Getting Started with Cloth Diapering

Updated on July 19, 2010
A.G. asks from Easley, SC
4 answers

I am 6 months pregnant with my 4th child and would like to give cloth diapering a try........but.........I have no idea where to start! Where do you buy the diapers, how is it different from disposable diaper care, cleaning, costs, ect. Also, what do you see as the benefits for the child? Is it easier to potty train, less skin irritation? Obviously, it is better on the environment......I do believe firmly in that.

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answers from San Francisco on

Hi A.,

Congrats on baby no. 4!

The world of cloth diapering is vast and confusing! So many options, even more brands...

My son is 22 1/2 months and I've been cloth diapering from the beginning. After copious amounts of research, I decided to go with the BumGenius 3.0 one size pocket fold diapers. They are easy to wash and put on, but require a little work in that they need to be "stuffed" back together once they are dry. There is a separate absorbent layer that goes into pocket (the pocket is the shape of a disposable diaper). I've found these adjust really well to my growing baby and make life a little easier in that I don't have to order another size as he's growing. I bought mine from and There are starter kits that include a nozzle that you hook up to the toilet to spray the poo off, a wet bag to store the used diapers and cloth wipes (you wet them with water and wipe clean...I like the so much more than store bought wipes). In my research, I concluded that I'd be saving money if I bought these one-size diapers. I wash my own a couple times a week in a rinse then hot water cycle. Periodically I put non-cholorinated bleach in the cycle. I do use FuzziBunz for nighttime as they seem to be a little more absorbent for the long stretch. In addition, here's a link that I liked that helped me figure out what I was going to do:

As we haven't gotten to potty training (seriously anyway), I'm not sure if it is easier.

With the diapers that I chose, I don't notice any difference in ease than disposables. And only need to do a load of wash to have more is less stressful for me than going to a place that sells the kind of disposables I'd use (Earth's Best or Seventh Generation) at the last minute.

There are other kinds of cloth diapers:

All in ones (AIO), that go one like a disposable and wash at home and require no other work. They take longer to dry, are more expensive up front, but super easy in the day-to-day.

One-Size: Means that they adjust (usually with snaps) up and down to fit the growing baby. Most will fit from 10 pounds through 35.

Fitted: Resemble the size/shape of disposables. They aren't waterproof and require a covering. Usually come in set sizes.

Prefolds: The old-fashioned idea. There are new ways to close them, so you don't have to use safety pins. They require waterproof coverings. Usually in fitted sizes.

Pocket: A waterproof outer barrier fabric is sewn to the second component, an inner moisture-wicking fabric that keeps the skin feeling dry. These two fabrics form a pocket for the third component, an absorbent insert, to be placed.

And then there are things like Gdiapers, which are hybrids. They are part cloth diaper, part disposable. Gdiapers have a cloth outlayer with a disposable liner that snaps in. The liner flushes down and is biodegradable. You still need multiple outlayers for those times that blowouts happen. But something to look into.

I know that this can be completely overwhelming and I'm sorry I've given you so much info. If you have any questions, please email me!

Best wishes,

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Gainesville on

If I had it to over I would go the one size all in one or pocket route. Just much more convenient than using prefolds. I am partial to Bum Genius (they just came out with a new version so your timing is perfect!) and Thirsties. You might try easing into cloth by buying just a couple kinds, see what you like then buy more for your diaper stash. has a lot of great info. has the best prefolds out there. Gold standard (I have been using my prefolds for 21 months and they are in amazing shape) for prefolds if you decide to go that route.

The upfront cost is obviously greater but then you are pretty much done.

There is a learning curve but by using pockets or aio's it is more like a disposable.

My daughter started potty training at 17 months! We only use diapers when we are out, nap and nighttime.

