Monday, May 31, 2010

More Than You Ever Wanted to Know.....

Alrighty asked for it. This may be entirely more than you all want to know, but once I get going, it's hard to stop. ;) I have become a fan of cloth diapers for so many reasons. The money-saving, the "emergency preparedness factor", the fact that they're just so darn cute, environmental reasons, the fact that my kids almost never have diaper rash now....I could go on and on. So for anyone who's interested in going this route, here's what I have learned.

First, a crash course in all of the different types of diapers, (who knew there were so many?!!).
Prefolds and flats: These are what most of us think of when we first think of cloth diapers. These are what our mamas used. Basically they're a rectangular piece of absorbent material that you wrap around baby's bum, fasten somehow, and cover with waterproof fabric. The difference between a prefold and a flat, is that the prefold has extra layers of absorbency sewn into the middle, the flat will be larger and you have to fold the absorbency where you want it. One thing to note if you go this route: make sure to buy DSQ or diaper service quality prefolds. DON'T buy the gerber ones from Wal-mart. DSQ usually means that there are about 8 layers of absorbency sewn into the middle. The gerber ones have like 2. They're really only good for burp cloths.

Even these kind of diapers have improved since our mama's day though. Gone are the days of poking with pins. Most diaper covers are now snug enough that many mamas just put the cloth and cover in place and don't worry. For those that feel they need a little extra something, there are these handy dandy "snappis" that fasten the diaper by gripping the fabric.
Prefolds or flats are definitely the cheapest way to go if cost is your main concern. There are kits sold like the "Econobum" from Cotton Babies that include 12 one-size fits all prefolds, and 3 one-size fits all covers, (enough to diaper for a day or two) for $49.95!!! Depending on how often you want to wash your diapers, you could go from birth to potty training VERY cheaply this route.

Covers: Oh, covers. These are not plastic pants ladies. There are so many different fabrics to choose from, all of which are way nicer that what our mamas had. And you can choose from covers that pull on, covers that snap closed, covers with aplix, (the cloth diaper world term for really nice velcro) one-size fits all covers, sized, you name it.

A lot of moms who like natural fibers choose wool covers. You're probably thinking, "Yikes! That sounds hot!" But really, I've seen research on this. It's NOT hotter than a plastic non-breathable disposable diaper. Think about's mother nature's waterproof covering for sheep....why not use it for bums?

I personally didn't want to hassle with the special laundry considerations of wool, (or the extra price) so I use the more typical fabric covers that have a layer of polyester urethane laminate (PUL) to make them waterproof, when I need a cover. And since I have two, soon to be three in diapers, I use the one-size covers so I don't have to worry about who they're for. Most covers can be wiped, and air-dried after use, (unless of course they're soiled) and used two or three times before washing. You'll be able to smell when they've had it.

Fitted/Contour Diapers: These are the next step up from prefolds. These are shaped like a disposable to fit your baby. A contour diaper can be fastened with a snappi or wrapped and secured in the cover, a fitted will usually have some sort of fastening of it's own, (snaps or aplix). These diapers are not waterproof, so you still have to have the cover, but they are more convenient in shape and less intimidating to dads and others who may be afraid of cloth diapers. These vary greatly in price, (usually starting around $10-11 each) and again come sized, or one-sized, but are generally still a pretty cost conscious option considering you only need a few covers to go with your diapers.

Pocket Diapers: These are my personal fave. I thought I would hate them at first, so I tried a few other things before I came around to them, but they really are awesome. These diapers consist of a waterproof cover or sleeve with a "pocket" opening into which you add the inserts, (of varying fabrics) to create absorbency. The inner lining is usually fleece or suedecloth. These materials are fabulous for two reasons. One, they wick the moisture through to the absorbent layers quickly so what touches baby doesn't actually feel or stay wet, and two, poop just flicks right off into the toilet rather than sticking, (usually).

Pockets fit and fasten like disposables, (again with choice of snaps or aplix, sized or one-sized) they just require a little more work, because you have to stuff them. They're a pretty good middle of the road option for Dads and babysitters, especially if you leave them stuffed and ready to go! Again, they vary in price, but I get most of mine for around $17 each depending on the brand. You can really spend as much or as little as you want in this category. I'll tell you a couple of my faves so far......

Again I like one-sized diapers, so I use usually either the BumGenius 3.0,
or the Katydid diaper. Check out the link to these. The features photo wasn't one I could paste here. They have a couple of really nice features that I think make them better than a lot of other pockets. One, they have a side snap that gives a little extra snug fit for smaller babies, and a wrap and snap feature that allows you to wrap up the diaper and snap it shut like you would a disposable if you're out and about and can't immediately dispose of it. I also think that because of the side snap these are one of the very few one-size diapers that would actually fit a newborn. These adjust very small. That said, they do have a shorter "rise".....(meaning how high up on the belly they go) than some other pockets, so most people might not feel like they fit bigger babies. Trust me, they do. They fit my probably 30 lb. almost three year old who is not yet potty trained. I didn't think they would, but we can go all night and wake up with dry jammies, which we couldn't always do even with disposables. These are worth a try.

