Cloth Diapering 101
Who’s ready for cloth diapering 101?? If you haven’t already heard the exciting news, we are expecting an addition to the Tiny Yellow Bungalow crew very soon! Baby boy’s expected arrival is mid-February, and we are thrilled to start the cloth diapering adventure soon. I’ve been experimenting with the zero waste lifestyle over the past few years and would like to continue keeping things as waste and plastic free as possible even with a little one in the house. I think cloth diapering is a great place to start!
A couple of weeks ago, I asked my Instagram friends for all of their cloth diapering wisdom and advice. I want to thank everyone for sharing! I’ve compiled their responses here not only to help myself get organized but also in hopes of sharing with any other new-to-cloth diapering parents out there. Starting out with cloth is pretty overwhelming but I am so thankful for all the information shared by my knowledgeable Insta friends. I myself am totally new to the cloth diapering concept (this is our first baby) but I plan to learn as much as I can along the way and share it with you all. I promise I will write another post in a few months time when I’ve tried out cloth diapering first hand with our little guy.
Psst! If you want more details on our cloth diaper experience, also be sure to check out my blog post I wrote after a year of cloth diapering!
How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need?
The general consensus on how many cloth diapers you should have in your stash is… it depends. Yes, it depends on how often you want to do laundry. My cloth diapering Insta friends mostly have between 20 and 30 diapers on rotation. If you don’t have as many, you simply need to wash diapers more often – no big deal. However, before you run to the store and grab 25 cloth diapers, a great tip mentioned was to start your stash small!
I was really hoping I would be able to buy 25 cloth diapers in one single brand before mid-February, because I like to be prepared. However, it seems that honestly cloth diapering is something you have to try out first hand and learn along the way. Apparently, each family and baby is different and will prefer different brands and styles of diapers. So starting out your stash small is a great idea, because you can learn which diapers you prefer and build your stash from there. I’m SO glad someone mentioned this to me before I went out and bought a bunch of diapers.
Favorite Cloth Diaper Brands & Styles
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As I mentioned, every family is different and has certain preferences when it comes to cloth diapering. If you’re like me though and have no clue where to start, it might be helpful to learn some brands that are zero waste parent tested and approved.
You can find all of these style diapers online brand new or if you’d like to go extra eco-friendly, look for these diapers secondhand. Several Insta friends mentioned buying their gently used cloth diapers on Craigslist or Facebook. Buying secondhand isn’t only better for the environment but it’s also significantly cheaper.
It seems like most cloth diapering parents prefer organic cotton prefolds with waterproof covers or AIO diapers. It’s best to splurge on liners and purchase cheap covers. Most of my Insta friends prefer natural fibers like cotton or hemp for their cloth diapers, and snaps rather than velcro.
If you really don’t feel comfortable buying a few diapers to experiment with when baby comes, I learned that some online companies offer cloth diaper trials. This way, you can try out several different brands without the commitment of purchasing your own to see what works best for your baby.
Newborn Cloth Diapers
I had a variety of useful recommendations for newborn diapers and I still haven’t quite decided what my plan will be.
Option #1: Purchase cheap flour sack towels & covers for the newborn stage. Using flour sack towels is very affordable.
Option #2: Buy a stash of newborn cloth diapers used on Craigslist or Facebook. You can use these for the short newborn stage and then sell them again when you’ve moved on to the one size diapers.
Option #3: Just start with disposables for those first few weeks. In the beginning, baby poops meconium which will stain diapers. Also, baby legs are often too small for cloth diapers and you might have a lot of leakage. You’re already so exhausted in these first few weeks, make it a little easier on yourself by starting out cloth diapering at about 3-4 weeks old.
Night Time Cloth Diapers
Night time diapering is an experiment all in its own apparently. Several parents recommended wool covers for night time use over fitted diapers with bamboo & hemp inserts. Also, some parents like the Grovia O.N.E. diaper for night time since it is very absorbent!
Other parents simply suggested using disposables at night to prevent constant overnight leaks. You’re already washing diapers regularly do you honestly want to be washing baby sheets regularly as well??
