Idiot’s Guide to Cloth Diapering

Before I begin this post, I want to go ahead and link to Knocked Up Knocked Over’s post on cloth diapering. Her friend Katie, an avid CDer {that’s the forum lingo there} wrote a guest post about cloth diapering that is fantastic for absolute cloth diapering idiots like me.

I want to tell you what I told my sister in law, who is also interested in cloth diapering: I’m interested in cloth diapering exclusively from an economical standpoint and not from an environmental stance. Sorry Molly. If my frugality can also help the environment, then I feel proud of myself for being a good steward of the earth. There are more “eco-friendly” cloth diapers out there made out of organic cottons and earth-friendly hemp products, but sometimes those aren’t the most cost efficient diapers. However, I will say that cloth diapering in general is WAY more eco-friendly than ‘sposies {again, you’re gonna learn the lingo before I’m done here today!}

What I’m Looking for in a Cloth Diaper

This was easy to identify:

  1. Ease of use. I don’t want something that requires a ton of steps to master or something that will possibly discourage me early on.
  2. Cheap cheap cheap. Or should I say “affordable?” Yeah, affordable sounds better. Affordability plays a huge roll in why we’ve decided to try cloth diapering in the first place. So the type we choose has to be affordable as well.
  3. Effectiveness. It has to keep the poop where the poop belongs. I don’t want to be changing diapers every thirty minutes to an hour.
  4. Reuse-ability. I know, cloth diapers are all reusable. I’m talking about throughout the day. This is why covers appeal to me. The inside mess is on the inner liner, fitted or prefold and the cover should be clean and re-useable again.

Fitteds, Prefolds, Wraps, Oh My!

In researching for cloth diapers, I learned very quickly that this is not your grandma’s cloth diaper anymore! It is overwhelming to say the least. I’ll give you a very very basic overview of the types of diapers, although in the post above there is a great explanation as well.

  • Fitteds- Made of some kind of super soft and absorbent material, the baby wears the fitted diaper with a cover over it. Looking on some cloth diapering forums, I see that some mamas will often not cover the fitted while at home and just change the baby often. I really can’t see myself doing this. If we use fitteds, we will most definitely put a cover on that hot mess.
  • All-in-Ones- On the diapering forums, these are often shortened to AIO {I’ve even seen “A1’s”}. They are what they sound like. These diapers have the super absorbent material along the “wet” or mess zones in the crotchal region {I’m 12} and then a cover sewn to that with leg gussets {elastic} to prevent leaks.

Negatives: When baby poops or pees, you have to take the entire thing off and toss it in the wash bin and it takes the absolute longest to dry. You can’t just remove the messy inner absorbent lining and then reuse the cover because -obviously- it’s all attached.

  • Pockets- These are like AIO’s except instead of having the absorbent liner sewn into the cover, there is a pocket in the crotchal region {there’s that awesome 7th grade word again}, and you slide an insert in there. At night you can beef up your pocket with an extra absorbency pad or prefold so it soaks through the night.

Negatives: Some people swear by pockets exclusively and some brands are better than others, but this type of cloth diaper grosses me out more than any other kind. Honestly, I don’t see myself even sampling a pocket diaper. Why? Because when baby poops, you have to reach into the pocket and pull out the liner to get it clean! Some brands {such as Thirsties} don’t require this. Some, like the AIO’s can just be thrown in the wash and the cycle of the washer will agitate the insert right out of the pocket. But other brands require you to pull that sucka out and I am not created for such a task. Nope.

  •  Hybrids- Last time we talked, my SIL was most interested in this kind. These include fantastic brands like gdiaper {whose ads can now be found on the sidebar of just about any baby website you can possibly visit}. In my opinion, they look cuter than any other manufactured cloth diaper out there because of the precious lowercase ‘g’ on the bum of the diaper. So looks alone sell this one. However, they are pricey. They have their pros and cons. The pros are the adorable looks and the fact that they come with biodegradable flush-able liners. Best of both worlds! The liner goes inside the diaper, and when baby poops you simply pull the liner out and throw the entire thing {poop and all} in the toilet, stir it up a bit with their little swivel stick to break it up and make it easier to flush, then say bye-bye! For the convenience, it’s FANTASTIC.

Negatives: They are one of the priciest brands out there, and I was frustrated to find that there just aren’t very many disposable inserts in the package they sell for the price. Granted, I’d probably only use the disposable insert when we’re out and about, but still. The price is up there for us. I still think about this one from time to time. We might could afford a few gdiapers in our arsenal, but we couldn’t afford them exclusively.

  • Prefolds with Covers/Wraps- This is, without a doubt, the cheapest cloth diapering option out there. A prefold is your mother’s diaper. Lays flat, made of cotton and sometimes has a layer of hemp in the center. In my research, I found a fabulous folding tutorial for prefolds at The Eco-Friendly Family. Pins are a thing of the past with prefolds, and now most people use a Snappi. This colorful T-shaped tool stretches to reach both tabs of the folded diaper and the middle front of the diaper with tiny teeth {similar to an Ace bandage fastener} to grip the cotton and hold it together around the baby.* However, some moms don’t even secure their cloth diapers! They simply fold them and put a cover on. Covers are also called wraps, and again, these are not the hot, plastic covers of your mother’s day. They come in fashionably adorable styles, breathable fabrics, fleece, and even wool!

