Guest post by Crystal from The Thrifty Mama
Cloth diapers have come a long way from what our grandmothers used to use. In fact, there are so many great options these days when it comes to cloth diapering, that it can be a bit overwhelming for beginners.
To get started, let’s talk about the five basic kinds of cloth diapers which are currently on the market:
All-In-One Diaper (see an example here)—This is a tapered fabric diaper that has an outer layer of Polyurethane Laminate (PUL). This is a water-proof material that works very well at preventing leaks. This type of cloth diaper is the most similar to disposables. It doesn’t require a cover, and it usually has velcro or snaps. The only draw-back with this type of cloth diaper is that it can sometimes be harder to clean, and take longer to dry.
Fitted Diaper (see examples here)–This diaper fits snuggly on the baby, is all cloth and it requires a waterproof cover. It usually has velcro or snaps so that it can be easily secured on the baby. This diaper cleans and dries easier than an All-In-One, but it can still take a while for it to dry.
Pocket Diaper (see examples here)—A pocket diaper usually has two layers of fabric and has a pocket for inserts. You can place fabric inserts or prefolds in the pocket for absorbency. Pockets can either have an outer waterproof layer so that they are more like an All-In-One when stuffed, or they can just have two absorbent fabric layers so that they are more like a fitted when stuffed. Pockets are very easy to clean and dry, because you remove the inserts when washing.
Prefolds (see examples here)–These are like what your grandmothers used to use. They work by folding the diaper onto the baby, and attaching it with either pins or a snappi (more on snappis later). These can be more work to fit on the baby, but they are so easy to clean and dry. Prefolds require a cover.
Flats (see examples here)—Flats are a flat piece of fabric that is folded into the shape of a diaper. It is placed on the baby and then secured with a snappi or pins. Flats are nice because they clean and dry the easiest, and they also give a very trim look, even though they do require a cover.
Flats are one of the least-expensive cloth diapering options. Even if you aren’t good with a sewing machine, you can make some flats out of old shirts, towels and other materials. Receiving blankets are great to use as flats. They are flannel, and flannel is very absorbent.
Depending upon which cloth diaper type you choose, you’ll also likely need a few accessories:
Covers—If you plan on using fitteds, prefolds or flats, then you will want to have covers. There are many types of covers. You can buy covers online or you can make your own.
Fabrics that make great covers are PUL, Fleece, Wool and of course there are the original plastic pants that our mothers and grandmothers used to use. I like using fleece and wool because they allow for breathing of the skin, and they are so cute!
You can easily make your own wool or fleece pants for babies out of your old sweaters and hoodies. Here is a quick tutorial on how to make some recycled wool/fleece pants.
Diaper Sprayer—You are definitely going to want one of these. Also known as a bidet, it hooks up to your toilet and is used to spray soiled diapers. [Note from Crystal: I cloth-diapered exclusively with my first child and never had one of these. I used Fuzzi Bunz diapers and got along fine without this. Just wanted to share an alternate opinion.]
Inserts–If you use pockets or want added layers of absorbency, you will want to buy or make some inserts. Usually I just use prefolds or fold up some receiving blankets. Receiving blankets are flannel, thus making them great for absorbency.
Snappi/Pins–A snappi is a little rubber fastener that has hooks. It is used to hold the diaper on the baby instead of pins. You can of course use pins if you prefer to not use a snappi. Here is a picture of a snappi holding together a prefold:
Wetbag–This is a waterproof bag used to hold soiled diapers. There are many places online that you can buy these, or you can make your own. PUL is a great fabric to make wetbags out of. You can also find the 3 packs of waterproof bags in the camping section at major retail stores. Those are fairly inexpensive, and I’ve found that they work very well for this purpose.
Cloth diapering is a way our family saves a lot of money each year. However, building up a stash of cloth diapers in the beginning can be costly. To build a good stash, if you do it wisely, you can expect to spend somewhere between $200-$400.
The average person will spend $1,800-$2,000 a year on disposables for one child. Now, if you use coupons combined with sales to purchase disposable diapers, you’ll not spend that much, but you still will probably spend at least a few hundred dollars, if not more, on diapers per child. So while the initial investment in purchasing cloth diapers might seem steep, if you plan on using them for more than one child, you will likely recoup your investment–and maybe even many times over!
(My daughter wearing one of the pocket diapers I made for her.)
If you have a knack for sewing, you can sew your own diapers and accessories which will make them much more affordable than purchasing them! I’ve written a post on a quick and easy way to sew a prefold diaper here. I’ve also made my own pocket diapers and show you how you can do that here.
Crystal blogs at The Thrifty Mama, where she posts deals, coupon help, and tips for living a more natural and thrifty life. She’s a stay-at-home Mom to two small children, and does her best to live more green and natural without breaking the bank.
Note from Crystal: Have you used cloth diapers? If so, which kinds did you use and what did you find worked best for you? How did you build your cloth diaper stash on a budget? I’d love to hear your ideas and input!