Cloth diapering has been a very positive experience and has saved us money. People choose to cloth diaper for all kinds of reasons, but a big one for me was that I was cloth-diapered as a baby. It is a normal thing in my brain.
As you can imagine, 30 years later we have all kinds of modern products available and really cute patterns, too. When the first newborn cloth diaper arrived in the mail while I was pregnant, I actually cried. It was so darn cute, haha!
When I started researching, I had so many questions! Here are some questions and answers:
How often do I wash diapers? I wash 3 times a week, or every other day. For detergent and washing instructions, I like to refer to to this site. They list different machines and detergents so you can adjust your settings.
Does the laundry water or electricity hurt the environment more or cost us more than disposables? Nope.
Is the time it takes to load the washer, move it to the dryer, and unload the dryer a big deal to me? Nope. I hang to dry the covers, pocket covers, wet bags, and pail liner. I put my All-in-ones, inserts, fitted diapers, and cloth wipes in the dryer. I got my drying rack at Ikea.
Do I spend time assembling every diaper? Nope, only her nighttime diaper, so not even a minute.
Is the poop a big deal? Nope, the poop isn’t a big deal since it’s breast milk poop (water soluble) and honestly now she poops about once a week (normal for a breastfed baby after 1 month), so 4 poops or so a month has been a breeze. I do rinse the poopy diapers before putting them in the pail. When babies start solids, it gets a little more interesting, but I am planning on using a liner for that.
Do the diapers really last from newborn to potty-trained? My baby is 5 months and they are still like new. One-size diapers adjust to fit her until she’s potty trained and are said to last for future siblings. I’ve tried to buy gender-neutral covers for that reason.
How much did I spend on diapers? Less than $500 total, and less than $20 for cloth wipes! Most of the diapers came from the baby registry since it’s an easy item for friends to purchase, unlike the pricey, big registry items. I also have received cloth diapers free of charge from awesome companies to review, and boy am I going to tell you about that!
Cloth diaper anatomy lesson, please?
Inner absorbent part + outer waterproof cover = cloth diaper. The inner absorbent part can be made of many materials, my favorite being cotton, bamboo, and hemp. The cover can have a velcro closure (called hook and loop) or snaps. When Emília was a newborn, hook and loop was easiest. Now that she’s rolling and trying to crawl, I find that snaps are easier for me.
Diapers have different names based on the arrangement of these parts, but to spare you the details let’s cut to the chase…
My Favorite Items
THIRSTIES ONE-SIZE NATURAL ALL-IN-ONES: the diaper is all together, no assembly required. I was SO excited to get to sample these through Green Mountain Diapers (GMD), and they work! Trim fit, lots of absorbance, made of hemp and cotton. They can leak if they’re not fully prepped (washed multiple times), and they take a long time to dry if you hang to dry. I put them in the dryer. We’ve taken Emília on a few road trips wearing these and she wore it for two hours without leaks. It’s our favorite travel diaper, and easiest when others are changing her diapers. These come in hook and loop and snaps. We have the snaps.
GREEN MOUNTAIN DIAPERS (GMD) WORKHORSE FITTED DIAPERS – leak-proof wonder! These diapers have contained what would have been massive blowouts. How do I know? Because on the 4th day of her life, Emília blew out of a disposable diaper in multiple angles. We were waiting to start cloth diapering when she was about two weeks old, but we decided on that 4th day that it was time. These cotton, soft, adorable diapers are precious. You can get them with or without snaps at GMD. These are sized newborn, small, medium, large, and extra-large. We skipped size small when we registered, and Emília went from newborn to medium without any problems. They do require a cover!
One side note on containing baby poo: the diaper has to fit well (no leg gaps, diaper elastic goes on underwear line, not sagging mid-thigh). When she was at her lowest weight, newborn size looked bulky but wasn’t loose. Sometimes the “one-size” diapers don’t fit babies under 8 or 9lbs. Using a prefold or a newborn size fitted diaper, with a velcro closure cover is what I would recommend for newborns until they fit the one-size diapers well.
KAWAII BABY ONE-SIZE COVERS – ya know, after trying 3 different other brands of covers, these are my favorites. Why? Well, for one, they’re freakishly cheap. Secondly, they don’t leak. The issue I had with other brands’ double-gusset covers was the border would get wet/humid, sometimes transferring to the onesie and requiring an outfit change. Not Kawaii Baby, though! The perk of a cover is that you can just wipe clean and replace the inner part (fitted, insert, prefold, whatever) for several diaper changes. When I’m home with Emília during the day, we use these covers over fitted diapers/inserts. We have both snaps and hook and loop closure.
KAWAII BABY GOODNIGHT HEAVY WETTER POCKET DIAPERS – this is our nighttime wonder. No diaper leaks at night, changing jammies, or messy sheets. These are thick covers with a soft, fleecy “feel dry” inner lining, with an opening (a pocket!) to put inserts into. The current link comes with microfiber inserts. I choose not to use any microfiber. You might be able to ask Kawaii Baby for a no inserts option or bamboo inserts instead, so contact them. Right now at 5 months, we only need a bamboo insert on top of a hemp insert, and it holds her feeling dry through the night. Let me tell you more about these good inserts.
