, guess what, you NEVER run out of cloth diapers. In the package we chose from Bumbledoo (an all natural baby store that I LOVE here in Fayetteville) it cost us $210 for a 3 month supply of newborn fitted diapers and after we return them we receive a $100 back plus 10% if we decide to buy from that store. So, in the first 3 months of life, my baby has cost us a total of $100 + maybe $20 for covers but I will explain that.
So, there are several different types as I mentioned. Here they are:
A cover over cloth (here is the category with the 4 subcategories)
Prefolds – These are squares of cloth that are a little thicker in the middle. These need to be folded or rolled around your newborn and attached with either pins or special fasteners. There is a technique to folding/rolling these to prevent leaks and can be difficult with a squirmy baby especially at 3 am.
Flat diapers – very similar to prefolds. The only difference is that these are equally thick throughout.
Contour diapers – Similar again to the 2 previous diapers, except that this one is shaped like an hour-glass, doesn’t require folding and may come with built-in snaps or elastic so these might be able to be slid on.
Fitted diapers – Hour-glass shaped. Does not require rolling or folding and they have elastic around the legs and waist and fasten with built-in snaps or tabs. These are the most like disposables in design.
Now, with all of the aforementioned options, they ALL need a cover. They are all cloth only which is like just putting a towel around a baby’s bottom and calling it a day. The cover helps contain leaks and keeps all the mess INSIDE. Covers can come in different shapes, sizes and colors. They may close with snaps or Velcro or may just be pulled on. They are made of wool, fleece or PUL (polyurethane laminate). This is what I was talking about with that extra $20 we may spend. Mike and I purchased PUL diaper covers which can be used several times. As in, we will have 24 fitted cloth diapers with the rental but needed to purchase NB covers and thanks to our baby shower we will only need to purchase 2 at $9.99 each (give or take). Patterned covers cost extra. We will only need a MAXIMUM of 8 covers for 24 fitted diapers. I can wipe out the inside if a urine leak happens and I will have to wash them if any other type of leak occurs. So, I may get away with using the same cover for a few diaper changes. With these, it’s important to tuck away any cloth that may be peeking out to prevent any liquid soaking into the clothes and defeating the purpose of the waterproof cover.
All-in-One or AIO diapers
This diaper has 3 layers. A waterproof layer, a soaker layer and an inner layer. Like disposables, it has elastic around the waist. These fasten with snaps or tabs and have a sewn in pieces. These diapers, unlike the ones with separate covers, can only be used once and then must be washed. These come in sizes (like disposables) which allow for a trimmer fit and less bulk. A plus to this type is that there is no insert to remove therefore nothing needs to be touched. It can just be thrown into the laundry. Also, since the inside is completely sewn in, there is no need to worry about an interior cloth sticking out.
All-in-Two or AI2
Are very similar to AIO diapers except that the inserts can be removed to allow for quicker washing and drying. If the insert is the only thing is is soiled, then it can be replaced that the cover can be reused. Since the inserts are removable, it’s best to again look for any cloth that may be peeking out.
These are the type Mike and I originally purchased (the Charlie Banana brand) before we decided to rent. Again, similar to the 2 previously mentioned diapers, these consist of a waterproof outer layer with a cloth inner layer. It has elastic around the legs and the waist and can come with snaps or tabs for closure. The inner layer contains a pocket in which a liner is stuffed. With these diapers you are able to control the absorbency by adding extra layers. The inserts must be added before diapering and removed before washing. Sometimes (as with the Charlie Banana brand) there is a “stay-dry” layer which the liner is placed inside of which helps wick moisture away from the baby and help keep her more comfortable. These can only be used once before washing and insert must be removed.
This is a term that can be applied to AI2 or Pocket diapers. This just means that the removable liner or insert can be either disposable or reusable. We have the reusable ones for our pocket diapers but Charlie Banana sells biodegradable, flushable inserts as well which we may purchase in the future.
Whew! Did you get all that?! Now, it gets more confusing when it comes to sizes and brands. My opinion (as is many other cloth diapering parents) read reviews and try different kinds. I didn’t think that I would like the fitted diapers but after learning that they’d fit my NB better than the OS Charlie Banana ones that I was planning on using and that the covers can be used more than once, I was interested. When Piper hits the 8 lb mark, I am going to use both the NB rentals and our OS pocket diapers before I buy more of them. The reason I chose Charlie Banana is because the legs have adjustable elastic. So, whether or not your baby has fat or skinny legs, there is a leg opening adjustment that fits it. Most leaks happen at the legs however, some can happen up the front or back too. This is why it’s important to have a good fit. However, with the OS, you may be dealing with extra bulk which can be a pain to dress until your child fills them out completely. Who knows, if OS diapers work, we may stick with them. OS can fit 8-36 lbs which means that the same set of diapers can carry your child from infancy to potty training. However, there are sizes available which are similar to disposables in that they come in 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. With these, the cost may increase since you will buy one size, presumably sell them once they’ve been outgrown and then buy the next and so on and so forth. Don’t lose sight of the fact that you will still spend less than if you were to use those awful disposable diapers. We will use the newborn size until Piper outgrows them (the rental is only for 3 months anyway) and then use the money we get back from the rental to complete our set of OS which Piper will stay in until she is ready to potty train.
There are also cloth diaper accessories. Some were already mentioned like inserts which you can buy separately so you have the extra absorbency on hand if needed.
Liners are either disposable or reusable and can be helpful in case of a diaper rash. Depending on the type, diaper rash cream can reduce or prevent the absorbency of the diaper by clogging the pores of the fabric, which is completely reversible, by the diaper or insert being “stripped”. The best way to prevent this is with a liner or by using creams that are cloth diaper safe. Liners will keep the cream off the actual diaper and therefore protect it but liners are also good (but not necessary) for when you baby starts eating solids. Similar to maxi pads, a disposable liner is laid onto of the inside of the diaper against baby’s skin. When the diaper is soiled, simply flush the liner which will have the solids on it and boom, solids are gone. If its not flushable, you can throw it away (which for me, defeats the environmental part of this decision). Then of course there are disposable or cloth wipes. We opted for cloth because we want to be as earth friendly and chemical free as possible. You can either dip the wipes in warm water or make your own solution like I am going to do with this simple recipe here. I am making the solution and storing it in a container. Someone told me that if the wipes are sitting in the solution it will mold. Plus, I am trying to avoid anything disposable. I do have some Honest Company wipes on hand though. I am environmentally conscious, not naive. There are a few other things like, wet or dry diaper pails where you can store your used diaper until laundry day, wet pails are filled with water and the diapers are soaked but stagnant water can get smelly and moldy and the diapers can take on that smell. I am opting for a dry pail. Or wet bags, similar to beach wet bags. I have one for the diaper bag but its pretty large so I may use it at home too instead of a pail since I can close it with a zipper. With a small collection of diapers, I’ll be doing laundry frequently anyway. Last but not least, a diaper sprayer which is connected to the water tank of your toilet and used to rinse poop from the diaper right into the toilet. It isn’t necessary but definitely handy and I will be getting one when Piper is eating solids. It is also good to rinse out potty chairs.
To close, I did want to mention the reason I am waiting for certain items until Piper is eating solids. The reason for this is because she will be exclusively breast fed. Breast fed babies produce poop that is 100% water soluble which means there is no scrubbing, scraping or rinsing needed. It’s pretty much yellow-colored water. Please, post any questions!! I hope that you learned something new and are leaning toward cloth diapering a little more or that you at least know enough to persuade a friend. 🙂
References that were not previously mentioned: