Cloth Diapering: the basics

About four months ago, in an effort to become more self-sufficient, be gentler to my son’s sensitive skin, and give less of my time and money to the local big-box store, I began cloth diapering my 2 year old and 2 ½ month old. This decision followed about three weeks of extensive online research, and I am so glad I made the switch.

While I wouldn’t describe cloth diapering as fun, it is definitely rewarding. My son’s skin is much more manageable now, and I am saving a lot of money. My investment is at about $410 for two kids, but cost depends on brand and style of diaper. Before switching, I was spending $150 to $175 a month on diapers and wipes. As an added benefit, most of the diapers I have purchased should last me through future babies as well. I do three to four more loads of laundry per week than I used to, and get a tiny bit more needed exercise walking up and down the stairs. I go to the big-box store once a month or less.

If you get grossed out dealing with your child’s disposable diapers, you’re likely better off sticking with disposable, but if you view diapering as a necessary chore and it’s not a big deal, then cloth is definitely something you should consider. For me, dirty diapers just go into the diaper pail instead of the trash, then into the washer (when I’m almost out), then the dryer, then back into the baskets under my kids’ changing tables. It’s not nearly as much work as I had anticipated.

I own two types of diapers: gDiapers, and Pocket Diapers
I have six gDiapers in my son’s size and six in my daughter’s ($160 for the 12), 24 cloth gDiaperinserts ($120) and six extra waterproof “pouches” ($23), as well as five pocket diapers with microfleece inserts, two of which are Diaper Safari brand ($13 each, and three of which are Baby City (a made-in-China brand I overpaid for at a local retailer.
They can be found on eBay or Amazon for $2-$4 each). I also have a diaper sprayer, or mini shower (I went with this one and love it, I cut rectangular wipes out of fleece that I already had, and use a spray bottle filled with a tiny drop of Johnson’s baby wash and water to help clean during each diaper change.
At the risk of sounding too trendy, gDiapers are absolutely my favorite, partially because they are just so cute. While more bulky than disposable diapers, they fit more trimly than pocket diapers and look better under clothes. And, for my son, they leak less (my daughter doesn’t have leakage problems either way). Each child is different and I recommend trying a few diaper styles to find the best fit for your little one and for yourself. I know another cloth diapering mama who uses gDiapers as her backup, and loves the FuzziBunz One Size and Diaper Safari diapers best. There are so many options and styles of cloth diapers, and there are some great sites that offer them.
The only drawback to the gDiapers, for me, is that the “gPants” and waterproof pouches must be washed separately from the cloth liners. Cloth liners and pocket diapers should be washed on hot, after a cold prewash cycle (I put my cloth wipes in with this load as well). The gPants and pouches should be washed on warm. I throw these in with whatever other laundry needs to be done that day, and it’s not too much of a hassle. I wash all parts of my diapers about every 48 hours, and wouldn’t recommend waiting much longer than that.
One-size-fits-all pocket diapers have their benefits, including usually fitting a child for longer than a sized gDiaper, allowing you to wash the diaper and insert at the same time, and being a bit easier to spray off into the toilet. Additionally, the two brands I own are less expensive than gDiapers. My Diaper Safari diapers are well made and I have no complaints with them; although because they are bulkier, I usually use them under sweat pants when we are just home. These also have an opening for the insert in the front and back, so it agitates out in the wash and you don’t have to touch it to pull it out. The Baby City brand is a cheaply-made diaper that I doubt will hold up for long. They leak a bit more quickly, fit awkwardly, and I mostly use them as a backup for when my gDiapers are in the wash.
Diaper sprayers are, in my opinion, a necessity. These can be made with parts from a plumbing supply store, or purchased. I chose the Aquaus brand because I liked the way it looked, the ease of installation and the fact that it conformed to American plumbing codes, and it works great. Once children begin eating solids, diaper sprayers make a dirty job much less nasty (soiled diapers from exclusively-breastfed babies can go straight into the washer).
I’m definitely still learning, but I welcome any questions in the comments section. And for those who want to know more about cloth diapering, here are a few sites I have found helpful: