Why Use Cloth Diapers? TOP


This is a question I have been asked on numerous occasions when others discover that I use cloth diapers.  I have encountered wrinkled noses, raised eyebrows and looks of dismissal.  At first I found myself defending my decision, but I now look at these encounters as opportunities to share the benefits of cloth diapering.  There are three main reasons people look into using cloth diapers.

  1. "Being Green"
  2. Saving Money
  3. The Health of Baby

The first thing that hooked me was the savings over using disposable diapers.  Once I began researching I discovered the environmental benefits, and finally the benefits to my daughter played a role.

  • Let's talk money first.  The estimated cost of disposable diapers from birth to potty training is between $1500 and $2500!  Most of us don't think about this total when we are planning for the arrival of our baby.  We simply accept that we are going to have to buy diapers and give it little more thought.  Cloth diapering offers you the opportunity to diaper your child for as little as an average of 1/3 less than the cost of disposables, plus you can use them on subsequent children.  For more information on the cost of cloth diapering, see the following question.
  • In addition to the money you can save by using cloth diapers, consider the landfill space you will save.  If you were to change your baby 8 times a day for 3 years, you would be contributing 8,760 diapers to your local landfill.  Even if you plan to have your child potty trained before age three and you take into consideration that you may not change your child 8 times a day when he/she is a toddler, the average family throws away roughly 6,000 diapers per child before potty training is complete!  No one really know how long it takes for a disposable diaper to decompose, but the estimates range from 250 to 500 years.(1)  If you think about it disposable diapers have not been around for 250 years, so not a single disposable diaper in history has actually decomposed to date!  In addition, nearly 3.5 billion gallons of oil are used to produce the 18 billion throwaway diapers that Americans toss each year.  If that number does not scare you-did you know that it takes at least 2/3 cup of oil to make just one disposable diaper?(5)

Did you know that disposing of human waste in the landfill is illegal?  That means you are supposed to shake the poop from       disposable diapers into the toilet.  There is a tiny advisory notice on packages of disposable diapers, but only a small percentage of users are aware of this and follow it.

(1) http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/diaperfacts.php
(2) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-grayson/eco-etiquette-how-can-i-c_b_572807.html


  • Comfort for you little one is paramount.  I cannot imagine spending my entire day in paper/plastic underwear, and while you could argue that most babies no nothing different, I would argue that they shouldn't have to. Consider the contents of a typical disposable diaper.  They contain, among other things, Dioxin (a carcinogenic chemical banned in most countries and listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-causing chemicals) and Tributyl-tin (a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems).  Finally, sitting in a disposable diaper has been known to raise the scrotal temperature in boys and prolonged use of disposable diapers will blunt or completely eliminate the physiological testicular cooling mechanism important for spermatogenesis (similar to warnings against prolonged usage of laptop computers on laps of young men or prolonged hot tub exposure).(3)

In addition babies in cloth tend to have less diaper rash, sensitive skin can breathe, and toddlers in cloth tend to potty train earlier.

(3) http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/diaperfacts.php


Bonus: No more late-night trips to buy disposable diapers!

How much do I need to invest in cloth diapers? TOP

Ahh, the money.  This is what it comes down to for a lot of us.  First, you have to remember that the key word is investment.  You will be using these diapers for some time.  You are not going to be throwing them away.  In addition, used diapers (that have been kept in good shape) sell very well, allowing you to make back 25% to 50+% of the money you put into them.  Cloth diapers can also be used for more than one child making the savings over disposable diapers even higher.  Various estimates put the cost of disposable diapers (for one child) somewhere between $1500 and $2500 dollars.  It is possible to cloth diaper your child for less than a third of the cost of disposables, plus you can reuse these diapers for you next child/children!

The upfront cost of cloth diapering can be off-putting.  Why spend $200-$600 dollars to start cloth diapering if you can buy a pack of disposables for less than $20?  My answer, because you aren't throwing the $200-$600 dollars away like you are the $20.  Once that bag or jumbo box of disposables is gone, you have to buy a new one!

