Somewhere along the way, it was apparently agreed upon that all cloth diaper moms with a blog must write at least one post about cloth diapers.
Even if the blog doesn’t have anything to do with babies or reusable products… We find a way to make it happen.
You knew this post was coming.
And it’s gonna be a doozy.
A little backstory… I’ve been cloth diapering for almost five and half consecutive years. That’s half a decade of washing poo rags every three days. I’ve diapered a boy and a girl from birth through potty training. I’ve done big name brands, no name brands, and I’ve made my own diapers. I’ve used cloth on vacations and we use exclusively cloth at night. I’ve diapered through bad trends (washing diapers in a dishwasher?!) and through good trends (using appropriate amounts of detergent?!). I’ve admined cloth diaper groups and helped troubleshoot and solve problems. (Check us out at the Lowcountry Cloth Diapers Facebook Page or join our group.)
I’m going to share a
few (<<LOL) awesome links and a bit of information that I found to be most helpful throughout the years. Topics are in huge, bold type so you can scroll past anything you don’t find relevant. This is likely the longest post on the whole innanets, so get your coffee NOW. Let’s go.
First, a few general tips that can make all the difference.
Never buy an entire stash of one brand based on their raging popularity. BumGenius might be all you see at the baby boutiques, and they might be the first results on Amazon, but there are plenty of people, myself included, that discovered “Big Name” far too often means extra $$ with no added benefits.
ALWAYS do a prewash. Always. Washing diapers without a prewash is like taking a bath in mud. It just doesn’t work out well. Use your machines “rinse & spin” option or do a short wash before your long, heavy duty, get-those-suckers-clean wash.
Find a retailer that you like and stick with them when possible. Online retailers like Kelly’s Closet, Nicki’s Diapers, or Abby’s Lane offer so many great deals. Sales, coupons, support/chat groups on Facebook, exclusives deals, etc.
But don’t forget to shop local! The little boutiques that carry cloth diapers depend on you to keep up the flow of supply and demand. The owners and employees are usually fairly knowledgeable and can give you a hands-on experience.
“AIOs are the most like disposable diapers!” is one of the biggest lies in the cloth diaper community. This used to be true back when AIOs were *literally* all in one. Now, folding tongue inserts, multiple snap-ins, and optional boosters make today’s AIOs more like AI2s with absorbency in the shell. My opinion is that a stuffed pocket diaper goes on more like a disposable than any other type.
Cloth Diaper Types Explained in Two (run-on) Sentences
All In One Diaper (AIO)
A diaper with all parts included; the waterproof layer and the absorbency, sometimes with a stay dry layer. Some all in ones have detachable pieces for easy washing and drying, but the entire diaper must be changed and washed after each use.
All In Two Diaper (AI2)
A waterproof outer (often called a “shell”) paired with absorbent pieces (inserts) that can be laid or snapped in. The soiled inserts can be removed and replaced with a clean one until the shell itself gets soiled.
Covers (sometimes called Wraps)
These are ONLY the waterproof layer made of TPU or PUL and are often wipeable allowing for multiple uses before washing. Covers can be made with flaps on either end for tucking inserts or without flaps.
Non-waterproof layers of absorbent fabrics sewn into a diaper like shape. Fitteds require a cover and may come with snaps, hook and loop, or require a closure device like a Snappi, pins, or Boingo.
A single layer square or rectangle of absorbent material that can be folded to fit around baby’s entire bottom or folded into a pad to be used as an insert. Flat diapers will require a closure device for folding around baby and a cover to be waterproof.
Hybrid Diaper Systems
A shell (just like in an all in two diaper) with multiple insert options; the usual options being a reusable cloth insert option and a single use, often eco-friendly, disposable insert option. The insert of choice can change depending on your needs at the time.
A fitted diaper, often with a decorative outer, with a semi water resistant layer sewn inside to redirect wetness back towards the absorbent materials. Hybrid fitteds can be used for a period of time without a cover and pair well with a cover for extended periods.
Wool or fleece water proof or water resistant covers made in the style of pull on pants. Longies can be knit, crocheted, or sewn and used over a fitted, hyrbid fitted, and prefold or flat diapers folded around baby’s bottom.
