In 2012, I was pregnant with my first baby, and like so many expectant moms, I had spent plenty of time in baby stores trying to figure out what were the essential items to put on my baby registry. After a particularly long day of shopping, I stumbled into a boutique cloth diaper store — just for fun. I was set on using disposable diapers, but I thought it couldn’t hurt to look.
Walking in, I noticed a display to the side of the register: A neat pile of 20 cloth diapers sat next to a towering pile of nearly 2,750 disposable diapers — the average number of each type used during the first year of a baby’s life.
After a few minutes of talking to the shop owner and gaining some valuable insight, I left the store as a cloth diaper convert, and I haven’t looked back since.
If you’re considering going the cloth diaper route, know that there is a learning curve, and you might have a lot of questions — but that’s okay! While cloth diapers do require an upfront investment, they more than make up for it in decreased diaper expense overall, fewer diaper rashes, and happier baby bums.
Ready to learn more? Keep reading to find out about the top five cloth diapers and how to make the leap to cloth.
Benefits of Using Cloth Diapers
Expectant mamas have a lot of decisions to make before their little bundle of joy is even born, and several of them have to do with diapering.
Some questions you may have about converting to cloth diapers:
- Cloth diapers or disposable?
- If disposable, which brand is the best?
- Should I do fully cloth or use disposable when traveling?
- Will my daycare supply disposable diapers?
- Will my daycare accept cloth diapers?
It’s enough to make your head spin! Here’s the good news though: Although there are lots of options, that’s a good thing. It means you’re more likely to find what works for you and your family.
Cloth diapers do have one obvious downside: They aren’t disposable. Since you can’t just toss ’em and forget ’em, cloth diapers add another thing (make that many things) to your “to clean” list. However, they more than make up for that downside with a rather long list of benefits.
Cloth diapers are:
- Environmentally friendly: Have you ever thought about how long it takes a disposable diaper to decompose in a landfill? Experts from the Real Diaper Association estimate that it will take up to 500 years for one diaper to decompose, which means that since the dawn of disposable diapers, not a single one has decomposed. About 2.7 billion diapers are thrown away each year in America. That’s a lot of diapers sitting in landfills!
- More comfortable for baby: Cloth diapers are not just better for the earth — they’re better for your baby’s bottom too. While cloth diapers are definitely bulkier, they allow air to flow through, which makes them more breathable — even with the added bulk. Less sweat also means less chafing and fewer yeasty rashes. Win-win!
- A way to save money in the long run: Premium disposable diapers can cost anywhere from $2000–$3000 from birth through potty training, depending on which brand of diapers you choose. On the other hand, using cloth diapers from birth to potty training can average about $500–$700 (and that includes the price of washing them!).
- Less likely to cause diaper rash: According to an article published in “Dermatology Nursing,” excessive moisture is the number one culprit for diaper rash. Because cloth diapers are more breathable, there is less chance of diaper rash caused by wetness.
- Compatible with cloth wipes: Cloth diapers go hand-in-hand with cloth wipes. Already washing cloth wipes? No problem. Throw the diapers into the washer as well!
Easier for potty training: Cloth diapered children tend to have an easier time potty training.
- Available in fun patterns: Cloth diapers are cute! Available in a range of colors and patterns, there is a style for every baby.
- Just plain healthier: While there are premium disposable diapers, many disposables contain harsh or toxic ingredients. For example, many disposable diapers are bleached, leaving trace amounts of dioxin. Another study highlights that cloth diapers are safer for baby boys due to disposable diapers overheating the scrotum. Make your cloth diapers even healthier by opting for organic cotton.
Creating Your Cloth Diaper Stash
Once you’ve decided to commit to cloth, you’ll need to create your stash.
Before you purchase baby cloth diapers, keep these facts in mind:
- A newborn may need 10–12 diaper changes per day.
- A toddler may need only 4–7 diaper changes per day.
So how many diapers do you need in your stash? There isn’t one right answer, but you can figure out what makes sense for your needs.
Your ideal stash depends on the following:
- How many children you have: newborn twins, a newborn and a toddler, or just one newborn.
- How many times you want to wash diapers (every 2–3 days is a good rhythm).
- What kind of diapers you want (newborn and toddler sizes, or one-size-fits-all).
Ideally, it’s good to have at least 20–25 diapers in your stash.
Complete Your Cloth Diaper Stash with These Essentials
- Cloth wipes: Free from toxic chemicals, and much cheaper than the disposable option.
- Bottom spray: Your cloth wipes will be dry, but you can use this spray to clean baby’s bottom.
- Cloth diaper–safe diaper cream: Zinc-based diaper creams are not compatible with cloth diapers. Make sure your diaper cream is safe for your diapers!
- Wet bags: After diaper changes, place the soiled diapers and the wipes into the wet bag. On laundry day, empty the bag into the washer. You can wash the wet bag in the same load too!
- Travel-size wet bags: These are great for keeping in your diaper bag.
How to Wash Cloth Diapers
Finding the right washing routine is important when you have cloth diapers. If the diapers are not thoroughly rinsed, you can have ammonia buildup.
Here’s the washing routine that worked for me:
- When: Wash every two days.
