Introduction to Cloth Diapering

by jenna on April 23, 2014

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We are planning to cloth diaper our baby boy. I was planning on writing this post after I had a little “hands on” experience (literally) but a bunch of you have requested more info so I thought I’d go ahead and write it now and then post a follow-up this summer.

First of all, reasons we are going cloth. I sort of always knew I wanted to use cloth diapers instead of disposables when it came time for it. It’s so much more economical and I LOVE the fact that we won’t have to constantly be going on diaper runs to the store. God willing, we want to have a couple more kids and hopefully this system will work out well for us so we never have to worry about buying disposables. True, cloth diapers are an investment but I’d rather spend a couple hundred dollars now than thousands on disposables over the years. Plus, they are so adorable! I’m really excited to get started.

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Before a few months ago, I knew absolutely NOTHING about cloth diapers. Man…was I in for it! I had no idea there was so much information out there and so many different types and kinds. If you’re just getting started, it’s really overwhelming. I mean…everyone has an opinion, down to the laundry detergent you should be using.

I learned a lot by reading various blogs and websites, but I have to say — I learned the most from the Green Mountain Diaper website! If you’re new to CD or interested in making the switch from disposables, I highly recommend this site. It’s literally an information goldmine as well as online store for all things CD. I’m not kidding when I say that I’ve spent hours pouring over all the info on there. It’s truly a wonderful resource and Karen {the owner} is so sweet and gives great advice.

So…our plan is to start cloth diapering baby boy after about a week {want to make sure all that meconium passes first – you can definitely start right away though}. We are starting him off on organic cotton prefolds and fitteds with covers then moving into a pocket-style diaper system when he’s a little older. More on that in a second.

If you have no idea what a prefold or fitted is, don’t worry. I didn’t either.

Here’s what a fitted looks like. On this particular one there are no snaps so we’ll use snappees to keep it shut. This is an organic cotton fitted workhorse diaper from GMD (green mountain diaper). They run about $5 each.

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This is a prefold diaper. It’s more “old school” looking. This is also from GMD. It’s a size small. You can get a dozen of these for only $25, making them the most economical choice.

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Here’s what a fitted looks like when placed into a diaper cover. You need a waterproof diaper cover over this style of CD. This is a Thirsties Duo Wrap size 1.

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Alternatively, here’s what a prefold looks like in the same diaper cover. There are many different ways to fold a prefold diaper, but you can also just fold it in thirds and lay it in the diaper cover (so easy).

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The cotton becomes soft, quilty and very absorbent after you “prep” it. To prep cotton diapers like this you need to wash and dry them four times before using. That strips off the natural oils and increases absorbency. It might seem like a lot of work {and it really IS a whole day of washing/drying to get started} but I didn’t think it was that bad. Plus, you only have to do that in the beginning. Then you can wash as normal.

In terms of detergent, we plan to use Country Save. It’s affordable, fragrance and dye-free and is safe for all types of cloth diapers. Again though – I am totally new at this. If that type of detergent doesn’t work right for us we’ll switch…probably to Tide.

Here’s what all the diapers look like, prepped and ready to go in our drawer.

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And here are the covers for the diapers.

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Here’s a nursery sneak peek! I’ll be posting a whole nursery tour next week.

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Like I said, we do plan to switch to pocket diapers probably later this summer when he fits in them better and outgrows the newborn stuff. We were generously gifted a bunch of BumGenius 4.0’s from friends and family and I love all the pretty colors! We also plan to switch to cloth wipes/homemade solution after I go through all the 7th Generation wipes that were gifted to us. We still plan to use disposable wipes/diapers when we travel for convenience sake.

Here’s what we are starting with*:

6 Thirsties Duo Wraps Size 1, Aplix (velcro)

1 Blueberries Mini-Coveralls

22 Green Mountain Diapers Organic Cotton Newborn Fitted Diapers, snapless

12 Green Mountain Diapers Organic Unbleached Cotton Prefolds, newborn size

24 Green Mountain Diapers Organic Unbleached Cotton Prefolds, size small

2 hand-knit wool diaper covers from Etsy

pack of 3 Snappis

Thirstie’s Booty Luster Spray (8 oz spray for changing table and a 4 oz spray for diaper bag)

Big ol’ container of coconut oil (you can’t use traditional diaper creams/petroleum products with cloth diapers)

2 medium Planet Wise wet bags for on the go changing

Dekor Diaper Pail

2 Planet Wise cloth diaper pail liners

7th Generation wipes

*note that this is for a newborn.