One Size Diapers (OS)
Diapers made to adjust to multiple sizes to accommodate baby’s growth. One size diapers will usually last from about 10 pounds to about 35 pounds.
A sleeve made of a waterproof fabric and a stay dry fabric with something stuffed inside to absorb liquid. The entire diaper must be changed and washed after each use.
Multiple absorbent layers, with the most absorbency focused throughout the middle, which can be wrapped around baby’s bottom or folded to make an insert. Prefolds will require a closure device for folding around baby and a cover to be waterproof.
Wool or fleece water proof or water resistant covers made in the style of pull on shorts. Shorties can be knit, crocheted, or sewn and used over a fitted, hyrbid fitted, and prefold or flat diapers folded around baby’s bottom.
Size One Diapers
Diapers of varying styles intended to fit smaller/younger babies, usually from newborn to about 18 pounds.
Size Two Diapers
Diapers of varying styles intended to fit larger/older babies, usually from 15-20 pounds to 35-40 pounds.
Size Three Diapers / X-Large Diapers
Diapers of varying styles intended to fit very large babies, older children, or special needs children, usually from 30-65 pounds.
And perks they offer
AbbysLane.com – Free shipping, wishlist/registry feature, Member Rewards, coupons, exclusives, curbside pickup
BestBottomDiapers.com – official retailer site, exclusives
BlueberryDiapers.com – official brand site, Facebook group support, exclusives
CottonBabies.com – Free shipping, wishlist/registry feature, coupons, Facebook group support, official retailer site, exclusives
DearestDiapers.com – Free shipping over $34.95, Facebook group support, Member Rewards, coupons, wishlist/registry feature, gently used items, mystery packs
DiaperJunction.com – Free shipping over $25. Facebook group support, wishlist/registry feature, member rewards, coupons, gently used items, trial packs, free gifts, exclusives
Eat / Sleep / Play – Located at 140-C West Richardson Ave, Summerville, SC. Open Monday – Friday 10:00am – 5:00pm, Saturday 10:00am – 4:00pm. Closed on Sundays. firstname.lastname@example.org 843 754 4488 Support local businesses!
Fluffenvy.com – Member Rewards, trial packs, wishlist/registry feature, layaway
GreenMountainDiapers.com – Free shipping over $49, Facebook group, wishlist/registry feature, official brand site
Grovia.com – Free shipping over $100, Facebook group support, wishlist/registry feature, official retailer site
GrowingUpStPete.com – Orders under $100 = $6 shipping, orders over $100 = $10 shipping, newborn rental, gift card swap, wishlist/registry feature
JackBeNatural.com – Free shipping over $30, orders less than $30 incur a flat rate of $2.95, member rewards, coupons
JilliansDrawers.com – Free shipping over $99, Facebook group support, wishlist/registry feature, free gifts, coupons, newborn rental, gently used items, trial packs
KeebiesDiaperBag.com – Rentals, gift card swap, layaway, foster parent discount, exclusives, gently used items
KellysCloset.com – Free shipping over $25, Facebook group support, wishlist/registry feature, Member Rewards, coupons, exclusives, gently used items, mystery packs
KissedByTheMoon.com – wishlist/registry feature, coupons, gently used items, rentals, gift card swap
LittleForNow.com – Free shipping over $49, orders less than $49 incur a flat rate of $5.95, member rewards, gift card swap, trial packs, special needs, wishlist/registry feature, coupons
ModernClothDiapers.com – Free shipping over $100, member rewards, layaway, gently used items, trial packs, newborn rentals, free items
MomsMilkBoutique.com – Free shipping over $35, wishlist/registry options, gently used items, member rewards, Facebook group, trial packs
MyBlossomBottom.com – Free shipping over $49, member rewards, layaway, wishlist/registry feature
MySweetPickles.com – Free shipping over $39, wishlist/registry feature, member rewards, mystery packs, newborn rental, diaper service, gently used items, coupons, Facebook group support, exclusives
NickisDiapers.com – Free shipping over $49, Facebook group support, free gifts, Member Rewards, wishlist/registry feature, trial packs, exclusives, gently used items
SquishyTushy.com – Coupons, free gifts, member rewards, wishlist/registry feature, layaway, gift card exchange, gently used items
SweetBottomsBaby.com – Free shipping, gift card swap, member rewards, coupons, wishlist/registry feature, newborn diaper rental, trial packs
What do the words “noncompliant” or “China Cheapies” mean?
