Cloth Diapers 101

May 29th, 2012

Cloth Diapers

Saves money
Less trash
Less smell
No chemicals on baby’s skin
Many styles

More laundry
Washing can be a trial and error depending on your water
Bigger cost up front
Have to be careful with ointments and fabric softeners (can’t use most)

There are many different styles of cloth diapers. AIOs (all in ones), Pockets, Fitteds, Hybrid, and Prefolds/Flats.

Daycares and care givers often request the AIO style. They are the closest to disposables in the ease of putting on. They are typically the most expensive option, though. Because of everything being together, they can be the hardest to wash correctly and keep looking/smelling good. They will also take FOREVER to dry. I have used AIOs just a handful of times. I have tried a brand called Baby Beehinds – Magicalls – they are okay, just not my favorite. Also, I used BumGenius x-small aios. They are a perfect fit for the tiny stage and lots of people love them. An All-In-One has the soaker and waterproof layer all sewn together. There’s no stuffing and only one thing to put on.

The next in line for ease of use are pocket diapers. They are a diaper with a PUL lining (maybe cotton print with PUL on inside, or a printed PUL outside). PUL is poly-urethane-laminate – basically a waterproof material. There’s a soft material that goes against the baby’s skin and in between creates a pocket that you stuff with an absorbent insert. Most pockets come with a microfiber insert that holds a decent amount and is inexpensive. Microfiber CAN be a pain when it comes to washing. A lot of people have trouble with soap building up on it and it will repel and start to stink. I personally have used microfiber for a long time and don’t have a problem with it. I think it just all goes back to making sure your wash routine is good. I can help with that :-). Some people I know will stuff their pockets with prefolds. There are other kinds of inserts that you can buy to stuff in the pockets like hemp or bamboo. Both of these materials are more natural fibers and hold a LOT. They are easier to clean than microfiber, but are usually more expensive. Alva carries some nice bamboo inserts, though, for a great price. I love pocket diapers. They are all I used for a while. I have tried Swaddlebees, Green Acre Designs, Knickernappies, Fuzzibunz, Babykicks, Mother’s Touch, BumGenius, WAHM made (work-at-home-mom made – Etsy or Hyena cart), Alva, and my new favorite , Sunbaby. They are all great brands. Usually you will find you love one brand over another because of the fit on your baby. My favorite fit for J was Fuzzibunz until he was around 6 months or so. He started getting too long for them and I found Knickernappies had a longer rise (the length from the top front to the top back). Once I tried those, they were my new favorite. So far, my favorite pocket for A is the Sunbaby. They are trim and snug. Pockets prices are all over the board – some are high, some are incredibly cheap but still well made, and so on.

The next are Hybrid diapers. I really don’t know a whole lot about these. They are basically the convenience of disposable inserts that are put inside a reusable cover, but you can also buy reusable inserts if you want. I think they mostly snap inside the cover instead of being put in a pocket. Some of them just lay in the cover. Actually, I have tried the covers from hybrid diapers, but not the inserts. I like the flip covers pretty well. I also tried the Grovia and they were okay too. Both a good fit and good style. I’m guessing these would be middle ground for pricing as well with the reusable inserts. With the disposable inserts, they might get up to the pricing for the AIOs or at least close.

Next, we have fitteds. These require a cover. I actually haven’t really figured out the fitted appeal. I think the fact that they are made of natural fibers (cotton, hemp, or bamboo) is the main reason people like them. They have snaps or velcro, but they are not water-proof. A lot of people use fitteds with wool (more on that later). Here are the Fitted Diapers. I’ve tried old style thirsties fitteds, a couple WAHM fitteds, and a lonely Goodmama (which is acutally a very popular brand). I just can’t seem to get into them. I think my problem is that I can’t find a fitted that “fits” right AND has snaps (since I’m not a velcro fan). I do see how fitteds are more appealing to people who LOVE wool. (like me!) Fitteds are pricey. Even just simple WAHM fitteds can go for $13 each.

Prefolds are usually considered “old-fashioned”. They are rectangular in shape and are several layers. Even though they are “pre-folded”, you still need minimal folding to go on baby and then fasten them with diaper pins or a snappi. I prefer snappis – hands down. I can NOT figure out how to use diaper pins. A snappi is a stretchy little gadget that has 3 ends and each end has little teeth that grab the fabric and hold on… you stretch it over the sides and bottom of the folded prefold to hold it together on baby. It’s quite easy and quick once you get the hang of it. As the baby gets older (preferably out of the runny poop stage), you can just tri-fold the prefolds in a cover. You want DSQ or Diaper service quality prefolds. Do not buy Gerber prefolds from walmart. Those will not work. I recommend Green Mountain Diapers, and Cotton Babies. Typically, prefolds are cotton and are SO easy to clean and keep looking fresh. Sometimes you will see prefolds made of hemp or bamboo. These are very popular for night time as they hold a TON. My favorite is Thirsties Hemp Duo. Prefolds are VERY economical.  Flats are very similar to prefolds. They’re just … flat – one layer – and there are SEVERAL ways you can fold it to put on baby depending on your needs. These also require pins or snappi. These are also very economical!

