Demystifying Cloth Diapers
We asked current
cloth diaper users what their most common concerns or questions were BEFORE
they got started with cloth diapering and we compiled all of that info along
with my own personal experience into a list so that we can help crush any fears
help and Make Cloth Mainstream™.
You can also watch
the YouTube Webinar “Demystifying Cloth Diapers” hosted by Sarah from Sarah Wells Breastpump Bags
and Nicole from Nizo Wear Nursing
Bras by clicking on that adorable fluffy bum picture below:
1. Getting Started:
You really don’t need
much to get started, although some parents find enjoyment in shopping for the
extras that make cloth diapering more interesting and fun. Here are a list of
the bare basics you’ll need to get started, along with the extras you might
enjoy adding to your stash!
- 12-24 cloth diapers.
- A pail liner to hold the dirties.
Honestly, that’s it.
You can totally cloth diaper your baby from birth to potty training with that
tiny list. The number of diapers varies like that because it will be based on
your routine and personal preference. If you are ok with washing diapers every
day, you can go with a smaller amount of diapers, but if you’d like to wash
every other day, you’ll need more clean diapers to get you from wash cycle to
- wetbags for outings
- cloth wipes
- cloth safe diaper cream
- a diaper sprayer
- a Spray Pal splatter shield
- fleece or disposable liners
- extra diapers for extra days
between washing and less wear
Cloth wipes are
another optional item that you will probably find once you start with cloth are
a pretty easy transition. We started our oldest with disposables for her first
2 months, and when we made the switch to cloth it was really hard to break the
habit of rolling up the wipes in the diaper during changes, which led to lots
of wipes going through the washing machine. Might as well go ahead and keep the
habit going with cloth wipes and just wash them with your diapers to save some
extra cash and trash!
The diaper sprayer
was another must have for us once we started feeding our oldest solid foods.
But, after the first time using it, we realized we’d need a way to keep the
splatter off our bathroom walls and floor, so we invented the Spray Pal
splatter shield. That has quickly become another must have for the optional
items because paired with a diaper sprayer it makes the question “What do you
do with the poo?” easy to answer.
2. How to deal with the “Yuck Factor”
Dirty diapers can
quickly and easily be sprayed with a diaper sprayer and a Spray Pal!
It seems that most
people who start to consider cloth diapers are immediately concerned with how
gross it must be. I get it, the thought of actually having to deal with the
poop instead of just rolling it up into a disposable poop burrito to toss in
the trash seems daunting at first. I promise you, I thought
the same way until I tried cloth, and then I realized a few things:
- As a new parent, you are going
to deal with poop and other bodily fluids more than you ever have before
in your life, regardless of what type of diapers you use.
- Even if you use disposables, you
should technically dispose of solid waste in the toilet where it can be
treated properly. Otherwise, that poop burrito I mentioned could end up
sitting in a landfill for 200-500 years. Now THAT’S gross.
- Cloth diapers REALLY aren’t hard.
Seriously. They aren’t. Once you get your routine down, it’s a piece of
cake, and TOTALLY worth it.
Everyone will have a different method that works for them, and it can become
very overwhelming if you try to Google answers to specific routine questions or
ask in groups full of cloth diapering parents from all over the country/world.
I’m not going to tell you what will work best for you, because I can’t.
What I CAN tell you is what worked for me under my specific conditions,
and then I can tell you that it only took me about a week or two to get into a
groove. We haven’t had issues since, and that’s been 3+ years. We did strip our
diapers with blue dawn ONE time about a year ago after my son got a yeast rash,
but that was it. Every once a month or so we might throw in about a quarter cup
of bleach into a full wash cycle just to keep things extra clean, but you have
to be careful with that because the use of bleach can void some cloth diaper warranties.
Here’s the wash
routine that works for us using a top loading regular washer with hard water in
- 0-6 months EBF poop,
we did a hot pre-rinse, then a hot cycle (with detergent) and a cold rinse
- Once we introduced solids, we found that
by spraying the dirty diapers first, we were able to skip the pre-rinse
cycle altogether. So now we just do a hot cycle with detergent and a cold
- We wash our diapers every other
We spray poop as it comes (easy with a Spray Pal), we
sometimes also spray overnight diapers if they get that ammonia smell and
we aren’t doing laundry that day.
That’s it, y’all. It
really doesn’t have to be overly complicated AT ALL.
Now as far as the
‘yuck factor” some people want to know how you handle it if your baby poops
while you’re on an outing away from home. For this, you can use liners. The
disposable ones work great for out of the house because most public plumbing
should be able to handle it if you flush them. We personally skip the liners
and just roll the dirty diaper up and throw it in the wetbag if it’s not
ploppable, and then we spray it when we get home.
