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Cloth Diapers 101: A Parent’s Basic Guide

When you’re preparing for a new baby, there are many choices to make, including how to go about diapering them.

Some mothers who prefer a more natural approach may be interested in cloth diapering but need help figuring out how to begin. Other parents may not have even thought about using cloth diapers or may only know of their grandparents using them. 

The truth is cloth diapering can be simpler than you imagine, and modern cloth diapers are far more user-friendly than past ones.

This article will give you all the information you need to start.

cloth diapers

Benefits Of Using Cloth Diapers

There are many benefits to using cloth diapers over disposable ones.

Good for Your Baby

Disposable diapers contain harmful chemicals that can irritate a baby’s delicate skin, leading to diaper rash. Dioxin, a carcinogenic by-product of bleaching, is one such chemical, and disposable diapers also contain Tributyl-tin (TBT), which can cause hormonal problems in humans and animals.

Good for the Environment

Cloth diapers are a more environmentally-friendly option, as disposable diapers generate 60 times more solid waste and use 20 times more raw materials than cloth diapers. 

In addition, disposable diapers can take up to 500 years to decompose in a landfill, while cloth diapers are reusable and take only about five months to break down. Old cloth diapers from natural fibers like cotton or wool can be composted.

Good for Your Wallet

Cloth diapering can save you a significant amount of money, the total cost of cloth diapering from birth to age 2.5 can range from $381 for prefolds and covers (including washing) to $1,468 for hybrids. 

In comparison, disposables would cost around $2,577 for the same period. You may need fewer diapers than suggested, lowering your actual cost. You can save between 43% and 85% of the cost of disposables. 

Additionally, if you buy more diapers than you need, you can put less wear on them, and either reuse them for a second child or sell them for about 50% of their retail price.

Different Types Of Cloth Diapers



Prefold cloth diapers are popular among parents who prefer an economical and eco-friendly alternative to disposable diapers. These cloth diapers are rectangular and have extra padding in the center, making them highly absorbent. One of the advantages of using prefold diapers is that they require minimal folding, making them easy to use. 

Additionally, since the absorbency is already built into the middle section, they are highly effective at preventing leaks. With proper care, prefold cloth diapers can last for years, making them an excellent investment for parents looking to save money and reduce their environmental impact.



Fitted cloth diapers are an excellent option for parents who prefer a more secure fit for their baby’s diaper. Unlike all-in-one diapers, fitted diapers have no built-in waterproof cover. Instead, they are made of highly absorbent fabric with elastic at the legs and waist, creating a snug “fitted” style. These diapers typically come with their own closures, which make them easy to use and adjust for the perfect fit. 

While they require a separate waterproof cover, fitted cloth diapers offer superior leak protection and effectively prevent accidents. With their customizable fit and durability, fitted cloth diapers are popular among eco-conscious parents looking for a cost-effective and sustainable diapering solution.



For parents who prefer the convenience of a customizable cloth diaper, pocket diapers are a great option. They consist of two components: a waterproof outer shell with an internal “pocket,” and an absorbent insert stuffed into the pocket. Pocket diapers are available in single sizes or adjustable sizes to accommodate babies of different ages and weights. 

The pocket design allows for customization of the absorbency level by adjusting the number and type of inserts used, making them an ideal option for heavy wetters or overnight use. Additionally, the waterproof outer shell prevents leaks and keeps the baby dry. With their versatility and flexibility, pocket diapers are popular among parents looking for an eco-friendly and affordable diapering option.



If you’re looking for a hassle-free cloth diapering option, all-in-ones (AIOs) are great. Similar to disposable diapers, they do not require folding or stuffing, making them extremely easy to use. These diapers come in single or adjustable sizes to accommodate babies of various ages and sizes. With their convenient design, AIOs are a popular option among parents new to cloth diapering or those who want a diaper that is easy to use on the go. 

Despite their simplicity, AIOs are highly effective at preventing leaks and keeping your baby dry and comfortable. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or new to cloth diapering, all-in-ones are a great option to consider for a hassle-free and eco-friendly diapering experience.