There are diapers covering all price ranges.  If you choose to use Flats or Prefolds you could diaper your child/children for as little as $200.  If, instead, you choose to use Pockets, All-in-Ones, or All-in-Twos you will notice a jump in price.  The price you pay correlates to the ease of use of the diaper.  Remember, you do not have to use all of one kind of diaper.  You might go with Prefolds at home, have a few All-in-Two's for going out, and Pockets for night; or whatever combination works best for you.

Yes, there are some very expensive diapers available.  This is not unlike the clothes, cars, or houses we buy.  We pay more for more frills. Here are a few things to think about about. Better quality fabrics and convenience cost more.  Buy what suits your family's needs and your budget best.  Also, keep in mind that you don't wear the same thing every day, and you have different clothes for different occasions.  When I began my cloth diapering journey, I thought I needed to pick one type of diaper and commit to it.  Not true.  I love Fitteds for running around at home, Wool and a good quality Fitted for night, and an All-in-Two for going places.  Additionally, you don't have to buy everything you need right away.  Buy as you can if you need to.  One less disposable diaper thrown away is one less!


Let's break it down.

Convenience--If you are cloth diapering help protect the environment or keep unwanted chemicals off your baby's little bottom, All-in-One, All-in-Two, or Pocket diapers are for you.  These options are great for those looking for a diaper as easy to change as a disposable.  All-in-Ones will be the most like a disposable, then, Pockets, finally, All-in Twos.

Economy--If you are cloth diapering to save money, Contours, Prefolds, or Flats + Covers are a great way to make you money go the furthest.  Since the covers are reusable between changes, you only need to change the inner layer (although most let the cover air-dry between changes).  Prefolds and flats will be cheaper than contours.

Convenience & Economy--If you are looking to save money and want ease of use, consider a combination.  Mix and match to suit your needs.  You may want some All-in-Ones or Pockets Daycare or trips to the grandparents, some Fitteds and a Wool Cover for overnight, and Prefolds and Covers for daytime.  Fitteds are more expensive than Prefolds and Flats.  In fact, they can be as pricey as some of the convenience options, but they made out of natural fabrics and are easier to use than Prefolds and Flats.

Still not sure?  Contact me about a consultation, check out a Cloth Diapering 101 class, or schedule a diaper party!


How many cloth diapers should one baby have? TOP

It really depends on what type of diaper you wish to buy and how old your baby is. Cloth diapers need to be changed every couple of hours and every time your baby has a bowel movement.  Newborns may need to be changed as many as 15 times a day!  Older babies need to be changed less frequently.  By 6 months of age you will need about 8-12 diapers a day.  For toddlers, the number of diapers can be as low as 6-8 a day. In addition, you need to consider how often you will be washing diapers. 

To determine how many diapers you will need, take the number of days you want to go between washings, and multiply it by the number of diapers you need a day.

Example: I have a toddler and I wash every three days.  3 days x 8 diapers a day=24 diapers.


The number of covers needed will depend on the fabric of the cover. 


Fleece--4-6 and these will need to be washed every few days

Wool--2-4 these should only need to be washed every 3-4 weeks.  For more info. see wool care.

Do they come in different types? How do I choose? TOP

Choosing can be overwhelming, but it shouldn't be.  Choosing is the fun part.  Having said that, you should know that I spent hours doing research on cloth diapers and agonizing over the options.  Due to the start-up cost, I wanted to make sure I made the best decision.  I thought I had to pick one kind of diaper to use for the two or so years my little one would be using them.  Over the past year and a half, I have discovered how much fun it is to try new types of diapers.  We now use several different types of diapers during our day.  One of the reasons I started Belly Buttons and Bubble was to be able to educated local families about cloth diapering.  I am here to help you choose which types of diapers will work best for you.  Remember, you don't have to stick with one type of diaper.  As your little one grows, you will want to try new options to optimize your cloth diaper experience.  Now, before I list the various types, please note that you need to choose a diaper system that will fit into your lifestyle.  Here are a few questions to consider.  Will you be the main one changing diapers?  Will baby be going to Daycare or a babysitter?  Are you always on the go, or do you hang out at home more?  Okay, here is the list.


