How We Cloth Diaper – The Basics

While I was pregnant and furiously researching how to be the best mom ever, the topic that took the most time and caused me the most anxiety was diapering.  Only one thing seemed clear at the beginning: I wanted to use cloth diapers.  Being the naive, previously fairly successful internet researcher that I was, I plugged “cloth diapers” into mothering.com’s search bar to see what I could find.  (Beware: clicking on that link may toss you into a pit of potential diapering decisions from which you may never return).

Photo by simplyla, used under Creative Commons License.

I was hell bent on finding the perfect, one size fits all, cheap, easy, velcro free, durable, leakproof diapering system.  The trouble was, I had never even seen a cloth diaper, let alone changed one.  The internet resources I found were full of useful details, but I had a hard time putting all of the information together into a my perfect system.  To make matters worse, much of the advice for newbies included encouragement to buy different styles of diaper to see which one was right for you.  A cheapskate overplanner like I am just cannot do something so potentially wasteful (and expensive).  After all, avoiding waste and expense is one of the best reasons to choose cloth!

Now that we are heading towards five months of exclusive cloth diapering (not one disposable!), I can’t believe that I once thought all of this would be so complicated.  So I hope the following description of our basic system helps to ease the mind of any Mama (or Papa!) who is considering cloth diapers.  This is one system, though – there are an infinite number of combinations out there to suit your needs.

Basic Supplies:

  • The diaper – Clotheez Square Birdseye Flats (48): All cloth diaper systems will include some sort of absorbent material to catch the waste.  Yes, a diaper, plain and simple… or is it?  There are flats, prefolds, fitteds, etc. etc.  We chose flats for two reasons.  One, they are more of a one-size-fits-most option than any other, since you have to buy many sizes of prefolds vs. only two sizes of flats.  Two, they are supposed to be the most durable and easiest to wash.  So far, I agree.  We originally started out with 24, but that was not enough for us since our little guy hates a wet diaper so we doubled our stash.  Still, we have to do laundry about once a day to avoid running out completely.
  • The fasteners – Snappies (6): These are necessary for our system, since our diaper covers are merely a waterproof shell.  There are styles of diaper that allow you to skip the pinning process, but given the ease and safety of using the Snappis I chose this route.  I think that the ability to snugly wrap baby’s bottom in the flat diaper with the help of the Snappi has saved us from many blowouts.
  • The cover – Thirsties Duo Wrap (Snaps) (8): So you’ve got the absorbency – but there is an upper limit to the amount of liquid any cloth can hold before it seeps to the next layer (ie: the onesie, the mattress, your shirt, etc).  You need some sort of waterproof covering over the diaper to prevent unsavory seepage.  The material for these can range from cheap plastic to expensive chenille wool diaper covers.  Seriously, check out the range of options.  Although I did pause for a minute before doing so to contemplate the effect on my crunchy credentials, I chose a synthetic fabric (PUL) for the covers.  They work wonders!  We marvel at the ability of these covers to keep in even the messiest of messes.  They also fit his skinny newborn butt nicely (and avoided the umbilical cord stump), and still have room to grow five months along.

The diapering process itself is actually quite simple.  After washing and drying (a how to on that to follow), we fold the flat diapers using the origami method so they are ready to go.  When the time comes for a diaper change, we simply fold the diaper around him and fasten it snugly with the Snappi.  Then comes the Thirsties cover, which just snaps on easily.  after a quick yet essential check to make sure that the flat diaper is contained completely within the cover, we are good to go!

That is really all there is to it.  Of course, there is a changing station, laundry, and leaving the house to consider, but those topics are equally easy and stress free once you get the hang of them.  I will describe more in the next post.  Until then, chime in!  If you arte new to the idea of cloth diapers, i would be happy to answer any questions.  If you are a seasoned diaperer, what is your favorite system and why?

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6 thoughts on “How We Cloth Diaper – The Basics

  1. Alina says:

    Hi,
    I am new to cloth diapers, but I liked the idea. My baby is 2,5 months old and I’ve been using disposables, but tried ECing as much as I could. Unfortunately, it’s rather cold now, and I’m a little concerned about my baby’s legs and bottom to be totally naked. So I’ve had no choice but to use disposable nappies. Back to these cloth diapers. Can you dress a baby with them on? I mean putting on some trousers or long sleep suits?
    Thanks in advance for your answer.
    Best,
    Alina

    • Sadhana Mama says:

      Good for you for attempting to EC – we have the potty next to the changing table, but that’s as far as we’ve come 🙂

      We have not found any trouble with pants and sleep suits. When he was brand new, we did use a couple of pairs of three month pants since the diapers were a bit bulky on him. Now at six months, I’d say that his diaper has a slimmer profile compared to some disposables I see on other kids. Some all-in-ones and prefolds are rumored to be pretty bulky, but I can only speak for flats and covers. So yes, I think fashion/warmth and cloth diapering can be quite compatible!

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