That might seem like a TON and it is. The recommended amount of newborn diapers is 3 dozen according to Karen at GMD. I plan to do laundry every other day and don’t want to be caught in an “emergency situation” where I’m out of everything. Yikes. The 24 size small prefolds are for after a month or so when the newborn size doesn’t fit him anymore.

I think in terms of price, I spent about $250-ish for everything on the above list. Prefolds and fitteds are cheap! The bulk of that money was spent on supplies. From what I’m read, it seems like parents spend on average about $80 a month on disposable diapers when the baby is really little. I feel good knowing we got everything we need for the next six months for the amount we spent. Plus, it can be reused on future kids.

I think that about covers it (heh heh)! The more you research about cloth diapering, the more addicting it becomes…promise. If any cloth diapering mamas out there have more advice, I’d really love to hear it! And I’ll be sure to post again, probably in June, to let you guys know how it’s all working out for us. We are definitely rookies here.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie April 24, 2014 at 7:03 pm

We used the exact same newborn diapers/covers for our daughter and we also started when she was a week old (she’s 21 months now and still in cloth-yippee!). I loved the workhorse dipes- they were my fav for the newborn stage (same for my hubby). You def. have plenty! I had a few people try to deter me from CD’ing a newborn and after having the experience of newborn vs solid food eater- newborn cloth diapering is so easy. With the EBF poo all you have to do is toss ‘em in the wet bag and wash- no spraying. Really it’s a breeze! One site I used a ton (especially once I figured out what dipes I really liked for the long haul- for us it’s the Bum Genius Freetime) was diaperswappers.com. I saved even more money buying used diapers, some hardly at all and a couple brand new.

Good luck! You sound well prepared!

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danielle April 24, 2014 at 7:22 pm

yes – the research is the most overwhelming part. it’s much easier from there. I’ve been using cloth on my three girls since 2009, and with number four due soon, I’m still using the same system. I’ve had to replace some supplies along the way but still going strong with our system. although, my only edit to your supply list: I do love the wet/dry planet wise bag for a travel diaper bag since it has the side “dry” zipper for a clean diaper(s) and wipes. (It can also house spare toddler pants and underwear just in case.) it’s the only thing I bring with me to most places. (by the third kid, what’s a diaper bag? you become a minimalist. =) hope the cloth system you have ready to go works great!

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Angela April 24, 2014 at 7:59 pm

Adorable nursery! I think 3 dozen is more than enough. I recently rented newborn cloth diapers from Over the Moon (2 dozen) and only had to wash them every other day, so it was great. I think you will love those Thirsties wraps. I used the Thirsties pockets but they are designed similarly with the extra leg gusset which really holds in that runny newborn poop.

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Diane April 25, 2014 at 1:00 am

Great post – I looked into CD before my baby was born and became totally overwhelmed by all the research. This is a great post! But, I was wondering – in your research, did you come across any stats that compared the cost (both financial and environmental) of CD and disposables once you incorporate the water and detergent for washing and electricity for drying? I read that some people run CDs through two cycles. It seems to me like CD would still be more economical in the end, but I read in a few places that, all things considered, the costs were not actually that different. (ultimately, we decided that our ancient washer wasn’t up to the challenge. Maybe we’ll be able to get a new washer before baby #2 and give CD a try!)

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jenna April 25, 2014 at 8:53 am

I read that you really only do two more loads per week and that with all costs associated, it still is more economical. But then again, I’m probably not the best person to answer that since I have no experience yet. Maybe another cloth diapering mom can weigh in? I’ll definitely be posting about all that (and effect on our bills) in a follow up post this summer after I have been at it for a little while.