  • All-in-Ones--These are basically cloth versions of disposable diapers.  They come in one piece with the absorbency built in.  This means no inserts to snap/stuff in.  With no cover needed and no pieces to assemble, these are Daycare/sitter and Daddy friendly.  On the flip side, they do take longer to dry as they are in one piece.
  • All-in-Twos--These are just like all-in-ones, but the absorbent layer is an extra piece that fits (usually snaps) into the diaper.  These do require some assembly, but the removable insert makes them easier to clean.  These do not need a cover.  
  • Pocket--These are similar to all-in-twos because you can add your own inserts.  However, instead snapping the insert in, the inserts are stuffed into a special pocket.  This allows you to adjust your level of absorbency.  Pocket diapers usually come with microfiber inserts and have a soft lining material touching your baby's skin.  You can stuff your pocket diaper with almost any material, including prefold diapers.  With no cover needed and nothing to snap in/out, these are also much like disposables and would work well for Daycare/sitter.  Stuff them as you put them away and there is no extra work at diapering time.
  • Hybrids--These are part disposable and part cloth.  They consist of an outer waterproof shell and work with either cloth or disposable inserts.  The disposable inserts are biodegradable and free of many of the harmful chemicals found in disposable diapers.  This option is great for going out, on trips, or for Daycare/sitters.  When using the disposable inserts, there is no messy diaper to pack back in your diaper bag!
  • Fitted Diapers--These are just the "inside," or absorbent part of the diaper.  They are fitted to the shape of the baby allowing you to get a good fit with little work.  Fitteds require a cover as they do not have a waterproof shell.  If you are going to be home most of the day these are a great option, as they are much more breathable than options with PUL.  Many parents let their older babies crawl/run around the house without a cover.  Simply check for dampness and change.
  • Prefolds and Flats--These are basically what many think of when they think of cloth diapers.  They are the "old-fashioned" kind, and while they have been made more convenient, they still require folding and aren't fitted.  Prefolds provide extra layers of fabric for better absorption.  These are the cheapest cloth diapering option.  These are not as user-friendly as the other types of diapers and require a cover.  Great for parents who are home with their child.

Do they come in different sizes? TOP

Absolutely!  Sizes vary by brand, but they usually come in five sizes. 

Newborn--is usually made to fit under the umbilical cord and is made to fit the newborn stage

Small--usually fits 8-16 lbs

Medium--usually fits 15-22 lbs

Large--usually fits 22-30 lbs

One Size--usually fits from 8-10lbs to potty training.  These diapers adjust in some way to grow with your baby.  Some have a snapping system that adjust the rise, others have adjustable elastic in the legs and back, and a few adjust by folding.  Note: one-size diapers are bulkier on smaller babies, but they grow with your child.

What about nighttime diapering? TOP

Nighttime cloth diapering is not all that different from using cloth during the day!  The key is to get enough absorbency in the diapers to match your baby's wetting needs, and put that absorbency where your baby needs it the most.  Below you will find some basic information on nighttime cloth diapering.  There are many nighttime options to choose from depending on your baby's needs and your personal preferences. 

Finding the right nighttime system took a little tweaking and has evolved as my little one has grown.  Pockets worked well for her until she learned how to roll over and sleep on her knees with her little bottom in the air!  As my heavy wetter slept longer and moved around more, we switched to fitteds and wool.  I love this combo.  I am happy to help you find the right nighttime system for you.  If you would like more information, please feel free to email me.



For most babies, newborn diapering is the same day and night.  For the first few weeks, when your baby is still pooping around the clock, you will be changing diapers around the clock.  Some parents choose to get a few "easy" diapers for those middle of the night changes.  This is not necessary, but if you are using prefolds or fitteds during the day, you might want to upgrade to some pockets or all-in-ones for nighttime.  Velcro-closure can be easier too.  Honestly, some choose to use disposables at night during this time, and that is fine too! 

Once your baby is sleeping longer stretches at night, you may find that you need to increase the absorbency.  This can be accomplished by adding a short and slim doubler, a baby washcloth, repurposed t-shirt, or a flannel receiving blanket or towel cut to size.  Just make sure that whatever you use is cotton and has been thoroughly washed-just like your diapers, you don't want any fabric softeners or detergent residue on the fabric.

Infants and Toddlers

Once your baby is no longer pooping during the night, you may choose not to change your baby's diaper at night.  This is a personal choice.  Some are passionate about changing the baby several times a night to prevent the baby from sitting in a wet diaper.  Using a stay-dry liner can help keep the baby's skin dry if you are using natural fibers. 

