Cloth Diapering 101
Natural Fiber Diapers
Natural fibers include bamboo, hemp, and cotton, in order of absorbency. While they will absorb wetness, they will not wick moisture, and usually require a cover. There are several options of natural fiber diapers, most of them come in 3 or more sizes that will need to be purchased as the baby grows. Options and accessories include:
- Chinese or Indian Pre-fold Diapers: These are the original kind of cloth diaper; many of us know them today as burp clothes, but they are still very functional as diapers. These diapers require either diaper pins or “Snappis” (a new alternative to diaper pins) and a cover. They are the most affordable way to cloth diaper, costing less than $3 a piece.
- Contoured Diapers: These diapers are a step up from pre-folds. They are usually made out of a fleece type of material, have an extra piece sewn in the middle for absorption, and are cut to contour to the baby’s body with no folding or pinning. Contours are made from a natural fiber (usually cotton) and therefore also require a cover. Contour diapers are around $8 each.
- Fitted Diapers: Fitted diapers are natural fiber diapers that are made to fit a baby much like disposable diapers. They are cut to fit the baby perfectly with elastic sewn in the legs and a series of snaps that help adjust the diaper to the baby’s weight and size. You will still need a cover with fitted diapers but these tend to fit securely, comfortably and won’t leak. These diapers are priced $12 and up depending on the material and manufacturer.
- Covers: There is also a range of cover options, from the original plastic pant, to wraps that have extra gussets sewn in the legs to protect from leakage. They are all made out of a waterproof material, so that the moisture will not leek through. Covers are also sized but do come with either snaps or Velcro to give them adjustability. Covers will cost anywhere from $5-$15 each.
- Doublers: Extra pieces of fabric can be purchased for all types of diapers (known as doublers) that will help with how often the diaper and cover need to be changed, and for extra protection during the night.
- Liners: Flushable and biodegradable liners are also available. These can reduce frequency of a full diaper change and also help contain the mess of poop.
- Microfiber diapers are designed to be moisture wicking, super absorbent, and waterproof. They will not require a cover, however, the whole diaper will need to be changed each time. These diapers are the most “user friendly” of all of the cloth diaper options. Microfiber diapering options include:
- Pocket Diapers: Pocket diapers come with both and outer shell and two microfiber liners that fit into a pocket on the inside of the diaper. These diapers come both sized and in one-size-fits-all versions. The one-size-fits-all features three rows of snaps in the front of the diaper that allow you to lengthen the diaper as the baby grows. They also either have a series snaps or Velcro to allow you to widen the diaper. The two liners can be used together or individually, depending on your baby’s needs and size. The cost of pocket diapers ranges from $19-$30.
- All-In-Ones: All-In-One diapers are just as they sound. They are just like disposable diapers in a cloth version. The liners are sewn in the cover, so there is no stuffing required. They are sized and new sizes will need to be purchased as your baby grows. All-in-ones also require the longest amount of drying time. The price on these diapers is about the same as pocket diapers.
Caring for you cloth diapers
- All natural fiber diapers will need to be washed and dried at least three times before use. The more often the diapers are washed, the more absorbent they will be. Microfiber diapers are ready to go when they come home from the store.
- Diapers should be stored in a dry pail while waiting to be washed. Any solid poo should be dumped into the toilet; there is also a diaper sprayer that hooks to the toilet available for about $50. Each load of diapers should receive a cold soak, hot wash, and an optional extra cold rinse. Diapers can be dried in the dryer or laid out to dry.
- It is very important to monitor any kind of chemical or residue that comes in contact with your cloth diapers. A petroleum and additive free detergent must be used. We recommend Charlie’s Soap, which is made here in North Carolina. If you are going to put your diapers in the dryer, do not use dryer sheets. Even if you used them for a previous load that was not diapers, there will still be residue on the inside of your dryer from the sheet.
FEWER DIAPER RASHES
One of the benefits of cloth diapering, is that baby’s tend not to get diaper rash, however, if you do find it necessary to put any kind of ointment on your baby’s bottom, make sure that there is a liner between the diaper and their bottom.