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Lori April 25, 2014 at 12:37 pm

After over 1 year of cloth diapering, and I wash them every day because we don’t have enough not to, I still think we save $. My energy bill is not any higher than it used to be. I wash them at nigth when it’s not a peak energy use time, and put them in the dryer right when I wake up. The All-In-One style takes longer to dry because they can have thick seams that stay damp, but now we use prefolds and they don’t take as long (and I hang dry my covers). I put them in for just a cold rinse first, put baby to bed, come back and turn it on for hot wash with detergent and cold rinse, with an extra rinse cycle, just to make sure all detergent is rinsed out well.

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Michelle April 26, 2014 at 10:05 pm

I’m about 7 months into cloth diapering, and my entire monthly water bill, all hand-washing-in-the-faucet, showers, dishwasher, all laundry (including cloth diapers), etc. etc. included, is equivalent to how much I was spending on disposable diapers and wipes alone every single month. I do wash my diapers twice (a prewash on cold, then a regular cycle on hot), and it’s still a drop in the bucket. We don’t have a brand new washer, either. It’s not ancient, but it’s not top-of-the-line Energy Star or anything.

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vks April 30, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Agree, we’ve been cloth diapering since 8 weeks (now 12 months old!) and I haven’t noticed that our water or electric bill is any higher. We have a HE washer, so I do a cold “rinse & spin” cycle with no “spin” (20 min) and then a heavy duty cycle with extra rinse (hot and cold water). I choose to wash every day and skip a day here and there, but I have the bare min of pockets (18). One of my friends wrote a post where she estimated the price on everything, you still save money according to her math. http://www.havebabymustblog.com/2012/02/cloth-diaper-extravaganza.html

We also use the bummis diaper liners since starting solids. It flushes like toilet paper and it makes it just as easy as in the newborn EBF days (miss those though!!). It makes it easier for our daycare teachers too.

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elle April 25, 2014 at 5:23 am

My sisters both cloth diapered their kids. I made most of the diapers. It was so fun picking out cute fabrics for them. We even had a diaper sewing party at one point, with a bunch of cutting and sewing going on! They lasted through 4 kids and I think got handed around the neighborhood after that.

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Jessica April 25, 2014 at 7:36 am

I don’t have kids, but I find your posts about your experiences very interesting! It’s a good learning experience for the (maybe) future.

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Catherine Parks April 25, 2014 at 8:12 am

Hey! I was wondering which Etsy seller you used for the wool covers? I’ve been searching and was just wondering which you went with? Thanks!

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jenna April 25, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Here’s her store! I ordered two – a newborn size and a small size. They aren’t here yet so I can’t vouch for how soft they are, ect. But they sure are cute!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/MarcyArtsy?ref=l2-shopheader-name

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Dawn April 25, 2014 at 9:42 am

We used cloth diapers with both our kids and I swore to never use disposable. However at some point (they are 18 and 20 now so I don’t remember!) we did start to use disposables at night so everyone could sleep longer.

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April April 25, 2014 at 3:44 pm

We did cloth with my first almost from day 1 and most of the time he was in them. He did disposables overnight. I went all-in with him, and I mostly washed his dipes by hand because we had a shared laundry facility. Now I have a 5-month old, and we tried the cloth on him but he had a small reaction any time we tried for the first couple months. I don’t know if I didn’t strip them well enough (since they were from his big brother) or if it was just the fabric. It seems to be getting better now, though. Good luck! Cloth just ups the cuteness factor. :)

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meghan April 26, 2014 at 8:52 pm

We cloth-diapered our little man right from the get-go. I love it! It feels good to put a nice soft diaper onto his skin & not have all the disposables pilling up. Plus their little bums look so cute in cloth!
Here are a few little tips we picked up (some the hard way!):
1. Use enough detergent. If I had a penny for every time I heard that I should use less because it will “build-up” in the diapers, I’d be a rich woman. Instead our diapers were dirty & giving our little guy nasty rashes.
2. We love our Bum-Genius diaper-sprayer. Love.
3. Fleece liners are nice for keeping babe’s skin dry
4. We use cloth overnight by adding a “booster” to increase absorbency. Ditto for longer car rides.

