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Jen (yup, another one)

Really nice summary! Since we're just now washing our brand new diapers in anticipation of the almost imminent arrival, I can't add anything useful yet!


We're a cloth diapering household, and I think that you summed a lot of things up really well. A couple of points to add:

- You'll want to use 'sposies until all of the meconium passes, and perhaps until the umbillical cord stump falls off, so especially for 1st time parents, don't think that you have to master CDing immediately. We were using cloth diapers full time when Cole was about three weeks old, I'd guess.

- At one year old, we use 5 different types of diapers and 2 types of wraps. (I can list out what we used at different age/weight ranges if anyone wants me to...) Overnight is different than before the first nap, which is different than daytime, or going out of the house. It sounds like a headache, but once you have been doing it for a little while, it's intuitive and you don't give it much thought, kind of like dressing your kid properly for the weather or having the right things in your diaper bag for an outing.

- I think we've spent about $300 on cloth, and have used fewer than 12 packages of disposables (we go through about one a month). I bought new diapers when he was a newborn, which I was able to resell at a good price. All of the diapers he has now were gently used from eBay, except for the wraps which we bought new. Ebay is a CDer's BFF!

I'll add my two cents about washing and storage, too, when that's posted.


From a cost perspective, most of these options look like they are more expensive than using generic disposibles. Does the cost savings really only come into play if you have more than one kid?


We're planning on cloth for our upcoming baby, and we've gotten a lot of "you're nuts" and "you'll change your mind, there, there, dear." That drives me insane, since it's not like I'm asking other people to do it too or to change my child's diaper or do my laundry. I don't even bring it up unless specifically asked. 99% of the time, we show the complainer a pocket diaper or even a cover that is not a pair of rubber pants, and the tune changes to "Oh, I didn't know they were like that now...."
To the above point about cost - my husband worked out a spreadsheet, and even buying more expensive AIOs and pockets exclusively (which we like for convenience), we could still save a few hundred a year over disposables. If you go for sized diapers, you can get fairly good resale on eBay at each size change, which enables the next round of purchases to be subsidized. Or you can save them for the next baby, if that's in your cards. Buying disposables may feel less expensive because the cost per week is not as hefty as the one-time cloth start up cost, but once you add it up, it is higher. We did our price comparison vs. wholesale club prices for a name brand since we've gotten horror stories about leaky store brands. Of course everyone's brand experiences and preferences are different, but we also have reasons for wanting to do this besides pure cost - comfort of the baby, not liking the chemicals in gel diapers, and environmental factors. And...um...it's cuter.

Also: some friends have used cloth even during the meconium stage. They had no trouble washing it out, or you could use a liner. We'll give it a shot, and if it sucks, we'll hold off for a week. They do make fitteds with a space for the cord stump as well. I wouldn't warn someone off from doing it from birth as a general rule, although again this is an individual preference.

We're also doing cloth wipes and making our own wipes solution, which horrifies some people even more than the diapers.


I went all out on buying new pocket cloth diapers for my second child. I worked when my first was a baby and I thought I couldn't do cloth. The upfront cost seemed like a lot but they will definitely pay for themselves, especially if we have more kids. Even if we don't have more kids, you can sell them on ebay for 50-70% of what you pay for them, which is like extra money to me.

I agree that your ability to wash them in your home is one of the most important factors in choosing cloth from a practicality standpoint. I wash every third day and I couldn't imagine trekking to a laundromat that frequently, especially since I run my diapers through three cycles each time I wash them.

As a sidenote, I recently found your site and love it! Thanks for all the great thoughts!


I knew that my son would be in daycare, so I went with pocket diapers in the hopes that I could convince the daycare to go along. Luckily, both of his daycare providers have used the cloth with no complaints: his current provider even occasionally dumps the poop into the toilet for me. We do occasionally buy disposables, for traveling, or for when I haven't had a chance to stuff before leaving for the morning, or for when he's had really bad diaper rash that required creams, etc.

For me, the hardest part of cloth diapering wasn't which diapers to choose at all: It was figuring out a wash routine that would work for us and our really hard water. But even with that headache, I haven't regretted it in the least. I joked about letting my inner hippie shine, what with the cloth diapering, the breastfeeding, and the sling-wearing, none of which are at all common around here.

And since I'm currently expecting again, I'm excited that diapering is going to be pretty much free, since I already have all the diapers, etc., that I need!

Jen (yup, another one)

Our initial diaper set up has not cost much at all because we registered for various cloth diapers, covers, etc. Some of the CD websites offer their own registries (www.treecitydiapers.com/store for one) but we used www.felicite.com, which has several different stores affiliated with it (and covers much more than just diapers). It was kind of a two-fer: we got the diapers we wanted and less stuff we wouldn't have wanted (e.g. fancy clothes that would be outgrown in seconds).

