Cloth Diapers - Revisited

Posted by  | Tuesday, November 25, 2008  at 11:15 AM  
Here is one of our first posts on cloth diapers, written by Krista and originally posted in October 2007! You can use the categories in the right sidebar to find more posts on cloth diapers. There are plenty!

I was first introduced to cloth diapers when Lydia was two months old. It had always been something in the back of my mind that I thought I’d like to do, but, knowing we were moving overseas when she would be 4 months old, I just figured cloth would be way too complicated. But then I met some other young moms who were also moving overseas and were using cloth. I saw first-hand how easy it was and decided it would be doable for us as well. The real clincher, though, was when my husband happened to see the bumGenius! diapers on-line and realized cloth diapers were a far cry from what our grandparents used “back in the day”!

You may be thinking, “Why would I want to use cloth?!” Well, here are some of the benefits of cloth diapering:

1. It saves a TON of $$$ (look for Hollie’s post in the next few days on just how much money you can save).

2. It’s more natural. Did you know that disposable diapers have toxic chemicals such as dioxin and sodium polyacrylate? Dioxin has been shown to cause cancer, birth defects, liver damage, and skin diseases just to name a few. Sodium Polyacrylate is what makes disposables super absorbent. It is the same substance that was removed from Tampons because it was linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome.

3. It helps the environment. 18 billion disposable diapers are thrown into landfills each year, taking as many as 500 years to decompose! Disposable diapers are the third largest source of solid waste in landfills (Mothering Magazine, Issue 88, May/June 1998) .

For more information on great reasons to use cloth diapers, check out this article in Mothering Magazine.

Okay, so you’ve decided you want to try cloth. It can be overwhelming to know what to choose because there are so many options out there. The purpose of this post is to give you a crash course in the basics. Then, over the next two weeks, we will each post our diaper preferences, specific routines, laundering methods, etc. We also want to hear your comments and questions and hope to have a great discussion on cloth diapers!

Here are the basic types of diapers:

All-In-Ones (AIO)– A diaper and cover all in one piece. They do not require a cover, because the cover is sewn into the diaper already.

Pros: Very easy, convenient, no stuffing, no folding; most similar to disposable; easy for hubby to use

Cons: Most expensive of cloth diapers; can take longer to dry

Pocket Diapers – Two layers of fabric are sewn together so you can “stuff” them with the absorbency level you need. The cover is already sewn in.

Pros: Good for overnight and extended use between changings; line dries quickly; most similar to the convenience of an AIO

Cons: takes time to “stuff” before every use; can have the “bubble bottom” effect depending on how heavily they are stuffed

One Size Diaper (OS) - Fits your baby from birth until potty training. The BumGenius! pocket diaper is also a OS diaper.

Pros: Saves money in the long run because you don’t have to get multiple sizes

Cons: Initial investment can be pricey

Chinese Prefold Diapers (CPF, UBCPF, IPF) [UB = unbleached, or IPF = Indian Prefold] - Diaper already folded to have a thick center panel. (Contrast this to “flats”). You must still fold CPF’s before using them. They can be folded and used with a Snappi, or simply tri-folded and set in certain covers.

Pros: Most affordable of diapering systems; do not have to have as many sizes; versatile - can also be used as a doubler, burp cloth, etc.; fast-drying

Cons: Requires a diaper cover; takes time to fold

Contour Diapers – Do not have elastic at the legs or waist. They must be fastened with a Snappi or pins and used with a cover. An example of a contoured diaper would be if you serged your CPF’s so that you didn’t have to fold them each time. Or you could buy them already made, as in the Kissaluvs Contoured Diaper (shown).

Pros – Takes less time to fold than a CPF or flat; more cost effective than AIO's or pocket diapers

Cons – Need multiple sizes; still require more work than fitted diapers; most are not suitable for overnights; require a cover

Fitted Diapers - Have elastic at the legs and waist and has some type of closure (snaps, elastic, etc.) already in the diaper so you do not need to use a Snappi. Fitted diapers need a cover. There are many fitted diapers on the market, one example being the Kissaluvs (pictured).

Pros – Easy to use yet less expensive than AIO's; come in cute colors and styles; very absorbent

Cons – Requires a cover; must purchase different sizes; takes longer to line dry than pocket diapers, CPF's, or flats

Flats – This is what our grandparents used :). They look a lot like table linens in a large square shape and you can fold them many different ways to accommodate different sizes. They are then fastened with a pin or a snappi and used with a diaper cover.

