Gone are the days of pins and origami folds to diaper a baby, unless that’s your thing of course. You have so many options these days for diapering your baby, including modern cloth diapers.
Before I rave about cloth diapers and trust me they really are rave worthy. I need to tell you something… I “failed” at cloth diapering my first two kids.
Let me tell you about it.
My love hate relationship with cloth diapers
Back in 2017, when I was pregnant with my first I knew I wanted to use modern cloth diapers. Boy, was I in for a few surprises.
I was really fortunate that a friend who decided cloth diapering wasn’t for her, gave me her whole stash FOR FREE. Yes! I had a whole stash of cloth diapers gifted to me and was elated as we weren’t in a spot to afford diapers easily.
He was in disposables for the first month until he would fit into the One Size diapers. Checking to see if they would fit him every few days. I was so excited to have a little fluffy bum.
For the first six months after that, he was pretty much in cloth full time aside from nighttime. And I really didn’t know what I was doing. He would leak and I’d have to change his clothes frequently. But I didn’t care. I thought it was the best thing!
Then we moved in with my mom to help her after a loss. Shortly after moving in with her, the dryer broke.
No big deal, I just bought a drying rack.
Then her washer broke. Neither party was in a financial spot to replace or fix either machine.
I tried hand washing the cloth diapers or using them the 2 days before going to the laundromat but when I became pregnant with our second, my back couldn’t handle washing diapers in the tub. You do extreme things when you don’t have a lot of money.
Enter disposables for the next 3 years
But alas, we made some wiggle room in our budget to buy diapers consistently. Looking back I’m not sure how we did that but as always the Lord provides.
I realize that I’m not alone in this. The statistics show that 1 in 3 mothers cut back on household necessities to afford diapers for their baby. This is insanity to me! Modern cloth diapers can easily lighten the burden mothers feel when needing to buy diapers or bread for their household.
If you are truly struggling to afford diapers, there are cloth diaper companies donating cloth diapers to families in need. Click this link to get some more info.
Eventually, my husband got a better job and it wasn’t quite a splurge to buy diapers. Even though we moved back out on our own ten months later and had regular access to a washer and dryer, I’d gotten used to the disposables and so did my toddler.
He wouldn’t let me put a cloth diaper on him. He’d scream and cry until I’d put a disposable back on him. When his brother joined the club I thought it would be too hard to use disposables on one and cloth on the other, though I’d try sometimes, it never worked out. Becoming pregnant a third time 6 months postpartum probably had something to do with it.
3 in diapers, oh vey!
It turns out, my 3-year-old REALLY likes diapers. When we found out that baby #3 was on the way, I decided I wouldn’t beat myself up about using cloth diapers. I’d use them if I felt like it, and when I felt like it. My husband’s work has really blossomed between these 2 years and while we are spending more on diapers than I would like, it’s not sinking us financially like it used to.
It’s always nice to have an extra $100 in the bank instead of spending it. Within the last month or so, I’ve been using them more and more for my 7-month-old. We ran out of disposables a few weeks ago and we are still going strong.
Here’s the down-low on modern cloth vs disposables
There are endless options for disposables, with more coming out every day. From pampers and huggies to luxurious non-toxic compostable bamboo diapers like Dyper. Yes. You read that right. Those are a thing now!
On the other side of the equation are still modern cloth diapers. Though much less popular (95% of children are in disposables), they are the cheaper, greener, and cuter option.
Are modern cloth diapers really cheaper?
Yes and no. Just like disposables, modern cloth diapers can be expensive if you want to get the trendiest new diapers on the market. But they don’t have to be. You can read this entertaining article about the price breakdown here…because she already did the math and I don’t want to.
How many cloth diapers do I need?
Newborns use up to 12 or more diapers a day while toddlers may only need 4-6 diaper changes a day. With these numbers in mind, the average stash needs to have about 12-24 diapers depending on how often you want to wash them.
Some people like to wash every other day and others will wait as long as possible to do diaper laundry. I am the latter, waiting until the pail can’t fit another diaper in it. I would say my personal stash has about 30 diapers and is a combination of pockets, covers, and prefolds.
The many different types of modern cloth diapers
I’m going to give lots of detail about the ones I prefer and recommend. If you want further information on other styles there are websites like this one to help you. This is simply my personal experience and it may not work for you.
