Cloth Baby Diapers

baby in diaper

by Arrington

Cloth baby diapers are wonderful against your baby’s skin. They are also easy for everybody, including a working woman with three children - like me. Here are my tips for easy cloth diapering.

Many career women never even consider cloth baby diapers because they feel it will be too hard to manage. I’m here to tell you that with the modern cloth diapers available today, cloth diapering is easy.

So why would you want to bother with cloth when disposables are so easy?

Cloth baby diapers are breathable and WAY more comfortable for your baby

For babies that get diaper rash easily and who have sensitive skin, cloth diapers are heavenly. All three of my daughters inherited my fair and sensitive skin – poor girls!

Because I started off with cloth baby diapers, I really didn’t appreciate how much better they were for my daughters until we went on our first camping trip. I went with disposables on the trip since we were going to be in the middle of nowhere and I didn’t want to have to hunt down washing facilities.

It was lucky that I’d brought a couple bottles of Avalon Organic’s Zinc Diaper Balm because the only way I could keep my baby comfortable was to frost her butt in it every couple hours. It was July and hot and the combination of the disposables not breathing and all the diaper goop to keep a rash away made her pretty cranky! She couldn’t wait to go swimming in her reusable cloth swim diaper! The upside is that she continues to be a little fish to this day!

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Our next trip was only for a couple days so I brought all my cloth diapers. I didn’t wash anything until I got home. This gets me to the next thing I know you are wondering about... Just how hard and gross is it washing dirty diapers?

Cloth diapers are as easy to wash as your regular clothes

There is no need to get your hands covered in poop to wash your baby’s diapers. My husband has “Poo-dar”, a male ability to sense impending poopage and quickly hand off the baby before it happens while insisting that whoever is holding the baby when it poops has to deal with it. This man - with his aversion to all things poop - washes baby diapers.

Here is how you do it. Line your diaper pail with a washable diaper pail liner. When it is time to do laundry (we wash our diapers twice a week), pull the liner out of the pail with the diapers. Dump the diapers into the washing machine, using your hand on the bottom of the pail liner so the you effectively turn it inside out as you dump the diapers into your machine.

You can then use the pail liner to “protect your hand” as you move the diapers around a bit to ensure that they are evenly distributed in the washing machine and the load is balanced. You would do this step regardless of what you were washing, the only difference is you are using the washable diaper pail liner to protect your hand. Then simply drop the pail liner (inside out) into the machine, don’t add soap, set the machine for large load, maximum washing time and cold water wash and start the machine.

Why cold water? You will do two washes, the first is cold to rinse off any dried-on solids. Cold water prevents staining. Most importantly, by washing in cold you avoid yucky smells. Warm water results in ammonia-poop-smell. Cold water results in no smell.

After the cold water wash finishes, add a little laundry detergent, set the machine for hot water wash and maximum wash time and let her go again. After that wash finishes, transfer your sparkling clean diapers into the drier or laundry line for drying.

We have found that sorting the clean diapers and liners into piles before sticking them in the appropriate drawer is a fun family activity.

Tips for washing cloth baby diapers summarized:

    Cold water first so you don’t have smells.
  • Not too much soap – it will only build up on your diapers.
  • If you have wraps with Velcro, close the Velcro before putting the cover into the diaper pail.
  • You don’t have to rinse the poop off of diapers ahead of time but if you want to rinse the big stuff off before putting the diaper into the diaper pail invest in a Diaper Sprayer. It makes it so easy! We have also been known to use it on messy bottoms as well...
  • If you wash your diapers twice a week, you really don’t have to worry about smells. A regular diaper pail with a lid that lifts easily with one hand is all you need.
  • Use a reusable liner.

Have I convinced you that washing cloth baby diapers isn’t a big deal? If so, let’s talk about what kind of cloth baby diapers are the easiest to use...

My Favorite Cloth Baby Diapers

cloth baby diapers

I did quite a bit of research when I bought my cloth diapers. I tried many “trial” packages and spoke to several friends and family members. They all told me that they liked FuzziBunz® the best, but that they were fairly pricy.

