Cloth Diapering 101

I wanted to share my own cloth diaper routine. For most cloth diaper users it is a process of trial and error. I wanted to share what I use and the things I have learned in order to help you better choose your own routine. Let's get started!

We use Alva diapers (other brands will be listed at end of page). They are pocket style diapers and they go on similar to disposables which makes them convenient to use.

We are going to use this adorable elephant print as our example.
Shown is the front and inside of the diaper. This outside is waterproof and the inside is soft polyester. It is stay-dry meaning when your child pees he/she doesn't feel wet.
 For our girls (6 months old) we use the shortest rise setting. It really depends how short or long waisted your child is.
This is the insert pocket. When my laundry is clean I sit down and stuff all my diapers. It takes a little bit of time, and some people hate doing it but I really don't mind. Its relaxing!
Now there are a ton of different options, fibers, and brands you can use. I personally am really cheap so almost all of the inserts I have I either bought used or people gave me. So my assortment is rather random. Here are the ones I use:
1. Babyland (CBI) Charcoal Bamboo Insert- 2 layers bamboo, 3 layers microfiber.
Pros: super absorbant, anti-bacterial, and trim. Cons: microfiber tends to have compression leaks.
2. Baby Wizard 4-layer bamboo insert with a (preemie) cotton prefold. Bamboo is more absorbent than cotton but one of these alone can not stand up to my heavy wetters. The prefold on top gives just a little bit more absorbency. Can feel thick on little babies.
3. Alva bamboo blend insert with a (preemie) cotton prefold. This, like the babyland, is a blend. It has 2 layers of bamboo and 2 layers of microfiber. Again it's not enough for my girls so I use a prefold.
4. Assunta microfiber insert with a (preemie) cotton prefold. No bamboo here. These are 3 layers of microfiber. I pair with a prefold. NOTE: do not place microfiber directly against the skin, it is so stay-dry that it will irritation.
Please check this website out for great info on insert choices, she answers basically everything!
Time to put the diaper on!

 You will want to check the fit to make sure it's good. One finger should slide into the waist, like above. This means it comfortable and not too tight.

This is where the hip snaps come into play. One finger will be kind of hard to fit into the leg hole. You want it tight enough so nothing leaks out but loose enough that your baby isn't uncomfortable and can move.
At night my girls sleep 12 hours. That's a lot of pee to hold in one diaper. But with a LOT of trial and mostly error we found out what is best for us.

This is called a "fitted" diaper. It looks like a regular diaper like above but nothing is waterproof, the whole thing is made of bamboo velour. This brand is Assunta. The elastic is really nice and it seems really comfortable. The best part is... it's CHEAP! It is $12.99 compared to most fitteds which run around $30. This requires you use a cover over it. Assunta sells them for cheap. When in doubt you can use an unstuffed pocket as well.

This is the inside. It has one sewn in layer of bamboo and one snap in layer of bamboo. You can remove or add the snap in layer to suit your needs. It also has cross-over snaps for tiny babies. This wont go all the way to potty training as it runs small but my girls are 6 months and are still on the smallest rise. I only have 4 of these so if necessary I will use disposables at night (yes I said disposables!).

This may look weird but bear with me for a moment. I do NOT want to clean poo out of this beautiful diaper. Therefore I made my own mirco-fleece liners. I got the fabric from Jo-ann's and cut out rectangles. Liquid passes through and poo stays on it (can be used for the pocket diapers too). Now I will discuss cleaning poo from diapers (I know what your thinking...)
If your child pood, there are a few ways to clean it up. First, if you used flushable liners, just throw it away. If you used a reusable liner (like above) you can swish it in the toilet and flush. If you don't have a liner I would recommend a diaper sprayer. Its like a small shower head that removes the poo directly into the toilet. We just made one and you can find the DIY here. Remove all the poo that you can (residue is okay), pull out the insert and throw all of it in the pail!

When I remove a diaper from my baby I pull out the insert (they say it will come out in agitation but im not risking having to re-wash). Drop them both in the diaper pail. This is a DRY pail. I use an 8-gallon garbage bag but they make re-suable ones. Pictured is also my little garbage can for wipes, etc.
Time to wash!

Every third day I wash my diapers. Here is my routine:
1. COLD rinse only
2. HOT wash and cold rinse (using 1/4 to 1/2 detergent for load size)
3. COLD rinse
I use Ecos detergent (pictured). It is not specifically for cloth diaper but I find it works great. Click here for a GREAT chart to help you choose the best detergent.
When everything is washed I throw it all in the drier and dry on high. I remove the diapers (leaving the inserts) part way through and let them air dry the rest of the way. There are people for dry on high all the way and people who only hang dry as well. Check the inserts after the cycle to see if they are dry. Some things like the fitteds need a little longer.
1. I have found that onesies create compression around the leg holes and therefore leaks. I removed onesies from the equation and no leaks!
2. Do NOT use fabric softener in either the wash or dry stages. It will cause the lining to repel liquid instead of absorb it.
3. Do NOT use diaper rash cream. It will cause repelling as well. There are other options for diaper rash out there. Some switch to disposables till it is gone as well. We have never had rash in cloth.
4. There is difference between boys and girls (shocked?) When girls pee it tends to go to the back, especially if they are really little and always on their back. For boys you need to point his "boy parts" down so you don't have a giant mess to clean up.
5. Google cloth diaper co-ops. These are groups of people who place one large order but you get your diaper for SUPER cheap. They are all through facebook.
Diaper brands (each brand also has inserts):
JCtrade- these are great as they run larger
There are many others...
Great resources:

A BIG thank you to my beautiful model Sophia!
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  1. Hi, thanks for such a direct and easy to follow post. Very helpful for a newbie like me. I have a question. You keep noting that you pair the inserts with a prefold. What are these prefolds made of, how/where do you place them, and where do I get them? Thanks!

  2. Thanks for the question Lulu! The Indian prefold is made of 100% cotton. I got mine from The ones you see I used when my girls were itty bitty so they are super small now. I placed them on top of my normal insert to act as a doubler. Basically it just gives a little extra absorbtion. I have since phased these out an am using ALVAbaby 3 layer bamboo inserts. They are thinner and will hold more.

  3. Hi there! I came across your blog searching through Google and I am glad that I read this. I am a soon-to-be mom to our first baby and am looking forward to use cloth diapers. This was helpful, indeed! Cheers from the Philippines!

  4. "Hey, I really liked your article.

  5. I'm glad Irina! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Hi! Thank you so much for your blog. I was wondering how many Alva/pocket diapers are required for an adequate supply if you use them almost exclusively? I have received 12 so far from my baby shower and I really like them. My first baby girl is due December 6! ~Andrea

    1. Hi Andrea! Id be glad to help! A newborn goes through about 10 diapers a day on average (that # lessens in the next couple months) and you will probably want to do laundry every 3rd day. This means you will want about 30 diapers. So when 20 (2 days worth) are dirty, you can do the wash and still have 10 clean ones :) I hope I was able to answer your question!


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