Now is the time you will need high-absorbency diapers.  This is more true for some than others.  It depends on how heavy a wetter your baby is. 

  • Fitteds provide 360-degree coverage.  Since they are made of natural fibers, you may want to add a stay-dry fleece liner to wick the moisture away.  You will need a wool or PUL cover.  I prefer wool for the increased breathability, but both are effective.  To increase absorbency, you will need to add a doubler.  This can be placed inside or outside the fitted. 
  • Pockets great for back-sleepers.  The absorbency in a pocket runs from front to back, with the majority of it at the back.  Add a doubler to the pocket to increase absorbency.  Most pocket diapers come with microfiber inserts, so it is a good idea to use a natural fiber doubler.  Microfiber absorbs quickly, but a natural fiber like bamboo or hemp will absorb more.  When layering the inserts/doublers, place the natural fiber closer to the back and the microfiber on top. 

You may need to add a second waterproof layer!  By adding a wool/fleece cover or even a pair of fleece PJs (these PJs should have be washed with a heavy dose of fabric softener, as the fabric softener will up the waterproofing abilities) over you nighttime diaper you will ensure that any little leaks stay in. 

Fleece is an inexpensive alternative to Wool, and is machine washable.  I don't think it is quite as waterproof as wool, but if you are looking for a second cover option on a budget fleece soakers are a good idea. Let me know if you are interested in learning more.


My favorite nighttime diaper combination is an Earth Mom and Baby Bumboo Bamboo fitted or Sustainablebabyish OBF fitted with an Aristocrats or Nifty Nappy wool cover.  I cover all of this with fleece shorties in the summer and fleece PJ pants in the winter. 

Is diapering a newborn different? TOP

A little.  At this stage you have to think of the quantity of diapers rather than the absorbency as you will when the baby gets a little older.  Newborns, especially breastfed newborns, tend to have a small bowel movement with each urination.  This can mean upwards of 12-18 diaper changes a day!

Prefolds or fitteds with covers work well for this stage.  Using prefolds with covers is a very economical system for newborns as they outgrow this small size so quickly.  You will need 18-24 prefolds if you are washing everyday or every other day.  You will also need 3-4 xsmall or small covers and a fastener hold the diaper closed. You will need the same number of fitteds.  Some fitteds come in different sizes and others are one-size.

If you a one-piece diaper, several companies make diapers in a newborn sizes.  These generally fit from 4-15 lbs. 

Many people use the disposable diapers they the hospital send home to get until they are passed the meconium phase.  IF you use cloth you will want to use a liner to prevent staining until this has passed.

Many one-size diapers claim to fit from birth to potty training, but this may not be true depending on the size of your newborn.  Most one-size diapers fit from 8lbs and up.  Even if your baby is not smaller than 8lbs at birth, these diapers will fit a little bulky on a newborn. 

I am working on putting together a newborn rental program for those interested in using renting newborn size diapers to use until their one-size or smallest size will fit.  If you are interested please contact me, as I am still working out the details.

Are there cloth diapers for swimming? TOP

Yes, there are cloth swim diapers and they are adorable!  You may find that you don't even need a swimming suit.  Find a cute swim shirt (I like the SPF variety) and you are good to go.

How do diaper covers work? TOP

If you choose to go with prefolds/flats or fitted diapers, you will need a diaper cover to prevent leaks.  Diaper covers can be rotated in order to give them a chance to air out between diaper changes.  When a diaper cover gets soiled, it is time to retire it for washing.  Wash them on wash day.  Note: I don't usually need to use a cover unless my little one is sleeping.  Once they are up and moving, you can forego the cover and simply check for dampness to know when it's time for a change.  This is a great way to let them air out after they have hopefully slept all night.

What else will I need? TOP

There are quite a few accessories that make cloth diapering easier, but it is really up to you to decide whether or not you NEED them.

