Cloth Diapers 101: A Parent’s Basic Guide

Cloth Diapers

Being a parent is a tough job, arguably the toughest. From baby food and newborn clothes to figuring out the trickiest car seats, it can be difficult to determine the best products to use for your child.

Diapers most definitely aren’t an exception. With the recent increase in environmental awareness, brands all over the world have been coming out with sustainable cloth diapers.

Cool, right? The reality is that lots of parents don’t know much about cloth diapers, what they are, and the advantages they bring to the table.

Luckily, here’s a cloth diapers 101, a parental guide to all things environmentally friendly diapers. Are you a bit confused about where to start? No worries!

We’ll get down to all the facts, pros, and cons of this product to help you determine if cloth diapers are right for your baby! Let’s get right into it!

What Even is a Cloth Diaper? 

Babies in cloth diapers

To start off our cloth diapers 101 session, the most common question parents ask is this: What really is a cloth diaper? The honest answer is that it’s more similar to your normal diaper than one would think.

Every mainstream diaper has two parts: the outer shell and the inner shell. The exterior layer is the magical waterproof material that ensures your kid’s pee-pee and poo-poo don’t spray all over the place. Yeah, we ought to be thankful for that!

This part is what contains the cute designs, colors, Velcro straps, and all the other handy-dandy gadgets for securing the diaper.

The inner layer, on the other hand, is made of different microfibers that absorb your child’s “business.” 

It’s that simple. A diaper really isn’t rocket science. The main difference when it comes to cloth diapers is the material that constructs them. 

You’re probably thinking, “Ok. That’s not too bad. But how many types are there and which one do I go for?” Don’t worry. We’re getting there!

Why Make the Switch? 

You’ve been using disposable diapers like everyone else. You’re doing what every other parent normally does. Why make the switch to cloth diapers? What’s in it for you? 

There are two major pros that make the transition completely worth it: sustainability and cost. 

When it comes to money, your bank account will be beaming with happiness once you invest in cloth diapers. Families can save anywhere from $600 to thousands of dollars per year. Why?

Well, when you average out cloth diapers vs disposables, you typically only spend $0.07 per soiled diaper vs 30 cents per disposable diaper. It may not sound like a lot, but it all adds up.

Not only is the cloth diapers trend about the dollars, but it’s also a sustainability movement too. Disposable diapers are notorious for causing hazardous waste that harms the environment.

With cloth diapers, you’re reusing the same shells over and over again. That means no waste, no junk, and no recycling issues. That’s one way to contribute to mother nature! 

The All-In-One

For those of you parents who go for the easiest option, this is it. Here, the absorbing layer and the water-resistant barrier are attached, most closely resembling the typical disposable diaper. 

Some all in one diapers have a sewn-in-insert and others don’t. This will naturally affect the drying time, so keep that in mind.

Because this type looks more like a disposable diaper, it often is the more comfortable and snuggest fit for babies in a variety of growth stages. 

It’s definitely not the most versatile of the cloth diaper options. If price and adaptability are a priority for you, definitely consider another cloth diaper option below. 

The All-In-Two

Yes, there is such a thing as an “all-in-two” diaper. With this option, the diaper comes in two pieces: the waterproof cover and an absorbent insert that attaches to the cover.

Thanks to the detachment, the outer shell can be used for multiple diaper changes. All you’ll have to do is change and wash the inserts. Now that is efficiency!

With a cheaper price tag and faster drying time, this is a super popular cloth diaper option out there! After all, who wouldn’t want to save some moolah? 

The Pocket Diaper

This type is exactly what is sounds like: a pocket. Basically, the cover of the diaper is sewn to a soft absorbent layer of fabric to create a pocket.

This is where all of your baby’s “business” will be held. With a suede cloth or fleece material, the pocket will pull moisture away from the skin to make the baby feel dry and comfortable.

Versatility is the big pro for pocket diapers. Parents can easily customize the absorption rate depending on how many inserts they place into the pocket.

This process is definitely more time-consuming, but it may prove more comfortable for your baby in the long run. 

The Fitted Diaper

Caution! This diaper is the trickiest to use. With the fitted diaper, the entire thing is an absorbent layer that will get soaked. Parents must put another diaper cover over the fitted cloth to avoid any leaking.

Fitted diapers are usually more expensive and tedious than any alternatives because they take a while to dry and can be made of more expensive synthetic materials. Whatever you do, don’t forget that protective diaper layer! 

