How To Get Started with Cloth Diapers

admin October 28, 2009

Image by MissMessie

All the cloth options out there, which ones I prefer, common acronyms, solutions for babies of different sizes, heavy wetters, etc. Modern cloth diapers are NOTHING like your grandma’s cloth diapers. If you haven’t seen them, you need to. They are a GREAT option! If you’re starting from no knowledge about modern cloth, I’ll provide you with some basic information and some resources on where to find diapers and how to use them.

Types of Diapers

  1. Flat Fold — These are your grandma’s cloth diapers. They are giant squares of plain cotton, a material called “Birdseye.” Folded up, it’s very absorbent. It requires a cover.
  2. Prefold — These are white squares with extra thickness (typically 4-8-4, with the extra thickness in the middle) that can be Snappi’d on (a “Snappi” is a brand of product that replaces pins). They don’t require special folds because of this extra thickness, hence the name “prefold.” These require a cover.
  3. Fitted — These diapers are baby-shaped (like a disposable) and fasten with hook-and-loop or snaps. They require a cover.
  4. All-in-One (AIO) — These diapers are exactly what they sound like. They are waterproof on the outside and absorbent on the inside. They don’t need anything at all; you just put it on like a disposable, then wash the whole thing!
  5. All-in-Two (AI2) — This diaper is like an AIO and a pocket (see below), but the absorbent material snaps into the diaper instead of being sewn in or stuffed in.
  6. Pocket Diaper – A diaper that is shaped like a disposable and functions like one.It is waterproof on the outside, and is fastened with either hook and loop (Velcro) or snaps.The inner layer wicks moisture from a baby’s skin so they don’t feel wet.There is an inner, absorbent layer which is tucked into the “pocket” of the diaper (hence the name).This absorbent layer comes out in the wash and unfolds for easier and more thorough washing and drying.It is re-folded and stuffed back in after washing. Some of these diapers can be purchased in a “one size” variety, meaning that it can be adjusted for babies of various sizes, usually 8 – 35 lbs. (approximately birth to potty training).

There are endless variations in size, style, and pattern, as you can see if you’ve clicked on any of the links!

Advantages of Cloth

  1. Eco-Friendly/Green

Many diapers are made using organic fabrics, and are washed using eco-friendly detergents, not to mention they aren’t thrown in landfills!They can also be re-used for several babies.

      2. Low Cost

The average cost of disposable-diapering a baby today, birth to potty training, is at least $2000 (more if the baby does not potty train by age 2.5 or if premium diapers are used).The average cost of wipes is another $500 – $700.The average cost of cloth diapering using purchased diapers is $400, and sewing your own is only $200 (and since these diapers can be reused, diapering subsequent babies is FREE!).This includes cloth wipes and solution too!

     3. Better for Baby’s Skin

Because the diapers contain no chemicals and do not have to contain any synthetic fabrics (some diapers do use polyesters like fleece or suede cloth), babies do not get diaper rashes as often as they do in disposables.The diapers also allow more air to circulate, allowing rashes to heal faster.They also do not cause allergies, as some disposables do for some babies.

      4. Less Mess

Believe it or not, cloth diapers are LESS likely to leak!The “blow outs” that are so common in disposables do not happen in cloth.Cloth diapers have stronger elastic, so messes can’t shoot up the back or out the legs.They also move with the baby more, resulting in a better fit (and therefore less room for mess).Cloth diapers only leak if improperly washed (fabric softeners or oils will cause them to repel moisture, this problem can be fixed if it happens by accident) or if they are simply too wet.

      5. Easier “disposal”

When a diaper is dirty, it doesn’t need to be wrapped up in special trash cans or pails and thrown out every few days.Instead, the mess in the diapers is dumped (if necessary) in the toilet, and they are thrown in a waterproof bag.Every 3 – 4 days, the whole bag is dumped into the washer (including the bag) and turned on.Nothing to carry outside, no special way to treat each diaper, and no needing to ask where to throw a diaper away when you’re on the go!

We prefer pocket diapers, although we’ve used many different types. We’ve tried prefolds, AIO, and fitteds too. So far, at all ages, we’ve liked pockets best. Daniel was in one within hours of his birth, and Bekah still uses them at 21 months. Ben says he wouldn’t do cloth if he couldn’t use pockets!


The Cloth Diaper Report — product reviews and more.

Cloth Diaper Articles — tons of information on basics, wipes, patterns, and more from Zany Zebra.

Nicki’s Diapers — A popular store

Green Mountain Diapers — Best prefolds! (We stuff our pocket diapers with them)

Cost Breakdown — How much cloth diapering will realistically cost, depending on the system you choose. (The cheapest way is to sew your own, which we’ll talk about soon!)

Comparison with Disposables — Considerations in making the diapering choice. (I haven’t found a great one yet…to me, there is no comparison, cloth wins hands down. But disposable advocates are forever finding reasons why disposables are “just as green” as cloth, which is ridiculous.)

What type of diapers do you use? If you don’t have kids yet, are you surprised by all these new cloth diaper options?

Family Supplement Plan!


Get our complete family supplement plan (which we take, in what doses, and when), along with our NEW preventative elderberry syrup recipe. Not available on the blog!

Powered by ConvertKit

This is the writings of:



  1. We have been cloth diapering for 18 months now and are planning on it with our little one on the way. At first my husband thought it was some crazy idea I came up with….a few weeks after Cameron was born, he got used to it and now advocates for it (too all his friends/coworkers). He prefers it! Cloth diapering is very easy, no disposables to buy and very baby friendly (have not had any rashes!).
    Some of the places I buy; – You can buy used diapers here! – local diaper store, tends to be more pricey than online sites – great variety/prices – LOVE this site. They show you the fits of different diapers/covers on babes ranging from newborn to toddler!
    There is also a great etsy store Banana Bottoms. She makes very high quality bamboo/organic diapers (fitteds) in super cute prints. These are our favorite but they are pricey!

    We have chosen to go with a variety stash depending on our needs. I use organic birdseye flats, and flip brand covers mostly. Very cheap! We also have TotsBots bamboozle (can be bulkier but they are super absorbent, require a cover), banana bottoms and a very bumgenius OS (great for going out, very trim fitting).
    For newborns, prowraps with prefolds or GMD workhorse (contoured prefold). We also plan on trying the Flip brand newborn insert.


  2. What an awesome post! I just started using cloth diapers again after figuring out what to do with my daughter’s “sticky” poo. That kept me from using them for some time. : /

    I wrote a little post about my adventure when I first made up my mind that cloth diapering was for me.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

Meet My Family
Want to hear more from us? Sign up for our weekly newsletter and get our FREE "how to stop yelling" printable!