If you think you'll be having a shower and your friends or relatives are tech-savvy enough to buy online, it's definitely an option to consider.

Cat, Galloping

Okay but I have to ask... don't they leak? How can they not leak? Cloth diapers just seems so messy and smelly, not to mention time consuming. Please explain! :)


cat, cloth diapers fit just as snugly as disposables do, sometimes moreso, when used with a cover. they're no smellier than disposables, and a good deal less messy, in my experience.

and because it's easier to link and run, here are links to my two overlong treatises/manuals/commentaries on cloth diapering, first up is getting started and second is for using cloth with a toddler:



I realize now I should have been more specific about the 'waiting until the umbillical cord fell off'. Cole was a small baby, and even with the cut-out, the rise of the diapers was too high. But that was specific to him, not generalizable.

As far as mess and smell goes, because you're washing diapers every few days, it's not like a pail sitting around for weeks and weeks. You toss them in the wash with an extra hot cycle and/or rinse, and maybe put some vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser (it neutralizes and softens the diapers, doesn't make them smell like vinegar at all) and they are good as new. Especially before the solid food phase (and with a breastfed baby), the diapers don't really smell like anything at all.


So can I ask everyone...
if one were a mother of, oh say, an 11 month old, and just getting her first washer and dryer and wanted to try CDing but didn't want to put out a big outlay until she was sure she wanted to switch to cloth...
what would you recommend buying to try it out? I was thinking of getting, like, 5 diapers (AIOs or pockets probably) but don't know what to get. Also I'm in Canada and the only CDs I've seen in stores here are Kooshies.


Thanks, Moxie. Looking forward to Part 2.


I know you may be wanting to avoid favoring brands or whatever, but a picture of each type would really help. This is a primer for me on cloth diapering so I can't really picture each type. Help please? where can I find pics of each type?


Cas, I switched at about the same age, and I ordered a wonderoo, two fuzzi bunz, and a happy heiney to start. These were the top-rated pocket diapers at www.diaperpin.com. To my surprise, fuzzi bunz did not fit Jamie at ALL, although he's growing into the two we have. Happy heiney's work best for us, but it all depends on your child.

I love love love the bumGenius one-size diaper from cottonbabies.com, they just weren't out when we switched. I'd definitely try one of these as well.

Diaperpin.com is a great resource, and I found the cding board at babycenter.com quite helpful with early questions I had.

Lisa C.

I switched when my son had just turned two, and we use all pocket diapers (Fuzzi Bunz). My initial cost was about $400 for 21 diapers and some accessories (pail liners, wetbags, wipes, etc.). I've spent some more money on fancy diaper things, but overall I still know that I've spent less on cloth this last year than I would have on disposables.

The great thing about Fuzzi Bunz is that they are easy. The only PITA thing about them is the stripping, but you only have to do that once in a while.

I also found that the cloth diapers and wipes are better for my son's sensitive skin. His rashes are mainly caused by sitting too long in poop (he hides and resists changes so much!). I think he was allergic to most disposable wipes.


My husband has absolutely no problem with breastfeeding, (hopefully) tandem nursing, delayed solids, babywearing, infant signing, and other so-called crunchy things, but won't get on board with cloth diapers for #2. (The washer/dryer in-house is a pretty new acquisition.)

That being said, if #2 were to have the skin sensitivities that Lisa C. mentioned, I have a feeling he could be convinced very easily. Our daughter, despite being red-headed and pale, doesn't have sensitive skin...and 99% of the time she poops at home and gets whisked off to be changed right away.

Moxie, thanks for the writeup!


We got 6 weeks of a diaper service as a gift. And honestly, it's a pain in the ass. The babe has super sensitive skin, so she breaks out in the service diapers unless we rinse them or put a fleece liner between her and them. So, it isn't saving us much laundry. Apparently, it's not uncommon for babies to have problems with the soap/fabric softener/rinse aid/anti-fungal stuff the services use. So, know that before you pay for a bunch of time with a service.

Also, we've found that disposables leak way more on her, so we've just stopped using them. And disposable wipes also bother her skin, so we are all cloth all the way.

I love the fitted kis-a-luvs. Love them, but we only have 3. They are for going out.


You and subsequent commenters pretty much covered it. I love prefolds and have even ditched the snappi in favor of pins -- old school and retro cool! And surprisingly easy. (Plus I've made some fitted diapers -- elastic legs and back, with their own velcro closures -- out of old t-shirts.)

Our only issue has been dealing with our hard water. Other than that -- no rashes, no smelliness, no leaking (which is more than I can say for the disposables, argh).

boxing octopus

like kate, i can't get my husband on board with cloth diapers. so we make ourselves feel better by imagining what a gigantic ecological footprint the duggar family is making.


We love our FuzziBunz. I bought several used from friends so they were very affordable. I typically stuff with an infant prefold and a microfiber towel from the auto dept. I also have hemp inserts.

