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Cloth Diaper Resource

Updated on August 8, 2013
Alva Baby Pocket Diaper.
Alva Baby Pocket Diaper.

Thinking of Using Cloth Diapers?

Are you thinking about using cloth diapers or you just want to know more?

Curious about how diapers are different from the terry towelling cloth used years ago?

Disposable diapers are quick and easy to use but there's nothing like a cloth diaper!

I'm not a fan of disposable paper products so I've used cloth diapers on my baby right from the start. This page is a collection of the information I found before my baby was born.

The Other Side of the Argument

Although I love cloth diapers I think disposable diapers do have their uses.

Some parents prefer to start their newborn off in disposable diapers because newborn poop is so much more likely to stain cloth and can be horrendous to remove from fabric.

If your cloth diapers start smelling bad no matter how often you wash them and you need to "strip" them all at the same time then you may need to use disposable diapers in the mean time.

Sometimes you have a mountain of washing to get through - using disposables can help you catch up.

If you're going to go somewhere where it's difficult for you to wash and care for your cloth diapers (like on holiday) then disposable diapers can be a life saver.

A few cloth diapers can fill a bag. If you know you're going to be away from home for the day then it's much easier (in my experience) to use disposable diapers than to tote around a bag full of bulky cloth diapers.

As well as filling bags, cloth diapers can fill out your baby's clothes too. We ended up with a few little outfits that we just couldn't use because of the size of my baby's bottom!

These days you can buy "eco-friendly" diapers like the brand "Naty". Whilst these might not be perfect they're better for the environment.

Why Use Cloth Diapers?

So why would you want to use cloth diapers? That sounds like an awful lot of work!

Well, there are a few reasons.

Cloth diapers are cheaper to use than disposables (depending on your water rates of course). There is the initial cost of buying the diapers - this needn't be expensive depending on the brand you buy, how many children you intend to have and whether you buy new or second hand (yes, really).

If you use cloth diapers you won't be creating more trash to chuck in landfills. Yes, cloth diapers will wear out eventually but that could be 3 or 4 kids down the line. I've heard some mothers say they're still using prefold diapers as cleaning rags 20 years later.

Disposable diapers can clog up your trash can and cause a terrible stink. As soon as cloth diapers get dirty they can be washed off and put in a bucket to soak.

Some babies may be allergic to the materials disposable diapers are made with and if they have sensitive skin then chemicals could cause a problem. With cloth diapers you can control which chemicals (laundry detergents) your child is coming into contact with.

The other great thing about cloth diapers is that they're always there (as long as you remember to put on a load of laundry). You never have to make a last minute dash to the store.

Cloth or Disposable?

Which Diaper Would You Choose?

See results

Nature Babycare Chlorine-free Diapers

Naty by Nature Babycare Eco-Friendly Disposable Baby Diapers, Newborn, 4 packs of 26 (104 diapers)
Naty by Nature Babycare Eco-Friendly Disposable Baby Diapers, Newborn, 4 packs of 26 (104 diapers)

Perhaps you don't want to expose your newborn to more chemicals than necessary. These Diapers are chlorine-free and made from GMO-free corn based film.


Unbleached Prefold Diapers

OsoCozy - Indian Cotton - Unbleached Prefold Cloth Diapers (Infant 4x8x4)
OsoCozy - Indian Cotton - Unbleached Prefold Cloth Diapers (Infant 4x8x4)

12"x16" prefold diapers designed to fit babies 7-15 lbs. These prefolds are made from soft absorbent cotton.



Prefold Diapers are the next step up from the Terry cloth squares. They are flat rectangles of fabric (usually made out of cotton) with a layered section in the middle. Presumably they’re named prefolds because you don’t need to fold them to get the bulk of cloth in the center like you would with the Terry cloth diapers.

However, despite the name, Prefolds need to be folded and pinned onto the baby - there are a few different ways to fold prefolds with names like Newspaper Fold or Jellyroll Fold.

Prefold come in different sizes to make them easier to use depending on the size of your baby. I had a selection of prefolds in 2 sizes.

Prefolds also make awesome cleaning rags when your child is potty trained. They’re great for mopping up spillages, cleaning windows and cars. In my experience, they last a long time too.

bumGenius Pocket Diaper

BumGenius 4.0 Pocket Cloth Diaper - Snap - Grasshopper - One Size
BumGenius 4.0 Pocket Cloth Diaper - Snap - Grasshopper - One Size

A pocket diaper with a leak-proof outer cover and snap fastenings. This diaper comes with 2 inserts.


Pocket Diapers

Pocket diapers are shaped diapers that can be stuffed with extra soaker pads or even prefolds to create more absorbency.

Pocket diapers shouldn't need an extra wrap as the outside layer works like a wrap. The pocket diapers I'm familiar with have a laminated surface on the inside of the outer fabric which stops any wetness from leaking through.

What's great about these diapers is that you can adjust the amount of layers in them and you can take them apart when washing and drying the diaper. Some children can flood their diapers during the night. Using extra boosters/pads can keep your child (and their bed) dry until morning.

I've found that it's best to put a stack of these diapers together so that they're ready to go and you can just grab one every time you need it - that way they're just as easy to use as a disposable and they look way cuter.

Pocket diapers come in all sorts of different colors and different patterns. We've used spotty ones, animal prints, soccer ball prints and plain colors. Some pocket diapers are made with minky fabric on the outside which is soft to the touch and gives your little one a cute fluffy bottom.

All-in-Ones or All-in-Twos (AIO/AI2s)

AIO diapers are just what they sound like. They’re the closest thing to a disposable diaper – they’re the same fitted shape and there’s no messing around with booster pads and strange layers, no stuffing and bulking up.

