Cloth Diapering 101
This page provides answers to many of your questions about choosing and caring for cloth diapers. Like many families, we were hesitant to use cloth - mostly due to misinformation we heard from friends and family. We spent months researching, but once we made the choice to use cloth diapers, we never looked back! In fact, we were so convinced that cloth diapers are the best choice for babies, we opened a whole store dedicated to providing the finest cloth diaper systems available! Plus, we want to share some of the research we found most helpful and to give you a feel for the real-life cloth diaper experience. And remember, you can always call (877.222.9230) or email us with any questions.
Like many parents, you have probably contemplated whether to use cloth diapers or disposables. In our conversations with many new and busy parents, we have learned most of the parents who chose disposable diapers did so because they were unaware just how much cloth diapers have changed since our parents used them. Today’s modern cloth diaper systems and cloth diaper covers bear no resemblance to the cloth diapers of yesteryear. Modern cloth diapers are durable, waterproof, stain resistant, and most importantly, exceedingly easy to use and clean. Not only will your baby feel better, but you will also minimize your impact on the environment! Several cloth diaper manufacturers have taken green and sustainability even further by offering choices including organic cotton and hemp cloth diapers for your natural baby. After making the switch to cloth diapers, most parents are astonished at how easily both they and their babies adapted to these unique cloth diaper systems. Best of all, your baby's bottom will thank you for surrounding it in the softness of a cloth diaper.
At The Natural Baby, we offer one of the widest selections of cloth diapers and cloth diapering systems. We carry top-rated, real life and time-tested brands including bumGenius, FuzziBunz, Happy Heinys, Imse Vimse, Kissaluvs and Thirsties. With such a wide selection of cloth diapers available, we know the decision as to which cloth diaper system to choose can be daunting. No matter which cloth diaper system you choose, be assured The Natural Baby will be here to support you every step of the way with expert advice based upon experience.
In fulfilling our commitment to support moms, nurture babies and respect the environment, we not only carry a broad selection of the highest quality cloth diapers, but we also endeavor to always have sufficient numbers of each size and color on hand (in both our physical store and on-line) so you do not have to wait for your cloth diapers. Most importantly, you will find our dedication to offering the best customer service and knowledgeable, practical advice is without comparison in the cloth diaper industry. Thank you for choosing The Natural Baby for all your cloth diapering needs!
Click here for an easy-to-use automated calculator to illustrate your potential savings when using cloth diapers instead of disposable diapers.
Okay, so you have decided what style or combination of styles you want to use for your little one. Now what?
Newborns go through approximately 12 diapers/day. Depending on how many days you want to go between washing, that means anywhere from 12-36 diapers total. We can tell you from experience, that after two days, your diaper pail will begin to...well...to stink a little. AND, your washing machine will do a much better job cleaning 24 diapers than it will 36. So we generally recommend one or two day's worth of diapers.
As your baby grows, he will need fewer and fewer diaper changes each day, so you may be comforted to know that by the time he is outgrowing those newborn diapers, around 6 months or so, you will most likely need only about 8-10 diapers per day.
One-Size Diapers are a great option for folks who would prefer one thing from newborn to potty learning. Rather than buying X number of small diapers + X number of medium diapers + X number of large diapers, you can buy just one batch and use them from start to finish. Remember, though, that means 24+ months of constant use, rather than just 6-8 months - at the end of your child's diapering career, you may need a whole new stash of diapers if you are planning to cloth diaper more children.
"Did you say combination of diaper styles? But I've barely begun to understand one system!"
Depending on your daily routine - at home full-time, part-time, day-care, etc. - you may find a combination system works best for you and your family. In our home, we elected to use fitted diapers and wool covers ($$) during the day (I am with our children full-time) and pocket diapers ($$$) for naps, night-time and for trips outside the home. We like the flexibility, not to mention the reduced out-of-pocket expense over doing a full stash of pockets. Of course, if pocket diapers are the only way you will consider using cloth but money is still a concern, consider just one day's worth instead of two. You will save money but you will be washing diapers every night.
