When I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to use cloth diapers, but every google search I did overwhelmed me with info. My hope is to give you a good starting point, that would have been helpful to me. These were some of the questions I had, and the answers I’ve found in the last several months:
What are cloth diapers? Simply put, cloth diapers are some sort of absorbent material put on baby’s bottom, and then a layer of waterproof fabric over top to keep the ickies contained. There are several different types: All in One’s are basically the same as disposables, just washable. Pockets have, well, a pocket that absorbent material is put in. All in Two’s are waterproof covers that absorbent inserts snap into. Prefolds/flats are different types of absorbent material that can be folded around baby with a cover, or laid inside a cover to create absorbency.
How Do They Work? This depends a little bit on they type of diapers you use, but the basics are that the diaper goes on the bum, the baby makes it dirty (they’re good at that), and then the diaper gets washed. Sometimes you will have to get close to the ick, by removing inserts or rinsing poop (yes, you have to rinse poop), but if you can get over that it is totally worth it.
What Do You Use? I haven’t tried everything, but what works for me right now is AI2’s and Prefolds/covers. The covers are universal, I can just fold a prefold in thirds and lay it inside. I also have inserts that snap into some of my covers to make AI2’s. My inserts are hemp – I haven’t tried microfiber, but what I’ve heard is that it is less absorbent than natural fibers, and also isn’t good to be next to baby’s bum (you have to put something else over it).
How Do You Wash Them? The good news is diaper laundry is just like any other laundry – yes really! You just have to treat it like a very very dirty load of laundry. So what I do it collect the dirty diapers in a wet bag, and then when it’s full they all go into the washer. I do a pre-rinse with a little bit of detergent (I use tide powder), and then a hot main wash with lots of detergent and a heavy duty cycle. Then, if I’m in a rush, I just throw it all in the dryer. If not, I will pull out the covers and hang them (drying on high heat all the time can eventually wear them out faster), or hang everything to dry outside. The sun is awesome for getting stains out.
What not to do: you don’t want to use softeners or dryer sheets on cloth diapers because they can coat the fibers and make them less absorbant. The same goes for diaper creams – if they contain petroleum products they can repel. I usually use coconut oil for minor redness, or just put him in a disposable if a rash is bad and needs heavy duty stuff. There are diaper creams out there that are cloth safe, though.
Where Do You Buy Diapers? The brands I have are Best Bottom, Buttons, and Nicki’s Diapers. I have purchased most of them at Baby Sweet Pea’s Boutique, and I’ve also found Best Bottom and Nicki’s at Nicki’s Diapers. I haven’t tried them, but I’ve heard great things about the prefolds sold by Green Mountain Diapers.
What Other Resources Are Out There? There is a TON of info out there about cloth diapers. Unfortunately, not all of it is good. Two sites that I found to be accurate and helpful, however, are Padded Tush Stats and Fluff Love and CD Science. PTS is great for reviews of different kinds of diapers. They survey parents for what types of diapers work for what types of kids (skinny, chunky thighs, heavy wetters, etc). FLCDS strives to educate people on proper diaper care and washing. There is so much info on their site about what works and what doesn’t! I also recommend joining their Facebook Group. The ladies on there are super helpful and will work with you to figure out what’s going on if you run into issues.
I hope that helps you get started! Cloth diapering doesn’t have to be scary at all. If you have any other questions about it, ask away!