Pros – inexpensive, fits every baby, dries very fast; can be used as an insert or doubler; versatile (great to use as a nursing cover up or to block the sun from your baby)

Cons – Most time consuming (must fold each one then snap on); can easily leak at the legs if you are a novice folder; don’t hold very long; need a cover

Diaper Covers – Cloth diaper covers or "wraps" are used to cover a cloth diaper to waterproof the diaper. They come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colors, and fabrics. They can have snaps, elastic, or velcro. Some have a very trim fit such as the Bummis Super Snap while others are much bulkier like the Aristocrat Wool Soaker. They can range in price from something as simple as a Dappy Nylon cover ($5.00 for 2) to a LANA wool soaker ($39.95).

Doublers, Liners, Inserts, Soakers – Inserts are used to stuff in your pocket diaper. They are usually made of microfiber, hemp, etc. Doublers and soakers add extra absorbancy to any diaper. Inserts, doublers, and soakers could all be made from flats or CPFs, purchased with your diapers, or you could even buy a microfiber towel at the store and cut it to fit your diapers. Liners are used to prevent stains to diapers or protect from diaper rash cream (which can harm diaper material) and are typically made of fleece or are disposable.
Diaper Fabrics - Diapers are either made of performance (synthetic) fabrics, or 100% cotton, hemp, etc. Here’s a BRIEF introduction of the differences:

Performance Fabric: Holds more as well as wicks away the moisture from your baby’s bum. Excellent for overnight use and extended time between diaper changes. They will also retain urine and detergent easier and can develop a strong ammonia smell over time. Therefore, your diapers may require “stripping” (ex. adding bleach or dish soap to the wash, additional rinse cycles, etc.) on occasion. An example of a performance fabric diaper is the bumGenius!.

Cotton Fabric: Much more forgiving than performance fabric when laundering and usually does not retain odors. However, it will not hold as much moisture. Your baby will feel wet and you will need to change the diaper more often (although this is not necessarily a bad thing). An example of this type of fabric is the CPF.

Now that you have the diaper basics, here are the other items you’ll need to consider if you decide to use cloth.

Diaper Pail – This is a must. You could use a trash can for this purpose.

DiaperPail Liner – You could use a trash bag. Or you could get a tote such as this one that can be washed each time you launder your diapers.

Wipes – If you use cloth diapers it is SO much easier to use cloth wipes. (Otherwise, you’re trying to keep a separate pile for the wipes and then must take them to a trash can.) With cloth wipes, you can keep them with the diaper and wash everything all together. Plus, they also save money in the long run! I got 2 dozen wipes for $24.

Spray Bottle – If you use cloth wipes, keep a spray bottle nearby and just wet a wipe when you use it.

Diaper Sprayer – This is not a must, but it makes cloth diapering so EASY! I simply rinse all of my diapers (whether dirty or just wet) and then toss them into the diaper pail. When I wash, I don’t have to worry about doing any pre-rinsing or other additional wash routine because rinsing with the diaper sprayer has taken care of it.

How many diapers do you need to get started? If you have a dryer, 24 diapers for one baby is very doable.

Here are some helpful links:
Diapering Tips & Discussion Board:

The Diaper Pin


Cloth diapering resources:


saissared said...

Hi! Very informative post! I have been using the bumGenius cloth diapers with my 21 month old son, for about 4 months now. We LOVE them! They are safe for him, cheaper than disposables, easy to clean, and better for the environment.

I have also found that gDiapers are nice to have when we're out and about. They are cloth/disposable hybrids with inserts you can flush, trash, or compost. They are totally safe for my son, and the planet, and they make outings more conveinent.

We are thrilled with our bumGenius and gDiapers - they are the best of cloth and disposables. I was so happy when I started using them - I wrote about it! :o) Yep - cloth diapers are awesome!

God bless,

Lauren said...

Hey there! I'm all about cloth diapering, and I try to spread the word to every parent (and expectant parent) I know! If it's not too presumptuous, I'd like to pass along the cloth diapering blog I started. It's still a work in progress, because I'm a busy mama and I try to keep up with our family blog too, so it's not complete yet, but it might be helpful to some parents interested in making the switch! It's The Diaper Diaries. Thanks!

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