Choosing the cloth diapers that work best for your family is really important. The start-up cost isn’t cheap, so you better love what you buy. It can be a little overwhelming in the beginning, so I’ve broken it down into steps.
1. Before choosing a brand, choose a type.
There are about a gazillion types of cloth diapers. Okay, not really a gazillion–more like 9. But still, it’s daunting.
Flat diapers are large squares of fabric that you can fold a variety of ways. You have to use a cover with these (all of the diapers on the list that require covers do so because they are absorbent, but not waterproof). I don’t know much about them because they look way too complicated for me. However, there are lots of tutorials available online if you want to learn–and from what I’ve read, they’re not as complicated as they seem. Flat diapers are the cheapest way to go if you want to cloth diaper.
Prefolds are rectangular pieces of cloth which fold into three sections, the middle part being the most absorbent. You can either fasten it around your baby with safety pins (or a snappi) or place it inside a cover. Again, a little too complicated for me. I’m sure it’s not difficult, but I’m way too lazy for all that.
Fitted diapers are shaped to fit your baby and they also do not require the use of pins (see how this is getting easier as we go?). They do require the use of a cover.
Pocket diapers are shaped to fit your baby, require no cover, and utilize a snap or Velcro closure. They have pockets that require an insert, but they’re fairly easy to use.
Sleeve diapers are virtually the same thing as pocket diapers. The difference is that they have two openings, rather than one. The benefit is, when your baby poops, you don’t have to reach in and pull out the insert. You can just toss it in the washer and let it do its job. I’m guessing this only works with exclusively breastfed babies though, since you need to rinse formula or solid-food poop.
Hybrids are a cross between cloth and disposable diapers. They’re super convenient in that you can choose the type of insert you prefer: disposable (which are biodegradable and chemical-free) or cloth. We initially chose to use hybrids so that we wouldn’t be a total pain in the ass for J’s daycare teachers. He uses the disposable inserts there and the cloth inserts at home. We also like to use the disposable inserts when we’re out and about. They include an outer cover, a snap-in plastic liner, and a cloth or disposable insert.
All in twos require an insert, but it actually snaps to the diaper, rather than sliding into a pocket on the diaper.
All in ones are my personal favorites cloth. They’re stupid proof. They require no cover, no inserts, no pins, nothing. You put them on just like a disposable diaper and they utilize Velcro or snaps for closure. It’s that easy. I’ve read that they’re a bit more costly than other types, but I don’t see a big difference once you move past flats, prefolds, contours or fitted. But even with those, you have to purchase a separate cover–so I’m not sure it’s that big of a price difference. If I were recommending a type of cloth diaper, I would most definitely recommend all in ones.
2. Choose a brand.
Just like the type of diaper you choose, the brand is really all about personal preference. I imagine that some brands are better than others, but I would recommend that you check reviews closely before buying. Some brands try harder than others to cash in on the cute factor–and those brands are definitely more expensive. Ask your friends who cloth diaper, read blogs, seek out an online mom’s group, read Amazon reviews. And then when you decide on a type and brand, just buy a few and test drive them before fully committing. Kinda like you did with your husband before you married him.
We went with gDiapers because I liked the hybrid theory. But to be honest, I’ll probably sell my stash and won’t use them on the next baby. We don’t want J’s daycare to have to deal with handling soiled cloth diapers, so we like to be able to use the gDiaper disposable inserts.
While they’re pricier than most diaper brands, they are cheaper than Honest diapers and that’s what has kept us using them. However, for the sake of simplicity, we’ll probably just use Honest diapers for daycare in the future.
I’m not bashing gDiapers–they’re good diapers. The disposable inserts are biodegradable and flushable. They have good customer service. And once you get past the learning curve, they rarely leak. However, the cloth inserts do tend to leak more than the disposable inserts. Well, a lot more in fact.
If you want a true cloth diaper, gDiaper isn’t the way to go. But if you want the flexibility of being able to use cloth or disposable, research your hybrid options. Or if you want a chemical-free disposable diaper, they are competitively priced among that type of diaper.
I adore Thirsties Duo AIO’s. They’re so easy and I’ve never had a problem with leaking. If you’re going to cloth diaper, AIO is the way to go. Yes, they can be a little pricier than other types. But you can find them used, on sale, or you can find coupons. Thirsties usually run a little less than $16 per diaper, but I bought several for about 20% off when Diaper Junction was having a sale. Also, you can find coupons for places like Buy Buy Baby (they accept Bed, Bath & Beyond and all competitor coupons too) and easily get 20% of per diaper that way.
3. Choose a design.
I’m not talking about a color or a cute little pattern (though those are great too!). I’m talking about the closure. Hook & loop (Velcro) or snaps. Hook & loop is super easy, but snap lasts longer according to the reviews. I can see how that would be and if you’re going to go all Duggar Family on us, you’ll probably won’t something with a little more longevity. But our hook & loops have held up just fine so far and I feel confident that they’ll hold up through a second baby (maybe even a third). We just make sure to hook them before washing so they don’t get snagged on each other.
That said, snaps are the way to go once your baby is a toddler. Once he learns to pull his diaper off, you’ll be thankful for something a little more difficult to manage. gDiaper is ahead of the curve on that one, since they make their hook & loops to hook in the back, rather than in the front.
Since many cloth diapers are now designed to fit from birth to potty-training, take that into consideration when choosing your closure design. For us, we’ll go with snaps with any future diapers we purchase simply because we’ve learned that babies pull off diapers (plus, they’re really not difficult to close–and they’re kinda cute).
4. Don’t forget your accessories.
- You can buy a diaper pail, but I feel like they’re a little over-priced. We just use a covered garbage can with a step lid.
- You’ll need a few wet bags. I keep 2 small ones to alternate between in J’s diaper bag, but also a large one for traveling.
- You might consider using a diaper sprayer. Our toilet is very close to the shower in our guest bathroom, so we just use a detachable shower head and rinse the diaper in the toilet that way.
- Depending on the type of diaper you choose, you might need pins and fasteners.
- Since you’re considering cloth diapers, you might also like cloth wipes. I make my own diaper spray and love using cloth wipes! You might also consider making your own disposable wipes.
- You’ll definitely need to keep some cloth-safe diaper cream on hand.
- I like to use liners with the diaper cream, just to be extra safe.
- Pick a cloth-safe detergent of your choosing. My favorite is Ecos.
If you choose to use cloth diapers, see my post on caring for them.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I get a small percentage of commission.
- Lesson 42: Diaper rash is a pain in the butt (cabernetandbreastmilk.com)
- Lesson 50: The benefits of cloth diapering (cabernetandbreastmilk.com)
- Lesson 52: Caring for your cloth diapers (cabernetandbreastmilk.com)
- 4 Cloth Diapering Choices Defined (theartofsimple.net)