Cloth Diapers: All You Need to Know



First let’s get the facts straight: Cloth diapering is surprisingly easy and much cheaper than paper diapers.  For each year your child is in paper diapers, you can spend between $1500-$3000 depending on what brands, etc you buy.  The bleach-free environmentally friendly diapers like Earth’s Best and Seventh Generation will run on the more expensive end.  Children generally don’t fully potty train until age 2 1/2 – 3 years old!  So for each child you can easily spend $3500 on paper diapers, wipes, and diaper pail accessories/liners by the time they wear “big boy/girl undies”.  What stops most people (me included) from even considering cloth diapers is that we think it either can’t work or don’t know anyone who uses them, someone to bounce questions off and just show you how to get started!  I recommend reading about Cloth Diapering 101 if you want to know all the options.  Also, go to a LaLeche meeting in your area and you might find a cloth diapering mother to talk to.  Or search for a cloth diapering specialty store in your area, the employees are likely to be extremely helpful.  A lot has changed in how parents today cloth diaper.  I hadn’t realized that safety pins were a thing of the past!

We have been cloth diapering since my oldest child was 3 months old and I’ve tried every type of diaper under the sun.  All-in-ones, pockets, prefolds, PUL covers, wool covers, different detergents, etc.  I’ve persisted with it despite some frustrations with the different diapers because it saves us a ton of money not buying paper diapers.  However, I hadn’t yet found that one diaper type or brand that solved all the problems I encountered until a friend told me about SunBaby diapers.  First I’ll tell you what I have tried and then I’ll tell you why I love SunBaby diapers. And remember, these are my opinions and experiences.  Everyone has a different story.

For a short summary I have tried:

Flip Diapering System  Pros: the cost is lower than most popular pocket diapering systems and the pad is very absorbent.  Cons: they always started smelling sooner when wet by baby than any of my other diapers.  I also found that it took at least 2 washes with soap (usually with hot water too) to get these diapers smelling clean.  This took more time and water/soap resources.  Also, unlike the manufacture’s claim, you really cannot reuse the cover and just change the insert.  After one use the cover will either have poop on it or smell like urine and you won’t want to put it back on your baby.  My advice is to ditch the idea of any reusable PUL cover and just go with pockets where the whole thing goes in the wash pail after one use.

This is what a infant sized prefold looks like with the snappies. A PUL or Wool cover goes over the prefold.

Prefolds with PUL and Wool Covers.  These are by far the cheapest if you can reuse the covers at least twice before throwing in the wash pile.  However, I found that this was difficult to do because the pee smell was obvious on the second use of the cover.  I also did not like how chunky the prefold is between baby’s legs, especially when baby is learning to crawl (or walk I suppose… we never used these for more than a trial period).  The bulk, along with the difficulty in securing the snappies made diapering a frustrating scenario.  If you use a Wool cover, you absolutely cannot get poop on the wool, as it is very difficult to get out.  Most moms will say that with a poopy diaper, it is almost impossible to keep poop from getting everywhere, especially when baby is exclusively breastfed.

Fuzzibunz pocket diapersThese were my favorite until I found the SunBaby.  I was going to buy a bunch of these, but luckily a friend told me about SunBaby before I did.  Fuzzibunz diapers cost about $14+/diaper depending on how many you purchase at a time, whereas SunBaby costs about $6.5/diaper (less if you buy a 24 pack).  I liked most everything about Fuzzibunz diapers except a few complaints.  First, if I used just one insert in the Fuzzibunz brand pocket diaper, I had to change my 1 1/2 yr old after about 1 1/2 hrs wearing the diaper, otherwise he would soak though the waterproof lining.  I soon resorted to always using both the small and large soaker pads in the Fuzzibunz pocket for each diaper, just to get 2 – 3 hrs out of one diaper.  This made the diaper very bulky and a bit tight on him, even though I had the diaper set to the largest size option available.  It is also very difficult to stuff Fuzzibunz diapers because the crotch on them is narrow, making it difficult to get your hand in there while holding on to two soaker pads.  My husband cannot stuff these diapers, his hands simply do not fit.  One other annoying bit about Fuzzibunz is when you use two soaker pads in the diaper, one or both of them always gets stuck in there during the wash cycle and you have to check them all to pull out the soaker pads so they get clean.


Drumroll please!  A friend told me about SunBaby.  I saw them on her child (super cute prints!) and after she told me about them, I had to give them a try.  I put in an order for 12 (I was too chicken to go for the 24 pack order).  I opted for the blend insert pads and picked out so many cute patterns – so fun!  These diapers ended up answering all my wishes for what I really wanted in a diaper.  Not only were they a better diaper than Fuzzibunz and Charlie Banana, they were cheaper by more than half the price AND totally customizable!  **Note: I am in no way compensated for raving about Sunbaby diapers here.  I do so because I genuinely love them and hope you will too!

This is why I love them:

– With one soaker pad, my babies last 3-4 hrs in a diaper with NO LEAKS.