THIRSTIES HEMP INSERTS – these are so absorbent and trim, great for night-time! They are slow-absorbers for the amount my baby pees/floods, so I prefer to pair them with a bamboo insert (faster absorber) on top. I received two of these inserts from Thirsties for my review. I wish I had more!
KAWAII BABY 100% BAMBOO INSERTS – so very soft, and every layer is bamboo! Two of these in a Kawaii cover is a really easy day-time diaper change. If for some reason my hemp inserts are in the wash, I put 3 of these in the pocket diaper and it holds for nighttime.
OSOCOZY FLANNEL WIPES – Yes, cloth wipes! It’s easier than you think. It took me a long time to attempt to wipe poop with these. I kept going back to Water Wipes for poops haha. But I got brave, and they really did the trick. These wipes are THIN and soft. There are other wipes on the GMD website that are much thicker, if you prefer that. I keep these dry and spray them right before the diaper change. What do I spray them with? I’m glad you asked.
GMD SPRAY BOTTLES – Listen, you could go to the travel aisle of the grocery store and get those spray bottles like I did at first, and then wish you had a better spray bottle. I have one upstairs, one downstairs, and one in my diaper bag. These are less than a dollar and they actually work. But wait a minute, what do I put in the bottles?
My cloth wipe solution: into a peri bottle, I put 3 ounces of H2O (yes, water), 3 ounces of witch hazel, 2 ounces of 100% aloe vera gel, and 3 or 4 drops of teatree oil. Shake it. Put it in the spray bottle, keep the rest for refill. That’s it. I already had most of those things at home from postpartum recovery, so it was no big deal.
THIRSTIES PAIL LINERS – easy to clean, I turn them inside out and tie them shut, put it with the diaper laundry. I have two pail liners so one is always clean while the other is washing/air-drying. Fits in a 13-gallon step-on trash can, which is what we use. It’s enough for the contents to breathe, doesn’t stink. Again, I wash 3 times a week.
TWO ZIPPER WETBAGS – It’s worth mentioning two zipper compartment wet bags. I can put a couple of clean diapers, cloth wipes, spray bottle, bibs, and a spare onesie in the front pouch, and put the dirties in the big pouch, and we can go on the road without digging into her big diaper bag.
GMD PREFOLDS – Honorable mention for these! We use them as burp cloths, under us to nurse side-lying on the bed, changing pads, and have used them as diapers in a cover, too. Who’s the real MVP?
BUMKINS LINERS – These are the liners we have for poopy diapers. We do not flush them! Word of advice from seasoned cloth mama friends: if you get the cheap fleece blankets at Walmart and cut them up into liners, you can wash and reuse the ones you choose to (pee diapers, for example) and you can dispose of the poop ones. It’s actually cheaper than buying liners. Who knew!? I haven’t done this yet since we haven’t ran out of liners, but I’ll be trying this.
EARTH MAMA ANGEL BABY BOTTOM BALM – cloth-diaper friendly diaper cream, and it’s wonderful! Emília had a small diaper rash at some point during her first week of life, and this stuff made it go away very quickly. Haven’t had any issues since, thank goodness.
Buy diapers on holiday sales!
Don’t pay full retail price! I’ve seen Thirsties diapers/products 15% off multiple times. Kelly’s Closet has Thirsties 15% off, but that sale ends August 30th. Kawaii Baby has 15% off regular priced items til September 3rd. Over the weekend, I’m sure other sites will have Labor Day sales, too. Black Friday is insane for cloth diapers, so if you can wait 3 months and research what you want, pounce on it in November.
Use gift cards!
If you have gift cards, Target and Amazon carry Thirsties brand and lots of cloth diaper options. Amazon has more prints and products, and you get a completion discount on your baby registry -15% off if you have Prime. Be sure to check which items qualify for a completion discount/Baby Bucks.
GMD workhorses are also sold on Amazon, but you’ll notice the price on the GMD website is much cheaper. The GMD website also carries Thirsties brand items. Shout out to GMD, it’s an incredible small business, and if you look in their products list, they give Bibles for free with your order if you want one. When I saw that, I actually cried. You know when you can tell that believers are running a business? Yeah. They’re that awesome. Go support them!
UNIVERSAL AMAZON REGISTRY!
You can put any outside link of the products you want in your baby registry. I put my GMD workhorse fitted diapers on my Amazon registry, and people went from the Amazon link to the GMD site and got them. Amazing.
How many do I need?
Depends on how often you want to wash. I wouldn’t go more than 3 days between washes, honestly. Every other day is perfect for me.
Most say 24 diapers is plenty for that, 36 is way more than enough. I ended up having extra because I registered for lots of workhorse fitted diapers.
Some people buy 24 All-in-one diapers and call it a day. Some people buy 36 prefolds and 10 covers and they’re done. Some people do 24 pocket diapers and 48 inserts. I just couldn’t commit to one type without knowing what would work for us. The positive thing is that cloth diapers can be reused by multiple siblings and also hold resale value very well, meaning if I have $500 worth of diapers, I may be able to easily get $200 back by selling them. You can find several “preloved” entire cloth diaper stashes for sale online, maybe even by someone you know through Facebook. There are resources for sanitizing methods if you buy used.
I am learning more as I go. I haven’t tried every brand, so I’m sorry if your absolute favorite isn’t listed here. Maybe that means there are many great options that work well, right? I hope this information helps, and that more moms feel confident to try cloth diapers. It’s been wonderful for us, for many generations!