Cloth diapers are fantastic but may be daunting to a noob like I was. I thought I would write a post about the first 10 weeks of our experience with them. We’ve used a number of styles of diapers thus far. I figured I would write a post reviewing some popular types of cloth diapers.
I’ve decided to rank them in terms of ease of use, affordability, cute factor, and reluctant husband rating (which is because my husband, like many husbands, seems to find them a little scary).
Cloth Prefolds and Thirsties Covers – When my daughter was born, I hadn’t bought any newborn diapers. I wasn’t sure how big she would be and if it would be a good investment. Honestly, I went cheap as chips on these for that reason. The week we took her home, I bought 5 Thirsties covers for about $15.00 on ebay and 10 prefolds. I also bought several snappis. Altogether, I would do this again if I had a 5 lb, 11 oz newborn. If you have a baby 7+ lbs, skip this step and go with a bigger stage diaper or used disposables for a bit. I think cloth prefolds and covers are the most economical option available and, as far as the wash goes, they are fantastically simple. You can do about anything to cloth and you will be dandy. And prefolds are workhorses. This is what my mom did with us and I still remember using them as cleaning rags YEARS after my baby sister was a baby. I now use clean prefolds for the same purpose and just toss them in the laundry after use. The covers can be reused a couple of times in a day. We gave our stash a break at night with disposables. If you want to use cloth all day and night, I recommend getting 7 or 8 covers and 15 prefolds at least for a daily wash and 12 or so covers and at least 24 prefolds for an every other day wash schedule. These were not so husband approved. And they had a learning curve but they were great when I was home all day and could make them work. If you don’t like worrying about snappis at night (we didn’t) these will not work for day and night use. If you like cute diapers, you can find a number of adorable covers this way.
Ease of Use: ***
Cute Factor: *****
Reluctant Husband Rating: *
Total Score: 14/20
GDiapers (size small) – I actually liked these but I can see why many families don’t like them and they don’t work on all babies. My daughter fit into them around 7.5 lbs and sized out of them around 9 lbs. I got them used. I would NOT have bought them new TBH because the investment is too expensive and you can’t buy just one to try. They do come in newborn sizes but for the investment cost, I would have chosen prefolds and covers any day of the week over these from a cost standpoint. I had 10 covers and 18 liners and 18 inserts (the liners and inserts for newborn gdiaps are also used for the small size I have). This would last us 2 days with night diapers being disposables. Most covers can be reused once with a new insert snapped in. I would get at least 14 covers and 20 liners for an every other day wash schedule or 8 covers and 12 liners for every day wash schedules. The use of liners that are waterproof and covers is kind of genius but, at the same time, this makes stuffing them a PITA! Putting them together on nights I stuffed diapers was not always pleasant. They also were a pain to wash. Pro-tip: if you go with these, separate your liners and pants and put them in lingerie bags so that you don’t lose the liners and your covers (pants) don’t destroy your clothes. The elastic on them was a fantastically easy thing and suddenly my husband didn’t mind cloth as much. Also if you want to use paper liners (I will get to this in another post but I’m a big fan), these are so easy to use with them. Gdiapers also have the option of thin disposable liners when you are on the go. This might be a draw for those who want a few diapers in their stash specifically for being on the go. If you want to use them overnight a well as in the day, I don’t think they are the best option. The liners have to be small and they will not give you great coverage if your kid is both a heavy wetter and a great sleeper (ours has been regularly sleeping through the night since 6 weeks but don’t hate me!). If you like “cute” diapers, they come in a variety of cute colors and are very slim under clothing in a way prefolds and covers and pockets are not.
Ease of Use: ***
Cute Factor: ****
Reluctant Husband Rating: ***
Total Score: 13/20
Pocket Diapers (Various Types) – These have been great. Honestly, I was worried it would be a pain or they would have to be washed specially but these are literally the easiest diapers to wash so far. You could throw them in with basically any laundry if you have snap versions. For those of you who would prefer elastics and Velcro, I would still recommend a lingerie bag for your diapers so you don’t get them stuck to one another/other stuff in your wash. They are also, in my husband’s opinion, the best to put on. He will even comply with night use without grumbling. And I find them just fine to put on at night (even the snaps, although the Velcro/elastics are easier). As night diapers, they work fantastic. You can add doublers. They also come in amazingly cute patterns and colors and I love to put my daughter in them alone (see above haha) or with a t shirt because she’s freaking adorable in them. We’ve bought or been gifted several brands. My mom found us some very nice used bum genius types – we got elastics and snaps. And we bought a BUNCH of Alva baby diapers on Prime Day. Altogether, we have about 20 diapers and can go about two days without a wash. But, TBH, we do a wash every day for basically our household stuff and just throw them in with everything else. They are ALL easy to stuff and that’s why I don’t mind just pulling them out of our laundry while sorting and just stuffing them as I go. There are some downsides to them, though. They are one-use objects. You can’t invest in fewer covers than inserts and reuse the covers. This is a big draw of both gdiapers and covers and prefolds. They also take up SPACE. When you are like me and you DGAF about taking your kid cloth diapered anywhere, you will have to worry about the size constraints of your travel wetbag. Mine would hold at least 3 gdiaps but only holds 2 of these puppies. YMMV but this is just simple math. They are not tiny. They also do not fit tiny babies. Mine was about 7.5 weeks old before we rotated these in. They are 8 lbs and up for a reason. She was 9 lbs before they fit her beanpole butt.
Finally, the investment cost in a stash of these is HIGH. If you go with Bum Genius or another well-known brand, they will re-sell and last you through subsequent kids but they will run you at least $10.00/piece used here (often not including inserts). That cost adds up. Alvas are much cheaper and while mine seem to be holding up great now, they are not as nice as the Bum Genius ones. And the problem with buying Alvas is that the microfiber inserts suck compared to other options. I highly recommend investing in some better ones. Yes, you can use prefolds as inserts but overnight, I find these insufficient without a doubler. I bought hemp inserts and they are fantastic but they cost. A large stash of pockets that will last you about two days of day and night diapers will be about 24. Halve that for one day. You will probably want to buy 30 liners or have prefolds on hand to act as double duty for night use.
Ease of Use: *****
Cute Factor: *****
Reluctant Husband Rating: *****
Total Score: 17/20
Overall, I found the GDiapers to be my least favorite system, prefolds and covers to be better, and my favorite system has been the pocket diapers. However, I didn’t dislike any of these systems. I think the point with cloth diapers is you have to find out what works for you by trying a few things. I recommend not being daunted by cost. Buy used, join swap groups on facebook or locally through a moms group, and re-sell things that don’t work. I re-sold my thirsties covers for what I paid. I also plan to re-sell my gdiapers for about the same. They don’t look any worse for wear. This may ease your worries. Likewise, cloth diapers can save you money. Some people worry about the cost of washing more frequently but I don’t think we’ve noticed a huge upswing in our water or gas bills. We end up doing laundry every other day at least anyhow. Later, I’m going to make a post with some tips that I’ve found help as a lazy person and as a working mom. But if you are looking to learn more, there are two resources I can so recommend – Fluff Love University and R/ClothDiaps both of which I’ve searched extensively in my experience learning to cloth diaper.