So, all of that said, another nice thing about pockets is that you can customize the absorbency because you choose what to stuff them with. Most pockets come with two inserts, (usually microfiber) but you can always buy extras if needed. I have also heard about, but haven't tried hemp inserts which are supposed to be crazy absorbent. The one thing is that they take time to absorb, so you have to have the microfiber closer to babies bum to soak up the initial wetness, (otherwise it would run off the hemp) and then the hemp will soak up through that with time. One that I've heard lots of good things about is the Joeybunz insert.....(Em, I think this would help with your night-time issues). Hemp is also very trim compared to the microfiber, another reason people like to use them.

AI1/AI2 Diapers: And now we come to the Cadillac of cloth diapers. The All-in-one or all-in-two diaper. These are for mamas who don't have a budget when it comes to cloth diapers, or who are really afraid of cloth. The AI1 is exactly like a disposable. Put it on, use it, take it off. No fuss. Many of these come with the option of extra stuffing, but it's not needed, especially for daytime use. A lot of moms will keep a couple of these around for going out and about or for Dad to use, or daycare, whatever. The AI2 is a little different, you reuse the cover part, but snap in a new insert for each use. Examples of these are Softbums, or Best Bottoms.
AI1's tend to be the most expensive of diapers, (usually around $25 each....AI2's are a bit cheaper) but you get deals when you buy in bulk, and for example, even if you were to buy 24 of the BumGenius Organic Cotton, (organic fabrics cost more) AI1 diapers, you would still only spend around $530, (with the bulk discount). Pretty cheap compared to an average three years of disposable diapers.

Hybrid diapers and flushable liners: Flushable liners are just that....flushable. For those that don't want to deal with the poop. Hybrid diapers are similar to the AI2, and you can usually buy cloth or flushable/disposable inserts. Examples of these are the GroBaby and Flip diapers. Again, once you've bought the cover, a pack of 18 Flip disposable inserts is only around $5. Compare that to 18 disposable diapers. Same convenience, cheaper cost.

Okay, so the next thing one thinks of when it comes to diapers is wipes, right? You can go all sorts of crazy and buy all sorts of fancy wipes when it comes to cloth diapers, and solutions to go with them, but I have found that the cheapest, easiest option is the cheapest pack of regular cotton washcloths I could find at Target. I think I got a pack of 12 for $6. Simply get it wet with water, wipe, and toss it with your diapers. I totally didn't think I'd switch from disposable wipes, but plain warm water does the job and is way less harsh on baby's bum. Plus, think about many times have you gotten poop all over your hands with disposable wipes that are thin, little squares? Now think of a nice, big, thick washcloth forming a barrier between your hand and all that poop. What are you going to choose? Plus, if you're not wrapping the wipes in that disposable diaper to throw away, you've just got a bunch of stinky poopy, wipes to carry to the garbage can alone. You might as well wash wipes along with your diapers rather than deal with that.

What else are you going to need? In my opinion a diaper sprayer is a must. Get this one:
They hook up to the fresh water supply of your toilet, (like so easy I did it myself, no plumber required) and all you do is turn it on, hold your diaper over the toilet, spray, and flush. No dunking, no swishing, no hands touching toilet water or poop......done. I do recommend pointing the sprayer down for best results. ;) This baby will only cost around $45 and makes the whole experience well worth it. I did cloth for about a week without one, and would never go back to not having one. Yes the fleece repels the poop, but on the instances it doesn't.......well, be glad you've got this baby. The reason I recommend this particular one is that the pressure is adjustable, I've heard this is not the case with all brands.

You will also need a diaper pail. You can buy them from any diaper store specifically for cloth diapers, or honestly you can use a garbage can with a tight fitting lid. Same thing. The only thing different about the specific diaper pails is that they come with a slot for deodorizing disks that help with smell. But really, you could drop the disk in the bottom of a garbage can and get the same results. You can also get fancy ones that have carbon filters, but I haven't had smell problems to the point that I'd want to spend that much. Honestly, wash at least every other day, change your deo-disk once a month, and it still doesn't smell as bad as the diaper genie in my opinion. I never even notice the smell until the pail is open.

Then of course you'll need a wetbag to go in the pail. Simply a laundry bag that holds the diapers. It has the PUL lining like the covers to keep wetness from leaking through the bag into your pail. I like this one. Get at least two, so you always have one in the pail while washing.