Finally, after trying the FuzziBunz® along with several others for a couple weeks, I decided that I agreed, I liked the FuzziBunz® best. I also knew we were planning to have at least one more child, so the cost would be spread across two children, not just one in the long run. I found a website (that gave quantity discounts and bought twenty small-sized diapers along with a couple diaper pail liners, and twelve Micro Terry Inserts (they come in 3-packs) so I could double them up for nighttime. You can also find one-size diapers that fit babies from birth till potty training, cutting your diaper cost. 

I’ve never looked back. When my first daughter was nine months old, I bought 24 medium FuzziBunz®. Mediums lasted her until she was about two. At that point, I only bought twelve larges because my daughter was in training pants most of the time and only needed diapers if we were going somewhere and at night.

Now my third daughter is almost two and she is just starting to use the larges. Our FuzziBunz® have held up beautifully -despite lots of use. I’m hoping to use them again sometime soon for number four. Reflecting back the things I like most about the FuzziBunz® cloth baby diapers are:

  • FuzziBunz® have snaps, not Velcro. Velcro doesn’t last as long and it shreds other stuff in the wash if you aren’t very careful to close the tabs so that the hooked side is covered.
  • The pocket at the back of FuzziBunz® is very easy to slide the liner into and to shake the liner out of. You don’t have unfold anything or even grab the liner to remove it.
  • They really are soft and fuzzy and they stay that way despite being used and washed over and over for years.
  • Although created after I bought my diapers, the new FuzziBunz® have adjustable leg hole openings which is really convenient to ensure there are no gaps at the leg openings.
  • I can insert two liners into the FuzziBunz® at night so I never have to change diapers in the middle of the night unless my daughter wakes up crying with a poop.
  • They don’t leak.
  • Most of the time the poop just falls off the diaper into the toilet. I rarely have to help it with my Diaper Sprayer.
  • They have all kinds of fun colors.

Cost of Cloth Baby Diapers versus Disposables

I know you are probably wondering, how much are these cloth baby diapers going to cost me?. Let’s talk about how much you can expect cloth baby diapers to cost you.

When I priced I out, the cost of a disposable diaper was about 20 cents. I would have used environmentally friendly less toxic diapers which cost even. Assuming that I used regular disposable diapers, my cost per month would have been around $40.00 or around $500 per year.

Since my children did not fully potty train until they were three, my total cost for diapering each child would have been around $1,000. note: I assumed that I would use less diapers in year 2 & 3 since we would have started potty training.

With FuzziBunz® cloth baby diapers I spent $14.00 per diaper for 54 diapers or $756. Of that investment, only $280 was made in the first nine months. My diaper pail liners were $20 each and I used plain white wash cloths that I bought in bulk from Costco for $40 as wipes.

My total cost for cloth diapering all three of my children has been less than $900. Disposables would have been around $3000, more if you count the cost of disposable wipes. That left me with over TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS to do something fun with and I am using one of the most expensive cloth baby diapers out here!

With the one-size diapers available now, you can keep your diapering costs to around per child, but you may have to purchase more by the second or third child because you would be using the same diaper over and over from birth until your child potty trains.

cloth baby diapers

Tips for Easy Cloth Baby Diapering

baby cloth diapers

Here is how I do the actual diapering. I’m going to give you an example of changing a poopy diaper since that is the most complicated. Read further for a normal pee-pee diaper change.

First, I put my baby up on the changing table and slide one of my washcloth wipes under her. Next I grab a washcloth from the stack I keep next to the changing table and fold it into quarters. I dip the folded washcloth into the diaper wash solution I keep in an old wipes container on the changing table and then leave it on the top of the closed container.

Next I unsnap the diaper, and slide it out from under my daughter. I slide the liner out of the diaper and dump the liner into the diaper pail. I could also drop the diaper in there as well, but I prefer to dump the poop into the toilet first, so I set it to the side. Next, I grab the moist wipe cloth and I use all four surfaces to clean her up before dropping the dirty wipe into the diaper pail.

I have a diaper table that my children can’t roll off of, so next I let her air dry while I go and dump the poop in the toilet. If it is a runny one, I will give it a quick spray with my Diaper Sprayer. After rinsing, I roll the diaper up so the outside, waterproof part keeps the whole thing from dripping when I return to the bedroom to dump the diaper in the diaper pail. Next, I grab one of my FuzziBunz® covers and slide a single liner in (two if we are about to go to bed) .

