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Contemplating Cloth (Part 1)

I have had several people request a post about cloth diapering. I know that our audience is a mixed group of parents who cloth diaper, don’t cloth diaper, and those who are curious about cloth. There is no shortage of blog posts about cloth diapering – all of the ins and outs of diapering, where to start, how to handle certain situations – but I know sometimes it’s nice to have someone you know show you the ropes. I asked our readers what they wanted to know or what they think others should know about cloth diapering and here are my responses!  This isn’t a post intended to convert everyone to cloth diapers or to tell you that the way we diaper our kids is better than yours!  It is information that you might find useful if you’ve ever been cloth curious.  So here we go!

Okay, why on earth would anyone choose cloth diapers in this century?  This isn’t “Little House On The Prairie!”  What benefits are there to using cloth diapers?

Speaking for myself and my family, we chose cloth for several reasons.  First and foremost, we switched to cloth diapers to save money.  We received a lot of disposable diapers at our baby showers with our firstborn but eventually they did run out.  I couldn’t believe how quickly we went through diapers and how often I had to buy those gigantic boxes!  The idea that I could purchase diapers once and not have the major baby expense through the first years of parenting was very appealing to us!

(See this post from our good friend Jen at Serwa Chic for more on the cost breakdown!)

Spencer's First Cloth! Cover by Serwa Chic

We also love that we aren’t sending thousands of diapers to the landfills every year.  Our youngest son (15 months old) wears disposable diapers at night and when we go to church, so currently he only uses about 9 disposable diapers every week – not too bad!  And I only have to buy one jumbo box of diapers every few months!

Our boys haven’t had skin issues with disposable diapers, but I know that can be a big problem for some babies.  Some parents choose cloth to cut down on diaper rash and the exposure to the many chemicals in cloth diapers.

Another reason that might sound strange is that modern cloth diapers are pretty darn cute!  There are prints, solids, wool pants, oh my!  Once you get started, you can easily lose yourself in the fun of cloth diapering.

(Jen has a great post about the benefits of cloth diapering here!)

Why are there so many types of cloth diapers? It’s pretty overwhelming!  What do you use?

I agree, it is overwhelming!  I had a LOT to learn when we first started cloth diapering our firstborn when he was about 8 months old.  I made some not-so-great choices when I first did my diaper buying, which is why I’m passing along what I’ve learned!  So first, the basic options…

Prefolds & Covers – These really are a lot like the cloth diapers your parents might have worn when they were babies.  Very simple in design, these are soft cloths that are sewn together to be more absorbent.  They must be worn with a waterproof cover, which can be plain or have designs on them.  The prefold (the cloth part) is either folded to just lay inside the cover or is fastened with a pin or a fastener.  These are the most economical option because the components are simple and inexpensive.  The covers can be used multiple times until it becomes soiled or stinky, which adds to the economical benefits.  They are easy to use and easy to maintain, but they are pretty low frills.  Check out this great video tutorial from Kim at Dirty Diaper Laundry about prefolds!

Fitteds & Covers – Fitted diapers are made to look a lot like a disposable diaper, fitted to a baby’s form.  Fitted diapers can be made in many different styles and with several different materials, all of which will impact the cost.  These are also not waterproof and should be paired with a cover.  This system is also easy to use and easy to maintain.  Check out these fitted diaper options at!

Spencer in a bumGenius pocket diaper

Pocket Diapers – Pocket diapers consist of two pieces, the diaper and the inserts.  The diaper part has a soft inner fabric and a waterproof outer material and the inserts can be made of varying absorbency depending on the manufacturer and the type of diaper.  These diapers are very convenient and easy to use – even for grandmas and husbands!  They clean quickly and easily and are a one-time-use diaper (no reusing the outer part, in other words).  Dirty Diaper Laundry tells you all about Pocket Diapers here!

All In One’s (AIOs) – These diapers are going to be the most like a disposable diaper.  An AIO is all one piece (hence the name) so there’s no stuffing, no inserts to fool with (though some brands have a pocket for additional stuffing if needed).  These are very easy to use and clean but they do take longer to dry.  Want to see some AIOs in action?  Check out this Dirty Diaper Laundry video!

In addition to these types, there are also hybrid diapers (where you can use a disposable OR a cloth insert in a reuseable shell/cover), All In Twos, and wool covers (I love the look of longies!).

My philosophy on the different choices of diapers is that your motivations and reasons for cloth diapering (as well as your concerns about making the switch) can really point you in the direction of the diapering “system” that is right for you and your family.  Here’s what I mean…

Let’s say you want to switch to cloth diapers because of the financial burden of buying disposable diapers.  You probably are overwhelmed by the monthly cost and don’t want to spend a lot of money up front.  For someone in this situation, prefolds and covers might be the best option.

On the other hand, maybe you really want something with natural materials, money isn’t your biggest motivator, and you want cloth diapering to be easy.  There are several brands of organic AIOs that might be perfect for your family.

Are you contemplating cloth diapering?  What’s holding you back?  For those of you that already made the big switch, what motivated you to try it out?   Which system do you currently use?

Stay tuned for more about Contemplating Cloth, including how to get started, accessories, and all those practical things like what to do with the poop!! Read Part 2 now!

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About Krista

Krista is a full-time working mom of two boys, currently aged 6 and 7. She lives in Kentucky with her husband, Brandon.


  1. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for posting this. I am currently using prefolds and covers. I really do like it. I started doing cloth because my friend had been using the prefolds on her daughter and she didn’t need them anymore. I was able to use them for my youngest daughter. It has saved us so much money. I do use disposables at night and when we go out. I really wish I could use some other types of cloth but we don’t have the money. I am looking forward to learning more.