1.Pocket Style Diapers
If you’re using a system like pocket diapers you’ll need to buy each diaper individually. For instance, if you want to wash every two days you would need to buy at least 24 pocket diapers. Pocket diapers have a waterproof outer shell and a thin cloth liner that keeps your baby as dry as a disposable.
You “stuff” the diaper with the inserts which can be made from microfiber, cotton, hemp, bamboo, or a combination of these. To be honest, I actually don’t stuff diapers anymore. I just lay the insert on top of the lined cover and reuse it just the same as option #2, only with natural fiber material. Microfiber against baby will cause a rash.
What mom has time to stuff diapers? Not me, and probably not you either! Here is a funny article on this topic.
I have a huge stash of Noras Nursey cloth diapers and I love to use these. I’d like to buy new natural fiber inserts to go with these but for now all I have is the bamboo microfiber inserts they came with. I use 2 of those along with a Thirsties hemp insert for maximum leak protection overnight. The hemp can hold a lot of liquid while the Noras Nursey microfiber insert absorbs quickly.
2. Covers and prefolds
If you decide to use a system like covers and prefolds you’ll need at least 8-10 covers and 12-24 prefolds of the appropriate size for the baby.
The cover is the waterproof outer shell that keeps your baby from leaking and the prefold is the absorbent insert. If your baby only pees in this diapering system you can simply wipe the inside of the shell and reuse with a new prefold.
The prefold is a multilayered fabric that has been “pre-folded”. The prefold has 8 layers of fabric in the middle panel and the two outer layers are usually about 4 layers. When you put these on the baby you do a tri fold where the two edges fold into the middle. Then you simply put it on the inside of the cover, slide it under the baby and snap or velcro the cover to the baby.
This is one of the cheapest options and what I’ve been preferring during the day as I don’t stuff diapers until I’m changing the baby. It cuts out one step from the diaper change. And fellow moms know that even one minute can make all the difference when there is a squirmy baby on the changing table.
3. All in Ones
These diapers are just as they sound. There are no loose pieces and everything is sewn together. I personally don’t own any of these so I can’t show you pictures but I will link some here and here.
4. Covers and flats
Necessity is the mother of invention. Thus, the reason the prefold was born sending flats to the curb. I know some people LOVE to use flats but for me, that’s too much folding!
These work similarly to the covers and prefolds only they use a different fabric. Usually, a larger piece of fabric that’s folded down and then wrapped around the baby’s bottom is secured with a pin or a modern version called “snappy“. Finally, you put a cover on over the flat just like you would with the prefold option.
What do I do with the cloth diapers between washes?
Just like many people use a trash bag lined diaper pail with disposables, you do the same with cloth. Only now using a reusable pail liner that is made as the same PUL material diaper covers are made of, therefore making them waterproof.
There are fancy diaper pails specifically for cloth diapers but I like to use a basic stainless steel trash can. Line it with your reusable/washable liner and in go the diapers.
Simple. I like simple and I bet you do, too!
What about the poo?
First, let me point out that even with disposables it says to shake the solids into the toilet. It says so on the box…in fine print of course so most people never see it.
Second, when you first found out you were expecting, you automatically signed up for dealing with another person’s poop for the rest of your life.
Either way, you’ll be dealing with unimaginable blowouts and wondering if it’s poop on your carpet or if the toddler got into chocolate. Parents and poop just go together.
If you use cloth with an exclusively breastfed baby, simply toss the diaper in the pail. Breastfed poop is water-soluble and will wash away easily.
When your baby begins eating solids around 6 months, they will start to get more solid stools mixed in with their seedy yellow stools. For warning, this is probably the messiest things will get with cloth diapers and probably the most dreadful. Don’t let it scare you away from using them. Stools like this will either need to be swished around in the toilet or sprayed off with a diaper spray.
They also make disposable liners that go on top of the cloth insert making this stage a lot easier as most of the solids are tossed away on the disposable liner!
When your baby is on mostly solid food, their stools will be consistently solid and more like an adult stool. And you’ll simply need to shake the solids into the toilet and flush. Easy peasy.
Now it’s your turn
Are you interested in modern cloth diapering? What is your biggest hesitation? Drop your questions below and be sure to check out the rest of the series including How to Wash Cloth Diapers and Out and About with Cloth Diapers.