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Cloth Diapering 101: A Beginner's Guide

Variety of cloth diapers

Deciding to use cloth diapers with your baby or toddler can initially seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be! With some basic knowledge, a handful of products and supplies, and just a few simple tips, you can quickly move into the wonderful world of cloth diapering. Not only do cloth diapers require fewer resources than disposables, but they are also expected to save hundreds of dollars over two-and-a-half years. Furthermore, many find that switching to reusable diapers significantly improves their child's skin issues (as well as less toxic exposure overall). So if there's ever been a good time to choose cloth diaper convenience—it's now! Keep reading this blog post for all you need to get started on your journey into contemporary eco-friendly diapering.

The Types of Cloth Diapers

Fitted/Contour Cloth Diapers and Covers  

These diapers work by using absorbent materials shaped into a diaper or contoured shape that fits into a cover. While fitted come with closures that can be snapped or hooked, contours don't have any closures, and they must be placed inside the diaper cover. If you appreciate the simplicity of pre-folds but hate the fuss of folding them, fitted and contours are perfect for you. Not only are they easy to use and cost-effective, but they also provide excellent protection against messy blowouts. For all these reasons, fitted and contour cloth diapers and covers are the go-to choices for new parents looking for reliable and efficient diapering options.

Related Link: 5 Best DIY Baby Toys: Build Them Something They’ll Love

Prefold/Flat Cloth Diapers and Covers  

If you're looking for a more eco-friendly and budget-friendly option for your baby's diapering needs, then prefold/flat cloth diapers and covers are worth considering. These diapers work by combining an absorbent inner layer and a waterproof cover. The inner layer can either be a flat piece of cotton cloth or a prefold already sewn with a thicker, more absorbent layer down the middle. As for the covers, you can choose between hook-and-loop, front snaps, or side snaps, depending on your preference. Not only are cloth diapers better for the environment, but they're also gentler on your baby's delicate skin than disposable ones. Plus, with various cute prints and colors available, your baby will never be short on style.

Pocket Cloth Diapers

Pocket diapers are popular for parents who prefer cloth diapers for their babies. They consist of a diaper and an absorbent insert, similar to all-in-twos. However, pocket diapers have a unique feature that sets them apart. They come with a pocket opening between the diaper's inner and outer layers, allowing you to adjust the absorbency to meet your needs. Whether you need a thin terry to insert for daytime use or a couple of hemp inserts for overnight, you can easily stuff them into the pocket. Pocket diapers are perfect for parents who are new to cloth diapers or are accustomed to disposable diapers, as they are simple to use and require no special knowledge or folding. You can keep your baby dry and comfortable with pocket diapers while being eco-friendly and cost-conscious.

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Baby laying down in cloth diaper

All-in-One Cloth Diapers

These diapers are incredibly easy to use, especially for beginners, as they come in a single piece with waterproof, absorbent, and wicking layers sewn together. This means no stuffing or folding, creating less confusion and more convenience. We love all-in-one cloth diapers because they are as simple as disposable diapers; just toss them in the pile of laundry or wet bag instead of the trash. With all the benefits of cloth diapers and the simplicity of disposables, all-in-one cloth diapers should definitely be considered for your baby.

Liners for Cloth Diapers

When dealing with dirty baby diapers, few things are more unpleasant than trying to scrape off mashed poop with toilet paper or wipes. Fortunately, disposable liners can make the process much easier. These thin, absorbent sheets sit between the baby's bum and the cloth diaper, creating a barrier preventing solid waste from sticking to the fabric. Instead of trying to scrub poop off the diaper, you can simply lift out the liner and toss the whole thing in the trash. Not only does this save time and hassle, but it also helps keep your hands clean and prevent unwanted messes. Whether you're a new or experienced parent, disposable liners are a must-have for any parent looking to simplify their diaper-changing routine.

Inner Layer Material of Cloth Diapers

When choosing the suitable material for the inner layer of cloth diapers, there are plenty of options to consider. For parents who want their baby to feel comfortable and relatively dry between changes, a wicking material like microfleece may be the way to go. On the other hand, if parents want their baby to be more aware of when they are wet and approaching potty training age, cotton or bamboo materials that feel wet may be a better option. Finally, parents with allergies may want to consider all-natural and organic materials like hemp or organic cotton. Whatever the choice, choosing the suitable cloth diaper material for your baby can be a great way to ensure their comfort and satisfaction throughout the day.

Related Link: Co-Sleeping With a Baby: Guide & Safety Tips

Outer Layer Material of Cloth Diapers

PUL or TPU (polyester with a waterproof laminate)

When it comes to diapering your baby, there are many options. One increasingly popular choice is diapers made with PUL or TPU, a combination of a waterproof laminate and polyester fabric. This thin, breathable material comes in various fun colors and prints. But what sets it apart is how easy it is to care for. Simply toss it in your regular laundry cycle, and it's good to go. And for parents concerned about chemicals, it's good to note that TPU options don't involve chemical processes compared to PUL. If you're looking for reliable and convenient trim coverage under your baby's clothes, it's worth considering PUL or TPU options.

Baby laying down


Wool has become a favorite choice for parents looking for a natural and eco-friendly diaper option. Not only is it incredibly absorbent, but it also becomes waterproof when treated with lanolin. The all-natural fibers make it breathable and perfect for overnight use. Another benefit is that wool is antibacterial and odor-resistant, meaning you can reuse it longer than other covers. However, when cleaning wool does require special care, as it's best to wash by hand, re-lanolize regularly, and lay out flat to dry. While it may be more expensive than other options, there are affordable choices on Etsy made from upcycled wool sweaters. But do keep in mind that wool may cause a rash if your baby has an allergy to it. Overall, wool diapers are a fantastic choice for environmentally-conscious families looking for a natural, long-lasting solution.

Need more information about baby care? Check out 123 Baby Box for more advice. 

Polyester Fleece

When choosing a suitable cloth diaper fabric for your baby, breathability is critical. Polyester fleece is an excellent option for parents looking for a breathable fabric that won't irritate their baby's sensitive skin. This material is more breathable than PUL/TPU, making it the perfect choice for babies who tend to get rashes. Polyester fleece can be washed and dried in your machines along with the rest of your diaper laundry, making it a convenient option for busy parents. Polyester fleece is a fabric you can count on when it comes to keeping your baby comfortable and happy.

The Deal with Cloth Diapers

By now, you are familiar with the benefits of cloth diapering, the environmental impact that reducing diapers can have, and some of the options available. As a parent, you're already making decisions based on what's best for your baby, and cloth diapering is no exception. With the upfront cost being more than disposable, it may seem daunting to switch to cloth diapers; however, when viewed from a long-term perspective, you could save hundreds of dollars in the long run. Investing in washable diapers and responsible washing habits are essential to maximize their effectiveness and lifespan. Your baby may not stay in these diaper stages for that long, but changing your routine can make all the difference for our planet. Ultimately, it is your choice as to which option works best for both you and your little one.

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