Tuesday, March 8, 2011

a cloth diaper post - don't turn back now

Why would anyone want to cloth diaper?

Recently I've been asked (especially at work when I'm asked A LOT) why I wanted to start cloth diapering. First off, it wasn't a decision based on my carbon footprint or of my concern for our landfills - although it has become more and more evident to me how much of an impact disposables dipes really have on our environment. Not only do disposables greatly impact the environment, they also have a huge effect on the children wearing the dipe, as a recent study found that diapers release volatile organic chemicals. Yuck. Not only that, disposable diapers often contain dyes and dioxin, which is formed as a by-product of the chlorine bleaching process. Dioxin is a carcinogen, which means it can cause cancer. Yuck again and again and again.

Those are plenty reason enough for me to start doing anything to better the life and quality of life for my children - but the real selling point for me was the huge factor of cost. Many many places cite that using disposable diapers on your baby up to the age of 2 and 1/2 is at an average cost of up to $1,300 a year. Holy crap! That's a ton of money! You can easily cloth diaper your baby up to 2 and 1/2 for under $400 TOTAL. Here is a great site (don't be overwhelmed by her lingo - but she has the cheapest option as the first box and the most expensive option - disposables - as the very last box) that outlines all different types of diapers and their totals for diapering your baby until 2 and 1/2.

Anyway, that was what really intrigued me about cloth diapering. Cost, chemicals, the environment and, of course, the cute factor. I mean, seriously, I haven't seen a cuter bum than one in a cloth diaper.

Cloth Diaper Systems Explained

I've really been trying to figure out a way to explain cloth diapers in a way that people can understand - because I remember how overwhelmed I was when I started looking into CDing. So I'm going to lay out cloth diapers in a three system layout:

All In One: The name says it all. This is a cloth diaper that resembles a disposable diaper the closest. You literally put it on baby, baby wets diaper, you take diaper off and throw it in the diaper pail. This diaper is all sewn together so nothing comes apart and it has the waterproof outer as a part of the diaper so baby will get no wetness on clothes. This diaper is available in velcro (like a disposable) or snaps.

All In One Diaper
All In One Diaper Description

Pockets: This is a diaper that, like the All In One, is just put on and taken off of baby like a disposable. The only difference between a Pocket and an All In One is that there is an opening at the front/back/both ends of the diaper that allow for an insert to be put into. This insert is what forms the absorbency of the diaper. This diaper already has the waterproofing outer as part of the diaper, so nothing is getting past the dipe onto the clothes. This diaper is available in velcro (like a disposable) or snaps.

Pocket Diaper

Pocket Diaper Description

Prefolds with a Cover: This is the most economical option for CDing. A prefold is a rectangular piece of cloth divided into three sections where the outside layers contain 4 layers of fabric and the middle contains either 6-8 layers. The middle layer is the absorbent layer. (This can be described as 4x6x4 or 4x8x4.)

A prefold requires a diaper cover, which is an outer waterproof cover that goes over the prefold to waterproof the system. A prefold can either be trifolded into a diaper cover or it can be "Snappi-ed" onto the baby. A Snappi is like an Ace Bandage that adheres the diaper to the baby for a snug fit so no leaks occur inside the diaper cover. If a leak were to occur inside the cover, the cover stops the leak from getting onto baby's clothes. The diaper cover is available in velcro (like a disposable) or snaps.

Diaper Cover

Prefold Diaper with Snappi

Prefold "trifolded" into a Diaper Cover

Within these three basic systems, there are many more options and decisions that can be made (in relation to the kinds of fabrics that touch baby, snaps or velcro, a fitted diaper instead of a prefold diaper, kinds of  inserts/doublers, laundering, etc.) But I wanted to outline the three basic systems that exist in the CD world.

I'm really hoping this helps some of you out. Please do NOT hesitate to ask any questions and I will be better about looking and answering comments or questions.

Mike and I are looking forward to the moment when we are 100% exclusively cloth diapering, but during the transitional period that is our life right now - we haven't yet asked our generous babysitters to be a part of this adventure with us. I am so excited for the moment when my kids never wear a disposable again. 

I will then feel proud of how cute they look, how chemical-free their bodies will be, and how much money we are saving for our family.


'Nuff said.



  1. I think it's awesome you are sharing your cloth diaper knowledge with others...and I love the picture of Lia in her Best Bottom :)

  2. i think i need to get some of those for Rex. they are pretty darn cute. where do you work? i can get them there right?

  3. Hey Nellie - Aren't they so cute?? Rex would look adorable :) I work at Zoolikins - it's in Old Town Scottsdale... the address is 7118 E. 5th Avenue Scottsdale, AZ 85251. I work every Thursday and Saturday from 11a-6pm and Sunday 12p-5p.

    Yes we definitely have a bunch of cloth diapers at the store. I hope you can come! It's super helpful to be able to touch and feel and see what the options in cloth are :)

  4. I am completely fascinated (as weird as that may be) my only question is, what do you/other parents do when they are out for the day? Let's say you're taking a day trip to Disneyland, do you use disposable then? Is there some sort of method to preventing baby-mess from getting everywhere after you change the diaper and then have to hang onto the diaper? I realize now my question seems confusing


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