Picking a Cloth Diaper Style
Okay, so you have decided what style or combination of styles you want to use for your little one. Now what?
How Many Diapers Will I Need?
Newborns go through approximately 12 diapers/day. We realize that most new parents would rather not do laundry every day so 24 diapers is a great starting number for a full-time cloth diapered newborn. Don't want to wash every other day? Just wait a few months and your baby will be needing changed less frequently as he or she grows.
We generally recommend 24 diapers and washing every other day.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.
Sized vs. One Size Diapers
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.
Types of Cloth Diapers
Prefold Diapers Long considered the work-horse of the cloth diapering world, “prefolds” are the diapers you remember from childhood. Gone, however, are the scary diaper pins, so fear not - you needn't jab your little one unexpectedly! Prefold diapers are available in various sizes to accommodate babies from birth to potty training, and at less than $4 per diaper, are easily replaced when soiled or lost. The most economical of the cloth diapering choices, they also make great burp cloths and dusting rags when your little one moves on to the big potty.
Fitted Diapers Fitted diapers are the most technically advanced diaper available without a built-in cover. Snaps and/or velcro make securing these diapers to your baby a breeze. Fitted diapers are especially known for their ability to contain even the runniest poops, so with a well-fitting cover, your little one's clothing should stay clean and fresh all day.
Pocket Diapers Pocket diapers are designed for flexibility in absorbency while still maintaining a trim fit. These diapers are great for overnight because they can be stuffed with two- or three-times what your baby needs during the day, and with a stay-dry layer of soft fleece against your baby's skin, can significantly extend the (much-needed) sleep time between diaper changes. When the stuffing is removed, drying time is reduced dramatically.
- All-In-One Diapers The name says it all! All-in-One diapers (AIOs) are designed to go from the wash to baby's bum and back to the pail with no muss and no fuss. The outer layer of waterproof laminated polyester fabric (PUL) is soft and quiet, the inner layers of cotton or hemp absorb whatever your little one can dish up, and a layer of ultra-soft fleece keeps the baby's skin nice and dry. All-in-One diapers are great for daycare, Daddies, and even the occasional weekend at Grandma's!
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 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.
Reusable pail liners are a must-have item for many cloth diapering families. 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.