DH was anti until he joined me at (crunchy hippie) playgroup one day, where we were the only non-CDers. He watched and was sold.

I really think cloth is more convenient and more sanitary, as well as healthier for my son (studies have shown various problems, including an impact on boys' fertility as adults). Plus it's a lot easier to snap a diaper on a toddler who's walking/crawling away :)


For those using cost to decide between CDing and disposables: Before my daughter was born, I plotted all sorts of ways to save on disposable diapers. I thought I'd buy generics, buy in bulk, buy whatever was on sale, etc., but I learned through way too much trial and error that not all diapers are cut the same. Only one brand of diaper fits my baby's body and therefore does not leak (about 98% of the time).

Wanna guess which brand it was? I'll save you the effort: it was one of the two priciest, of course. I've got a plan now for #2, and it involves CDing at least part-time, but then, I've got my own washer now...


The hierarchy of what is best for the environment changes based on the local environment. In a country with very limited water supplies, disposables might be more responsible than cloth for those who are diapering.


I have been thinking about using cloth on my 15-month old for a while now, and this has convinced me to give it a try. At the risk of sounding like a complete fool, if I'm going to use a pocket diaper (sounds like the one I'll try first for convenience), all I need is the diaper and the insert? I've read some things that (to the uninformed) make it sound like you need a separate cover with these too. This discussion is great - it's been so informative.


Bridgette, with a pocket diaper all you need is the pocket and the insert, and you can use an infant-size prefold or a microfiber towel from the automotive department as the insert if you want.

Anon, I've been thinking about your comment, and agree in theory, but I have a hard time thinking of a place that would have limited water resources that would not have a culture that didn't use diapers to begin with. I'd think there would be a huge problem with contamination from disposible diapers leeching into the small water source, also. Are you thinking of a specific example, or was this just a thought?

Jen (yup, another one)

I'd also like to add in response to anon that you can take that argument a lot further - wouldn't it then be better in those environments to have disposable clothing? or dishes? or utensils? etc? But no one proposes that....


I just want to mention one tiny thing. I hesitate to even do this because I love you Moxie and all your very sound advice. But "institutional daycare" is a phrase that really hurts my ears and heart. "Child care center" would work just as well.


I appoligize if someone already mentioned this and I missed it... I just have to recommend looking into used diapers when you start out. There is a HUGE cloth diaper market on Ebay. Also, DiaperSwappers is great. I'm not squemish about used diapers and started out cloth diapering for under $30 (used PULs from ebay, homemade doublers, prefolds from my Mom left over from my younger brothers! Good prefolds hold up pretty well!)

As for leaking... I don't think I've ever had a blowout from my PULs (sometimes they do soak through, though, but not bad). I've had TONS of blowouts from disposable diapers.

Thanks for recommending pockets for night time. I might look into that. I'm currently using paper diapers at night because I just couldn't figure out what to do about that!


No need to apologize, Mayberry. I was trying to distinguish between at-home and "regular" daycare and couldn't come up with the common term for a center (sleep-deprivation-induced aphasia, I think). I'll go back in and change it in the original post this evening.


And don't forget these they look pretty environmentally good!


Moxie, I read your blog and love it, but never comment for fear of the attitude you mention above. I'm one of the 'women turning 60' (next month) and I was a cloth diaper user and have kept up with the latest developments due to my interest in the environment and the fact that I continue to work with young children. So, please, please, don't presume that those of us over 60 have nothing to offer. I was a breast feeding mom with two non-interventionist style deliveries during the seventies and I was considered odd at the time for those practices--I hate to think I'm still odd because I've 'kept up' with developments in the diaper field. Thanks for this and your own great blogs.


Moxie, thank you for your gracious response to my comment. One example might be Israel, of the past if not the present.

Jen, your point is well-taken. A difference I see, however, are that diapers need more careful and intense cleaning than clothing and dishes and utensils do.


Sorry I'm commenting on this post so late. I don't have kiddies yet so I don't know for sure, but all of these ideas are swirling around in my mind. What I do know for sure is that anon is right about the water situation in a place like Israel. I live there (Israel) and I can tell you that water is a very precious and scarce resource. I wash dishes differently than I did in the U.S., and we definetely go longer between clothes washes. I personally would love to use cloth when the time comes, but my husband (who is super pro environment) and I have definetely had discussions about whether the use of water would be worse for the environment. I would cringe to have to do a load of wash everyday (environmentally not work wise). At least we have lots of sunshine to dry them :). Point is, anon has a valid concern and I'll have to consider the same thing when the time comes. Moxie, it really is a great post.


Supposedly the water demand for washing diapers is no more than for flushing the toilet several times a day--especially if you have a high-efficiency washing machine. Our front-loading washer uses very little water.

Also, EC (elimination communication) might be an option that's used sometimes in places with little water--no diapers at all, either disposable or cloth.

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