Cloth Diapers 101: The Ins and Outs of Cloth Diapering From a Mom of Four

Cloth Diapers 101: The Ins and Outs of Cloth Diapering From a Mom of Four

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Long gone are the days of our grandmother’s cloth diapers, the cloth diaper industry has come along way over the past few decades. Instead of being a pain to handle, modern day cloth diapers are simple to use, rarely leak and as an added plus, they come in super adorable prints! Most parents who use cloth diapers rarely go back to using disposables.

I’ve used cloth diapers for eight years, starting with my first child. I didn’t plan to use them, but I wanted to softest diaper for my child. We tried several disposable brands and felt disappointment in most of them. Then, I saw an advertisement in a parenting magazine for a popular brand of cloth diapers. The rest was fate!

Parents are often curious about cloth diapering, but they think it has to be too difficult. One search on an online store can feel intimidating when you don’t understand the terminology. But never fear, here are all the basics you need to know to start cloth diapering….

Benefits of Cloth Diapering

Let’s start with the benefits:

  • Good for the baby: Disposable diapers can contain harmful chemicals that might irritate your baby’s skin. For example, disposables contain Tributyl-tin (TBT) which is a chemical that can cause hormonal problems in humans.
  • Better for the Environment: Some people claim that cloth diapers don’t benefit the environment because we use water and must wash them. I ignore those people because I’m not sending hundreds of diapers to the landfill to sit for the next 200 to 300 years. Yes, it takes hundreds of years for disposable diapers to break down. The very first disposable diaper is sitting in landfill somewhere, far from broken down. Your disposable diapers are in a landfill as well. Gross.
  • Saving Money: It can cost over $2,000 to use disposable diapers on one child. I have four kids. That would’ve been almost $8,000! You can purchase a stash of cloth diapers for less than $500. Cloth diapers can be reused for other children. That’s a lot of money saved.
  • Fewer Diaper Rashes: Because cloth diapers don’t contain as many chemicals as disposables, your child may be less prone to diaper rashes.

The Types of Cloth Diapers

There are a number of types of cloth diapers, each type has its advantages and disadvantages.

  • All-in-One Diapers: Parents who want ease and simplicity pick all-in-one diapers. All of the pieces of the diapers are together. These are the easiest for parents to start using and easiest for caregivers. However, all-in-one diapers are costly and take longer to dry.
  • Pocket Diapers: Pocket diapers are two pieces. You have the waterproof cover and a waterproof internal piece that goes against your baby’s bum. At the end of the diaper, there is a pocket that allows you to stuff an insert between the cover and comfortable, waterproof material. These diapers are easy to use, but stuffing pockets can be annoying.
  • Covers with Prefolds or Flats: When you think of grandma-style cloth diapers, you might think of a prefold and cover. A prefold is a square piece of material that you either fold in thirds or pin around the baby. Most parents opt just to fold and lay in covers. Flats are similar to prefolds, but they are larger, so you must fold several times. Prefolds are pre-folded for you, get it? While these might be a bit more work, it is also the cheapest route!
  • All in Two Diapers: These diapers are similar to cover and prefolds because there are two separate pieces. You have the reusable covers and an insert. The insert typically snaps into the cover. When it is dirty, you unsnap the insert and snap in a clean one! The only disadvantage here is that they are more pricey than a cover and prefold.

What Do You Do With the Poop?

Without a doubt, the most common question is what in the world do you do with the poop? Babies poop all the time. Most parents use disposables and toss out the poop, even though the packages tell you to dump it before you toss it.

Exclusively breastfeed babies poop is water soluble, so you can just toss those diapers in the washer and forget about them. If your baby is formula fed or you’re dealing with solid food poop, purchasing a diaper sprayer is a lifesaver. A diaper sprayer attaches to the back of your toilet and lets you spray off the poop into the toilet. Easy!

Is Washing Cloth Diapers Easy?

Washing cloth diapers is as easy as washing clothes! My routine is simple.

  1. First, I put all the diapers in the washer and apply a rinse cycle. IF I wanted to use bleach (very rare, typically only if we are dealing with yeast), I would use bleach during the rinse cycle. This cycle helps get all the nasties out before you use soap.
  2. Second, I add my detergent and run the hottest, heaviest, longest cycle that my washer has available.
  3. Third, I run either an extra rinse cycle or a short, hot cycle without any soap. Soap left in diapers can lead to strange smells when urine is added. You want all of the soap out of your diapers, so this rinse is necessary.
  4. Last, I put the diapers in the dryer. During warm weather, I hang my diapers to dry outside. Sun helps to remove any stains that might linger. If they feel a bit crunchy, I fluff them in the dryer for 10 minutes.

How Do You Cloth Diaper While Out?

Chances are you want to leave your house at least a few times per week. You don’t have to resort to disposables! Cloth diapers are errand friendly. All you need is an accessory called a wetbag. A wetbag is a waterproof bag that you carry with you for the dirty diapers.

Nothing else is different. I change my baby’s diaper as frequent as I do at home. The dirty diaper goes into the wetbag. That’s all that you need to do. When you get home, don’t forget to add that diaper to the dirty diaper laundry!

Storing Dirty Diapers at Home

You will have at least a dozen or two dirty diapers per load, so what do you do with them until it is wash day? You purchase a diaper pail or large, hanging wetbag. These accessories are essential. I use a large, hanging wetbag that stays in our bathroom. It zips shut, keeping any smells inside. We put the dirty diapers in after each change then dump directly into the washing machine.

Should We Use Cloth Diapers?

The decision to use cloth diapers is a personal choice for each family. There is no right or wrong answer. The only way you will know if it is the wrong choice is to give them a try! Cloth diapers can be sold used, so you won’t be out too much money. Give them a try and see what you think!

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