Cloth Diapering 101

cloth diapering

Babies go through a lot of diapers, for sure. But just how many? According to The Real Diaper Association, one baby in disposable diapers generates at least one ton of trash to the landfill. One diaper can take up to 500 years to fully decompose, making this a serious environmental issue. Landfills are running out of space and disposable diapers aren’t being recycled or composted. There’s also a financial component to it. According to a report from Consumer Reports, it can cost $1,500 to $2,000 or more to keep one child in disposable diapers from birth to potty training. Depending on which cloth diapers you use, cloth diapering can whittle down to $400.00 or even less – and you can reuse the cloth diapers for another baby.

Cloth diapering is making a comeback, and it’s not just the “crunchy” families doing it, either. As eco-conscious practices become more and more mainstream, people are looking for ways to reduce waste and save money. Cloth diapering also means limiting the exposure of possible chemicals to your baby’s skin from disposable diapers. From a practical standpoint, cloth can also reduce diaper rash and there are far fewer blowouts, if any, with cloth than with “sposies.”

These aren’t your mom’s (or grandma’s) diapers – yes, you can still use the prefolds and diaper covers, but there are also all-in-ones, or AIOs, that work just like a disposable diaper, except you wash them instead of throwing them away. Diapers come in a variety of colors and patterns, and many people are collectors of exclusive prints and colors – they love their “fluff mail,” as it’s called.

Cloth Diapering 101: Types of Cloth Diapers
There are various options for cloth diapering, and it can be a little overwhelming at first. Here are the most basic kinds of cloth diapers.

All-in-Ones – These are similar to a disposable, and are known as AIOs. The absorbency layers are sewn into the diaper cover; there is no stuffing of pockets or liners. Once it’s dirtied, it’s taken off like a disposable and a new diaper can be put on.

Pocket diapers – These are also just called “pockets.” These have an opening where you stuff an insert (reusable or disposable), which acts like the absorbency layer. The layer against your baby’s skin is usually fleece, which helps it feel dry. When dirtied, the insert is taken out of the diaper before both are thrown in the wash.

All-in-Twos – Also called AI2s, these are like AIOs in the sense that there is no pocket, but they still have inserts. The inserts are usually snapped into place on top of the liner, and can be removed. Sometimes the insert is simply placed on the top of the liner, instead of snapped in.

One size – These diapers, usually written as OS, can be used up until around 35 pounds. The rise contains different rows of snaps so it can be easily adjusted. You can have a diaper that is an OS AIO, for example.

Flats – These are the most basic, and least expensive cloth diapering option. These are squares of fabric that are folded as a diaper to fit the baby, and then fastened with a diaper fastener. In order to be waterproof, a diaper cover has to go over a flat.

Prefolds – These are like a flat, but with extra absorbency in the middle. These have to be folded and fastened like the flats, as well as covered by a diaper cover.

Fitted diaper – These are fabric diapers that are like the flats and prefolds, but have elasticized waists and legs, which give it a more personalized fit. In order to not leak, these also have to be covered with a diaper cover.

If you’re considering cloth diapering, if your budget allows, try to buy a few different brands  and styles to see what works for you. Remember: cloth diapering doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing venture. You don’t need to bother with cloth diapering 101% of the time. You can cloth diaper 50% of the time, 30% of the time – whatever works for your lifestyle. Even if you are cloth diapering your baby just a third of the time, you’d still save money, reduce your baby’s exposure to chemicals in disposable diapers, and help reduce landfill waste.

If you are cloth diapering your baby, what are your tips and tricks? If you’re thinking about it, what’s your hesitation?

Check out these links for more information:

Cotton Babies: Cloth Diaper Basics

Kelly’s Closet: Cloth Diapering 101

Smart Bottoms Blog

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