Which Diaper Option to Choose?

In the end, every parent is different. Every parent has different preferences. Now that you know some of the cloth diaper types, it will be up to you to make the ultimate decision based on lifestyle, price, and preference. 

The process of finding the perfect option may take some experimentation, but you’ll ultimately be making a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly choice. 

How to Wash Cloth Diapers? 

Cloth Diapers Hanging To Dry
Cloth diapers dry in the sun on a full clothesline.

“How am I going to wash my kid’s poo-covered diaper in my clean washing machine?” Parents often utter this exact question. In reality, millions of parents do this on a daily basis and the world has not ended. Here is what you need to do. 

1. Dispose of any solid waste (like poop) and cold rise 

2. Run a hot wash cycle with detergent 

3. Rinse with warm or cold water to remove any excess laundry detergent

4. Dry the cloth diaper on low tumble or a drying line 

It’s that simple. If you’re worried about sanitation, just be 1000% that you’ve gotten rid of any solids. Scratch that: be 1,000,000% sure. You don’t want chunks of your baby’s “business” rolling around in your washing machine. 

Once you’ve done that crucial step, you’ll wash the diaper as you do other normal clothes. By doing so, you’re saving yourself a heck ton of money. No need to repurchase disposable diapers or worry about environmental waste. 

It’s fast. It’s easy. It’s affordable. Who doesn’t love that combo?

Changing Cloth Diapers: Timing is key

It can be confusing to know when or how often to change a cloth diaper. They look nice and dry on the outside, but little do parents know what’s going on inside. 

As a rule of thumb, cloth diapers should be changed every 2 hours. There are a few signs that will hint to you that a change is necessary: 

1. Stiff fabric feeling

2. Lower hanging

3. Wet look (if no insert is used)

Unlike disposable diapers, cloth diapers don’t give off any sort of smell, so it can become difficult to know when to change your baby’s diaper. Use the tips above and the timing will start coming naturally! 

What benefits does my baby experience? 

So far, our cloth diapers 101 session has been focused on the advantages for the parents. But what about the actual baby?

It doesn’t take a genius to know that disposable diapers are uncomfortable. They get wet, damp, and cause some nasty rashes that are hard to get rid of. 

Cloth diapers eliminate those issues. Your baby no longer has to suffer from those itchy and bumpy rashes because the soft cloth diaper eliminates any skin-to-diaper friction.

The synthetic fibers are so efficient at absorbing all the liquid, you’ll rarely get a leak. 

Parents have continued to rave about how beneficial cloth diapers are for their babies. Simply put, it’s just more comfortable, and in the end, that’s what every parent wants for their child. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much does cloth diapering cost?

Cost can vary depending on the type of cloth diaper you choose. Savings per year can range from $600 to thousands of dollars. Parents can expect to spend around $400-$600 per baby every two years for cloth diapers, a huge step down from the more expensive disposable diapers. 

2. Will I have to touch poop in order to wash cloth diapers?

No! You will dispose of any solids before washing the diapers. This won’t require you to touch the poop in any way.  

3. How many cloth diapers do I need?

This depends on several factors: your diapering plan, your baby’s stage, and the baby’s age. The younger the infant the more diapers that will be required.

As you start to potty train, there will be no need to go out and buy more diapers. The recommended average number is 24 baby cloth diapers, but if you want to be on the safe side, go for around 35. 

4. Where can I buy cloth diapers? 

Many large-scale retailers are now starting to sell cloth diapers. Stores like Gerber’s, Amazon, Target, and Walmart are always good starting points.

Make the Transition: No Regrets

This cloth diapers 101 guide has just given you all the tips, tricks, and facts you need to know about cloth diapers.

From cost and sustainability all the way to the different diaper types, you should feel ready to take on the diaper industry and make the switch. 

Of course, that can often feel easier said than done. Choosing the cloth route will undoubtedly be a lifestyle change as a parent.

Getting used to the fabric, washing, and changing methods will be a bit of an adjustment, but most would say it’s worth it. 

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your wallet, get off the couch, and go find yourself some life-changing, money-saving cloth diapers that’ll change your life. 

In the end, you won’t regret it one bit! 

2 comments

  1. Deseo adquirir pañales de tela. Actualmente vivo en la Isla de Palma de Mallorca y quisiera saber con urgencia donde puedo comprarlos.
    Muchas gracias

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