There are many products out there that make choosing cloth much easier. Here are our top recommendations:
Cloth Wipes Why complicate your cloth diapering system with disposable baby wipes? Not only are they the clear green alternative to disposables, but cloth wipes are easy to care for and out-perform disposables hands down. All you need to decide is whether you would like to store them wet or dry. Storing wet wipes means being diligent about changing their water/solution every day or every other day to prevent mildew. Storing them dry means having something nearby to wet them before use. Sink? Spray bottle? Peri bottle? Use whatever works for you but if you plan to travel, make sure you have a road-ready alternative. Toss used wipes in with the dirty diapers and wash them all together.
Pail Liner I consider reusable pail liners a must-have item for any cloth diapering system. They are large enough to fit in a standard garbage can/diaper pail and make transporting dirty diapers to the washing machine a breeze. Just remove the bag and carry everything to the machine, invert the bag, dumping its contents and throw the bag in after. Wash it all together and put a clean liner in your diaper pail, ready for the next diaper change. Yes, we do recommend two pail liners. We've had many people purchase one to start with only to come back in a week or two for the second one so save yourself some time and get two.
Wet Bag If you are planning to leave the house with a baby in cloth diapers, you will need at least one wet bag. Bags range in size from 2-4 diaper capacity up to 18+. For quick trips to the store or baby's play dates, a medium-sized bag will generally be all you need. If baby is going to daycare for the day, consider the largest size available. And remember, these bags can be re-purposed after your little ones are out of diapers - wet clothes, swimsuits, lunch bags - the possibilities are endless.
Diaper Sprayer Although newborn/breastfed poop is water soluble and washes out in the machine, solid food poop does not, so you will need to remove as much before washing as possible. Many diapers, especially those lined with fleece, make this a pretty easy task, but even the best liner can't prevent stuck-on poop 100% of the time. That's where the diaper sprayer comes in. 5-10 minute installation means no dunking, swishing, flushing or swirling. Just a few sprays from with The Diaper Sprayer and the poop ends up where it belongs, and not in your washing machine.
Diaper Liners If you are using diapers that do NOT have a fleece liner, consider using a diaper liner to aid poop removal. The moisture from the poop will pass into the absorbent layers of the diaper, leaving a more solid poop for shaking into the toilet, and spraying a diaper liner is much easier and absorbs far less water than spraying the entire absorbent diaper. Liners are available in reusable fleece, raw silk, and even come in flushable form - talk about easy!
Hemp Products made with hemp are perfect for cloth diapering because hemp is a natural fiber which is extremely absorbent but trimmer than cotton or other materials. With hemp you can add extra absorbency where your baby needs it without increasing the diaper's bulk. We recommend using hemp in addition to your cotton layers or pocket diaper inserts because while hemp absorbs a lot it tends to absorb slowly, and so performs better under a few layers of quick-absorbing material.
Garment Extenders You may notice that when wearing a cloth diaper, your child has a significantly fluffier behind. While t-shirts and stretchy pants fit just fine, Onesies® and other bodysuits tend to be a little short, even though they fit in the upper body. Garment Extenders go a long way to help get plenty of wear out of those outfits. After testing a few different sets available on the market, we have found the 10-pack from One Step Ahead to have the best range of snap sizes, fitting the most clothing in our closet.
As you browse through our shop or talk with friends, you will quickly find that everyone has a different system for washing cloth diapers. We have washed our diapers for over a year and have had good results with the following:
★ How many diapers to wash at a time depends on your washer, your washing routine, your philosophy, and your diapers. As a general rule of thumb, wash no more than 18 fitted diapers or 24 prefolds at a time. You may be able to do more or less, so do a little experimenting to find what works best for you and your washer.
★ Like towels and t-shirts, diapers become more absorbent over time. This is especially true for cotton fleece and unbleached fabrics, which require some initial "roughing up" in the washing machine.
★ Most detergents suggest using an obscene amount of detergent. Use just enough to clean, but not so much that is leaves a residue. If you see suds at the end of your second rinse cycle, do an extra rinse and use a little less detergent next time.
★ Line drying will significantly reduce the wear and tear on your diapers and extend their useful life.
★ OxyClean® really is a great stain fighter. If sunning your wet diapers doesn't help, put a small amount of OxyClean® in every load or mix it with a small amount of water to make a paste and apply directly to tough stains. *Re-wash OxyClean®-treated diapers.
Click here for some great tips on using cloth diapers in daycare.