How to Cloth Diaper in 3 Steps

I’m a Cloth Diapering Advocate. What does that even mean?

Anyone who knows me, probably knows that I cloth diaper my babies. Well yes, but, I’m happy to explain the benefits of cloth diapering to anyone who is willing to listen. I’m a fan of cloth diapering. I’ll try to convert any parent. That’s all!

Often times, I have new parents who are interested in cloth diapering but are unsure of where to start or doubt whether they can afford to.

(Insert my “cloth diaper elevator speech here”) Just kidding.

Here are 3 steps to getting started:

Step 1 – Familiarize yourself with the different kinds of cloth diapers.

Pockets. Covers. All-In-Ones. All-In-Twos. Fitteds. Prefolds and Flats.

These aren’t your grandma’s burp cloths anymore (though you can certainly still use those). With the modern cloth diapers, you have plenty of options — each fitting your lifestyle and budget. Choose one or a few different ones and try them out!

Pockets: Known as the “modern cloth diaper,” these diapers have a “pocket” made of a stay dry material that keeps baby feeling dry. An absorbent insert or prefold must be stuffed inside of the pocket before using.

Brands – AlvaBaby, Bumgenius 5.0, Rumparooz

All-In-Ones: These are most similar to a disposable diaper since there is no stuffing or folding and are a “one wear, one wash” type of diaper. These typically are sold in newborn sizes and one-size.

Brands – Bumgenius Freetime, <a href="http://Thirsties AIO” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Thirsties This is a two-piece system doesn’t require any stuffing and typically has a snap-in insert that attaches to the waterproof cover. The soiled insert can be removed and the cover can be used again without washing each time.

Brands – Best Bottoms, Buttons

Fitteds: These diapers are made of many layers of absorbent material (cotton, bamboo, hemp, fleece) and are ready to be affixed to the baby.  However, these are NOT waterproof and require a cover.

Brands – OsoCozy, Nicki’s Fitted

Flats / Flour Sack Towels (FSTs): Flats and FSTs are similar to prefolds, although not bulky, since they are made of a large, thin, single-layer piece of cotton (or cotton blend). They are one of the cheapest diapers you can find and can be folded down to the size you need, then folded in many ways onto baby.  A cover is needed for these, too.

Brands – Osocozy, Flour Sack Towels Think “burp cloths” or “what your mother and grandmother used” for cloth diapers.  They are rectangle, absorbent layers of cotton, that require you to fold around the baby and fasten with a closure or fold into thirds and lay into a diaper cover.  You will need to buy the correct size as baby grows and a cover is needed to make them waterproof.

Brands – Osocozy

Covers:  A cover is just the waterproof outer layer of a cloth diaper.  It has no pocket or no insert attached to it.  This makes it an easy option to snap around a fitted, prefold or flat diaper…and reuse over and over without washing (unless you get poop on it)!

Brands – Thirsties Duo Wraps, Rumparooz Covers

Step 2 – Figure out how many diapers you’ll need

How many diapers you need will depend on how often you want to wash, or can wash. Use the below numbers to estimate how many you’ll need per day.

Newborns:  12 – 16 diapers/day

Infants:  10 – 12 diapers/day

Toddlers: 8 – 12 diapers/day

**Remember, you’ll need a few clean diapers on hand while you wash

Step 3 – Storing dirty diapers and washing

Baby poops in a disposable, you toss in the garbage.  Baby poops in a cloth diaper, you toss in a waterproof pail.  Honestly, it’s that simple.  The kind of pail you choose will depend on your setup.  Purchase an pail liner (it looks like a kitchen garbage bag with an elastic top), and place it inside of an open kitchen garbage pail. Yes, open!  The air flow helps to keep the diapers from smelling.  Some prefer a hanging pail can be placed on the back of a door in various rooms. Either way, you’ll toss the dirty diapers and pail liner into the wash, so more than one would be beneficial.

Washing your diapers is easier than you think.

If baby is exclusively breastfed (no other foods or formula are being fed)…

  • Take the wet or poop diaper and toss into the pail, no need to rinse
  • On wash day, do a quick rinse cycle (so you’re not washing the diapers in poop and pee water)
  • Then, do a long hot wash with a full amount of mainstream detergent.  Don’t skimp, and don’t use any special cloth diapering detergent.
  • Line dry or toss into the dryer

If baby is NOT exclusively breastfed…

  • Remove any poop from diaper by scraping, spraying, dunking, however you’d like…into the toilet, then toss into the pail.  The goal is to remove as much poop from the diaper as you can.

THAT’S IT!  Sounds simple enough, right?  If you’re still overwhelmed, feel free to comment and ask any questions below.

Thirsties Natural All-In-One Review

Everyone loves the ease of All In Ones (AIOs). But there’s one downfall to AIOs – though they may be easy to use, they are notorious for taking a long time to dry and difficult to add absorbency to, when your baby needs it. Admittedly, this is why I rarely use AIOs.

 Thirsties created another version of an AIO, a Natural All-In-One (NAIO) that everyone can love! 

Description: This diaper requires some prepping: 3 hot washes to use, and 8 for full absorbency. 

It is a similar cut as their other AIO, with 2 rows of rise snaps and a double row of snaps on the wings (this is also available in hook and loop / Velcro).