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Lexie April 27, 2014 at 12:29 pm

I’ve been cloth diapering my 4 month old for about 2 months now. It took trying a few different brands and styles to figure out what worked for us, so be flexible if you are having lots of leaks. My little guy is a big wetter, I swear his diaper weighs about 10 pounds in the mornings! For overnight, we bought Sustainably Babyish Bamboo fitteds. They are spendy, but if you just get a couple and wash frequently, they are excellent for overnight, even for my heavy wetter. Good luck!

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April April 27, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Have fun with them Jenna, they are super cute but I ain’t gonna lie I found them to be an awful lot of work. I assume Adam will be helping as it was imperative my hubby shared the commitment as I never could have kept up with all the laundry if he hadn’t.

Also, no one ever told me that I would be buying bigger pants for him (when he gets a little older) cuz the diaper takes up a bit of extra room. For example I had to buy a whole size UP in bottoms and if he wasn’t wearing cloth that day (if traveling) then his pants would fall off;).

We did cloth up until our son was a little over a year, but switched because with both of us working full time outside the home it just got to be too much. BUT I would have continued if I had the time as my sons bum NEVER got a rash and I have the cutest pictured of him in the CD:)

Good luck, enjoy!!!

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Vks April 30, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Same. We buy one size bigger in pants to make it work. I’ve had good luck with Bodens Reversible Baggies, Jumping Beans (kohls) and Baby Gap. Carter’s are the toughest. I can just get him in an 18 mo size pant from Carter’s. We roll his cuffs up and we do just fine! I bought some Doodlepants from Zulillys, designed by a CD mom for CD’d babies, I really like them, but they pill a good bit.

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Vks April 30, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Same. We buy one size bigger in pants to make it work. I’ve had good luck with Bodens Reversible Baggies, Jumping Beans (kohls) and Baby Gap. Carter’s are the toughest. I can just get him in an 18 mo size pant from Carter’s. We roll his cuffs up and we do just fine! I bought some Doodlepants from Zulillys, designed by a CD mom for CD’d babies, I really like them, but they pill a good bit.

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Brittany @ Delights and Delectables April 28, 2014 at 9:21 am

I LOVE CD! We use BumGenius diapers and I love them. The 4.0’s are my favorite, but I also have a couple elementals.
TheBumGenius detergent is awesome as well. Also, invest in a sprayer… your hubby will love you! :)
I def think it is worth the investment and the “work”. One tip of advice… make sure you fold down the tabs on the velcro– it will snag your other diapers if you don’t.

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Annalisa April 28, 2014 at 1:04 pm

I did cloth for our baby girls – ages 3 and 18 months. I think the best advice to anyone pursuing it is to go to a local cloth diaper store and see how many brands there are and notice that each one fits, feels, and absorbs differently. I started with BumGenius and they were awful for us. I ended up loving Bummis Tots Bots. When we had baby #2, I tried Lil Joeys but truthfully, even after buying used and selling them when done, I would have made off better using newborn disposables. We’re having baby #3 now and I’ll use disposables until the baby is 2-4 months when s/he can fit in to the Tots Bots.

I don’t think you need a diaper sprayer (always sounded gross to me to have wet soggy diaper you had to drip into a bag – or deal with spray hitting me). We found flushable diaper liners (I think OsoCozy brand?) and that was huge. I use planet wise hanging bag and rocking green soap. Nothing fancy and minimal investments.

I also think the environmental impact is really only helpful if cloth diapering goes for 2+ kids. The cloth diapers go somewhere when you’re done (landfills?) and they take much longer to break down. Many brands are also made in China . It’s certainly better than disposables but cloth diapers have their own harm.

Financially, we’ve probably saved $1K over 2 kids. I’ve worked up to 30 diapers (I hate laundry so doing it every 4-5 days makes my life easier –plus used on Ebay they are less expensive). My water and utility bills are not much higher. We do disposables at night to let their skin breathe better.

Anyway, to anyone thinking about trying it — really spend time at store. The internet has some answers but there’s not a one-size fits all for cloth diapering. There’s a lot of amazing lesser known brands that will really hold up and work well for the right person.

