I’ll be honest. Years ago when my oldest was born, the thought of cloth diapering was repugnant. Wrapping my baby in a towel and have them leak all over the place did not seem to do anybody any good and yet the cloth diapering community still continued to grow. I thought it would be extra work, extra mess and an extra grade A pain in the neck. I.Was.Wrong.
Throughout the years, cloth diapering has come a long way from simply safety pinning a piece of cloth around your baby. I never knew that they came with inserts and waterproof shells as well as many colors and styles. But don’t let that intimidate you. Cloth diapering can actually be very simple and no more of mess than traditional diapers if you just do a little research beforehand. So to begin cloth diapering today, here are some quick cloth diapering 101 basics I have prepared to help ease your hesitations.
Types of Cloth Diapers
There are different types of cloth diapers, although for the sake of overwhelming you, really you only need to know about 5 of them. Some of these are just sub categories and can be used as more than one “type”. Here’s what I mean;
- All in One’s (AIO’s) are a one step system with no additional insert. They most resemble traditional disposables because the insert (area that touches baby’s skin and catches the waste) is sewn into the waterproof shell. It makes clean up a breeze and you throw the whole thing in the wash or your diaper pail/wet bag. Although I’ve found that waiting for AIOs to dry takes a bit longer and could become a problem if you don’t have a significant stock of diapers waiting for you. (We all know that babies and toddlers go through plenty of diapers a day). They also are a bit higher in cost compared to other types but that’s simply because you don’t have to buy the shell AND the insert although some parents suggest adding a diaper booster for overnight. Of course this tip could help but may not be mandatory for all types/brands.
- Flat/Prefold diapers are generally what I myself associated cloth diapers to be before doing my research. Except now, they have their own waterproof cover (usually sold separately) that you can attach around the cloth. They are rectangular single layered “rags” if you will, that you can fold in different ways to fit your baby and then use a diaper fastener (they usually look like big safety pins) to keep it attached vs AIOs/AI2s that stay on baby via buttons or Velcro which are adjustable as your baby grows. Flats usually are made of cotton and although they may seem intimidating, they are actually the cheapest option. Prefolds are basically Flats but are already folded for ease of use into 3 sections with the middle layer being the most absorbent layer. I have never used flats/prefolds but apparently they are the best to use with newborns.
- All in Two’s (AI2) cover most types of reusable diapers. They consist of a removable insert, usually made of wool, fleece or polyurethane laminate (PUL). You can also use cotton or bamboo and even take your money saving a step further and make your own inserts! The removable insert can either be washable or flushable and lays inside the waterproof shell that then snaps into the outer shell (available in thousands of colors and prints). Examples of AI2s are:
- Pocket which has a hole between the waterproof shell and place where baby’s skin touches. Simply put your insert into this hole rather than laying insert directly against baby.
- Hybrids are nice because they offer reusable as well as biodegradable inserts that can either be washed or flushed such as Gdiapers. When flushing, however, it is usually recommended to swish the insert a bit to help prevent plumbing issues. After all, you can’t really friendly flush with these lol.
All in all, cloth diapers really can save you money once you’ve gathered enough in your supply. Given that most cloth diapers have the waterproof liner and outer shell, changing your baby is super easy! All you have to do is switch out the insert for a fresh one, button em up and you’re ready to go! Which type of cloth diaper do you use for your baby? Let me know in the comments below! Also, any personal experience with the different types are gladly appreciated.