– The front snap panel on the SunBaby diapers is wider, which provides a much more comfortable fit for baby, especially for a 2 year old.

– The back flap that goes over the opening to the pocket is so nice because it keeps baby’s back dry.  And the front waterproof lining is overlapped onto the inside of the diaper so there is no leaking in the front (important for boys).

– The elastic seems to be a better type than the Fuzzibunz.  The SunBaby diapers have a gentler elastic that doesn’t pinch baby’s skin, but is stretchy enough to make sure everything in the diaper stays in the diaper.

– The patterns are super cute and I LOVE that you can customize your order with whatever prints you like.  Plus you have so many options to choose from when it comes to the material the insert is made of and whether you want to order two soakers per diaper or just one.

– Best of all, SunBaby diapers are half the price of Fuzzibunz and Charlie Banana diapers.

UPDATE: I ordered  another 12 diapers for baby #2 so we would have a total of 24 for the newest member of our family.  I’m excited to have found the diaper that works for us, that is easy for my husband and the grandparents and babysitter to use.  SunBaby diapers just makes cloth diapering actually fun!  I know it may sound weird, but I actually enjoy washing and stuffing these diapers.  Who looks forward to doing their baby’s cloth diaper laundry?  Well, I didn’t until I found these.

How Does Cloth Diapering Work?

wetbagpailHow it works: Simply store the soiled diapers in a “wet bag” (I keep mine outside) between washes.  Wash every 2 days or so to prevent your diapers from smelling.  Down the road you will want to consider getting a Diaper Sprayer to attached to your toilet water line.  You can use it to spray solids from the diaper into the toilet and give the dirty diaper a quick rinse before it goes into your wetbag.  This isn’t necessary until your baby is eating solids (or is drinking formula).  Breastfed babies have a soft stool that soaks into the diaper and cleans out very easily.

Every 2-3 days you do a load of laundry for just diapers.  This is a great reason to have just the right amount of diapers (between 12-24) because you only want to fill your top loading washing machine at most half full, but run it as a medium to full load.  First rinse the diapers in cold water, letting them soak for a few hours if you can.  Then wash the diapers on a long cycle with the hot wash/cold rinse option.  Add the soap as you start this cycle.  You do need to make sure you are using a 100% biodegradable detergent with no fabric softeners or optical brighteners.  The best brands for this are Country Save, Charlie’s Soap or Nellie’s .

Use only 1-2 Tablespoons per load.  As you get accustomed to washing diapers, peek in on the laundry when it is on the rinse cycle.  Check to make sure there aren’t suds in the last rinse.  If there is, you are using too much soap.  If your diapers still smell after your hot wash, you need to use a bit more soap.  Be sure to rinse the diapers until there is no soap, as this can irritate your baby’s skin and cause the diapers to absorbe poorly.  I usually do a soak, a hot wash with soap and then a cold wash with no soap.  To save energy you can certainly line dry, and this is even recommended once in awhile, as the sun acts as a natural bleach and can help fade out any stubborn stains.  Never ever ever bleach your diapers.  Read more about washing here.

It is also important to have a top loading washing machine for your diapers.  The front loaders just do not get diapers (or other clothing for that matter) truly clean.  Mommas I have met over the years who have front loaders always run into smell issues with their diapers, no matter what detergent they try.  The top loader with the agitator seems to do the best job getting those soiled diapers super duper clean.  If you don’t have a top loader, consider this into the cost of getting your diapers because without it you will soon find your diapers always stink and you will not want to put them on your baby, which would defeat the whole point of cloth diapering, right?

Where to buy? Amazon was a great resource for many of the products I wanted to use.  The best resource was the local cloth diapering store where I could see all the different options, touch the fabrics, and size items out on my baby.  Amazon also carries many cloth diapering products at discount prices.  Where I saved the most money was buying second hand from ladies I met at LaLeche league.  But wherever you buy, you will be saving loads of money over your child’s diapering years.  If you find your first child is so much fun you decide to go for #2, 3, etc, all their diapering costs will be free!  So if you have 3 kids, all in cloth diapers, you spend maybe $200-250 total on cloth diapers from infancy through training pants.  That potentially saves you $9,000 to NOT paper diaper 3 children.  Yikes! Most importantly, try different systems if you aren’t already convinced that SunBaby is what you want to try.  Get just one or two of the diaper you think you want to use and try it out.  You might find you don’t like it and then you will only be a couple dollars out instead of hundreds.

In short, cloth diapering is important for three reasons:

1) Your child’s bum is healthier and happier when more naturally cared for

2) You save thousands of dollars per child

3) You also get to green the planet while you save money.

Oh, and if you get bit by the cloth diapering bug like me, you start to feel very proud of yourself for doing something outside the box.  You may even start to take pride in caring for your cloth diapers and enjoy how cute those little diaper covers are on your little one.  And don’t forget the baby legs!  They are way better than pants and so much cuter and easier to pull off baby than silly pants!  If you are crafty, you can make your own baby legs out of ladies knee high socks and save some cash!


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