Cloth diapers today are no longer your grandma’s giant white sheet with a clothespin. Heck no. I think any momma these days would shudder at the thought. Today, the best cloth diapers have a cute pattern, washing is a breeze and the brands are simply amazing.
In the not so distant past, I swore off cloth diapering before I even knew a thing about it. Then, we became pregnant and suddenly I transformed into some kind of penny-pinching fiend. We had big financial goals and spending a bajillion dollars on disposable diapers seemed silly.
I was told:
“I’ll give you two weeks and you’ll quit.”
“My sister tried that too…”
“You’re not doing that when I’m there!”
Yeesh. You’d think cloth diapering was some kind of crazy, questionably legal activity. But all these people had preconceived notions that cloth diapering was like it had been twenty years ago. I had done my research and it was just so simple. In fact, a few of those naysayers started cloth diapering too!
Cloth Diapers 101: Everything You Need, For Beginners
To begin, I’m not going to go into all the benefits of cloth diapers versus disposables (because that would be a whole post) but I will say a few things from my own personal experience:
- Cloth diapers are ridiculously easy to use
- Babies who wear cloth diapers almost never get rashes
- Potty training a cloth diapered baby is quicker and easier
- You will save a crazy amount of money
This post’s purpose is to condense all the long-winded cloth diaper information out there. If you do want more additional information like a comparison of the different brands as well as the types and troubleshooting, check out my other posts here:
Everything you need to cloth diaper from newborn to potty training
I have created a fully comprehensive list of all my final recommendations per age and situation below. Keep in mind that when you start off CDing, it may take you a couple days to get into your own groove. The cloth diapers will arrive and you may wonder how to prep them all (they all have different directions!), how you want to wash them and when you want to wash them. Trust me, it’s easier than you think!
Check out my washing recommendation in Cloth Diapers 101, The Complete Guide. It’s pretty simple. When prepping, just make sure to keep the natural fibers (like hemp) separate from everything else. Then just wash them every other day and you’re set!
♥ CLOTH DIAPER COVERS (NEWBORN)
Top Pick: Newborn Capri Diaper Covers x8
This system is my absolute preference for newborns (8 Blueberry Capri diaper covers + 24 Workhorse fitteds and 2 packs Capri Inserts for nighttime) because it’s the least expensive and most flexible. I have tried out all the popular diaper cover brands and Blueberry was the best (hands down) when I used fitted diapers (and the cover over them). I never had a leak!
♥ CLOTH DIAPER FITTEDS (NEWBORN – 3 MONTHS)
Top Pick: Cloth-eez Workhorse Fitted Diaper White Snap (Small) x24 newborn + x24 small
I LOVED these and got tons of compliments with how they worked. Newborn poo is runny and becomes more solid when switching to solid food at about six months. Because of the runny poo, many moms battle “blowout” diapers and leaks, especially when there is poo + urine that makes it extra runny. (I know, kinda gross). During this stage, I tried ALL KINDS of cloth diapers, even the systems where I read moms saying they never had a blowout or leak! But ALL leaked at least a little. For me, fitteds NEVER leaked. They were the absolute best!!! ( I used the newborn fitteds and the small fitteds, then I switched to prefolds as an insert + covers after Mae started eating solids.)
♥ CLOTH DIAPER INSERTS (FOR NIGHTTIME)
Top Pick: Capri Inserts Stay Dry Cotton Inserts – 2 PK (size 1 & size 2) x2 size 1 + x2 size 2
Why Capri Size One inserts? I scoured the internet for the insert that soaked up the most liquid used in overnights. This one came up over and over. They aren’t cheap! But buy one set or two sets and you’re good! My baby is over a year old and I still use these two capri inserts for overnights! Size 1 is for newborn to about six months. Size 2 can be used at six months but we waited till about a year.
♥ CLOTH DIAPER LINERS
Top Pick: OsoCozy Flushable Diaper Liners
Diaper liners are a life savor!!! We use diaper liners and did not purchase a diaper sprayer. In the end, I would suggest a sprayer like this one because those stomach bugs make diapers you don’t want to deal with! Though I would have used it only a handful of times. The liners caught everything most of the time and are amazing!
