Basic Information on Cloth Diapering

This post contains some basic information about cloth diapering and how Padded Tush Stats works. We will continue to update it regularly, so feel free to ask some questions that we can answer on here.

First off, if you are looking into cloth diapering, I highly recommend that you check out this brief introductory video about cloth diapering:

How many cloth diapers do I need?

People generally say 18-24 cloth diapers. Obviously a newborn will go through closer to the 20-24 range. I recommend getting a variety. Many people will use newborn diapers for babies under 10 pounds, then once their babies hit the 10 pound mark, they can be in One Size diapers from then on out (or you can buy sized diapers, it is just a little more expensive since you have to keep buying the next size up). In a Padded Tush Stats survey, we found that a whopping 37% use prefolds to cloth diaper their newborn. These are very inexpensive (roughly $17 for a dozen). If you are just starting with cloth, I recommend you get a dozen of those and then a few one size diapers and some all in one diapers. Although prefolds are relatively easy, I am a firm believer that no Mom new to cloth diapering should get anywhere near a Snappi in the middle of the night.

How often do I wash the diapers?

You wash every 2-3 days. Check out the video above to see how easy it is. It’s not as scary as you probably think.

What else would I need?

* Wipes (around 30)

* Wet bag or diaper pail with pail liner

* Cloth diaper safe detergent (although many people use Tide, even if that does void the diaper’s warranty)

* Diaper sprayer (optional, but awesome) or diaper liners

* Smaller wet bag to go in the diaper bag

* A few “doublers” (which are like mini diaper inserts) to increase absorbency

You can see some of our favorite cloth diapering products by going HERE.

What is the price comparison between cloth diapering and disposable diapering?

When I was couponing and using disposables, I paid roughly .11-.17 per diaper. Now that is if you are looking for a really good deal, other than that, it is close to around .20 – .35 per diaper. If you look at the cost of cloth diapers, as well as detergent, energy to wash them, and water cost, it is roughly .06 per diaper (www.diaperdecisions.com) and that is not considering the fact that you can take those diapers and use them on the next baby. I am a huge proponent of Swagbucks, which is a program where you earn points by searching the internet using their search engine and you can cash in the points for Amazon gift cards. I buy many of my diapers using that (see this article for some of our tips for using Swagbucks). So you can get a large portion of your stash for free. You can also get diapers used on Diaper Swappers, Craigslist, and many other places (even many cloth diaper retailers carry used diapers as well as new ones). In this post, we break down the hidden costs of disposable diapering and cloth diapering.

I hear a lot of people talk about their complicated washing routine, it is that bad?

I heard a great quote one time: “A complicated washing routine is just a simple washing routine not yet figured out.” I completely agree with that. I recommend you start with the basics: wash your diapers with the recommended detergent amount (that is on the package of your detergent–we recommend Tide Original Powder). Start with a rinse, then a heavy duty wash, and then follow it with a rinse (some machines may have an extra rinse built into the wash cycle). We have a suggested washing routine HERE. If you come across any lingering stink issues, you can use our handy troubleshooting chart HERE. Also, if you are having issues, please feel free to contact us. We can help you figure out what you may do to tweak things based on your machine type and water type.

What about when I am out and about, what do I do?

You don’t really need to do much different. Just have a small wet bag in your diaper bag. I recommend using disposable liners when you are out and about, so you can flush the poopy part out of the diaper rather than lug it around all day, wafting off bad fumes ;) Some people like to use hybrid diapers, which are cloth diapers lined with disposable inserts. What is the point of that? Well, these have much less harsh chemicals than disposables, plus cloth diapers are notorious for preventing those up the back explosions you get from disposables, so you get that added benefit.

What is with all of the confusing terms?

The cloth diapering world contains many odd words. Snappy? Boingo? Liner? Insert? We help sort it out for you. Bookmark our Cloth Diapering Dictionary. If ever you hear a term that you don’t know, just head on over there and get a definition (and sometimes we often have a picture to go with the explanation).

How can the stats at this website help me?

We basically eliminate a lot of work for you here. When I started cloth diapering, I bought a lot of diapers that just didn’t work well for my heavy wetter. Over time, I found out that listening to just one review on a diaper isn’t enough, since that diaper performance is being evaluated based on how it works with one particular baby. That is why here people fill out surveys on diapers they have tried on their babies and the results are sorted by baby characteristics (such as a heavy wetter, rash prone baby, chunky baby, etc). It is also sorted by things like fit, absorbency, trimness, etc. So you just come here looking for what is important to you in a diaper, and you can then compare statistics on how different diapers work in that category. We have detailed reviews that tell you all about the diaper and include tips from survey respondents on how to maximize a diaper’s power. We also have a Retailer Database that allows you to search for retailers based on the kinds of diapers they sell, location, and shipping costs. You are also welcome to ask us any questions that you may have.