I'm betting that this is one of the best diapers for those early hours of the morning when you can barely get your brain to work.

These are ready to go and so much less confusing if someone else is changing your baby and doesn't know much about cloth diapering!

The downside of AIOs is that you can’t add extra layers inside. The reason I love the pocket diapers is that you’re not even stuck with the same brand of booster pad – you can use a folded-up prefold inside if you need to.

However, if you find that lack of layers is a problem - AI2s are when you add an extra soaker pad into an AIO. I presume the extra pads are added onto the inside of the diaper next to the baby’s skin rather than inside of a pocket like the pocket diapers.

Fitted Diapers

Fitted diapers are shaped to fit your baby but need wraps and may need extra soaker pads. I guess they are like a prefold that has been designed to fit your baby without all the complicated and inventive folds.

Fitted diapers often have fastenings and usually have elastic in the legs and back.

Cloth Diaper Tip

My main recommendation would be to get several different types of diaper and see which works best for you before you spend $200+ on one brand. Some people love one brand which other people hate. I think it really depends on your baby.

I started out with prefolds, some cheap microfiber pocket diapers and a brand of fitted diapers called Tots Bots. They were all great diapers but as time went on I found that the pocket diapers were easier for me to use. But, the pocket diapers are also much more likely to get stinky and it's difficult to get rid of the smell even after several washes.

Types of Cloth Diapers (and How to Use Them)

Caring for Cloth Diapers

Yes, there is a lot of washing involved when you use cloth diapers. Some people have suggested that cloth diapers are worse for the environment because of all the water used over time. I wonder if those people have looked into how disposables are made and the water that's used in their production.

Cloth diapers may need some special care.

One of the absolute downsides of cloth diapers is eventually they're going to smell like ammonia, even after you've washed them. This is a particular pain if you get the diapers which can't be washed at high temperatures.

Biological washing detergents are a big no-no for cloth diapers but you also need to avoid detergents which cause a build-up on the diapers. Build up can keep your diapers from being absorbent and can also make them stink even after washing.

I've included a few detergents below which are supposed to be good for cloth diapers but don't despair - try your regular non-bio detergent and see if it works.

If cloth diapers are beginning to stink or become stained them check out the link below which will tell you how to "strip" your diapers and remove any detergent/bacterial build up.

[Original 5-pack] Snappi Cloth Diaper Fasteners - Replaces Diaper Pins - Use with Cloth Prefolds and Cloth Flats
[Original 5-pack] Snappi Cloth Diaper Fasteners - Replaces Diaper Pins - Use with Cloth Prefolds and Cloth Flats

This is a pack of 5 size 1 Snappis which should last your baby until he/she is 18 months.

Snappis are a much safer alternative to safety pins.


Diapering Accessories

You won't generally need accessories for AIOs, AI2s and pocket diapers - the last two should come with their own booster pads/inserts.

Prefolds will definitely need Snappis (or Nappy Nippers if you're in the UK) and wraps.

Prefolds don't have any fastenings - that's where the Snappi comes in handy. Instead of using safety pins like in the old days now you can use these rubbery/plastic grips which are much less likely to hurt your baby.

Prefolds and fitted diapers aren't waterproof so they need wraps/covers. Diaper covers can be reused for a few diaper changes as long as they aren't dirty so you won't need as many of them as you do diapers. I had about 5 wraps but how many you need will depend on your laundering schedule.

Other "accessories" that are essential for all diapers are diaper pails and wet bags. Any pail/bucket can be used but you want to use a bag that isn't going to leak.

Planet Wise Wet/Dry Diaper Bag

Planet Wise Wet/Dry Bag, Owl
Planet Wise Wet/Dry Bag, Owl

A leak-free wet bag with pockets to allow you to separate wet and dry items. 13”x16” which holds approximately 8-9 cloth diapers.


Thirsties Duo Wrap

Thirsties Duo Wrap Snap, Blackbird, Size One
Thirsties Duo Wrap Snap, Blackbird, Size One

A really cute diaper wrap which comes in 2 sizes.

Hand-knit wool soaker.
Hand-knit wool soaker.

Wool Soakers

As well as plastic wraps you can also knit or buy wool wraps.

Wool wraps (known as soakers) need to be lanolised to become waterproof. Lanolin repels wetness and keeps it in the soaker. Lanolin is a natural grease and is often used as protective nipple cream for mothers who are breastfeeding (it also works great on dried chapped skin).

I knit the soaker shown opposite myself from a simple pattern I found on Live Journal (check out the link below).

Second-Hand Diapers

Cloth diapers can be a huge expense but you don't have to buy them new.

Many cloth diapers will go through more than one or two babies and still come out in an excellent stain-free condition so don’t feel grossed-out by the idea.

Diapers can be stripped and washed to make sure they're squeaky clean. Remember that the sun is excellent for bleaching out stains.

Lots of parents are looking to sell their cloth diapers at a reduced price. I've bought second-hand prefolds which were in a great condition and I started out using fitted diapers and wraps which were bought second-hand from Who knows maybe you will be able to recoup some of the cost by selling your cloth diapers when you've finished with them.

Rita's Rump Pocket Pattern.
Rita's Rump Pocket Pattern.

Cloth Diaper DIY

If you're good at sewing you could even try sewing your own cloth diapers. I gave it a go but in the end was able to get my hands on a great supply of second-hand diapers.

If you follow the link directly below you'll find some of my cloth diaper experiments and links to various free diaper patterns.


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