Cloth Diaper Basics

Let me start by saying that I am no cloth diaper expert.  When Ava was about 2 months old, I was interested in cloth diapering.  I searched all around the internet and everything I found used all kinds of lingo that I didn’t know.  I want this to be a guide to cloth diapering that you can actually understand.

How did I begin cloth diapering?

I knew I wanted to try cloth diapers.  I didn’t know anything about them and I honestly didn’t even know if I would like them.  I didn’t want to invest a bunch of money we didn’t really have to end up hating them.  I decided that  I would find the cheapest way to get started.  This is what I found.

I purchased 10 of these Babyland pocket diapers with inserts on eBay for $38.00.

20121204-150955.jpgCotton Diaper Insert

Basically, a pocket diaper is a waterproof cover with “pocket” that you put some type of insert in.  These came with microfiber inserts.  I found out quickly that this one insert was not enough (after pee leaked on me a few times) and I needed to double up.  I chose to wrap the microfiber insert with a cotton pre-fold that I found at a garage sale.  You can buy them just about anywhere.  A lot of people use them burp cloths.  If I am short on microfiber inserts, I will just fold up two pre-folds and stuff the pocket with that.

Cloth Diaper InsertPocket Diaper

So, would I recommend these cheap Babyland diapers?  It depends.  You definitely get what you pay for with cloth diapers.  These diapers are one size.  This means that there are snaps all over the front to make the size grow with your baby.  I actually like these diapers better now that Ava is bigger.  They fit her better now.  They don’t quite have enough elastic to hug a small baby, which explains why we had so many leaks in the beginning.  If you like the idea of a pocket diaper, try Bum Genius.  I recently acquired 5 of these on Freecycle.  They are very used and need some work.  I will post more about those later.

When Ava was about 6 months old, Tony’s mom sent a huge package of random cloth diapers and covers.  It was awesome!  It gave me the opportunity to try a few different styles without having to spend a fortune.  This is where most of my stash came from.

Here is a picture of our entire stash (minus a few of the pockets that were in the wash and the 5 new Bum Genius I just got).  Our stash consists of:

Cloth Diaper Stash

  • 10 Babyland pocket diapers with inserts
  • 4 Snap to Fit all-in-one diapers
  • 2 Kushies all-in-one diapers
  • 2 Gerber covers
  • 3 Nikky covers
  • 6 Bottoms diapers
  • 8 cotton pre-folds
  • 5 Bum Genius pocket diapers with inserts
  • 26 cloth wipes

Don’t be overwhelmed.  I will explain.

What exactly is an “all-in-one”???

An all-in-one is a cloth diaper that has an insert attached.  You have to use a cover with an all-in-one.  This is a Snap to Fit brand all-in-one.  This style has adjustable snaps to fit your baby as it grows and has a velcro closure.  I find this particular brand hard to fit just right because it does not have any elastic in the legs or back.  They work, I just prefer the next brand better.

Snap-to-Fit DiaperSnap-to-Fit

The other all-in-one diaper brand we have is Kushies.  These are very similar to the Snap to Fit diapers except that they have elastic for a better fit and they are only one size.  I think these are a medium or large.  We had a few smaller ones that we have already retired and put into storage for baby #2 (maybe).

Kushies AIOKushies AIO Diaper

Again, you need to use a waterproof cover with an all-in-one.  Here is what it looks like with one of our Nikky covers.

Cloth Diapers

We have 6 Bottoms brand diapers.  Some companies call this style an all-in-two, because you need a separate liner.  I actually like to use our Babyland microfiber inserts in our Bottom diapers.  These diapers have a velcro closure and are not adjustable, but they have fit Ava great since the day we got them and we still use them daily.  This has a lot to do with the elastic around the legs and the ability to fold down the back of the diaper if it’s too tall.  In this style, the insert just sits on top of the diaper.  You need a cover over this style.


We have a few covers.  Currently we have 3 Nikky covers.  I have retired a few Bummis covers (I loved them!) that Ava grew out of and I just retired our Gerber covers last week.  I think I’m going to sew a few covers myself.

A diaper cover is made of waterproof material and has either snap or velcro closures.  All of mine currently have velcro closures.  When I’m in a pinch, I will use one of my Babyland pockets without an insert as a cover.  Be creative!

My number one piece of advice?  Just go with it!  Don’t be afraid to mix and match.  I found cloth diapering very intimidating when I began, but it shouldn’t be.  The rules are… there really are no rules!

What “equipment” do I need to cloth diaper?

You really don’t need much.  We use cloth wipes.  I made our wipes.  They are just two flannel squares that I ran through the sewing machine.  Nothing fancy.  For my wipe solution, I just use water mixed with a pea size amount of natural baby wash.  To hold our wipe solution I use a spray bottle for the diaper bag and that peri bottle they gave you after you delivered your baby.  Yes, that bottle.

Cloth Wipe Spray

You will also need cloth diaper safe rash cream.  Some mothers notice that their baby has less diaper rash with cloth diapers.  We use California Baby that we get at Target.  It smells nice!  There are many other brands that are cloth diaper safe.

California Baby Diaper Rash Cream

You will also need some sort of diaper pail and a wet bag.  We use this Thirsties wet bag that I got on Amazon recently.  Before that, we just used a plastic bag in the diaper bag.  You really just need something to put the soiled diapers in when you are on the go.  Do what works for you.

Thirsties Diaper Wet Bag

When we lived in Florida, I used our washing machine as our diaper pail.  I just tossed our wet diapers into the washer and washed whatever was in there at the end of the night.  Since moving to Alaska, I made this diaper pail liner to put inside of a trashcan I bought.  I would recommend this, it makes washing them so much easier.

DIY Diaper Pail Liner 4

How do I care for my cloth diapers?

I read so many websites that said I needed to soak, pre-wash, soak again, etc.  It’s all a load of…. laundry.  I thought I was being a rebel, but after talking to a few other cloth diapering moms, I’m not the only one.  I don’t follow any special steps when caring for my diapers.  You should read your manufacturer’s instructions, but most of them are the same.  Here is what I do.

  1. After your child soils a diaper, place wet diapers in your pail.  If the diaper contains solids, shake and swish in the toilet.  Some people have diaper sprayers, but I have found this unnecessary.  Some people put the poopy diapers right in the washing machine after shaking, but I like to get off as much as possible.  Again, do what works for you.
  2. This is where the rebellion begins.  I do not soak or pre-wash my diapers.  I take my bag out of my diaper pail and shake all of the diapers out into the washer.  The pail liner goes in with them.  I wash them in warm water with a simple detergent.  In Florida, I used my homemade detergent, which worked great.  I haven’t made any up here yet.  Right now I’m using BabyGanics 3x concentrated laundry detergent.  It was BOGO at Babies R Us.  I have no complaints.  You really don’t need special detergent.  The only problem you may encounter with regular detergent would be some buildup on the diapers.
  3. In Florida, I would have line-dried my diapers.  The sun will help remove any stains that remain on the diapers.  I don’t really want frozen diapers, so I put them in the dryer now.  DO NOT use any fabric softener on your cloth diapers or wipes!  If you do, they will repel moisture.  I dry them on normal heat.  Sometimes I will air dry the covers.  Also, try to velcro the diapers to themselves, otherwise you may end up with a big tangled mess.

I try to take a very informal approach to cloth diapering.  If you are interested, don’t be afraid to dive in.  Also, don’t be afraid to look for used diapers on Craigslist or eBay.

I hope this helped.  Do you have any questions?


4 thoughts on “Cloth Diaper Basics

  1. Pingback: The Scacchi House

  2. Pingback: The Scacchi House

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s