Wet Bags for Storing Cloth Diapers
You will need two large wet bags to keep soiled diapers in. One will contain the dirty diapers while the other is in the wash, then you swap them out. You also need a small/medium wet bag for cloth diapering on the go. This smaller size bag can hold a dirty diaper or two that you will wash when you get home. According to my cloth diapering friends, cloth diapering on the go isn’t as difficult and yucky as it sounds! I’ll get back to y’all on that one 😉
Cloth Wipes to Use with Cloth Diapers
You can use small wash cloths for wipes with water in a hand soap pump to wet them. You could also repurpose an old flannel sheet as cloth wipes by simply cutting it up into small squares. One person recommended Under the Nile Cloth Wipes as her preferred cloth wipe choice:
If you are looking for a cloth wipe solution recipe, The Zero Journey has one to share which I definitely want try when baby arrives!
Cloth Diaper Washing Routine
Just as each family has a different cloth diaper style preference, each family also has a preferred cloth diaper washing system. Some parents prefer unscented organic detergent for their diapers while others say you can’t beat the effectiveness of Tide powder. Tide does come in a cardboard box so at least it is plastic free! Another mom mentioned using powdered Gain and borax for her diaper stash. The brand Charlie’s Soap is also cloth diaper tested and recommended. You can purchase a diaper sprayer/bidet to remove some of the poo from diapers, or some parents prefer to use the laundry room sink. You will need to prewash diapers on warm/hot and then main wash on warm/hot. Some parents soak diapers while others do not. Most cloth diapering parents agreed that diapers should hang to dry when possible or dried on low heat. To help remove stains, some moms sun bleach their diapers. When it comes to washing diapers, I honestly think it’ll be something you have to try out for yourself and see what works best with your washing machine and diapers.
Recommended Cloth Diaper Online Resources
Here are some links to websites and resources recommended by my super wonderful Instagram friends.
The Zero Journey: Cloth Diapering
Naturally Thrifty Mom Youtube Series
Please let me know if there’s any other cloth diapering wisdom you’d like to share!
You might also enjoy these blog posts from Tiny Yellow Bungalow!
beginner’s guide to zero waste
6 thoughts on “Cloth Diapering 101: The Best Tips for Beginner Cloth Diapering Parents”
Hello and congratulations on the baby!!! Very exciting and life changing! 3 years ago I was in exact same place trying to figure out all the cloth diapering options and also felt overwhelmed and confused. I believe I found the most zero waste option though and most organic and healthy one as well. All the diapers you posted about are synthetic and pricey and an ordeal to wash. I ended going with an organic wool cover with an organic cotton insert. You only need a couple wool covers and a dozen or so inserts. Most economic solutions. Same system works for newborns and same supplies will last long time. I have a couple blog posts with the links where you can get those organic diapers on my blog (plus lots of great organic kids info) and I’ll be very happy to answer any questions.
Thanks for the mention and have fun cloth-ing it! Once you figure out your system it’s a breeze! I’ve been stuck on disposables for a few weeks while on holiday and I cannot wait to get back home to our cloth!
Hey, just saw your post. Congratulations! How is it going with the little one?
I love our cloth diapers and I think they look so cute as well but just one thought about zero wast and diapers – have you heard about ec? Elimination communication.. you can go without diapers at all or use less for sure. Than you need less washing, etc..
Maybe you like to try it as well!;)
Things are going great with our little baby boy! He’s such a joy. And yes, someone mentioned elimination communication in a Facebook group I am in. It sounds so interesting! Have you tried it??
some thoughts from a fellow mama who cloth-diapered:
on rinsing: it’s not really necessary to rinse diapers; just tip/shake solid waste into toilet and flush. fold up soiled diaper and toss in diaper bin until laundry day. i saw no difference in cleanliness between rinsed diapers and non-rinsed…they all came clean just fine in the wash. didn’t worry about meconium stains; they come out eventually, and um, these *are* diapers. i’d say avoiding disposables with newborns is even more important than with bigger kids, as their skin is so delicate.