Cleaning is easy-get a good wet bag to line a small garbage can with a lid and you dump everything in the wash! If baby is breastfed there is no reason to rinse prior to placing in the pail. It washes right out. Some breastfed baby poo stains some doesn't. Once they start solids invest in biodegradable liners. Makes clean up so much easier!


answers from Washington DC on

Hi A.,
Wow! Mazie pretty much covered it all for you! I just wanted to chime in a bit because I cloth diaper and have had positive and negative experiences with doing it. I tried to cloth diaper with my first dd and it was a disaster. First of all, I didn't have Mazie's help! I had such a hard and frustrating time with the diapers I ended up with, I threw in the towel at about 10 months and went back to paper. Now with my second, I learned a little more about diapering and didn't pressure myself into anything. Just did what I felt I could handle and eventually went completely cloth by about 3 months. I use and like the BumGenius and they seem to be available everywhere. If you go to and don't mind used, you can get some good deals on them. They do tend to "clog" often and the pee will just roll right off the diaper cover if you don't make sure you strip the diapers every once in a while (detergent build up). I also have used gdiapers and actually just love the versatility they offer. You can purchace cloth to go in them and make them totally cloth, but if you're visiting relatives or something and don't want a huge wet bag with you, you can put in disposable liners that flush away, are compostable, or disposable and only take weeks (instead of 500 years) to break down. I've also used the paper liners when my dd has a rash from too many tomatoes or something and I have to really layer on the ointment. You do have to get new sizes. I only got about 4 smalls because I was just trying them out and my dd was born weighing over 10 lbs. I invested a little more in the mediums which lasted a good while and I was able to resell on the yahoo gdiapers site. We're still in the larges and loving them. I have some "Snapeez" for easy pull up now that she's nearing two and showing some interest in the potty. But can't give you a lot of info on whether it'll be "easier" to potty train her because she in cloth. I'm thinking it'll be easier because she has a big sister she adores and mimics to the T. Hope this helps, and CONGRATULATIONS!



answers from New York on

mazie did a great job explaining everything.

just go join and you will find some much info(it might overwhelm you at first, but you have time). you can even buy used diapers, maybe to try one brand before committing. or sometimes that works well for newborn diapers since they outgrow them so fast. some online stores, like offers a one size package where you can get a few different diapers to try one of each.

also, many moms just make them at home. places like or one of the sections on diaperswappers has people who make them. has a review section on different brands as well.

you can cloth diaper and save tons of money, or you can cloth diaper and spend more than disposables would cost. it depends on what you buy. all studies show the amount of water used for cleaning does not outweigh the benefits(so anyone that tells you its worse for the environment because of water use is LYING). you rinse the diapers in cold water, you wash them once or twice in hot, and your rinse again. you use very little detergent. depending on where you live, you may not have to do the two wash cycles. if you have an HE washer, you are actually saving tons considering how little water is used per cycle.

when you buy diapers outright, you have to lay alot of money out at once compared to disposables, so that sometimes isnt possible, but again, depending on what diapers you use, you can save money in the end. and if you diapers last, esp the smaller sizes, you can resell them for something to put towards the next size. one size though can be a good investment since you dont need more sizes so you lay out the money, then keep the diapers until they fall apart.

i think differences for your child can vary. irritation would be caused by not getting the detergent fully out of the diaper or not changing enough. in reality, cloth diaper babies are changed more often then disposable, so if you change, there shouldnt be a problem. potty trainig varies by child depending on if they are bothered by the diaper, but children in cloth diapers are aware of feeling "wet" sooner than disposables. breastfed diapers are easier to clean than formula fed in the beginning. when the baby starts eating solids or if formula fed, get a diaper sprayer, takes 5 minutes to hook up and makes a huge difference.

if you care about the environment, eliminating cloth diapers from your home will have more impact than anything you could do in such a short time. if you make the committment, it becomes second nature and you wont feel llike there is any more work.

even if you dont do cloth at night, or maybe you start out only when you are home, every diaper saved helps. if you arent sure, something simple to commit to are the cloth wipes. again, will save you money and help the environment. an absolute must for anyone should be swim diapers. when a baby pees in a huggies swimmer, the pee goes right in the pool. no diaper can stop pee from going in the pool through a wet diaper. the diaper is being used for poop. no reason at all financially or environmentally to use disposable swim diapers. every little bit helps. good luck

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