- Temperature: Set the washer to warm or hot (I used hot, but some mamas prefer to avoid hot water).
- Cycle: Set the washer for the pre-rinse and extra-rinse options. I felt the diapers were the most clean when they followed a pre-rinse, wash, rinse cycle.
- Detergent: I have tried at least five eco-friendly detergents, but I was never pleased with how they worked on diapers. Both Tide HE and All Pure worked for me and my washer routine. (Tip: Do not skimp on soap! Use the full amount suggested.)
- Avoid: Do not add vinegar, essential oils, or any other additives to your cloth diaper cycle.
- Stains: Sometimes stains appear. If stains bother you, you can let your diapers dry in the sun.
- Drying: Lay diapers out in the sun to dry, or tumble dry low. (Too much heat in the dryer can damage the PUL lining of some diapers.)
If you keep up with the laundry and make sure the diapers are washed well, you should never need to strip diapers, bleach them, boil them, or anything other than the routine suggested above. (If you don’t see yourself washing dirty diapers every couple of days, there’s no shame in using a cloth diaper service.)
What About Wipes?
Do you have to use cloth wipes if you’re using cloth diapers? Not necessarily, but the two work well together. Conventional baby wipes are expensive, and studies show that the ingredient in most wet wipes — methylisothiazolinone — can leave babies with rashes.
Cloth wipes are:
- Easy to use
- Gentle on baby’s skin
- Easy to wash
Tip: Store your dry cloth wipes in a plastic baby wipe container and pull them up, just like a conventional baby wipe!
Which Are the Best Cloth Diapers?
Ready to start your cloth diaper collection? Here are five of the best:
GroVia Newborn All in One Snap Reusable Cloth Diaper
GroVia Newborn All in One are soft and cute cloth diapers designed specifically for the littlest babies. These diapers are designed for newborns weighing 5–12 pounds. These newborn cloth diapers are an ideal option if you’re choosing to purchase a set of newborn diapers followed by a set of larger diapers to last through the toddler years. Organizing your stash this way allows for a snug fit with less bulk during the newborn weeks.
The microfleece lining is soft against baby’s skin, while the three layers of absorbent hemp/cotton soaker pads keep baby feeling dry. Adjustable snaps allow you to customize the fit to your baby’s body.
Tip: Before using GroVia newborn diapers for the first time, prep the diapers by washing them at least six times.
Charlie Banana One-Size Six Pack
Charlie Banana makes it easy with this 6-pack collection of reusable diapers. Charlie Banana One-Size Diapers feature an internal pocket so you can slide in soaker pads, including hemp inserts, microfleece soaker pads, and cotton/hemp-blend inserts. Charlie Banana Diapers work well for heavy wetters because you can double up on the absorbent inserts for overnight (been there, done that!).
These diapers accommodate babies and toddlers up to 35 pounds, so this collection will set you up for the long haul. Ideally, you’ll need about four sets (24 diapers) if you’re starting from scratch.
Rumparooz One-Size Cloth Pocket Diaper
Looking for fitted diapers that will last from birth to potty training? The Rumparooz One-Size Cloth Pocket Diaper is the one for you. Rumparooz diapers feature adjustable snaps, which means this diaper fits babies from birth (about 6 pounds) to potty training (about 35 pounds).
Rumparooz are pocket diapers, which means you slide inserts (such as bamboo or hemp soakers) into the pocket of the diaper. Each hybrid diaper comes with a microfiber 6r soaker, which allows for six unique size and absorbency settings: newborn, small/medium, medium/large, medium doubler, girl doubler, and boy doubler. Dual inner gussets keep baby leak-free — and mess-free!
bumGenius Freetime All-in-One Snap Closure
Rumparooz One-Size Cloth Pocket Diapers, above, last from birth to potty training, but they do require an insert to be stuffed into each pocket. Need a faster option? bumGenius Freetime All-in-One Snap Closure diapers also work from birth (about 7 pounds) to potty training (about 35 pounds), but they don’t require any stuffing! Bumgenius cloth diapers feature semi-attached inserts that are already in place. When changing your baby’s diaper, they simply snap on — no stuffing or folding required. Easy peasy!
Thirsties One-Size Pocket Diaper
Another diaper perfectly suited for birth to potty training, Thirsties One-Size Pocket Diaper accommodates babies from 8–40 pounds. This pocket system features eight layers of inserts: a 3-layer microfiber terry liner for infants and a 5-layer cotton/hemp soaker pad.
To make laundry day easier, Thirsties created a two-end pocket, which allows soiled soaker pads to come out on their own during the wash cycle — no more removing soiled liners from the pocket.
The snap design is new to the Thirsties brand, and we love it! Thirsties are made in the United States, designed and manufactured by mamas who know what a cloth diaper needs to provide.
Bonus: Specialized leg gussets keep messes at bay!
You can add any of these items to your MyRegistry.com baby registry. Don’t have one? It’s amazing — you can add any gift from any store! Create your registry here.
Looking for More Baby Registry Ideas?
See more on our Baby Registry Inspiration Boards.
We are a universal gift registry website where people can create a registry and add gifts from any store in the world. If you buy any of the products listed here, we may be compensated. Thanks for reading, we love you!