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diapering: 1 year out

A friend's sister is having a baby and asked for some information on cloth diapering.  Thought I would share my tips after using cloth for a year with anyone else who stumbles accross this page. 

A little wool soaker I knit for Jonas

Cloth Diapering Tips

Yay for cloth diapers!  We have really loved using cloth on our baby, and while it is a commitment to extra laundry, I think it is certainly worth it.  Hope this information is helpful in getting you started.

Types of diapers

  • There are 2 main types of “cloth” diapers on the market: pre-folds and pocket diapers.  
    • “Pre-folds”
      • Pre-folds are the type of diapers that come from a diaper service and are a large rectangle of layered cloth. You can also buy pre-folds and wash     them yourself (which is what we’ve been doing)  
      • Pre-folds are very absorbent and good for newborn babies.  They come in sizes (newborn, small, etc) and need to be used with a polyurethane cover (PUL).   Covers don’t necessarily need to  washed with every change.
      • You don’t need to use pins with pre-folds, there is a y-shaped elastic closure with teeth that does a great job of keeping the diaper on.  It’s called a “Snappi” and they are sold 2 to a pack (which is plenty).  
      • We tend to use the pre-fold style the most and I have 2 dozen diapers on hand.  I’ve had 3 sizes so far (newborn, small and medium).  I buy organic since they’re not too much extra.  I have 8 covers to go with these diapers.
      • As the baby gets older and you aren’t changing diapers all night, you can get “doubler” pads to add to the diaper to make it more absorbent for overnight use.  
      • I’ve bought all my pre-folds and accessories from this company, which is also a great resource:
    • Pocket diapers, or All-in-Ones
      • These style of diapers are made from synthetic fleece type material and have snaps or velcro closures.  They have a pocket that is stuffed with an absorbent, washable pad.  Most diapers can be stuffed with one or 2 pads. When the diaper is dirty, the pads are taken out and then the whole diaper is washed.  
      • Sold either in sizes or a “one-size” that can be adjusted to fit any size baby (by tightening elastic or adjusting snaps).  
      • Tend to work better on older babies with chubby legs (in my experience -- they did not work well for my newborn with his skinny little legs)
      • Easy to snap on, great for caregivers that don’t diaper the baby all the time
      • I have FuzziBunz All-in-Ones.  I bought 12 to start and that has been more than enough.  I use them more on the go now since they are simpler to deal with (don’t need the diaper + Snappi + cover, etc.)
      • BumGenius is also a well-regarded brand and I have friends who really like those.  


  • Believe it or not, washing cloth diapers isn’t too bad.  When your newborn is just eating breastmilk, there is no need to rinse the diapers at all.  Just throw soiled diapers into a dry bag and wash diapers every other day.  
  • Use a gentle detergent to avoid buildup that makes the diapers less absorbent.  I’ve used Seventh Generation detergent and that has worked fine.  Most diaper sellers have lists of what detergents will work.
  • When babies start solids and the poops get, well, more solid, then a diaper sprayer can be handy.  We have one that attaches to our toilet.  It leaks some and that is annoying.  Lately, most of baby’s poops can just plop out into the toilet and we don’t need the sprayer every time.  


  • Don’t overbuy before the baby arrives.  Some diapers don’t work as well with certain baby shapes and you don’t want to get stuck with a bunch of diapers you hate.  
  • Start with a diaper service for a month to get used to cloth diapers before having to deal with the extra wash (we didn’t go this route, but know people who have).  
  • Do a hybrid of disposable and cloth the first few weeks to feel less overwhelmed.  But definitely get going on the cloth right from the beginning.  I know people who put it off and then months later they are too hooked on disposables to switch back.  

Getting started (what I would buy for myself if I did it over again):

  • 1-2 dozen organic pre-fold diapers in newborn size
  • 4 Bummis covers (the best cover I’ve used by far) 2 newborn size, 2 small
  • 6-8 pocket diapers (FuzziBunz has a new one-size diaper out!)
  • 2-pack set of Snappi’s fasteners
  • 1 hanging dry bag
  • 1 small dry bag for the diaper bag
  • 20 cloth wipes by BabyKicks (I’ve loved these)
  • Cloth Diaper detergent

Items I think are extraneous:

  • Wipes warmer (if a baby is used to a cool wipe, your life will be easier)
  • Wipe “juice” -- basically scented potion to make your baby’s bottom smell better
  • Diaper pail
  • Disposable liners for the cloth diaper (i.e. bio liners)

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