This post has been in my drafts for over a year! I figured I’d spend just a few minutes and finish it up to share my thoughts!
I have had about a dozen people ask me about cloth diapers and every time I am so happy to share our experience; but that means I’ve basically typed up this post about… a dozen times!
I thought I’d just type up a post about cloth diapers and then when someone asks, I can simply give them a link to this post – which will invariably have MUCH more information than me just typing something up really quickly in reply to them.
So, we chose to cloth diaper for many reasons, but they are (in order of importance to me):
- Much lower chemical exposure to baby than disposables. That is why we chose organic cotton prefolds (more on this later).
- Environmental impact: (1) Less energy and resources in making cloth diapers (generally a 1 time purchase for use from newborn to potty learned) than disposables and (2) less waste generated in using cloth diapers than buying disposables every week.
- Ease of use. Not that disposables aren’t easy and cloth diapers are easier. Not at all – but cloth diapers aren’t hard; they are quite easy to use and clean and that was a plus for me.
When I was pregnant (all 7 months!) I researched the heck out of cloth diapers. I wanted to be frugal, and I wanted to use prefolds and that was all I knew when I started out. I ultimately chose to buy Bummis covers and prefolds, both from people selling them used on Craigslist. I bought Bummis Super Whisper Wraps from this super nice lady who had like six kids. She was knitting and they were all playing in the yard when I pulled up. “Oh, it’s going to be so much fun to be a mom!” I thought. From another woman I bought prefolds (she said they were organic, so hopefully they were). I had sizes newborn through medium all set! I was on the search for larger sizes and ended up buying a whole set of prefolds and Dappi diaper covers from another mom. Don’t do Dappi. Just don’t. They were awful. The prefolds were useless, too… they were made with the type of cotton you might make a bed sheet from. No absorbency, no quilting, nothing. I used neither of these things!
Anyway, when my little one ended up coming quite early, I knew I was going to have to buy MORE diapers, but being on hospital bedrest and then in the NICU for almost a month, I was in no place to scour Craigslist looking for diapers for my little preemie. I really like Bummis for their ethics, so I opted to get more of those. It so happens, too, that Bummis makes one of the smallest covers on the market – the newborn size Super Brite. It can fit babies from 4-9 pounds! And once our little one came home from the NICU he was about 6 pounds and they fit him great. He wore them until he was 9 pounds on the dot and then *POOF* they were too small.
So, before I get into all the things I bought – let me say this:
Don’t buy a full set of just one thing. Don’t buy 36 AIOs (all in ones) from the same brand and call it good. What if you hate them? What if they don’t fit *your* baby right? Sure, you can sell them, but you’ll still lose some money. Buy ONE of a few different brands of AIOs if that’s what you want. Buy a couple pockets if they interest you. Buy a couple different prefolds if that’s the route you want to take. Buy a few different brands of covers for them (either one size or newborn size). Or whatever you want to try. Try them out on your newborn and see how you like them. I read advice like this and I didn’t listen; but I was pretty convinced I wanted to do prefolds and covers, and luckily I did end up liking them. However, what if I had not been happy with prefolds and then I’d be stuck with a whole bunch of them until I bought something else and sold those. Just something to keep in mind. You can re-sell your diapers; I have had luck on Craigslist or the Mothering.com Trading Post.
We did end up trying several different types of diapers (we tried AIOs and pockets in addition to prefolds and covers) but we ultimately ended up using prefolds and covers and I loved them. If we ever have another baby we will do prefolds (or flats) and covers again. So, because I don’t have a lot of experience with AIOs and pockets and because I prefer prefolds and covers for the following reasons:
- Easy to use. Some would argue this, but I found them incredibly easy to put on both a newborn and a toddler. Velcro is easier than snaps, but by 8 months my son figured out how to rip the velcro open and take his diaper off! We switched to snaps at that time.
- Easy to wash. AIOs tend to be hard to get clean and take a long time to dry. You need to pull dirty inserts out of pockets. With most covers you can hang them to dry if they didn’t get dirty and re-use them (until either they get soiled or it’s the next wash day, whatever comes first).