The insides of the diaper is what makes it unique – all natural cotton and hemp. There is a sewn in soaker that consists of 3 layers of cotton. Additionally, there are 2 flap-style soakers attached to the front, each made of 4 layers of organic cotton and hemp. That’s a total of 11 layers of natural fibers!!

The way the flaps are sewn in, allow for faster drying time and if needed, you could fold them to accommodate a boy or girl. You could also lay a doubler under or above the flaps to increase absorbency.

Fit: I used this diaper for my 2.5 year old toddler. I left all of the rise snaps open, and used the third set of double snaps in the waist. For a better comprehension of how it fits, her stats are as follows:  wears 3T clothing, 30 lbs, 36″ tall

I found this diaper to be extremely trim compared to most diapers. Though AIOs usually have a reputation of being more trim, the natural fibers allow for an ever better slim fit under clothing.

Performance: I expected this diaper to perform well, give the qualities of the natural fibers and the use of other Thirsties products. However, this diaper far exceeded my expectations! 

After being fully prepped, I put this diaper on my toddler before heading to a birthday party. We expected to be out for approximately 2-3 hours. By the time we left and included traveling to and from the party, it was closer to 5 hours that this diaper was on an active, drink-guzzling, toddler – and no signs of wicking or leaking!

Budget: Thirsties has a reputation of being affordable. The NAIO retails for $25.75 which is a little more than I would like to spend on an AIO. Realistically, most would not be able to comprise a large stash of these if they’re looking for an “affordable diaper” or cloth diapering due to their budget constraints. 

You can occasionally find Thirsties products on sale at retailers and couple that with Free Shipping to lower the costs.


Overall, I was very pleased with this diaper. I would highly recommend that a few of these Thirsties NAIO be included in your stash for those long outings, and maybe even an overnight solution! 

What If I Can’t Afford Cloth Diapers?

This post was originally written by me, for the Black Women Do Cloth Diaper blog. It has been rewritten and modified for my blog.

…and not everyone can.  The reality is, not everyone can afford disposables either.  But we get it.  It’s a lot “cheaper” to buy a small pack of disposables for $8 than to spend that amount, or more, on ONE cloth diaper.

As a cloth diaper advocate, my mission has always been to inform my community and educate them on their options.  Not everyone will choose cloth diapers, but as long as you know that they can be affordable or even free, for those in certain situations, then you can make the best decision for your family.

“I’d like to cloth diaper, but it’s not in the budget.”

Any of the following, can be used as a diaper:  Birdseye Cotton or Bamboo Flat Diaper, Flour Sack Towels (FSTs), Receiving Blankets, or even a cotton T-Shirt!

Building a cloth diaper stash slowly, will allow you to transition from disposables or even cloth diaper part-time to save a few dollars.

If these aren’t in your budget at the moment, there are several Cloth Diaper banks around the country (and other countries) that will assist low income parents with a loaner stash for a period of time. Typically, one of the requirements will be that you receive some type of government assistance, to qualify for a loaner stash.  Each organization will determine their process, how long you can keep the stash, what’s included in the stash, and whether you’ll need to pick up from a local chapter host or pay for the shipping cost of the diapers sent to you.

I have personal friends who have been able to cloth diaper their child with the help of these of these organizations!

“I was so overwhelmed by prices and brand.  My loaner stash (24 fitteds and 15 covers) freed up a lot of my income so I’m always recommending Cloth Diaper banks to friends!”

Below are some of the organizations:

Share the Love:  Founded by Cotton Babies CEO, Jen Labit, this organization has local hosts.

Giving Diapers, Giving Hope:  This nationwide organization will ship the diaper to you, with the recipient paying the cost for shipping.

Cloth for Every Bum:  No financial requirement for this organization, however, there are other requirements before you can receive a loaner stash from them.

Cloth Diaper Connection (Ohio – Franklin County and Surrounding Areas):  Providing diapers to local parents, based on financial need

Cloth for a Cause (Canada):  For those in Canada, interested in a loaner stash.

Lastly, as a former admin of a Cloth Diaper group, I’ve always tried to personally help by providing personal loaner stashes (that I’ve accumulated through donations) to those in need.  If you would like to personally donate diapers to us, we’re happy to add them to our loaner stashes or point you to a local place for you to donate.

Chewy or Crunchy?

Have you heard the term “crunchy mom” or “granola?”  No?  Neither did I.

That is, until I had my second child almost three years ago.  Now, if you do any of the following, you may be Crunchy…

  • Gave birth at home – BY CHOICE!
  • Homeschool your children
  • Do not vaccinate your child
  • Do not believe in circumcision
  • Eat only organic foods
  • Buy “raw milk” and own chickens
  • The thought of eating your placenta doesn’t freak you out
  • Cloth diaper your babies
  • Babywear
  • Co-Sleep or bedshare
  • Forbid T.V. or any screen time for your children

…and can name a few other things I missed!

Ok, so maybe you don’t do ALL or most of these things, but you’re keen on some of them?  Well consider yourself — Chewy!

At least, that’s what I like to call myself.  The ironic part about all of this, is that my ancestors and some of yours, have been doing these things since the beginning of time.  What we now call ‘attachment parenting,’ is what many parents in other countries do because that is what they’ve always done.

You’re your child’s best advocate!  I support YOU in your decisions.