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Cloth diapers are an environmentally safe, money saving choice for parents. An average family can spend over $1,000 on disposable diapers for one child. A family can spend under $500 on a stash of cloth diapers that lasts longer than one child.
Trying to decipher and understand the cloth diaper world is challenging at first! Acronyms like CD, AIO, and AI2 seem like a different language. Plus, cloth diapers come in a variety of styles and hundreds of brands.
How are you supposed to decide what cloth diaper to buy for your child?!
I remember how I felt 8 years ago when I first started using cloth diapers with my oldest child. 8 years ago, there wasn’t as many brands as we have now, but the process was daunting!
I joined a forum to find advice and dove in headfirst.
But, I remember that confusion, so I put together this easy to understand guide for cloth diapering.
Styles of Cloth Diapers
So, the first thing you need to understand is the different styles of cloth diapers. More importantly, you need to know HOW to pick which style is right for you and your baby.
There is no rule that you need to select one style and stick with it. I’ve tried them all! Currently, we use a mixture of all-in-ones and covers with prefolds, but I have my eye on a new brand of pocket diapers.
As the name implies, all-in-one diapers are one piece. These are most similar to a disposable diaper because you just put on baby and take off with no extra steps.
Years ago, that meant multiple layers of fabric that took two dryer cycles to complete. Terrible! Nowadays, brands created styles with ‘tongues’ of fabric, so the diapers dry easier.
My favorite all-in-one is Blueberry Simplex, which comes in a one-size option as well as newborn, medium, and large!
Thirsties Natural All-in-Ones are an awesome choice as well!
Pocket diapers have a stay-dry fabric against the baby’s bum, and a pocket at the back of the diaper where stuff an insert for absorbency. This style dries fast because you remove inside insert and babies feel dry. However, you have to stuff them every time you wash, and that can be highly annoying.
All-in-two diapers are also called hybrid diapers, and they allow parents to make a different, eco-friendly choices. AI2s are a washable, reusable diaper cover paired with either biodegradable inserts or washable cloth inserts. So, you get the best of both worlds.
You need a diaper cover over top of prefold or fitted diapers. These covers wrap around baby and secure with Velcro or snaps. You can reuse covers several times before putting them in the dirty bag, just make sure to air dry between uses!
Prefolds and Flats
A flat is a rectangular-shaped diaper that you fold into a diaper. A prefold is a rectangular and flat diaper that has multiple layers of fabric sewn together. Prefolds come in a variety of sizes. Both flats and prefolds need to be folded to fit into a diaper cover.
Prefolds and flats might require some practice; this is the style that most people imagine when they think of cloth diapers from years ago. However, it is the cheapest option, and they are fast drying!
Fitteds aren’t as popular as other options, but you should still put them into your consideration list. Fitteds are a tailored diaper with either Velcro or snap closures. However, these diapers aren’t waterproof, so you need a cover still.
The benefits are that they are very absorbent – think nighttime cloth diaper! Also, you don’t need to worry about folding prefolds or flats.
Picking the Right Cloth Diaper for Your Family
Now that you understand the different styles of cloth diapers, you have to pick the right style (or styles) for your family. Remember – you can use more than one style! It’s okay! I sure do.
Ask yourself these questions first.
- Do I need to stick to a tight budget?
- Am I okay spending a bit more money for diapers that are easy to use?
- Do I plan to use cloth diapers overnight?
- Who is going to be changing baby? Is it just mom and dad, or is baby going to be with babysitters or at daycare often?
- Do I want to use disposable inserts?
How to Use Cloth Diapers When You Go Out
Using cloth diapers when you go out isn’t as complicated as it might seem! All you need to have, aside from the baby and the diapers, is a wet bag.
A wet bag is simply a bag made with PUL or waterproof material. After your baby soils a diaper, stick the diaper into the wet bag. The wet bag then goes into your diaper bag, storing all the dirty diapers. Wet bags also hold in the smell, so you don’t have to worry that your baby’s items will stink.
Wet bag costs less than $20. I prefer Planet Wise wet bags. I have two smaller sized ones for my diaper bag and a large, hanging wet bag to store all the diapers at home.
How to Wash Cloth Diapers
When I tell anyone that I use cloth diapers, their initial reaction involves the washing of the diapers.
It isn’t that hard. I PROMISE. If washing diapers was complicated, I wouldn’t have used them for 8 years!
I wash diapers every 2 to 3 days. We have two in diapers right now, so my reality is usually every 2 days unless we are really busy. When I have one in diapers, I sometimes wash every 3 days.
Here is my wash routine.
- Hot rinse with no soap
- Heavy, hot full cycle with a full cup of Tide with two rinse cycles
- Sometimes, I add another rinse cycle
- Dry in the dryer or hang to dry if its nice outside!
You don’t have to use Tide. Original Tide has worked for many years, but a lot of moms have success with other detergents. Seventh Generation is a popular choice. I’ve considered switching because Tide is far from an organic choice, but don’t mess with what works!
Give Cloth Diapers a Try!
Using cloth diapers isn’t hard, and it’s one of the best parenting decisions I made. We have saved thousands of dollars over 8 years, and I love picking the adorable prints.
Give cloth diapers a try! If you can’t stand them, used cloth diapers sell well on the Facebook marketplace and specific groups for used cloth diapers. You’ll make some of your money back!