  • Diaper Sprayer--Similar to the sprayer at your kitchen sink, the diaper sprayer is a very convenient tool to have around.  It attaches to your toilet allowing you to clean the diaper into you toilet.  These are especially nice to have after baby starts eating solid food. Note: the poop of exclusively breast fed babies is water soluble.  There is no need to rinse these before tossing them in to wash.  However, once formula or solid food is introduced, the poop must be removed from the diaper prior to washing.  It is easiest to spray them off immediately after a diaper change. 
  • Liners--Either washable or disposable, these are laid in the diaper to create a barrier between your baby's bottom and the diaper.  Liners are used to keep poop from reaching the diaper, wick moisture (micro fleece are best for this) away from baby's bottom, and protect diapers from non-cloth diaper friendly rash creams. 
  • Diaper Pail/Wet Bag--Fancy or cheap, bucket, trash can, or wet bag it is really up to you.  Whatever you use, you will want make sure that you have a convenient and smell-free way to store your diapers. Pail liners can be placed in a trash can or bucket and washed with you diapers, and are usually the cheaper option.  Wet bags come in a variety of sizes and designs.  These can be hung on a bathroom door and carried from room to room.  Simply unzip, place the diaper inside, and re-zip.  These have a layer of PUL on the inside to keep the wetness and smell in while the outside stays dry.  When it is time to wash, you simply dump the diapers and wet bag into the washer together.  I have two wet bags.  One to use while the other is being washed and hung up to dry.  Wet bags also come in a smaller size made to fit in you diaper bag.
  • Pail Liner--This is essentially a reusable trash bag.  They are made of thick PUL and are used to line the inside of your diaper pail.  When it is time to do laundry the pail liner is washed along with the diapers.  It is a good idea to have two so that the pail is not left unlined.
  • Doublers--These are fabric inserts designed to "double" the absorbency of your diapers.  If you have a heavy wetter or require additional stuffing for overnight diapers, these are for you.  These come in a variety of fabrics including, hemp, bamboo, cotton, and microfiber.
  • Drying Rack--Drying racks have been key to my cloth diaper laundering routine.  If you do not have a clothesline, using a drying rack is a great way to save money on your energy bill.  When I began cloth diapering I did not have a clothesline, and I did not want to run my dryer even more to dry my cloth diapers.  In fact, I have always used my drying racks for our regular laundry.  Drying racks allow you to hang your diapers up to dry inside or outside.  I even carry mine out onto the deck to sun in the winter.  Yes, they sometimes freeze, but they thaw when I bring them back in the house.  Summer or winter, I usually let me inserts get almost completely dry on the racks and then finish drying them in the dryer.  The dryer fluffs up the fabric making the inserts more comfortable to wear.  While it does take longer to dry and my stash needs to be a little bigger as a result, the money saved on my energy bill and reduced wear and tear on my diapers is worth it. 
  • Pins--Pins are used to hold flats, prefolds, contours, and some fitteds closed.  Please only use pins manufactured for cloth diapering, as they have locking heads to prevent baby from opening them.
  • Snappis-- A snappi is a plastic device designed to allow you to get a close fit with your contours, prefolds, flats, and some fitteds.  The Snappi has three round ends with "teeth" which grip into the diaper.  It is a good idea to have at least two.  Especially when your little one discovers them and finds them fascinating enough to "store" in a very special place!
  • Cloth Wipes--These are exactly what they sound like. Fabric wipes used in place of disposable wipes at diaper changes.  These can go into the same pail or wet bag as your diapers and be washed together at laundry time. 
  • Wipe Solution--If you decide to use cloth wipes, you may want to consider a wipe solution.  This is squirted onto the cloth wipe prior to each diaper change.
  • Tea Tree Oil--Tea tree oil is an anti-bacterial.  Adding 3-5 drops to your wash cycle will kill the bacteria that cause the ammonia smell in your diapers. 

Can I use diaper rash cream? TOP

There is some disagreement about the use of rash creams.  Some in the cloth diapering community say to never use any type of cream without putting a barrier between your baby's slathered bottom and the diaper; others argue that there are cloth diaper safe rash creams. 

Some diaper creams are not cloth diaper compatible.  They have ingredients which will melt into the pores of the diaper, preventing it from absorbing.  If you think about it, it makes sense.  Those creams are very thick.  They are designed to create a barrier between a wet diaper and you baby's bottom.  That barrier will coat that diaper causing residue to build and your diapers to repel.  In the event you need to use a rash cream, choose one that is cloth diaper safe.  These are designed to relieve your baby's bottom without causing build-up.  Coconut oil and lanolin also work well. 

