Before we knew that we were even pregnant with Ezra, we knew that I wanted to cloth diaper our babies since it is the most environmentally friendly option available. My mom had cloth diapered us when we were growing up so I knew that it was a tradition I wanted to continue. If cloth diapering seems to be daunting to you but you still want to find a more sustainable option, there are other options available such as biodegradable diapers, however since this would require us to purchase these on a regular basis, I also wanted an option that was going to give us the biggest bang for our buck.
After some research and comparisons, I was happy to confirm for myself that cloth diapering not only is more environmentally friendly, but it will be the cheaper option for my family in the long run, especially if we plan to have more children. See below for the full cost breakdown and for more information on our experience.
- How much money do you actually save?
- This all depends on what type of diaper you end up using in the end. For my calculations, since we decided to go with pocket diapers, my calculations are based on this type of diaper.
- See the charts above! Based on my conservative calculations, you end up saving almost $900 per child, however that doesn’t take into account the amount of diapers you are diverting from the landfills! The savings can be even larger if you purchase second hand reusable diapers, or if you have them gifted from your gift registry, so do keep that in mind as well.
- Pockets, flats, prefolds: which cloth diaper should we use?
- I was so overwhelmed with all of the choices when I was researching which would be best for our family. Personally, the pocket diapers ended up being the easiest to use because you just have to tuck the insert into the pocket and fasten the diaper onto your baby. You don’t need to be a wizard at origami or worry about not folding them properly, which was an added benefit for us.
- When researching, I did come across recommendations to try different brands since they could fit differently on your baby. Generally, they all do fit pretty much the same, but read the reviews because some brands are larger and some smaller, which can have added benefits for fit with a newborn (more on that below).
- The 3 brands that we have are Alva baby, Koala Mama and Kawaii. We found that Kawaii fit the best on our baby, followed by Alva and then Koala Mama.
- How many cloth diapers do I need?
- Newborns (0-3 months) will need on the high end 12 diapers a day, so you will need to calculate how many diapers you need for that. If you plan on only cloth diapering when they’re a bit bigger (and can fit into the cloth diaper better), then you may need less, like 8-10 diapers a day.
- In the end, it really depends on how often you want to do laundry. For us, we do laundry every day and found that 38 diapers work well for us and we can easily skip a day of laundry if necessary. You may need more or less. Keep in mind that you may also want to look into purchasing extra inserts for doubling up for overnights.
- There are 2 types of inserts: bamboo and microfiber. Microfiber is cheaper than bamboo, but from our experience not as absorbent as bamboo and we tend to experience leaking with microfibers. When purchasing your pocket diapers, you can select either microfiber or bamboo, so keep that in mind, but we do recommend bamboo. You can also find charcoal bamboo which are also anti fungal and anti bacterial, which is great because we tend to use these for overnights since we are changing the diaper less often.
- Can newborns fit into the cloth diapers?
- It depends on your baby and the brand you buy! Of course, it’s impossible to know how much your baby will weigh before they are born, but keep in mind that for the diapers we have (Alva Baby and Kawaii to be exact), it could accommodate 8lb+. There are hacks where you can fold the diaper a certain way to accommodate newborns, but depending on how chunky your baby’s legs are, there might be too much space to be able to full seal the diaper from any leaks. Note that you can also purchase newborn sized diapers, but this will add to your overall cost for cloth diapering your baby.
- For us, for the 1st week we did actually use disposables since we were monitoring the number of dirty diapers our was creating, to ensure he was eating enough and gaining enough weight. Luckily for us, Ezra was born over 8lb so when we made the transition to cloth diapers when he was a week old, he was able to fit into them without issue.
- How do you really clean cloth diapers?
- It’s pretty easy to clean. You will need to purchase a wet bag that you can put into a laundry basket for all of the dirty diapers. Then you throw the whole thing into the laundry machine for 2 cycles:
- The 1st cycle is the quick rinse cycle
- The 2nd cycle is where it really deeps clean
- Once the diapers are washed, the liners actually naturally separate from the pocket diapers in the washing machine so it’s really easy to clean. Then we hang dry the pocket diapers, but machine dry the liners to get them fluffy again.
- Will there be a smell?
- We found that there is no smell! However, the diaper pail does sometimes get a bit dank, so we just throw in a dryer sheet with essential oils into the laundry bin for some freshness. Also note that we haven’t entered the solid food stage yet, so once we do, we will be updating this guide for future reference.
- What do you do with poop?
- Because the primary food source is still milk, the poop is still in liquid form (and not solid) so there is no added step in cleaning the diapers – it all goes into the wet bag, which goes straight into the washing machine.
- Do they leak?
- When fastened correctly, they do not leak at all! In our experience, the bamboo liners are much more absorbent than the microfiber ones so definitely choose bamboo instead. We also double line the diapers with bamboo charcoal liners for overnights for even extra absorbency.
- We did find that the Mama Koala diapers did tend to leak overnight since Ezra sometimes sleeps on his side, and found inconsistency with Alva baby. We have not had any leaking issues with Kawaii overnight so I do recommend trying that first (though you may need to troubleshoot for yourself based on your baby’s body).
- How do I use cloth diapers outside of the house?
- Just like regular diapers, we bring a few in case we need to change them while we’re out. We also purchased a travel sized wet bag that we throw the dirty diapers into and then wash when we get home. The bag does not leak and contains the soiled diapers.
These are the products that we purchased:
- Alva Baby with microfiber inserts (6 pocket diapers, 12 inserts)
- Alva Baby with bamboo inserts (6 pocket diapers, 12 inserts)
- Kawaii Baby Cloth Pocket Diapers (20 pocket diapers)
- Alva Baby Charcoal Bamboo Inserts (12 inserts)
- Moomoo Bamboo Inserts (12 inserts)
- We Bags
- Alva Baby Wet Pail Liner (2 pack)
- Alva Baby We Dry Bags for Travel (2 pack)
Let me know if you have any questions regarding reusable cloth diapers. I am also learning on this journey!