Compliancy refers to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). This act ensures verification by a third party that children’s products are made safely and are appropriate for use. Here is an excerpt from Intertek, a testing company.
As a result, toys, textiles and apparel, jewelry and most other children’s products (primarily intended for use by children 12 years of age and younger) manufactured on or after January 1, 2012, must be certified as meeting these and any other applicable CPSC safety standards (e.g., lead paint and small parts) as specifically required in accordance with CPSC Testing and Certification Rule. These certificates must be issued based on passing test results from a CSPC-recognized third-party testing lab. In addition, in December 2011, the CPSC formally recognized the allowance of testing of component parts and materials in lieu of final product testing, if strict recordkeeping and other requirements are met. These new developments, among other new and pending CPSC regulations affecting toys and other children’s products sold in the U.S., mean that makers and importers of such products need to reassess their CPSC compliance efforts and programs. Failure to comply with these new requirements could mean the delay or seizure of products at U.S. ports-ofentry, and could even lead to fines being levied by the CPSC. http://www.intertek.com/cpsia/
Most popular brands available in the USA are CPSIA compliant and share their certification on their website. Any brand that does not have a compliancy certificate readily available to share with consumers is likely not compliant. That’s not to say those brands make diapers with lead or choking hazards, it just means there is a good chance they have not been tested by a legitimate third party for USA approved safety standards.
China Cheapies is a phrase some people use for noncompliant diapers. Most of those diapers are in fact made in China, and are often much cheaper than other name brands. However, this does NOT mean any diaper manufactured in China (or any other country) is not compliant. Many CPSIA compliant brands sold in the USA are manufactured overseas. The difference in these two varieties would be the enforcement of safety standards, manufacturing consistency, and the assurance of ethical workplace environments. China Cheapies that do not comply with the same regulations as legal companies following guidelines can have great inconsistencies in product and a lack of customer service. Some diapers are cheaper as a result of paying lower worker wages, using poorer quality materials, or skipping out on safety testing. These brands also take away business from law abiding companies. Research and use your personal judgement when purchasing diapers.
In my experience, prepping is made out to be a much bigger deal than it actually is.
“I washed my new hemp insert with my microfiber! It’s all RUINED.”
It’s true that natural fibers do contain a certain amount of “oils” that need to be washed away, but prepping a few new inserts with your regular load is not going to ruin anything. If you’re washing 30 new hemp prefolds with two microfiber boosters…then maybe you might want to consider separating them.
Natural fibers gain absorbency with each wash. Synthetic materials (microfiber & charcoal bamboo) will lose absorbency with each wash.
Check Your Water
Determine if your water is hard or soft. You can buy test strips from almost any online cloth diaper retailer or check your local hardware. You can also contact your water company and ask for information.
- Water over 180ppm needs half a scoop of water softener in the prewash and a full scoop in the main wash.
- Water over 250ppm needs a full scoop of softener in both the prewash and the main wash.
- Do NOT do an extra rinse cycle if your water is over 120ppm.
- Soft water, water less than 60ppm, needs no additional additives, but may require an extra rinse cycle after your main wash. Soft water makes for super bubbly detergent, so you may need the extra rinse to get rid of that.
- Water measuring in the 60ppm-120ppm range is “normal” or “moderate” water and usually does not require the addition of water softeners.
Choosing a Detergent
Gone are the days of “Only use a tablespoon of cloth safe detergent!” You can use any mainstream detergent that works for your family. You may need to use a little extra if you prefer natural or plant based detergents. Tide, Gain, Persil… They will all work. Diapers are DIRTY, and you want to use a good amount of a good detergent to clean them. The only thing to avoid is FABRIC SOFTENER.
Many people with HE machines find that they get the best results from loads that fill the washer anywhere from 1/2 full to ¾ full.
Many old style, top load washer users say they get the best results with a medium load size.