There will no doubt be a time when you will need to use a heavy duty or prescription rash cream.  No worries, simply put a barrier between the cream and the diaper.  You can purchase diaper liners, cut up an old t-shirt or receiving blanket, or buy some fleece (has a stay-dry quality) to cut into liners.  Pitch them or boil and then wash separately. 

While I have never had trouble with my cloth diaper safe creams, you can always err on the side of caution and always use a liner.

How do you wash them? TOP

Washing instructions differ by company and type of diaper.  Detergent and water "softness" also play a role.  It is always best to follow the directions provided by the diaper company.  If you are interested in my routine, you can find it in the Care of Cloth Diapers Section.  Note: if your diapers start to stink or leak badly you might have a detergent build-up on your diapers and you will want to strip your diapers.  You can find stripping instructions in the Care of Cloth Diapers Section.  You will find a list and discussion of cloth diaper detergents in this section as well. 

Aren't cloth diapers bulky? TOP

Truthfully, yes.  Some are trimmer than others, but the fact remains that they are more bulky than disposable diapers.  You will likely need to get an extender for the snap on your baby's onesie to accommodate or simply buy a size up in bottoms.  If trimness is a concern, let me know and I will be happy to discuss options with you. 

Won't I be wasting water? TOP

Wasting?  No.  You will be using more water to than you used previously, but this amount is actually less than the amount of water used to manufacture disposable diapers. It takes more than two times as much water to manufacture disposable diapers than it does to launder cloth diapers. 

Why are my cloth diapers leaking/stinking? TOP

Leaking can occur for several reasons. 

First, make sure you have followed the manufacturer's instructions for prepping your diapers.  You must wash everything before you begin cloth diapering you child.  There are a couple of reasons for this. Leak-causing residue from the production process can be left on the fabric.  Depending on the type of fabric you are using, you may need to wash you diapers as many as 6-8 times before they are prepped and ready to be used.  The absorbency increases with each wash.

Fit can also be the culprit.  It can take some learning and adjusting to get the proper fit on your baby, especially if you are using a one-size diaper on a very young baby.  Make sure the insert isn't pushing the fabric lining against your baby's clothing.  This will cause moisture to wick out the top of the diaper onto the clothing.  The top edge should be flat against your baby with the lining against your baby's skin.  In addition, make sure the insert is tucked in completely.  If the insert is poking out the top of the diaper, it will wick moisture onto your baby's clothing.  If the leaking is coming from the leg area, check to make sure the fit around the legs is snug.  Simply pick up baby's legs and look to see how it fits.  There should be no gaps!

It could be as simple as a need for more absorbency, or more frequent changes.  

If you have a leak and have taken care to check on the above mentioned causes, you may have a repelling issue.  How do you know?  Your insert/ diaper will not be saturated.  It will seem that it could and should hold more before leaking.  Repelling is caused by build-up on the insert/lining of the diaper caused by using the wrong kind of diaper cream or soap.  For instructions on how to strip your diapers to remove the build-up, see the Care of Diapers page under the information tab.

Diaper odor is usually caused by detergent build-up.  This residue is what causes the ammonia-smell when the diaper gets wet again.  To check, run your diapers through an extra hot wash without soap.  If you see suds, the detergent did not rinse out completely. You will need to strip your diapers.  In the future, try running your diapers through an extra cold rinse cycle after washing, use less detergent, or switch brands of detergent.  For a list of cloth diaper friendly detergents, see the Care of Diapers page.


Can I order diapers that aren't listed on your site? TOP

There is a good chance, yes!  Since I am currently a home-based business, I am somewhat limited in the sizes, colors, and choices I can stock.  However, if you would like to order something other than what I have in stock, I would be happy to work with you.  Minimum orders may apply.  Email me for more information.

I live locally; can I pick up my order or meet you somewhere? TOP

At this time we do not have set hours for order pick-up.  I should have "office hours" in place in a month or two.  Office hours will be available by appointment for shopping/consultation.  In the meantime, please email me if you would like to request an appointment or pick up your order. 

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