Due to length, I have divided this into 2 parts. Today I have included the first 2 things needed to cloth diaper successfully.
If you are already successfully cloth diapering, this is a great post to share with others!
You’ve just gotten the cloth diapering bug and you are now stumped. The thoughts and feelings are similar to when you go to register for gifts for your first baby.
All these gadgets but what do you REALLY need?
Let’s start with the most obvious and hardest to choose: cloth diapers.
Many times over the last 6 1/2 years we’ve have laid out ways to choose a cloth diaper.
The first step is understanding the differences between the different styles of cloth diapers.
Before you throw your hands up and curse the whole cloth diaper industry, remember that there is a learning curve to everything. If you had never heard of shoes before and you suddenly realized the concept would be a good idea, you would faint from the choices on Zappos alone!
Here is an extremely simple explanation of the cloth diaper systems:
Pocket: diaper has a pocket where you insert the absorbency you desire. The pocket is made up of a waterproof layer and a stay-dry (baby feels dry even when wet) fabric.
Fitted: no waterproof layer, all absorbency, needs cover.
All In One: waterproof layer and absorbency layers are all combined to make a cloth diaper that is all in one. Similar in form and ease to a disposable diaper.
All In Two: waterproof layer shell and separate absorbent insert that you either lay in the cover or snap in. Once the insert is wet simply remove and replace with a new insert. You can use the same shell until wet or soiled.
Hybrid: waterproof layer shell and separate cloth or disposable absorbent layers. Great for transitioning to cloth or traveling.
Prefold: “old fashioned cloth diapers” “burp cloths” Rectangle fabric with extra absorbency in the middle (usually). No waterproof layer, needs cover, no fasteners.
Flats: large one-layer square of cotton, “old, old fashioned”, no waterproof layer, needs cover. You will fasten a flat with pins or Snappi.
The Ultimate Guide to Cloth Diapers contains pictures, brands and details of each system to walk you through the confusion. For articles related to choosing cloth diapers read 5 Simple Steps to Begin Cloth Diapering and Cloth Diaper Systems (written before hybrids were an option).
Even all of that can be confusing so I usually make a recommendation that I feel is the safest and most versatile system. Pocket cloth diapers can be used for night or day, heavy or light wetter.
When starting cloth diapers one of the biggest fears parents have is leaks. No one system (cloth or disposable) is fail-proof. However, with pockets you have the freedom to add more “stuffing” when needed.
There are several excellent pocket cloth diaper brands on the market. I list my top choices on the My Recommendations page. As you do your shopping you may come across several brands of “really cheap” pocket cloth diapers. Be aware that there is little to no customer service and no quality control in the China factories where they are made. You may find yourself cheering after a few months of use or kicking yourself for wasting the money.
And as simple as it is once you’ve done it, stuffing a pocket can be confusing. I made a simple video on How To Stuff a Pocket Cloth Diaper showing you how easy it is.
How many cloth diapers do you need to buy? (<—-details are in the link) as a safe guideline 24 is your best number.
Once you have cloth diapers, you’ll need somewhere to put them when they are dirty.
No need to register for that Diaper Genie.
Over the years I have used many different methods for storing dirty cloth diapers from a cheap camping bag to nice pail liners, to a wet pail, to wetbags. All effective but most have their faults.
At this point I have experienced the good and bad of all to make a clear recommendation that wetbags are the best route to go. Again, my reasoning (like with pockets) is because of the versatility.
I like to keep things simple and not have to have a different product for each thing I do.
Camping bags are uber cheap. But, they won’t last long and they aren’t smell-proof.
Pail liners are a giant step up in quality to a camping bag yet they too will let odors out and you can’t carry it with you in the car (or you’ll smell the diapers).
Wet pails are simply a trash can filled with water and an additive like Bac-out or Tea Tree Oil. You then toss in your diapers until laundry day. That’s where the mess comes in. You have to dump the contents out and, well, this is gross and I can only imagine the mess I would make.
Wetbags are waterproof bags with a handle and zipper. They come in several different sizes making it easy to store a couple of days worth of diapers in an XL one or a couple for out and about in a small one.
I have accumulated several wetbags, most of which are Monkey Foot Designs. My top 3 wetbag brands are Monkey Foot Designs, Ragababe and Rumparooz.
They are all very different! One very key feature I look for in a wetbag is how easy it is to open when you only have one available hand.
Monkey Foot Designs are by far the best because of the thick waterproof lining that holds in smells and wetness, easy to grasp zipper, snap handle that fits over door handles, cute fabrics and a wide variety of sizes. Easy to use one hand to open.
Ragababe diaper laundry wetbags are roomy and have a nice zipper but are difficult to open with one hand.
Rumparooz has a unique 3D design as opposed to the flat design of other brands. This gives the bag a half moon shape allowing the top to function as a lid. Fairly easy to open with one hand due to the design.
As a parent new to cloth diapering and maybe new to parenting, the last thing you want is a stinky nursery. Go with a system and brand others have tried and have had success with.
Check out part 2 where I will explain laundry needs and cloth diaper safe rash creams.
Autumn is a wife, mother, homeschool teacher, friend and most important a follower of Christ.
I use an old diaper genie for my dirty diapers. I just don’t put the liners in it. It gets a little stinky when you open it but when the lid is closed you don’t even know it’s there.
