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The Dirty Details on Cloth Diapers

So, you're interested in using cloth diapers? Well, I'm glad you're here, and I can't wait to share all my favourite tips and tricks about them.

1. How Many Diapers Do You Need?

You're going to need a minimum of 12 diapers. For a newborn, this means that you would be doing laundry every day. To avoid some unnecessary stress, I think 20-24 diapers is a good number to start with.

2. What Kind Of Diaper Should You Choose?

This is where it gets more complicated. There are so many different kinds of cloth diapers including pre-folds, all-in-ones and pocket diapers (just to name a few). Personally, I find pocket diapers the most affordable, easiest to use and most absorbent. That being said, it does take extra time to stuff them with inserts, but once you get into the swing of things it's really nothing to worry about. There are hundreds of styles out there but my personal favourites are Charlie Banana (see adorable photo!) and Kawaii. Other brands include, BumGenius, GroVia, Alva Baby and Bambina Mio.

3. Where Do You Store Dirty Diapers?

Once the diaper has been peed or pooped in, in can be stored in a "wet bag" until wash day. I recommend having two of the extra large size so that when you wash one, you have another to use until it's dry. The wet bags can be turned inside out and added right into the wash cycle. How many diapers you have will determine how often you wash your diapers, but I wouldn't wait more than 3-4 days in most instances. Some wet bags have a zipper, which when closed actually keeps the smell away! I do not recommend storing diapers in a bucket of water as this can be dangerous to babies on the move, and can harbour bacteria (ick!)

4. How Do You Wash Dirty Diapers?

If your baby is exclusively breastfed, the poop is water soluble so there is no need to rinse them first. However, formula fed babies or babies that have been introduced to solids will need their diapers rinsed before being washed. You can do this with a diaper sprayer such as the one from BumGenius OR, you can make your own for a lot less! Click here for the link. Washing cloth diapers is actually pretty easy. Follow the steps below for most washing machines!

- remove inserts from pocket diapers

- make sure load is full

- turn on prewash cycle with cold water

- add 3/5 line of POWDERED TIDE laundry detergent

- wash again on a heavy duty cycle in hot water with 5/5 line of powdered Tide laundry detergent

- dry inserts in dryer, hang shells to dry

You may notice that you still have stains on the inserts. Thats OK! Your diapers are likely still clean (a smell test will let you know for sure). Hang any stained diapers outside while wet, facing the sun. The sun will remove any remaining stains.

5. Cloth Diaper Accessories

There are a few things you should buy in addition to your diapers and large wet bag. My first recommendation is a couple of smaller wet bags (they hold 2-3 diapers and are great to put in the diaper bag). Secondly, some people may prefer to use disposable inserts. These paper type inserts would go inside the diaper and can be tossed into the toilet or diaper pail as to avoid staining your cloth. The third item I would consider investing in is a cloth diaper laundry service. These types of services actually provide the diapers for you. Once a week, they pick up the bag of dirty diapers and leave you a brand new bag at your door (amazing right!). There is a cost associated with this obviously, but it may be a nice idea for the early postpartum period.

6. What Kind Of Diaper Cream Can You Use?

Any petroleum free cream is safe for cloth diapers (petroleum can make inserts less absorbent over time). I would personally recommend the Burts Bees Baby Bee Ointment or the Live Baby Non-Petroleum Jelly. Both are affordable and can be found almost anywhere.

7. Over Night Solutions

My overnight solution is pretty simple. I fold a flour sack towel, add a 3 layer bamboo insert, topped with a 2 layer hemp insert. I put all of that inside a pocket diaper and have had really good success with it (although it is a bit bulky for smaller babies). Other people prefer a wool cover for overnight or have had success with the GroVia ONE diaper.

8. Local Resources

Although not entirely local to the Haldimand-Norfolk area, my first recommendation would be BareFoot Babies in Hamilton, Ontario. They have absolutely every product i've mentioned above (and then some), and the most amazing staff that will help you pick out exactly what you need for your baby. As a doula, I teach classes on cloth diapering right inside your own home! Feel free to visit my website HERE or send an e-mail to for more information.

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