Cloth Diapers
spring clean

Cloth Diapers: The Ins And Outs

For two to three years, your baby’s life—and yours—will be dominated by diapers. Lots of them. Newborns typically need to be changed 10 to 12 times a day. By the time your child can sleep through the night, that number goes down to about eight changes per day. Some parents choose to use cloth diapers over disposable ones because they are reusable and green, cost-efficient, and adorable. If you are considering using cloth diapers for your baby, here are some things to know:

How They Work

The basic design of a cloth diaper is based on a waterproof outer cover with an absorbent interior. There are three broad styles:

  1. A flat diaper, which is essentially a rectangular cloth that you wrap around the baby and secure with fasteners. (The cloth acts as the absorbent interior.) Over the flat diaper, the baby wears a cover made of waterproof material.
  2. A pocket diaper is a cover with a built-in interior pouch that holds an absorbent insert. The insert is washable and reusable.
  3. An all-in-one diaper is most similar in design to a disposable diaper. The cover is waterproof, but instead of relying on a pocket insert the entire interior is absorbent.

How To Clean Them

You’ll want to start by disposing of solid waste. There are ways to make this task easy (and not so icky)—most notably flushable inserts that work with all styles of cloth diapers, and sprayers that attach to your toilet and remove solid waste with a stream of water. Once solid waste is removed, simply place used cloth diapers in a pail with a liner, then throw them into the wash every two to three days. (Cloth diapers come with explicit care instructions, but in general they require an extra wash and/or rinse.) You can use the same detergent that you use for your baby’s clothes or buy a special cloth-diaper detergent. No bleach is necessary. Diaper covers should generally be air-dried because dryers can damage the waterproof coating.

How Many You Need

Here’s where the math adds up: Once you find the brand that fits well, and assuming you wash a load of diapers every two to three days, you’ll only need about 30 cloth diapers to carry your child through potty training.