most important products: the most important things for diapering are the diapers (of course!), the covers, and a good pail. maybe with a wet-proof bin liner. any plastic lidded box/tub that is big enough to hold some soft cloths for wipes is important, too. wet-proof bags for changes outside home are super useful. then you really rarely would need disposables, if ever. i would suggest also a couple of “puddle pads” for bed use; there are cotton-covered rubber or plastic ones, but the wool ones are really nicer. they all work, though, either on top of a sheet or under one to protect mattresses.
on diapers: get a few different kinds. and maybe a few “doublers” which are just shaped inserts to use in a diaper that increase absorbency for long trips or overnight. very useful at times. i liked diapers that were soft organic cotton flannel, with either snaps or velcro. keep in mind that snaps are harder for toddlers to undo, which is a plus if your kid likes to remove his/her diaper! i had maybe a dozen and a half diapers starting out, and it was enough but having 2 dozen does make it easier. i washed diapers in warm, not hot, water and dried them in the dryer for hygiene and softness. if traveling, it is possible to hand-wash and hang dry, though, especially if you can put them in sunshine to dry.
on covers: i had a number of different types, and all worked but my favourites ended up being felted woolen ones that snapped or velcroed shut, and old-school knitted wool “soakers” that just pulled on over the diaper. the wool actually seemed to breathe better in hot weather than did cotton waterproof covers, and wool is brilliant at containing wetness. i used the knitted soaker covers at night often when baby was bigger, and wet-through was almost non-existent. i laundered all my covers, even the wool ones, with the diapers at times. sometimes i just rinsed out the wool ones in a sink or hand-washed them. i air-dried all covers. wool stays cleaner and less smelly, too, so needs washing less frequently. you can buy fewer of them and mostly wash only when soiled or very wet.
what about all-in-ones(diaper with built-in covers)? i had a few of these. i ended up using them less than any other combinations of diaper + cover. they don’t fit as long, so you need more sizes potentially, nor as well (especially on slimmer babies), they take longer to dry, i felt they tended to hold onto odour a bit. most of all, they allow for fewer “custom” adjustments and seemed more prone to leak in my experience. they never got as soft, either.
on diaper pails: many for sale are on the petite side. or have flimsy tops. i used a good quality, heavy steel kitchen bin with a step-on pedal and a plastic bin inside the steel frame that had a handle. got it on sale because it had a tiny dent on the back side. it was a work-horse that greatly simplified diapering and laundering. because it sealed nicely when shut, any smells were contained. the lift-out plastic bin could be carried to laundry or hosed off as needed. the size was right, easily holding a week’s worth of diapers and the odd cover in need of a wash. i used a wet-proof liner bag in it and that kept the bin itself clean. the bag could be washed along with the diapers and air-dried on laundry day. (have a spare, if possible.)
a little-touted plus of cloth-only diapering is that kids seem to toilet train eventually much more easily than their disposable and pull-up wearing peers. they have learned the body signals and feelings that precede elimination, and tend to get the hang of going to the potty quicker because of it. watch for your child’s individual readiness signs: if he/she is reliably dry through the night, is fairly verbal, gives any indication that elimination is imminent, and is big enough to wash hands using a good step-stool, and is around 2 years old at least, odds are he/she can give potty use a trial. dry overnight is key. use a snap-in toilet seat adapter and a sturdy, non-slip step-stool. the adapter can make small children feel safe by stopping them from slipping through the adult seat. put toilet paper roll in reach, as many paper holders are too far for little arms. no treats, tricks, or bribes needed; children are wired to acquire competencies. if ready, and not pressured or called “big girl/boy” or shamed for accidents, they can learn really fast sometimes. at this stage, a few pairs of cotton terry-towelling “training pants” can be most useful. the wetness helps them learn, and cloth diapers have already prepared them.
it’s all simpler than we are told, generally! 🙂
Hi TYB! I was just introduced to your site today! And absolutely love! I am expecting my first babe in July, and are on the cloth diaper train. I wanted to purchase you laundry bar, for all clothing, but saw that their is “softener” built into the bar. I’ve read that it can leave diapers water resistant, and wanted to see if you had any advice and if you use it on your cloth diapers!
Thanks so much!