If it is nighttime, I slap a flushable diaper liner onto my cloth baby diaper and then put some Avalon Organics Zinc Diaper Cream on my daughter’s bottom so that she is protected in the event she poops during the night.

I’ve never had to change cloth baby diapers at night. Sometimes the girls have gone thru phases where they poop at night, but with the zinc on, they sleep thru it.   Liner Tip: I buy the larger size flushable diaper liners and then I cut them so that they are three inches wide – effectively getting four liners for every toddler sized liner.

In general, the only time they get a diaper rash is if we eat a lot of citrus or tomatoes and then don’t catch a poop quickly enough. This happens rarely. My oldest daughter never had a diaper rash. My youngest daughter (2 years) has had around ten in her life because with three young children in the family now she has to wait sometimes.

The above is an example of the most complicated cloth baby diaper change.

Most of the time I only need to:

  • Remove the cloth baby diaper
  • Shake the liner out of the diaper into the diaper pail
  • Drop the diaper in after the liner
  • Dip a washcloth into water and rinse off her bottom
  • Shove a liner into a fresh diaper
  • Slide her bottom onto it and snap her up

Note – if I had a boy I’d likely drop one of my washcloth wipes over his privates at the start of this process to prevent getting squirted on.

A funny story about changing diapers

Ninety percent of the time, diapering goes smoothly. One of the fun things about parenting is that our children like to surprise us. Like the time my first daughter passed gas in the middle of a diaper change.

I was bending over the diaper pail and a little poop shot out of her bottom right onto the side of my face. My husband was getting her jammies ready and saw the whole thing. He couldn’t stop laughing. At the time I was less amused… but now it is something we continue to remember and laugh about.

Please share your own diapering stories in our adventures in diapering blog! coming soon)

Diaper Wipe Solution to use with Cloth Baby diapers

Note: you don’t have to make diaper wash solution,

you can just use plain water to dampen a washcloth..

If you do want to add something, here is the wipes solution and process I use:

  • First I dump out any old wipe solution and rinse my wipes container
  • I add a squirt of almond oil or Natural Bath Oil
  • I add a squirt of aloe vera gel
  • I add a couple drops of Angel Baby Organic Shampoo & Body Wash or Peter Rabbit Organic Baby Wash (from Whole Foods)
  • Then I fill the container up with warm water so everything mixes together

That’s it! Pretty easy huh? If I run out of the mixture, I simply wet on of wipe washcloths in warm water from the sink and make more when I have time.

Cloth baby diapers when you are out and about

When I’m going out, I wet a folded washcloth and stick it in a plastic Ziploc bag and take that with a couple of dry washcloths, a diaper and a couple liners and stick it in my diaper bag (or purse). After changing the diaper, I pop the dirty one along with the washcloth wipe back into the Ziploc and try to remember to dump it in the diaper pail when I get home.

Here’s one last tip for when you are out and about. Get a foldable camping style potty and keep it in the car. It is so much easier (an cleaner) to have a potty available in the car when you start potty training. It prevents you from having to find a decent bathroom while you are on the road or running errands.

When we are at home, our favorite potty seat is a Flip Family Potty Seat. Why do we like it so much? Because the kid potty seat is build in. Adults can flip the potty seat open to the adult size and the kids (even 2 year olds) can flip it open to the kid sized seat! This makes everyone happy!

Graduating to Training Pants

Before you know it your child will be ready for potty training. Some children naturally take to using the toilet and others take longer. When pressed my my family, I always told them I was sure the kids would give up diapers before they started driving!

When my children were ready to start potty training, I purchased reusable cloth training pants for them to use. Not only were these great for daytime use, but we used them for quite a while longer at night time so we didn't have any nighttime accidents.

There are a variety of training pants available including all-in-one pull-ups for older kids and two piece night time training pants.

Cloth Baby Diapers - Conclusion

I hope we have convinced you to give cloth baby diapers a try. Please share your diapering stories with us on the Natural Parenting Forum.

If you want to read about cloth diapering from a mother who used Bummis Super Whisper Wraps read Cloth Diapers Made Simple.