Now on to diaper covers. There are pull-on covers, sized snap/velcro covers, one-size snap/velcro covers, wool covers/soakers, and fleece covers/soakers – just to name a few. I’ve never used pull-on covers myself. I imagine they might be good for potty-training though. Also.. they would be easy for a busy baby I’m sure. I’ve used Thirsties, Flip, Greenline, Blueberry, Rumparooz, Bummis, Grovia/Grobaby, and Wiggle Worm Bottoms. I prefer the easy-wipe covers (don’t have cloth on the inside, just PUL). These are much easier to re-use several times (which is GREAT!). Even with a newborn (once I got a good fold on the prefold) I could use a cover at least 3 times before washing it. Makes for less laundry, which is nice. Different covers work for different babies. I LOVE Thirsties Duo covers. They have a great fit for any size. Wool is a different kind of cover. Why use wool covers? Wool is a natural fiber, it’s breatheable, diaper wool is untreated, it’s naturally antibacterial so it doesn’t retain odors, it’s cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and it holds 30% of it’s weight in liquid without being “WET”. The way it works is, wool will pull the moisture from fitteds/prefolds/flats into itself… then, the outside of the wool cover will feel ‘damp’ but not wet and won’t make your hand wet – but then the liquid will evaporate from the outside … this just happens over and over and thus the fitted/prefold/flat will last longer. This is why wool is so great for overnight. Not to mention, knit/crochet wool shorts and pants are ADORABLE.

There are a few cloth diaper accessories as well. One is the snappi I mentioned. You also can get wet bags (water-proof pouch for wet/dirty diapers on the go), diaper pail (we use a flip-top trash can), pail liners (wet bag for a diaper pail), cloth diaper detergent, (I’ve used 2-3 tbsp of tide original with great results and currently use Crunchy Clean and love it.), and a diaper sprayer (used mostly when baby starts eating solids — I’ve never felt like I had to have one, I just knock off solids with a piece of toilet paper or a cloth wipe). The only accessories I’ve really needed in my cloth diapering were the detergent, snappi, and wet bags.

Washing – I don’t spray my diapers personally. I just scrape if necessary with wipe or toilet paper .. and then put the diapers in a dry pail/flip top trash can. Sometimes I pull out the insert, most of the time I don’t. I wash every other day in the summer or every 3rd day in the winter – we use as little heat/air as possible, so in the winter our house is cool and in the summer our house would be considered warm. Dirty diapers in a warm house just can’t be left long .. especially if you have a fly in the house. I won’t go into any more detail on that one… just trust me. So….wash time, I shake/pull out all inserts and toss diapers into the machine. I have a non-HE top loader. I try not to put too many in there because the more water per diaper, the better. I first do a cold rinse. Then I do a HOT wash with Crunchy Clean for hard water. Then… I do a cold rinse again.. and sometimes and extra warm wash/rinse without detergent. If my diapers start getting stinky when peed in or smell funny – I strip them with a hot wash and a squirt of blue dawn… and I rinse, rinse, rinse (hot/warm water) until there are NO more bubbles. I dry inserts, but not the pockets or covers. I also will only put fitteds and anything else that has velcro or elastic on a low heat setting and then hang dry the rest of the way to save the life of the elastic/velcro.

I hope this helps!!
~~ Rachel (cloth diapering mom for almost 4 years)

Pockets and the One-Size Cloth Diaper

April 29th, 2012

I love seeing the shock, horror, and/or surprise in someone’s face when I mention that we cloth diaper. I also love to see that expression change to excitement when I actually SHOW them one of our diapers. There are several types of cloth diapers available. I plan to post soon something I put together explaining the types and options. For now, I just want to talk about my favorite. The pocket diaper. There are also several brands of each type. I’ve tried Fuzzibunz, Knickernappies, Fuzzi Fannies, Green Acre Designs, Alva, Kawaii, Swaddlebee, and Babykicks Bumboo – to name a few. My all time favorites are the Sunbaby diapers. They come from China and the company is owned by a Mom. It’s amazing, really. She recently changed her design to include 2 different sizes of “One-Size” diapers. Confusing? Yes.. a little, but I really don’t mind. The size 1 is smaller and is great for newborns and up… even fitting babies up to 28 lbs (coming from personal resources). The size 2 is great for chunky babies and older babies. For what it’s worth, my 20 lb 10 month old can wear both sizes just fine. What’s so wonderful about this particular brand? They are CUTE for one thing (see 1st picture). She puts out new prints at least twice a year and they are all adorable. The diapers are pretty well made. They are not perfect, but I’ve never had any that didn’t WORK. They are also CHEAP going for as little as $4 without an insert – SHIPPED on the Sunbaby website. You can’t beat it.

So, a pocket diaper has a water proof lining, a pocket for an insert, and then the inner lining. The second picture of the gallery shows the pocket. I use microfiber, bamboo, hemp, and/or prefolds as inserts. Microfiber is very absorbent but sometimes can be tricky when it comes to washing and “stinkies”. Bamboo and hemp are slower to absorb, but hold a LOT of moisture. They are natural materials and a little easier for washing. Prefolds are natural material, hold a lot, and are very easy to wash and keep smelling clean, but are bulkier. I like using a prefold or microfiber with bamboo behind it in the pocket.

Some pockets are “One-size” diapers. That means, you can snap the diaper down to a small setting, a medium setting, or leave open to a large setting. They typically will fit a baby from birth to potty training. If you’ve never used a One-Size diaper before, seeing all those snaps can get confusing. The 3rd picture in the gallery here is a tutorial I put together on how those snaps work. It will show you how to put the diaper on each size setting. The last picture of the tutorial shows how to put the diaper on your baby.


Adorable, right? I love them.


  • About

    Blue Willow is our homeschool name, chosen for the beautiful willow tree in our yard and the Bluegrass state we live in. Homestyle is defined as "involving the home or family" and "domestic". Here you will find stories about our life as a family and tips from me, a mommy of four. I will talk about a variety of things that pertain to our family and other things I'm passionate about. I do hope you enjoy.