- A natural fiber is touching baby’s skin. Most AIOs (not all!) and pockets have fleece touching baby’s skin and fleece is made entirely from plastic. Yes, you can get microfiber or fleece type inserts for covers, but for the most part covers are used with prefolds and flats and those tend to be cotton or hemp. I chose organic cotton because that is better both for the environment and for baby.
- Cheaper. AIOs and even pockets are much more expensive than prefolds or flats and covers.
- Durable. Prefolds and flats wash and wear much better than AIOs and pockets. And if one tears for some reason, it’s easily replaced for just a few dollars. If an AIO tears you’ll need to repair it or replace it for upwards of $15-30.
Ultimately, we used/tried:
Anything I bought new was either from Amazon (get an Amazon rewards visa and use it for your regular grocery and gas purchases and you’ll be able to get a lot for free! But pay it off every month, please!) or Nicki’s Diapers. Nicki’s is a great company and they offer competitive prices and free shipping on most diapers.
Our experience and if I had it to do all over again:
I would use flats instead of prefolds. Flats get cleaner and dry faster. We had some stink issues with our prefolds and it was this (paired with Bunkers only wetting one or two diapers in a 24 hour period by 15 months – he was using the potty pretty well by then) that made us stop using cloth. I would only have four or five diapers in the pail after 48 hours and cloth diapers shouldn’t really sit any longer than that. It felt like a waste and a strain on water resources to wash that small of a load. So we switched to disposable diapers at that point. I felt bad about it, but we were only using 1 or 2 a day. After a while we switched to pull up style disposable diapers and then when Bunkers was about 22 months old I bought some cloth training pants. The week after his 2nd birthday he was not having any accidents anymore! And he’s been fully committed to using the potty since then. We used a couple different training pants and I really prefered the Imse Vimse organic cotton ones. They held in one pee very well.
Also if I had it to do over again, I would just stick with Bummis for the newborn stage up until they are sitting up and I would use velcro. Velcro is so easy to put on and when it’s the fifth diaper change of the night at 3am you really don’t want to try and do four (or more!) snaps. You just don’t. Thirsties offer velcro and we used those when Bunkers outgrew the newborn Bummis at about 4 months until about 12 months when we couldn’t keep the velcro ones on him anymore (trick: keep a onesie on them. It was a super hot summer, so that didn’t work for us and we were doing EC and needed quick access).
Once baby is ready to sit up, I feel like velcro is a bit of a hinderance. It’s stiff and kinda bulky and doesn’t bend well. And a lot of babies will figure out how to undo velcro around this time!
Once Bunkers outgrew the Bummis diapers I had bought on Craigslist and online and was ripping open the velcro on the Thirsties, I switched to snaps. I ended up buying Flip diaper covers by BumGenius and I am very glad I did! They have two snaps on each flap and an adjustable rise. We never once had a leak or blowout with these diapers and if there is a next time I will probably use these over the Thirsties.
See how the velcro seems to make it hard for him to sit straight?!
Here’s what my stash would look like if I were expecting another baby:
For the newborn size (4-8 weeks)
For the infant size (2-8 months-ish)
For the older infant/young toddler size (10 months to potty learned)
- Flip Diaper Covers – 6 total
- Organic Birdseye Flats – 36-48 total (Might need more by this age to double up for nighttime)
- Snappi (we were not using a snappi anymore, just doing a newspaper fold, but some people find them still helpful at this stage!)
Also, for all stages:
- Diaper pail (I don’t recommend the one I used, so research to find one that works well with cloth diapers and cloth diaper pail bags)
- Diaper pail bags (Get two so that you have one to put in the pail when the other gets taken to the wash)
- Wet bags for in the diaper bag
For diaper pail bags and wet bags I wholeheartedly recommend Planet Wise! They are available on Nicki’s Diapers or Amazon for amazing prices. We still use them for our family cloth in the bathroom!
That all looks so nice and simple, huh?! And it is, and that’s what I like about it.
Did you cloth diaper? What kinds did you use?