Andrea Mc says
Thanks for this overview–I’m expecting in March and want to cloth diaper, but the number of choices is a little overwhelming!
I’m currently collecting what I’ll need in order to cloth diaper and I never would have thought about one-handed wet bag use! Gotta go see if mine fit the bill!
sorry for the double post….I thought the first one didn’t go through!
I’m currently collecting what I’ll need in order to cloth diaper and I have a few wet bags but i never thought about wanting ones that could be used one-handed! I’m about to go try mine out! ;)
I am a mommy-to-be and decided quite some time ago that I was going to try my hand at cloth diapering. Your blog has been so helpful to me and has been the most thorough that I’ve found. It didn’t take me long to realize I know very little about cloth diapering and while trying to find the products I need and what would work best for me I was getting very frustrated. This blog has been great and gave me a real understanding of how this whole process works. I’m very excited to get started! Thank you!
I have been cloth diapering my 12 week old daughter (heavy wetter) for two months, using BG 4.0’s with hemp baby doublers overnight and Elementals. My was routine in my HE front loader is: cold delicate wash (more water than any other cycle), add classic rock and wash on whitest whites (hot was with extra rinse).
In the last week I started to notice my wet bag stinking and my diapers smelling like ammonia. My daughter also had what I think was ammonia burns after sleeping 8 hours, which luckily cleared up really fast with grandma el’s.
I was thinking of using bac-out, but know that voids BG warranty, which doesn’t concern me as much as it possibly affecting the PUL. I was also thinking of trying Funk Rock. What would you recommend? Do I also need to try a different detergent?
Autumn Beck says
If I were in your shoes I would try another detergent and see if that helps. I have used BacOut for many years and never had PUL problems. At night I would try a staydry liner and grandma el’s. Currently, I am using Purex as a detergent ;)
Thanks Amber! Which purex do you use? I would love to try to use a liquid, but obviously want to use whatever works best :)
Autumn Beck says
liquid. a scented one.
Thank you Amber! I have another unrelated question. I need to increase my stash but cannot decide what to buy. I really like my BG 4.0’s and haven’t had any leaking issues, but I wonder if I can find a better fit for my daughter. She does sometimes get red marks around her legs and belly and I’ve tried playing around with the sizing. I like my elementals less, simply because they are very bunchy/bulky on the smallest size and usually leave red marks. My daughter is 12 weeks and is rather chunky at over 14 and a half pounds. Do you have any suggestions? I had planned to simply order more 4.0’s but wonder if I should diversify.
Autumn Beck says
A trim sidesnapping diaper is a good choice. Look into Peachy Green. Fantastic diaper with a fanatic fan base :) (box on right side of page or check out Itsy Bitsy Bums store)
Interesting. I actually like pail liners MUCH better. I think I must go way longer than most people between diaper washings (Yeah. I’ll admit it. I’m a little lazy. Ok… a LOT lazy. And busy. Can we just say I’m mostly busy??), but holy cow!
There is NO way that the amount of diapers we go through would fit into most wetbags I’ve seen. We have to use a pail liner & a swing top trash can. Luckily, the oldest no longer poops in her diapers (Some how we’ve managed to stall in the whole potty training process indefinitely.) because things might really get stinky. As it is, it doesn’t smell unless I really let them sit for a few days. I think my husband is part bloodhound, too, because he lets me know also.
I am with you on the whole Diaper Genie comment, though. They are teeny and STINK. We had a Diaper Champ for awhile with our first, but that held nearly nothing and it smelled terribly. I kind of think the lack of air circulation did it, but we had to throw it out. No amount of bleach would make it smell decent again. (However, it DID keep the smell contained. The nursery didn’t stink at all until you opened that beast up.)
I’m also scared by the idea of having to unzip a wetbag with one hand when you have a squirming baby. How do you manage that?
Autumn Beck says
I typically empty 4 xl and 2 large wetbags into the washer on wash day ;)
Autumn Beck says
I have them spread around the house.
Has anyone actually tried diapering from birth to potty training on just 24 or so “good” diapers – not cheap knock offs? I did, and within 14-16 months, all the PUL was shot and I started getting holes in all the diapers. I had to spend the money all over again. I have talked to others, and due to wear and tear with that amount of diapers..is it really realistic to think they will last through one child? Thoughts and experiences?
Autumn Beck says
check out this post http://www.allaboutclothdiapers.com/the-life-expectancy-of-a-one-sized-cloth-diaper/
Nathan Aeder says
How are you washing and drying your diapers? It may be that your wash/dry routine is breaking down the elastic and PUL material.
I have always followed the manufacturer’s recommendations, which seem to be fairly similar to other major manufacturers. Cold rinse, hot wash, then dbl rinse. I almost always line dry, with just a flop in the dryer to soften. I use Country Save detergent. My diapers are 100% organic cotton and bamboo, so all natural fibers. I know those wear out more quickly. It seems after reading the other link on life expectancy, I just wasn’t a lucky one. :)
Nathan Aeder says
Great to see people who are helping to educate people on cloth diapering. Too many people have this image of prefold towels and diaper pins. We switched to cloth diapers for our second child and now wish we would have done it for the first. They look great, have saved us money, are healthier for our little one and we’re doing our part to help the environment. My wife was so impressed with cloth that she started her own store, http://www.kerrbearkids.com, and began an FAQ to try to help new parents. We wish everyone luck and hope that more families learn the benefits of cloth diapers!