You want your diapers to agitate vigorously and scrub against each other. They should NOT be floating around freely, and they should NOT be sitting in one spot slightly jiggling along. Choose a regular or heavy duty wash option to get some good churning action and add in socks, rags, baby clothes, etc to get the load size that works best.
Water temperature is up to you. Many machines and detergents these days are made with efficiency in mind and work well in any temperature. Experiment and find your preference.
Check the laundering recommendations for each brand. Some say not to use hot water, some say only use cloth diaper safe detergents. The truth is… Hot water is usually okay and most detergents are really fine. However, going against a company’s wash recommendation can possibly void a warranty. My advice is to do what gets your diapers clean and don’t stress.
Meconium, breastfed poo, and formula fed poo can all go right into the washer. Crazy, right? All of these poos are water soluble and will wash away. Once your baby starts solids, you’ll need to remove the bulk of the poo. You can use cloth liners, disposable liners, a diaper sprayer, sprayer accessories, scrape it off with toilet paper or a dedicated spatula, or dunk the diaper right into your toilet. You want to remove any chunks and the majority of the pasty stuff.
A prewash is absolutely necessary for cloth diaper cleaning success. This portion of your routine loosens up poo/pee and carries the majority of it away. Skipping the prewash means you’ll be washing your diapers in poo juice. That’s bad.
Depending on what your machine offers, you can choose a “rinse & spin” or a “short wash.”
You can add a small amount of detergent to this cycle. Usually, no more than “Line 1” is necessary if you choose to use any at all.
If your washer recycles water from its wash to use in its rinse, you may need to do TWO prewashes. A list of these washers will be added soon! Check you washer manual to be safe.
The Main Wash
The main wash is what really cleans the diapers. Choose a long, heavy duty, high spin option. Add the maximum suggested amount of detergent for your load size and soil level. Don’t be afraid to add a little extra if you find the suggested amount isn’t giving perfect results. Remember… Diapers are the dirtiest laundry you will ever do!
The Extra Rinse
As stated above, you’ll only need an extra rinse if you have soft water and/or notice suds or a slimy feel on your diapers at the end of your main wash. One extra “rinse & spin” should be all you need. If you have hard water, DO NOT add an extra rinse. That would just deposit more minerals and could lead to build up and stink.
Most brands suggest tumble drying on low heat or air drying. Some of us are less patient and dry on high with no adverse effects. But to extend the life of your diapers, follow these general guidelines.
- Hang (or lay flat) covers, shells, and empty pockets to dry.
- Use low heat for the rest, or air dry.
- Do not stretch warm elastics.
- Do you have hard water? Learn about it here!
- Interpret your hardness test strip. Do I need to strip? How do I even do that?
- Or maybe your water is SOFT.
- Learn about the most and least effective detergents and how much to use in each cycle.
- What’s the word on Free & Clear and plant based detergents?
- All about HE machines!
- All about standard (non HE) machines!
- Search out your specific machine in this epic database to find your ideal routine.
- Cabrio, Calypso, Bravo, Centennial, Oasis…Do you have a snowflake machine?
Diapering a Newborn
Going whole hog with cloth diapers on a newborn sounds intimidating. But it was honestly one of the best “newborn decisions” I ever made. (Aside from leaving my babies whole!)
A snug prefold or flat diaper on a newborn will hold that water/poo in like nothing else.
Do yourself a favor and choose cloth for those few meconium diapers. It doesn’t stain, it washes out perfectly well, and it makes changes *so* much easier. The two or three disposables we used on our newbies made that meconium turn into a horrid, tar like substance. Disposable diapers are meant to dry out the area. This leaves you with stinky, black cement crusted to your baby’s bottom that you have to scrape off. Ew. Trust me on this.
Diapering at Night
Many families struggle finding a successful night solution with cloth diapers as their baby ages. Some avoid it altogether. But fear not! There is a solution out there for almost every baby!
First, it’s important to realize that some diapers are just *not* meant for long stretches. Some may work well for younger or smaller babies, but babies grow and so do their bladders. A typical pocket, AIO, or AI2 is meant to last about two hours. Even with an added booster, these diapers rarely make it through a whole night without major leaks.