You can find a list of informative articles to get you started here.

We answer a little more detailed questions HERE.

Let us know if you have any other questions, we would be happy to help! Comment here or email carolyn@paddedtushstats.com

Tara Porter

Tara Porter began using cloth diapers in 2011 when she felt that using disposable diapers was costing too much money. The problem was, a lot of the highly recommended diapers weren’t working for her baby. What she finally discovered was that her baby was skinny and a heavy wetter, and that diapers worked differently for those baby types. Because of her professional work with survey design and statistics, she designed Padded Tush Stats as a way to determine how different cloth diapers worked on different babies.

Tara moved on to other career endeavors in 2014 but can still be found online blogging about health and fitness at Fit Baby Steps.
  • Bekah

    I was JUST telling a friend (who is planning on CDing) about your website today! This is a great overview of all you have to offer and a good starting place…will be passing this along! Thank you!

  • Michelle

    I am relatively new to CDing. We use prefolds exclusively on our 16 month old daughter and 6 week old son. I read people saying that for their heavy wetters, they use 2 prefolds at night in a cover. My kids both can saturate 2 prefolds within an hour. We use diaper service quality prefolds and they are well prepped. There is no room in the budget to buy pockets as some people suggest. How can we get out of disposables at night?

    • Alexandra

      Try adding a super absorbent booster/extra insert at night! A hemp blend booster works a charm here.

  • Alyshia

    I’m new to cloth diapering(plan on using them with my new baby) and am a little overwhelmed with all the choices. I want something that is convenient, reliable, and easy to use but not too expensive for this reason I think the one size diapers would be best for me. If you could give me your top recommendations on the best one size diaper in each of these categories: all-in-two, pocket, and all in one, that you have used it would be great. Also, if you could only have one diaper in your stash– which diapers would you choose(if you could give me your top three choices and why you like them so much it would be so helpful)? I’m trying to narrow down my list of diapers to try so that I don’t waste too much money with trial and error, after all one of my primary goals with cloth diapering is to save money:)

    Thanks so much for your help,
    Alyshia

    • Tara

      Hi Alyshia,
      I totally understand your feeling overwhelmed. I’ve been there! Let me tell you what I personally like
      My favorite diaper overall right now is the bumGenius Freetime. I don’t know how that one works on a newborn, but I like it on my babies right now. I also like the discontinued bum genius all in ones, that you may be able to get used somewhere.
      AIO – bumGenius Freetime
      Pocket – Kawaii Heavy Duty or bumGenius 4.0
      All in Two – Softbums Omni and Best Bottom Diapers
      I am also a big fan of prefolds with covers. They are inexpensive, which is wonderful. I liked that during the newborn phase. Good luck and feel free to contact me if you have issues. I recommend signing up for swag bucks if you aren’t already, that’s how I get many of my cloth diapers for free. Search “Swagbucks” on my website to see my article for tips on this.

      Good luck!

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  • Kate

    I have a 2 1/2 year old little girl (well not so little anymore, she’s probably about 40 lbs.) and I would like to start cloth diapering now for our remaining time in diapers and hopefully be able to use them with any future children we have. What would you recommend for us as far as brands and types, and is it even possible to start this late in the game with cloth diapers?
    Thank you!

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      It’s never too late to start using cloth! My only concern would be that most OS diapers max out around 35 pounds or so (though of course it does vary by brand). I’m going to post on our Facebook wall and see what brands people would recommend!