♥ CLOTH DIAPER COVERS (THREE – SIX MONTHS PLUS)
Top Pick: ALVABABY Baby Cloth Diapers One Size x10
These are diaper covers, basically just PUL with snaps and I love them. I only purchased about 10. The best combo with this cover that I found was using Nicki’s Cotton Prefolds, folded in half and used as an insert. I tried so many different inserts! Those were the best. This was by far the easiest cloth diapering system I used, plus it was crazy cheap.
♥ CLOTH DIAPER INSERT (THREE – SIX MONTHS PLUS)
Top Pick: Nicki’s Diapers GreatFit Cotton Prefolds (6 packs x4)
These go inside the diaper cover above. I purchased the small size and even practiced my folds on a stuffed bunny before Mae was born. Haha. I had it down! But then she was born a little over 5 Ibs. and was too small for the small size prefolds (I needed to buy the newborn size)! Plus, I found the folding way too much work and fuss, especially with the lack of sleep! I switched to Workhorse fitted diapers with a Capri Diaper Cover (listed above) and actually came back to prefolds once Mae started eating solids (around six months). Though this time, I used the prefold as and insert and folded them in half. Mae is almost 10 months old and the small size fits perfectly into the Alva Baby cover. This turned out to be my FAVORITE system!
♥ CLOTH DIAPER POCKET DIAPER (THREE – MONTHS PLUS)
Top Pick: ALVABABY Pocket Cloth Diapers x24
Instead of using the AlvaBaby cover above + Nikki’s prefolds, you could use the pocket diaper system. The above system (covers + prefolds/inserts) is around $70 total and this system is a couple hundred. These AlvaBaby pocket diapers come with a cheap microfiber insert. Use these but add a Thirsties hemp insert underneath it (listed below). They are an amazing insert! Why use this system instead of covers + inserts? When your baby starts walking, the cover + insert system bunches and can be ineffective. With all that movement, comparatively, the pocket system keeps the inserts in place. It’s also really nice to have the pocket diapers ready to go beside the changing table, where the covers + insert needs to be put together. Another con of the pockets is drying time takes a day and it does take a good 15/20 minutes to put them all together. Overall, since the cover + prefold system is pretty cheap, I recommend doing this until the walking stage and then going for the pockets.
♥ CLOTH DIAPER INSERT
Top Pick: Thirsties Hemp Inserts 2-pack, Size Large x12
I researched the heck out of the absolute BEST inserts for pocket diapers. These came up over and over and over again. I was hesitant to buy a name brand insert because they are a tad bit more pricey and I have had more success with brands not so commercialized. Keep in mind that hemp is a SUPER duper absorbent material so it should go underneath another insert. An insert so absorbent can cause rashes if placed against the skin. I loved the duo of AlvaBaby pocket diapers + the insert that came with them and this underneath them. Remember when prepping these to wash and dry them 4 or 5 times separately from any other laundry ( I know- what a pain). The oils from the natural fiber will stick to other laundry when prepping! Like any natural fiber insert, these take about 10 washes to become fully absorbent. Use cloth diaper safe laundry detergent like Allen’s, listed below!
♥ CLOTH DIAPER SAFE DIAPER CREAM
Top Pick: Motherlove Diaper Balm for Persistent Diaper Rash
This stuff is the greatest. All of the rashes we have had have been conquered quickly because of this rash cream. It is super amazing. Because it’s more pricey than basic diaper creams, when I start to see a little redness I use Burt’s Bees multipurpose ointment which is also a diaper safe cream and wont break the bank. If you are in a pinch and need diaper safe cream asap (usually cloth diaper safe creams you can’t really find in stores), use natural (organic) unrefined coconut oil. Coconut oil is cloth diaper safe.
♥ CLOTH DIAPER WIPES
Top Pick: Etsy Marleysmonsters 40 Pack Reusable Wipes (style: no preference) x1
ADORABLE wipes! I can’t recommend Marleysmonsters any higher. We’ve used these for 16 months now and they are holding up super well. They do get a tad rougher when washed a zillion times but even then, they are still fantastic. These are some of my favorite cloth diaper things!
