BABY | Cloth Diapering for Novices

Before my daughter was born, I knew I wanted to use cloth diapers. I’m not sure what the compelling reason was, other than being a more sustainable choice than disposable diapers, but I was dead set on cloth. Before we even got pregnant, I was researching cloth and what it entailed. I viewed videos on YouTube. I visited natural baby stores. I read about it online and talked to other cloth diapering mamas. Somehow, I was still confused. So, here’s all of the information I learned (and what I do) in the hopes it’ll help you get started without fear.

I was really nervous to start using cloth diapers. I had a million questions.

“What do you do with the wet diapers?”

“What about the poop?”

“Will it smell?”

“How do you clean them?”

“What on earth is a wet bag?”

(Find the answers to the above questions HERE!)

I went the easy route for the first few weeks after my daughter was born. Friends of ours had given us their newborn sized disposable diapers that they didn’t use – and tons of them – so it was simple to continue the disposable routine after using them at the hospital. Once they were about to run out though, I knew I was going to have to switch to cloth.

I had seen suggestions to have 12-24 diapers on hand and to expect to do laundry every other day. We only had 12 newborn sized diapers and my daughter was going through 12 diapers a day. Starting with only one days’ worth wouldn’t be helpful, so I drove to the closest “natural” baby store I could find and bought 18 more newborn sized diapers. We got them all set to go, and the next morning gave them a shot. Turns out I’d waited *just* too long and the newborn size no longer fit her (still teeny) butt. Drat.

The size one diapers were also ready to go so I just jumped right on in with those. Here’s the “gear” I have and the lessons I’ve learned from the hundreds of diapers I’ve changed.

*Disclaimer: There is a LOT more to cloth diapering than I ever thought possible, so this is not a comprehensive guide – just what I’ve experienced and used. 

Here’s what our changing table setup looks like:


Top and sides:

  • Garbage can to the left (IKEA – $16).
  • Changing pad (came with the table) with absorbent reusable pad on top. Dry flannel wipes, and bucket with wet flannel wipes.
  • Hamper and two wet bags. (Usually only one wet bag is in the room to temporarily store diapers until they get moved to the bathroom for storage until washing.)

The top shelf of the changing table is where I keep my diapering needs. See below for a closeup of the top shelf diapering extravaganza.


Back Row:

Front Row:

  • Disposable Nursing Pads: Obviously also not for diapering. They’re great for the first few months of nursing before your boobs get their flow figured out. I also have a two sets of washable pads.
  • Disposable Diapers: I use these when we’re headed out for a while or when traveling (because cloth take up so much darn room they’d need a suitcase of their own!). I have used a few different brands but prefer Seventh Generation or Babyganics because there is less/no chemical smell.
  • Osocozy Prefolds
  • Snappi Diaper Fastener: I have two packs in each size. It’s helpful to have extras because inevitably one is in the wash, or in the bathroom, or wherever they shouldn’t be.
  • Oxo Perfect Pull Wipe Dispenser: If you’re also using disposable wipes, this helps a lot when you’re holding your squiggly, poo-covered baby and need to grab a wipe. I only use flannel wipes now (all disposable ones seem to give her a rash) so I’ve given this to a friend.

What we use for the actual cloth diapering:

  • Bedroom Setup:
    • Osocozy Prefolds – 36
    • Thirsties Duo-Wrap Diaper Covers – 6. I’ve used a few different brands of covers, and though these have a few flaws, I’ve found they’re my favorite.
    • Snappi Diaper Fastener
    • Flannel Wipes – I have about 36 of this thinner type, but my friend gifted me about 30 of her old ones and they’re so much nicer. I keep a stack of dry ones to use in place of tissue (wiping noses mostly).
    • Lusa Baby Wipe Juice – 1 bottle lasted me over 4 months
    • Measuring cup – or some sort of container to mix the water/juice in
    • 2 gallon bucket – to hold wet wipes. I learned the hard way to keep the lid off (otherwise you can get mold or a musty smell).
    • Planet Wise Wet Diaper Bag – Small – for use to transfer dirty diapers to the bathroom.
  • Bathroom Setup:

Below is what I use to create the wet wipes.


And this is the set up in the bathroom.


A typical change goes like this:

  • Put squirmy baby on table.
  • Open diaper cover.
  • Put new diaper under current dirty diaper.
  • Remove dirty diaper. Place in small wet bag.
  • Wipe as necessary and put wipes in wet bag.
  • Fasten new diaper, and change diaper cover if necessary.
  • If it was a poo diaper, bring it into the bathroom instead of putting it in the wet bag.
  • If necessary, set up Spray Pal, and spray away.
  • Squeeze out the water and drop the diaper into the diapers-only trash can.
  • After about 2 days, or whenever you need diapers/the bags are full, do a wash.
  • Rinse, repeat.

Wondering how to wash cloth diapers? That’ll come next.


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