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Getting Started with Cloth Diapering

You can start cloth diapering from the time your baby is born, or when they are older. It's never too late to start!

Types of Diapers

Flat: This is the kind of diaper your grandmother probably used. It's a huge thin square of gauze-like cloth that is folded several times and then put on the baby.

PROS: They dry much faster than other types because they are so much thinner. Also very inexpensive.

CONS: Not very absorbent. Have to double-up for effective absorption.

Prefold diapers This is the most simple and economical modern diaper. It's made of highly absorbent cotton in a special weave. It will have several layers on the outer panels and a thicker layers middle layer down the center of the diaper.

Prefolds come in different sizes and thicknesses, and what they are is indicated by the color of thread on the edges.

There are Chinese Prefolds (CPF), Diaper Service Quality (DSQ) Prefolds, Indian Prefolds, and others. Chines Prefolds are the most popular and durable.

Prefolds come in traditional bleached (white) as well as unbleached.

PROS: Very economical. Very good absorption compared to most other diapers. Will last a long time.

CONS: Require some folding. If you want a good fit must use pins or Snappi. Can be a bit bulky on a smaller baby.

Fitted diapers

This type of diaper requires no folding or pinning. There are many, many brands and types of fitteds, but generally they are made to fit a specific size range and go on the baby much like a disposable, with either velcro or snap fasteners. They require a waterproof cover over the diaper. Most fitteds come in sizes according to the age/weight of the baby, however some fitteds are "one-size" and are designed to fit a much larger size range. For example 10-35 pounds.

PROS: Convenient. Little or no leaking. Most use snaps. Good for wiggly babies.

CONS: More expensive. Require getting a new set in each size as baby grows (exception are OneSize diapers).

All-In-One Diapers These diapers, also known as AIO's are fitted diapers with the cover also sewn into the design. These are the most convenient to put on and take off. Many cloth diapering moms have gotten their daycare providers to agree to cloth diaper by providing AIO's and a pail that they take home at the end of each day. They are also good for church nurseries, babysitters, and grandmas who've done their fair share of pinning.

PROS: Very convenient. The only kind most daycare providers will use.

CONS: Must get a new set in each size as baby grows. Slow drying time.

Pocket DiapersThe pocket diaper consists of a waterproof outer cover, and an inner lining of fleece or suedecloth. The space between the two layers can be stuffed with either a folded prefold, or other layers of various materials. This diaper will go on and off like an AIO. And with the added benefit of fleece, the baby stays drier. Many parents use pocket diapers at night on heavy wetters, so the baby won't wake up all night long demanding a diaper change.Most pocket diapers users prefer them to be trim, so they will stuff them with hemp or microfiber. Other parents will stuff them with infant prefolds or get creative. Anything goes with pocket diapers!

PROS: Can add or take away padding for different situations (night vs. day). Baby stays dry so less chance of rash. Easy clean-up of BM diapers. Good for sitters and travel.

CONS: Expensive. Require getting a new set in each size as baby grows (exception are OneSize diapers).
Can only use each one once before washing (unlike separate diapers and covers).

Diapers are made from many materials. Most diapers are made of cotton. However hemp is gaining popularity as a more absorbent option. A hemp diaper can absorb more without the bulk, however hemp does not absorb as fast for those babies who flood their diapers quickly. A good combination is a hemp/cotton blend.

Number of diapers to buy

Generally you will need more for a newborn than for an older child. For a newborn, ideal is 36 diapers. For an older child you should have about 24. This will enable you to wash about every 2-3 days.


Covers come in all shape, sizes, and materials. Covers can be used over and over again until they actually look or smell dirty. When the cover comes off, if it is simply damp, just hang it somewhere to dry and put a new cover on. When the baby needs another change put the now-dry cover back on.

You will need at least 6 covers in each size. If you use fitted diapers or snappis, you will have less messes in the covers and can reduce that number to 4 covers in newborn and small, and 3 covers in medium and large. Like diapers, the best covers are bought on the internet. Here is a quick rundown of some types of covers. They get more expensive as the list goes down.

Pull on covers Picture old fashioned plastic pants. These are good for a potty training todder over training pants, but otherwise are not very practical. You must remove baby's shoes and pants to get them off. They don't last a very long time, and they are very hot. One company makes PUL covers that are less hot but shaped like plastic pants.

Velcro covers: The have velcro tabs similar to a disposable diaper. Velcro allows for a custom fit of the cover.

Snap covers: Most are constructed similar to velcro covers with PUL, but secure with plastic snaps instead.


PUL: Polyurethane Laminate, otherwise known as PUL. It's a very lightweight and cool alternative to old fashioned vinyl pants.

Fleece Usually snapped on, fleece is waterproof and breathable, and can be cooler than PUL material.

Wool Has the same benefit of fleece (breathable) but is a natural material instead of synthetic. They are made with either wool fabric or knitted like a sweater. Wool has natural antibacterial properties that allow for multiple uses without getting a urine odor. Wool will draw the moisture out of the diaper and allow it to dry slowly as baby sleeps, preventing leaks and diaper overload. Wool does not need to be washed as often as other covers because of the antibacterial properties. Wool must be handwashed, and it must be lanolized (you can buy a special wash) every so often to keep its waterproofing feature.

Front vs. Side Closing

Babies come in all shapes and sizes, and so do covers. Some close with two tabs much like disposables do. Others will fasten on the sides. The side closing covers work to get a custom fit of the waist and thighs.

Other diaper accessories:

Doublers are small pads that can be inserted into any diaper to increase the amount of urine it can hold.

Stuffers are what is put into the inner layers of pocket diapers.

Soakers usually refer to the inner padding in a fitted diaper. Some diapers have internal soakers (meaning the absorbent inner layer is part of the main diaper), and some have external soakers, which can be removed for washing, and then reattached for use. Diapers with internal soakers will take longer to dry than ones with external soakers.

Pins and Snappis

Many prefold users just lay the diaper inside the cover. However many others find that there is less leakage of poop if the diaper is fastened in some way. Pins are one way to do this. The Snappi is another useful tool that will help to secure the diaper very quickly and easily.

Cloth wipes

Why stop with cloth diapers? Consider using cloth wipes as well! You simply throw them into the diaper pail and wash them along with the diapers. Many people will make a natural, gentle wipes solution. Others will just use plain water.

Wet bags and pail liners

There are a number of products available to contain the diapers. Instead of lining the pail with a garbage bag, create less waste by using a wetbag, a bag made of PUL that can be washed along with the diapers. It's great for travel, too. For the diaper bag you can purchase a smaller wetbag that will hold 2-3 diapers.

Be sure to check our FAQ forum for more tips!!
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