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Hannah April 28, 2014 at 5:40 pm

I love using cloth on my 3m/o. She has BumGenius 4.0’s, Flips, Thirsties covers (with bg or flip inserts), Kawaii pockets (in hemp-charcoal and micro fiber versions), and GoGreen pocket diapers. bg have a special ‘feel’ to them that other brands don’t, but I resolved to never pay full price. Clothdiapertrader.com and cottonbabies.com’s second sales were crucial to our single-income budget. I love the hip snaps on Kawaii, these are my favorite CD feature, though I noticed a lingering odor in these that didn’t exist in bg. The experience is amazing and I can honestly say the water bill is more only because we were really lazy about showering and washing our own clothes pre- baby.

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Carolyn May 1, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Great post! You picked really good covers, too! Thirsties and Blueberry were always my favorite when we used prefolds. I recently did a cloth diapering post on my blog, too. It’s amazing how much information there is out there now and how many options.

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Julien May 2, 2014 at 3:49 pm

I did the same system as you, thinking my newborn diapers might last 2-3 months. Well, baby girl is 5 weeks now and out grown all her green mountains, her lil joeys (they fit, but not enough absorbency), she still fits her kissiluvs xs, sustainablebabyish sloomb bamboo overnights (<-I love these) and is just starting to get into her BG 4.0s. I also have a couple fuzzibunz onesize that I love because of the way you adjust the elastic makes for a great fit around the leg. I also have a couple bummis and Grovia, which I'll probably sell because the fit is funny on my baby. Overall, BG are my favs. Next baby, I'm going to skip the newborn prefolds and go grab a pack of these: http://www.ebay.com/itm/10-Pack-New-PUL-THX-All-in-One-Newborn-Cloth-Diaper-4-13-Lbs-YOU-PICK-COLOR-/291118842177 So much easier! And I'll pay more to not have to fold and snappie a prefold at 2 am. And less bulky and cuter. And family doesn't get confused by them. I wish I had known about them from the start. I love my lil joeys, but they are definitely not cost effective for the limited use I got from them.

I'm not really that into the AIO because my baby is a super pee-er and I hate not being able to adjust the absorbency. I'm going to add more hemp inserts into my rotation because I love how much more absorbent they are than the microfiber and they are a natural material, which I also appreciate. Get some baby legs too! I just got a newborn pair and I'm kicking myself for not getting some sooner. They make diaper changes a breeze, especially with warmer weather.

A great way to get BG for cheaper- BuybuyBaby sells them and you can apply a $5 off coupon to your purchase effectively making each 4.0 about $13. So far, I've spent $361 on diapers and I have 38 newborn diapers and 30 one size. And I already have 8 I'm not that into and going to resell, so you can probably shave about $50 off the total amount I spent. Cloth diapering can save you A LOT of money, but only if you treat it as an investment instead of a hobby.

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Malinda May 5, 2014 at 7:27 pm

We used country save and it worked great with our hard water. Also if you hang them to dry in the sun you get rid of the yellow stains that they get ;)

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Karyn May 14, 2014 at 8:54 am

I cloth diapered my son from 1 month old to potty training. I had EVERY cloth diaper product under the sun. In the end, my absolute favorite has been the GMD, either the prefolds or the workhorse. My advise, use the bum genuis that where given to you, but also buy more prefolds in all the sizes and maybe 5 workhorse in all the next sizes too. To save money on the covers, switch to a one-size cover (it will last you from 1 month to potty training). For potty training, my FAVORITE diapers where all-in-ones trainers and stuffable trainers that were just like pull-ups made by Snap-Ez.com (they are a family owned and hand made company with awesome customer service). My son is now fully potty trained, but we still use a Stuffable trainer @ night for the once in a while accident. My son loves that he can pull them up and down on his own because the snaps are on the sides and they look like underwear (we call them his “good-night underwear” because he is no longer a baby and DOESN’T use diapers).

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Kimberly August 19, 2014 at 11:31 am

What do you plan to use once you’re out of the newborns?

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