Patty H. decided a while ago to use cloth diapers rather than disposables, but now that this she's expecting her first baby and doing some research, she doesn’t know what methods or products would be helpful.
“Every time I go to a site, it’s so full of information and now I am confused more than ever,” she rues. “What type of diapers are the best ones to use? What is the difference between a pre-fold, fitted, all-in-one and homemade? Which are easier — pins, snaps or Velcro? I noticed that some use liners and others don't, and some require a cover. How can I tell which ones do?”
The idea of cloth diapering can sound daunting to a newbie, but Circle of Moms members who are experienced with them reassure that the equipment and cleanup process are not complicated to learn. Here they offer four tips that make cloth diapering as easy as using disposables.
1. Decide Which Type of Diaper to Use
Today, parents don’t have to bother with the old fashioned (and unwieldy) cloth diapering regimen of folding and pinning if they don’t want to, according to Circle of Moms member Jan M. “There are tons of different types of diapers” that don’t involve prepping a diaper before using it and potentially poking your baby with a pin. The options, as she describes, include:
- All-in-ones – These generally are the most expensive and work similar to disposable diapers in terms of how you put them on and take them off, with either snaps or Velcro.
- Pockets - These cost and work about the same as all-in-ones, except you have to stuff an absorbent layer into them through an opening in the back. “[This] is slightly more work, but they dry faster and you can customize the absorbency by adding extra soakers for overnight or car trips and what not,” Jan notes.
- All in twos - These come with a waterproof cover that you stuff or snap a soaker layer into. “These are nice because you only have to wash the outside part if it gets poop on it; otherwise you just toss a new soaker into it and away you go,” Jan adds.
- Fitteds and covers – This refers to a two-part system that includes a fitted cloth diaper that closes with Velcro or snaps, plus an added waterproof cover. “These are nice because you can use different types of covers on them as needed, and they are fairly affordable, last a long time and generally are easy to wash without a lot of fuss,” explains Jan.
- Prefolds – These often are the cheapest and are sewn like a flat diaper that has already been folded so there are more layers in the middle. Prefolds can be fastened with pins or with rubber, T-shaped diaper fasteners, called Snappis. Moms also can use a prefold and lay it in a cover.
- Flats - “What your grandmother used to diaper her babies with,” Jan says, describing them as a square of cotton flannel that you fold and fasten onto your baby, and then put a cover over. “In most cases, prefolds are actually cheaper then flats because they are more common,” she notes. For covers, moms have about four options: plastic pants; polyurethane-lined covers (PULs); polarfleece; and natural fibers like bamboo, hemp or wool.
2. Experiement to Find a Good Fit
When choosing from among the many cloth diapering options, the key factor will be your budget and how well a type of diaper type fits on your baby. Very often, moms need to experiment to find out which ones are easiest to put on and won’t leak. “You just kind of have to give it a spin and find out as you go along,” Marissa J. relays.
For a newborn and a beginning diaperer, a member named Vilate recommends prefolds because they are less bulky for a little baby than all-in-ones or pocket diapers. The fit can change over as your baby grows, so when ”your baby gets bigger [at] about 4 months, you can start to try out different diapers. Try out different ones until you find what works for you,” she suggests.
Another reason to try different styles is because one type might be better at keeping rashes at bay, Jan M. notes. “Rashes happen no matter what kind of diaper you use. Some kids are prone to them and others aren't,” she says. For instance, her son was part-time cloth diapered and never had rash, but her daughter would get a rash if she wore disposable diapers or used plastic cloth diaper covers, no matter which brands she tried.
The good news, says Cory O., is that many diaper sites have variety packs to allow moms to sample the different cloth diapering options.
Or, Marissa suggests moms search Craigslist to purchase different used styles second-hand.
3. How to Handle Dirty Diapers
Once moms ensure a proper fit on their babies, Circle of Moms members suggest a few products to help make cleanup a breeze. Liners can be used to line the inside of cloth diapers and make disposing of solids easier. They can be used for extra absorbency. Or, they can be used when your baby has a rash and you need to apply diaper cream but don’t want to get the cream on the diaper (creams usually hinder absorbency), members Vilate and Kate advise.
Vilate also suggests getting a sprayer to hose-off solids. “You'll love it, and it will make diapering so much less yucky!”
Generally, moms like Liza G. recommend moms store diapers in a dry pail — rather than in a pail filled with water — until laundry day so that you don’t have to fool with sticking your hands in stinky water, or emptying and washing the bucket.
Jordan K. uses a Diaper Genie as her dry pail, which she says contains smells until the diapers are laundered.
4. How to Eliminate Smells and Stains
When enough diapers have accumulated to fill a washing machine, several moms recommend first running the diapers through a cold water cycle, and then washing them with soap in hot water followed by another cold water rinse.
The first cold water rinse reduces staining, Jennifer R. explains. And especially in front loader washing machines, the double cold rinse cycles help get the diapers sufficiently wet to get clean.
If stains don’t come out in the wash, then a member named Kate suggests line-drying the diapers in the sun. “Sunning is awesome for getting out the stains. I mean crazy fast and almost miraculous. Wish it would work like that on other clothes!” she says.
Several moms also suggest using additives like baking soda while washing, to help reduce stains and odors. To prevent bacteria from building up, Jordan K. puts hydrogen peroxide in the hot water cycle; she doesn’t have a sanitizing cycle on her washing machine.
However, Majaliwa B. cautions against adding vinegar to the wash because although it’s great for killing bacteria, it can cause the special PULs fabric (fabric laminated with a waterproof backing) to break down over time.
As an alternative to doing the dirty washing yourself, moms Lori S. and Kerry suggest signing up for a diaper service. You then just have to use liners to easily discard the waste, put the diapers in a pail for the service to pick up once a week, and the service takes and leaves a week’s worth. “[The] diaper service could not have been easier … you never even had to rinse the diapers … in fact you were told not to. I would recommend this to anyone,” Kerry says.
Cloth diapering at first might seem difficult when moms read about the process, but experienced parents reassure that you will quickly catch on and develop your own routine for making dressing and cleaning easy.
“Trust me, you will catch up to the rest of the cloth diapering community in no time flat! You just have to get started somewhere, and you will see what I mean. All of a sudden you will become an expert,” Marissa J. says. “Best of all, you never have to run out to the store on an emergency run for diapers.”
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.