    • Heather

      My 40 lb. 3-year old just potty trained and we used BumGenius diapers from 7 weeks until about 3 weeks ago. He’s a stocky kid and the BG 4.0s fit well for him right up to the end.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/ashley.outlawito Ashley Elizabeth Outlaw-Ito

    Hello All, I’m new to this whole thing. Preggers with #2 and I’m going to try cloth diapers. I have some questions. Just to clarify, AIOs and Pocket diapers can only be used once, correct? The difference is with pocket diapers you can add inserts to increase absorbancy? With AI2s and Hybrids, the inserts just get changed and you wipe out the cover and put in a new insert, correct? Are the inserts with AI2s and hybrids different than the ones for pocket diapers? Why don’t I hear more about AI2s and hybrids. To me, it seems logical to reuse the cover. Is there a downside to them or is it personal preference. Forgive my stupidity and thanks for the help.
    -Ash

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      You are correct with your descriptions of AIOs, pockets, and AI2s/hybrids. Pocket diaper inserts are usually microfiber, which isn’t supposed to go directly against baby’s skin and so isn’t used in AI2s. (I think most AI2 inserts are some kind of cotton or else are stay-dry, so they’re microfiber topped with suedecloth). AI2s are a fantastic and more economical option, and the only downside is that they’re less like disposable diapers. Pockets and AIOs are generally better for daycare or babysitters, or family members who are reluctant to use cloth or easily intimidated by any extra steps ;) An even more economical option can be using prefolds or flats with covers – you can fold and pin/Snappi them, but you can also just fold them and lay them in the cover, which is usually easy enough for other caregivers to do ;)

  • Sasha

    Wish I found this article when I was just starting to cloth diaper. Very helpful :)

  • Shalaina S

    I read the post about cloth diapring a circumsised newborn and loved it!!! I had never even thought ahead with regards to having to care for his precious package, lol. I’m going to be a third time mommy, with our first boy and first in cloth :)

  • Bee

    So excited to let my sis-in-law know about this! I just made her some organic baby wipes – trying to encourage all things natural for my little niece ;)

  • amac

    Thanks for the starter info

  • Michelle Lee

    Can’t wait to share this info with my friend who is considering cloth diapering!

  • Katie

    I just switched to Tide and my diapers are now coming out clean!

  • Amanda Lea

    I am considering cloth with next baby, great info!

  • LORI

    Hi! I am just considering switching to cloth diapers and have an almost 2 year old and an almost 7 month old. I have a friend giving me some bum genius pockets and AIO’s to start (probably about 15, and not quite sure of the breakdown). I’ve been browsing your site and Since we have to diaper two kiddos for the next 6 months to a year- it seems like AI2s or prefolds and covers sound like the best thing for me to invest in. I was just wondering what the difference between “inserts” and prefolds are? Can inserts (like the Thirsty’s hemp or geffen baby) go directly into a cover? ( like the blueberry capri?). Are the “covers” that go over prefolds the same as the “covers” in the AI2 system?s I have just been going through all of your favorites and best of 2013 and trying to piece together what will work for us. Thanks!!

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      Haha, you’ve managed to touch on a very grey area that I’ve been talking to a lot of bloggers and readers about lately (and nobody can agree!) :) Personally, I think of an AI2 as a cover that is designed to work with a specific insert (so they generally snap together, or at least are sold as a set). But AI2 covers can always be used with other inserts (sometimes you can actually snap one brand of insert into another brand of cover, but that’s not always the case). I’ve used prefolds in GroVia, SoftBums, and Flip covers, which are both sold as AI2s with their own inserts (I just didn’t end up liking their inserts as much, necessarily!) Most of the time when people talk about inserts, they mean something that is already sized to just lie in a cover or a pocket diaper (so the Geffen Quick Absorbers or Thirsties hemp inserts) but the Flip organic inserts are sized and meant to be trifolded like a prefold, so you can see what I mean when I say it’s a grey area with a lot of overlap :) At it’s heart, an insert is something absorbent and a cover is something waterproof – you can almost always use the items with one another :) What I would definitely recommend would be a cloth diaper trial, so that you can have a chance to try out a few different systems (maybe an official AI2, maybe some prefolds and covers, and maybe a few other brands of AIOs or pockets) just to make sure the one you THINK you’ll like actually is the one you want to invest in (and then you can also make sure that they system you like on paper fits both of your kids well!) I hope that helped ;)

      • LORI

        Thanks SO much for the response! I just emailed you because I hadn’t see your reply yet…but you touched on everything here. So Thank you! So basically…A12s are basically the same thing as covers with prefolds (trifolded), but marketed as a set it seems…And inserts could be laid in a cover just as well as stuffed in a pocket?? Any recs on which works the absolute best??!?! Also any recs on your favorite trial service?? My next order of business is to dig into the retailer database:) Thank you again! LORI

  • Kristi

    This is very helpful and I’m bookmarking for future reference! I’m just starting my cloth diaper stash for our guy due in April and trying to determine how many NB sizes I need to buy vs. the One-Size to make cloth diapering cost effective for us in the long run.

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