The last thing that I think is necessary is a travel wetbag. This is so you have something to keep the stinkies in when out and about. Really, no less gross than carrying around a poopy in a grocery sack until you find a garbage. Plus, these babies really keep the smell in. So you CAN use cloth ANYWHERE. Especially if you carry a water bottle that you can always use to wet your wipes. Again, here is my recommendation. I also have this larger version that I use instead of a pail while traveling. And you CAN do this while traveling. When I visit family, (as long as they don't mind you washing diapers in their machine) I just make sure to use pockets only for ease of poop disposal. In a hotel, I've even used the coin laundry to wash cost me a few dollars, but that was cheaper than buying a pack of disposables to use. Other than that, there's no difference in my opinion.

Speaking of washing.....please note, you can't wash cloth in regular detergent. But that's fine, because we're going green here anyway, right? Your detergent just has to be free of dyes, perfumes, brighteners, and enzymes. You can make your own, (1 c. borax, 1 c. oxyclean free, 1 c. washing soda mixed together, use 1-2 Tbsp. per load) or buy it at any cloth diaper store. To wash your diapers, do a cold soak or rinse first with no detergent, (to avoid stains) then a hot wash with detergent, cold rinse, extra cold rinse. Water is your best friend when washing diapers. You really don't need that much detergent, and if you use too much, you'll get a buildup on your diapers and they will repel moisture instead of absorbing. Also, sunshine is your best friend. Line drying outside will make your diapers last longer and will bleach all those stains away. It's amazing. And it makes you happy. :)

So how many diapers should one have on hand? Most recommend 24-36 diapers....but I'll tell you what; I have about 18 pocket diapers between two kids and I do just fine. More would be nice, but I just haven't gotten there yet. I wash at least every other day, but you'd probably want to do that anyway to keep stinkies at bay. Just think about how many diapers your baby wears each day, divide that by how many days you want to go between washings, and that's how many diapers you'll need. (Keep in mind drying time. ;) )

So, let's think about it really cheaper? Let's see....if I were to buy 24 of my very favorite Katydid pockets, (at bulk price) it would cost about $420; add in the sprayer, at $45, two wetbags, at $17 each, the pail, $24, (again you could do a cheaper garbage can) the large travel bag, $30, the out and about bag, $16.50, wipes, (let's say you buy two packs of washcloths) $12, you're sitting at about $581. Again, compare that to the cost of three years worth of disposables and wipes, and you're saving a lot of money. Not up front, but it is SO worth it. Plus, you can really shop around for the best prices. And if a site doesn't offer a bulk price, don't hesitate to ask about one before you buy. You'll most likely get it.

So where do I shop? The better question is where don't I shop! Here's a few of my favorite sites: (Always free shipping over $75) (Free shipping over $75 and always free shipping on certain items like pocket diapers, which is nice if you just want to try one or two things. Plus, excellent bulk deals.) (BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE EVER and super fast shipping) (Local to Utah, $1 shipping, and has a store location at the Provo Quilted Bear. Also usually has a coupon and better pricing in person. Offers cloth diaper classes, and diaper parties, {like for showers or even just like a tupperware party}.) (makers of BumGenius, Econobum, and Flip)

Really, shop around and do some price comparisons. It doesn't hurt. Also, a lot of these online stores have a "test drive" program where you buy one of several types of diapers until you find what you like, then you send back the ones you don't for store credit. I HIGHLY recommend this. I didn't do it, and wasted quite a bit of money trying to find what I liked. You can read all you want about it, but you never really know what you'll like until you try it.

Also, check out It features reviews on different diapers, and will post sales for different diaper stores. is a forum where moms can ask questions, and even swap or sell diapers. You can get some great deals on used, (get over the's not that bad).

Sorry for the monster post, but I figured I might as well tell all! Any questions?! Go look at these sites....seriously, these diapers are SOOOO CUTE you'll be hooked!


  1. Sorry again for the huge post....but if you're interested, there's lots of links in there, I just couldn't figure out how to make them a different color than the purple roll over if you want to see more links of stuff. ;)

  2. Thank you! Thank you for the awesome post!! This was so infomative and! You are so great to take your time out of your day to let us know all this information about these diapers! Cal and I had a great discussion about cloth diapers and I practially read this whole post to him. Thanks again so much for the info. I need to first let go of my habit of clorox wipes and paper towels and then I will see about this! :D I love that you know so much about these and that I know that if we ever do decide to go ths route, I can ask you anything about them.

    Thanks again, you are awesome!!

  3. You're so funny Whitney! Don't worry, I still use tons of paper towels, and would use the clorox wipes if they weren't so expensive. I need a Costco here!!! Instead I end up using even more paper towels. ;)

  4. So I didn't read this whole post but I gave it a good skim but mostly I smiled the biggest smile the entire time. I just love love love that you are so obsessed with cloth diapers. I get obsessive about things and but I'm not sure I have an obsession as cool as this one. I'm not mocking, I love it!

  5. Thank you so much for this post! I know, again, I am reading this waaaay later, but I have a new one on the way and have seriously considered cloth diapering, but haven't had much time to research. I can't wait to really READ this post and figure out what the heck all the terminology is! Thanks!