Negatives: Possible leaks can occur with breastfed babies, as their poop tends to be much looser in those early months. However, I’d imagine that this is the case with any diaper. They also require more than one step to change the diaper. You must change the cloth prefold, clean the baby up, then put a new cloth prefold on {either securing it with a Snappi or not}, and then put a cover over it. However, one mother said that to her the steps involved were no different from putting on underwear and then pulling pants on over that. She insists that over time, it becomes second nature and doesn’t slow her down one bit.

Our Plan of Action

So. What do we plan to do with the information we’ve acquired? I’m going to start a very basic stash with varied type of diapers to help me pick and choose what works best for our baby. Honestly, the type I am most interested in is the good old prefold/cover route. It’s the most inexpensive, reliable, and flexible route. At night we can add extra prefolds in there for ultra absorbency, we can tinker with fold types to find the perfect fit, and find just the right style of cover that prevents leaks.

I’m also going to get some brands that I feel might meet our needs as well. I plan on purchasing one or two of the hybrid and eco-friendly gdiapers, one or two Thirsties {which makes AIO’s and covers}, and some BumGenius fitteds. With this variety, I trust that we’ll figure out what works best for us and our little one.

Affording the Switch

Obviously we’ve started introducing potty training to Little, so it’s too late to cloth diaper with him. But how do we afford to make the switch with baby #2? There is no doubt that cloth diapering will save us hundreds of dollars in the long run, but with one of these brand-name diapers running as high as $18, how do we afford to build a stash without spending a ton of money?

Used Diapers

One answer for us lies in used diapers. I can almost hear the “EWS!” and cringes from readers as I type this. However, let me say that it’s really not that gross. Diapers can be stripped with bleach, and the used diapers found at sites such as Diaper Swappers come with pictures so you know if there is any pilling of Velcro, missing snaps, stretched elastic, or, yes, poop stains. Some of the diapers sold here are practically new, given as gifts and never used! I would say that most of these moms are selling their diapers with postage paid. You can’t beat that!

While I haven’t visited this site myself, I understand that Diaper Pin offers a sales section similar to Diaper Swappers. The prices are great and sometimes you can find a fantastic deal.

Diaper Websites

Another option is to visit the site Cotton Babies. They have a Clearance section that offers drastically marked down brand name diapers being sold at incredible prices because of minor manufacturer defects (such as an uneven seam). You can sign up for email newsletters to be notified when there is a great deal. offers discount codes and occassional sales and coupons that can also save you some money.

Online Bidding

I’ve also looked on places like for cloth diapers being sold and find that you can also save quite a bit of money with this route. I will warn you though, watch out for shipping costs because these can grab you in the end.

All There is to Know

Since I’m still researching and looking into brands and diaper types, I am certainly no expert. But I felt that I have educated myself enough to share my findings with you. I would encourage you to visit the forums found at the diapering websites listed above. You’ll find endless amounts of information from the ladies there, and they welcome questions. I joined Diaper Swappers and found there is even a separate forum for adoptive parents!

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me and if I don’t know the answer I’ll happily find it for you. We’ll learn together!

And for those of you who already cloth diaper or did cloth diaper your little ones, please share your experiences with us! I’d love some encouragement. It’s daunting taking on something new and relatively unknown in this area.

Until next time,


*I just wanted to add that I was not paid or given samples for any endorsement of these websites or products, and I have not used the products personally.



Filed under Budget-Friendly Parenting, Cloth Diapering

4 responses to “Idiot’s Guide to Cloth Diapering

  1. More power to you…..whiile I’m all about saving money….I will gladly throw money away to avoid washing dirty diapers….that just gives me an ew factor LOL. Not to mention laundry is not my strong point and I can’t have smells around LOL. That being said, I know a couple of moms that cloth diaper so I’ll ask around and get back some opinions for you! Good luck with your research 🙂

    • Lol Dannie, the ick factor really doesn’t bother me so much. I figure changing diapers in general tends to be pretty gross, and this just puts a little more effort forth. I think the money savings will end up being worth it. I’m also researching all different kinds of money-saving ideas for parenting and just life in general that I’ll be sharing soon.

    • Keadie

      When you’ve rinsed out a hundred poopy diapers (and squeezed the water out) in your toilet, changed your child’s entire outfit 3-4 times a day, had to deal with horrific diaper rashes, and seen your manual labor triple….you may think differently. Or not. You seem to have done substantial research here. Good luck to you. Sorry to be a downer, but I did try this route and it was too much for me.

      • I have my concerns too, and every time I express them at Diaper Swappers, the ladies reply quickly with, “There’s a fix for that.” So I’m hoping that by trying different brands and types of diapers, I can find one that prevents leaks and is not a huge hassle. And if I beef up my stock pile enough then it won’t require as many washes per week. We’ll see, you very well may be right, but then again, like I said, they seem to have a diaper now that fits every problem and complaint. So who knows.

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