♥ SPRAY BOTTLE
Top Pick: Spray Bottle, Frosted Assorted Colors x1
Instead of using anything fancy (like a wipe warmer) with our cloth diapers, we just use a simple spray bottle with water. You can use essential oils in the water (we did for a little bit) but we had some stubborn rashes and I found that basic water worked for us. Buy one for the changing table and one for the diaper bag!
♥ DIAPER PAIL
Top Pick: Hefty 13.3 Gallon Pivot Lid Trash Can – Black x1
The right diaper pail is ESSENTIAL when cloth diapering. Smell can be the sole reason people quit on cloth diapering and it’s all because they have the wrong pail or washing routine. Wash every other day and purchase a trash can like this one with a pivot lid. Very little to no smell. We have this exact trash can and it’s absolutely perfect. It was recommended to me by another cloth diaper blogger. The pivot allows for a little bit of breathing room and this actually helps with the smell. I know, it sounds backwards but if you shut off all the air to your dirty diapers that smell festers in bad ways. I use this trash can with the Planet Wise pail liners (below) and wash every other day. Check out my cloth diaper 101 blog post for my recommended washing routine.
♥ DIAPER PAIL LINER
Top Pick: Planet Wise Reusable Diaper Pail Liner x2
If you scour the internet like I did for the best cloth diaper pail liner, you will find that many have all sorts of complaints and for some reason, everyone just loves these Plant Wise liners. The Amazon reviews on this one are spot on. Buy two. When one is in the wash, one will be on the trash can. We have washed these every other day for over a year and they still look and work like brand new.
♥ WOOL DRYER BALLS
Top Pick: Woolzies Wool Dryer Balls Natural Fabric Softener, 3 Count x1
Dryer balls will help fluff up your cloth diaper inserts in the dryer and allow them to dry faster. There are a ton of wool dryer balls out there with various types of wool. I like Woolzies because the wool used is a very nice quality, they are a good size and they’ve held up amazingly well.
♥ DIAPER DRYING RACK
Top Pick: ClosetMaid 48″ Mounted Wire Shelf x1
To hang cloth diaper covers, you will need a place to do so. There are many ways people have done this. In order to maintain the integrity of the elastic gussets, the best way to hang your covers is sideways so that there is no pull on the gusset (see photo below). This shelf allows room to do so and fits all covers for one wash. It isn’t built the best but it’s low-cost, works great and is the perfect size and design for cloth diapers.
(Note: all 24 AlvaBaby pocket diapers are drying at once because they were brand new and just pre-washed. Usually I wash about 12 at a time. These diapers take ten minutes to stuff and put away.)
♥ CLOTH DIAPER LAUNDRY DETERGENT
Top Pick: Allens Naturally Liquid Soap Laundry Detergent 1 Gallon x1
When comparing all the lists of cloth diaper safe laundry detergent, Allen’s Naturally kept showing up at the top with all the positive checkmarks. I purchased this gallon size detergent at the very beginning of our cloth diaper journey and 16 months later, we STILL have plenty (using two pumps every other day). I think this one bottle will last one baby an entire cloth diaper lifespan from newborn to potty training. Why use a special laundry detergent for cloth diapers? Other regular brands coat fabric to repel (which is a no go!) and contain softeners, scent etc. that build up in fabric. These built-up soaps in your baby’s diaper will cause rashes and repel secretions against baby’s skin. This ruins your cloth diapers. Cloth diaper safe laundry detergent gently cleans cloth diapers safely so you can use them over and over and over!
♥ CLOTH DIAPER WET BAG (FOR TRAVEL)
Top Pick: Planet Wise Wet Diaper Tote Bag, Medium x2
Planet Wise is the best! These little wet diaper totes are the bomb and they come in such cute colors! I have two and wash our cloth diapers every other day. I wish I had three because I use these every day and have to use a plastic grocery bag when these are drying. They keep in smell perfectly and fit a great number of diapers (we’ve used them on trips and they hold an entire day’s worth of pocket diapers with all the inserts).
Top Pick: Mainstays Multi-purpose Hanger Clips x1
Okay so, hanger clips are obviously necessary for hanging up cloth diaper covers (they don’t belong in the dryer) but these are GREAT. They are super duper sturdy, plus you can add them to baby hangers and they clip in nicely. This allows you to hang pants, skirts etc.