3. Different Styles and Terms
One of the biggest
hurdles many parents mention when they are trying to figure out cloth diapers
is the long and sometimes confusing list of terms. acronyms and styles related
to cloth diapering. Many will become clear once you start doing your research,
but there are a few that can be more elusive. For me, it was NWOT (new without
tags)…that one took me forever!
Here is a great list
of cloth diapering terms from Dirty Diaper Laundry:
As far as the
different diaper styles, here are the basics:
- Most ecomomical: Prefolds,
flats, and covers. Basically in order to have a diaper, you just need an
absorbent layer and a waterproof cover. You can even use flour sack towels
or old cut up t-shirts for absorbency, it really doesn’t matter!
- Most convenient: While I don’t
personally find the other options difficult, many are looking for the
option that is most like a disposable, especially if they are asking a
child care provider to use cloth on their baby. For those people, I would
recommend either an AIO (all in one), AI2 (all in two), or a pocket
diaper. The AIOs are probably the easiest because they are just as
described, all in one piece. You don’t have to do anything other than wash
and put on your baby. Then repeat. AI2s are similar, only they have the
option of using a disposable insert instead of the cloth insert. And
pockets, once stuffed with their absorbent layer, are also very easy to
- Most absorbent for overnight or
Fitteds are a very popular diaper for those who are looking for something
super absorbent. They are not waterproof, although some WAHM (work at home
mom) diapers are made as hybrid fitteds, which means they have a layer of
fleece sewn inside that provides a little extra wetness protection, but
the moisture can still make it’s way to the outer edges. So basically,
just like the prefolds and flats, they will need a cover to maintain outer
dryness. They are also often paired with a wool cover to provide all
natural and breathable coverage. You don’t HAVE to put a cover on them if
you would rather not. Just feel for wetness and change more frequently to
allow that bum to breathe a bit. Perfect for hotter times of the year when
you want to avoid heat rashes.
4. Expert Tips
After 3+ years cloth
diapering two kids, there are a few things I’ve learned along the way that I
like to share with parents who are just starting out. These are the “things I
wish I knew when I started” also known as “If I could do it all over again, I’d
do it this way.”
- Snaps vs. Velcro/aplix/hook and
When I started, I thought for sure I wanted Velcro because it would be so
much easier. Then I discovered snaps. They are seriously not hard, and the
bonus is that they don’t wear out with washings, they don’t snag on
other diapers, and they are harder for your child to figure out how to
take off. So, yeah. As you can probably surmise, I’m a snaps girl all
the way now.
- If you aren’t sure brand or style
you want to invest in, start with a rental program. We did this
with my daughter and it was the greatest thing ever. They sent us a box
with 12 different brands/styles of cloth diapers, and we tried them all
out for 3 weeks. This is smart since each baby is a different shape and
size, and what works for one may not work for another. Plus, you’ll
get to test out your routines for a while.
- To buy newborns or not to buy
With my daughter, we started with one size diapers because we made the
switch when she was 2.5 months old. With my son, we used newborns. In
fact, we used preemie cloth diapers before newborns even fit him because
he was born at 25 weeks weighing 1lb 13oz. The decision as to whether or
not you want to invest in newborn diapers is your own, but keep a few
things in mind. You don’t know how big your baby will be when s/he is
born. It may be a great investment if they are going to take a few months
to grow into their one size diapers, or you may give birth to a toddler
sized baby who will skip right past the newborn size. Either way, you
could look into buying them used since most don’t get much wear and tear
in a the short amount of time they are in use. And when you finish, you
can resell them and recoup some of that cost.
- Dealing with skeptics. When you first
start letting people know that you’re planning to use cloth diapers, you
may be surprised to find that not everyone will be supportive. If the
negative comments are hard for you to deal with, here are some tips for
coping. First, try politely sharing some of the amazing reasons why
you feel cloth is better. You’ll be saving money, you’ll be keeping
chemicals off your baby’s most sensitive skin, you’ll be helping the
environment, and the list goes on. If they don’t seem to respond to those
facts, then the best second step is to just prove them wrong. Keep at it
and show them that cloth diapers are easy and adorable. They’ll have to
concede your point eventually, and if not, they aren’t worth the stress.
I hope that this
information is useful for you. Here at Spray Pal, we are all about helping
#makeclothmainstream™, and we love helping people find the benefit to cloth
diapers with great success! Feel free to send me a message on our Facebook page
if you ever have any questions about cloth diapering, I’d be happy to help! - Jen (Mrs. Spray Pal)