For parents seeking a flexible and efficient cloth diapering option, all-in-twos (AI2s) are a great alternative. AI2s are similar to pocket diapers, consisting of an outer waterproof shell and an absorbent insert. However, unlike pockets, the insert in AI2s sits directly against your baby’s skin. This design offers excellent absorbency while also allowing for quicker drying times compared to all-in-ones (AIOs). 

AI2s are available in single and adjustable sizes to accommodate babies of various ages and sizes. With their flexibility and ease of use, AI2s are popular among parents who value convenience and sustainability. Whether you’re a new parent or a seasoned pro, AI2s are an excellent option for a customizable and eco-friendly diapering experience.



If you’re looking for a cloth diapering option that offers the best of both worlds, hybrid diapers are worth considering. Similar to AI2s, hybrid diapers have a waterproof outer shell and an absorbent insert. However, unlike AI2s, the insert in hybrid diapers can be either cloth or disposable, providing flexibility and convenience for parents.

 While hybrid diapers tend to be more expensive than other cloth diapers, they offer the convenience of disposable diapers without the environmental impact. Additionally, the ability to switch between cloth and disposable inserts allows for customizable absorbency and can be an excellent option for parents who are on the go or traveling. With their versatility and eco-friendly design, hybrid diapers are popular among parents who want a customizable and convenient diapering experience.

How Many Cloth Diapers Will I Need?

Knowing how many diapers your baby will need is essential when it comes to cloth diapering. On average, newborns go through 10-12 diapers daily, while infants use 8-10 and older babies and toddlers use 6-8. However, the number of diapers you’ll need ultimately depends on how frequently you plan on doing laundry. 

Washing diapers in small loads can be wasteful regarding water and energy usage, so washing them every 3-4 days is recommended. While some parents wash their diapers daily, others can go up to a week between washes without issues. Finding a washing schedule that works for you and your family is key to ensuring a successful and sustainable cloth diapering experience. Here is more information about how many cloth diapers do I need?

How To Wash Cloth Diapers

How you wash your cloth diapers will vary depending on several factors, such as your washing machine, whether you have hard or soft water, and the type of detergent you use (plant-based or synthetic). You may need to experiment with different methods to find the best one. However, there are three basic steps that are common in all wash routines.

  • Dry the diapers on a line or using a machine.
  • Run the main wash cycle using a heavy setting and detergent.
  • Run a pre-rinse or short cycle to avoid using soiled water during the main wash.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to wash cloth diapers and the best cloth diaper detergents.

What Else Do I Need To Cloth Diaper?

There are some things that you can consider investing in to make your cloth diaper experience more successful and easier.

  • Choosing cloth wipes is the next logical step if you’ve decided to cloth diaper.
  • wet bag is perfect for when you’re on the go.

Cloth Diaper FAQS

How often do I need to change cloth diapers?

You should change your baby’s cloth diaper every two to three hours, or as soon as you notice it is wet or soiled.

Can I use cloth diapers overnight?

Yes, you can use cloth diapers overnight. Use a highly absorbent diaper and add an extra insert if necessary. Here’s everything you need to know about overnight cloth diapers.

Can I use cloth diapers on newborns?

Yes, you can use cloth diapers on newborns. Look for diapers specifically designed for newborns or adjustable diapers that can fit various sizes. Here’s everything you need to know about cloth diapering a newborn.

Do cloth diapers leak more than disposable diapers?

No, cloth diapers can be as leak-proof as disposable diapers if changed. Here’s everything you need to know about preventing cloth diaper leaks.

How do I deal with diaper rash when using cloth diapers?

You can use cloth-safe diaper cream or natural remedies like coconut oil or breast milk to soothe diaper rash. Here’s everything you need to know about cloth diaper rashes.

How do I strip my cloth diapers?

Stripping cloth diapers involves removing buildup from detergent, fabric softeners, or hard water. You can wash them in hot water with a stripping solution. Here’s everything you need to know about how to strip cloth diapers.

Cloth diapers have come a long way since the days of safety pins and rubber pants. With so many options available today, choosing cloth diapers can be affordable, eco-friendly, and comfortable for your baby.

Gloria Milla Terzi

Monday 20th of September 2021

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


Saturday 13th of November 2021

Consulte nuestra publicación sobre marcas de pañales de tela. Hay enlaces a lugares donde puede pedir pañales.

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