The issue is not the diapers, but the expectations of them. Night diapers are a very different animal from day diapers! Even if your triple stuffed pocket isn’t working, don’t assume that cloth just doesn’t work at night for your baby. The solution that works for a huge portion of night diaperers would be some sort of heavy duty, all around coverage (a fitted, prefold, or flat), a good absorber (like a hemp insert), and a quality cover.
Why does this solution work so well for so many?
The Bulk – A good fitted or a super duper prefold/flat give several layers of absorption all around the diaper area, as opposed to a pocket that only has absorption throughout the center, for example. More surface area means more capacity and fewer leaks!
The Boost – A good insert or doubler help to support the main portion of the diaper. Hemp holds the most of all natural fiber diaper options and makes a great backup to lay inside the cover. A natural fiber blend would also work well placed inside the diaper closest to baby.
The Cover – A good cover is key for diapering success. Snug elastics, roomy design, and quality waterproofing make the diaper leak proof. Wool covers provide leak protection with the added bonus of natural fibers and an incredibly gentle fit.
Is the absorbent portion of your diaper totally saturated and heavy?
This is a good indication that your diapers are functioning well, but have met their capacity. Try changing more frequently or adding a booster.
Are you experiencing blow outs along the legs or waist?
This could be a sign of a fit issue OR it could mean you need to change more often or add absorbency. Check for gaps along the elastics. Remember that cloth diapers should fit snugly. Red marks on your baby, similar to marks left from socks or underwear, are normal and do NOT mean your diapers are too tight. Make sure the leg elastics of your diapers are sitting as close to your child’s underwear line as possible.
Are you experiencing leaks at the top of the front panel?
This could mean you need to adjust your rise to a larger setting. Make sure baby boys point DOWN when you put on a diaper. Some babies, of either sex, pee forward no matter what, and an extra thin booster folded in half and placed at the front of the diaper can help.
Are your diapers leaking through the center?
First, check your inserts. If they’re fully saturated, try changing more often or adding absorbency. PUL/TPU is only waterproof up to an extent. If your inserts are not fully saturated, check the lining of your diaper for snags, holes, or bubbling in the PUL/TPU. Turn pockets inside out to check.
Your wash routine is good, your diapers are clean and smell great…But your baby has a rash.
There are SO MANY things that can cause rashes. If your baby has blisters, cracked skin, bleeding spots or has had a rash for more than a few days, don’t hesitate to contact your pediatrician. But here are a few possible causes for rash and ways to test for them.
Detergent sensitivity. Try a different brand (perhaps a natural, gentle, or free & clear version) and thoroughly wash your diapers a few times with this new detergent.
Wetness sensitivity. Some babies don’t do well with intense moisture against their skin. Purchase some stay dry liners or cut up a piece of microfleece to use as a liner.
Synthetic sensitivity. Try using natural fibers with no stay dry layers. FSTs or even a folded tshirt can be used for this test. Also know that some synthetics may trigger a reaction while others don’t. Some babies don’t do well with suedecloth (what BumGenius uses), but do fine with microfleece (what Nicki’s uses.)
Baby Wipes. Most store bought wipes contain ingredients that can be very harsh on new skin. Even sensitive style wipes often contain alcohol or fragrances that can irritate. Try wiping less often (pee diapers don’t always need a wipe) or using cloth wipes.
Wipe Solutions. You may find that your baby’s skin becomes irritated even when using cloth wipes. The culprit may be your solution. Many contain fragrances, soaps, essential oils, or other ingredients that may not fit your baby’s skin type. Try using *only* water on your wipes. (Please note that soaps are not advised for use on anyone’s genitals, especially babies. Also remember that some essentials oils or blends can be harmful to young children. Please consult multiple references. The Using Essential Oils Safely group on Facebook is full of great info!)
Extended Diaper Wear. No matter what type of diaper you use, changing frequently is important. Try to change your baby’s diaper about every two hours. Yes, night diapers are left on for much longer, but we’re able to do that since we keep baby’s bottom fresh all day before bed time. Start changing more often and see if you notice a difference.
The *best* online tutorials and printable patterns. FOR FREE!
Support & Chat Groups
Brand Specific B/S/T Facebook Groups
Dirty Diaper Laundry (Youtube)
^^ EXCELLENT resource!
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