How Much Does A Full Diaper Stash Cost?

Over the weekend I had three very patient customers who helped me put this post together.  The question to answer was basically “What is the cost difference between the different styles of cloth diapers and how many do I need to get a full stash?”  So, without further ado…

Prefold Diapers

Prefolds and Covers

This is the least expensive and least like disposable diapers option.  The absolute cheapest way to get a full stash of cloth diapers – for a baby under 6 months “full stash” = 24 diaper changes, or 2 full days.  As your baby grows he/she will go through fewer diapers each day so you can stretch out the time between washes a bit, or get by with fewer diapers.  With the prefold + cover system, 1 diaper change = 1 prefold diaper PLUS you’ll need 1 cover for every 3-4 diapers.  (You’ll reuse each cover, on average, 3-4 times).

The Econobum system by BumGenius is a one-size prefold + cover system.  The Econobum Full Kit contains 12 diapers, 3 covers, and a wet bag for $49.99.  Two of these come in at right under $100 and voila! you have your stash.  (Econobum diapers will not start fitting till 8-10 lbs so they will not always fit a newborn from day 1). Your $100 for the Econobum system will pay for itself after just 50 days of use… that’s not even 2 months!!

The Thirsties Duo Wraps with traditionalPrefolds are another good option.  Duo Wraps come in two sizes that roughly correspond with the infant size and regular/premium size prefolds.  Size 1 Duo Wraps will fit 6-18 lbs and Size 2 fit 18-40.  They WILL fit a full term newborn baby from day 1.  You’ll need 24 infant size prefolds, 6 Duo Wraps, and a pack of Snappi diaper fasteners, for a total of around $130.  Then when your baby gets to be around 12-18 lbs you’ll get the next size Duo Wraps and prefolds for the next size, which will last you till potty training.  If you get another 24 of the next size up and 6 more Duo Wraps that will be another $136 for a total diaper expense of $266.  A $266 cloth diaper stash would pay for itself in 133 days, or a little less than 4 1/2 months.

If you decide to use a one-size cover with your prefolds instead of the Duo Wraps you could try the Rumparooz one-size cover which will start fitting at 8 lbs – so either on day 1 or pretty close too it.  6 Rumparooz covers will cost $96, plus 24 infant prefolds, 24 regular/premium prefolds, and a pack of snappis comes to a total diaper cost of about $209.  Not bad compared with $2000-2500 for disposables!  The prefolds + Rumparooz cover system would pay for itself in 104.5 days, or just under 3 1/2 months.

Flip Day Pack contains 6 diaper changes

All-in-Two’s (AI2’s)

AI2’s range in price depending on factors like diaper features, country of origin, one-size v.s. sized inserts, etc.  Let’s look at the low-end and high-end systems.

The Flip diaper system with stay-dry inserts is the least expensive of the AI2 systems.  The one-size cover and one-size inserts will fit babies from 8 or 10 to 35 lbs.  They’re sold in “Day Packs” for $49.95.  Each Day Pack contains 6 inserts and 2 covers – enough for 6 changes.  So 4 Day Packs will be a full stash and will cost you just under $200.  The Flip system will pay for itself in 100 days, or just a little bit over 3 months.  If you choose to upgrade to the organic inserts for an additional $10 per day pack, the total cost of $240 will pay for itself in 120 days or 4 months.

The Best Bottom System is one of the higher-end AI2 systems.  Inner gussets, fun prints, a double layer of waterproof PUL, and made in the USA status are all things that bump the price up from the Flips, but the biggest difference in the price comes from the fact that there are 3 different size inserts to use with the one-size cover.  Different size inserts mean the diaper will be trimmer on a small baby, and more absorbent on a big baby.  In fact, if you use the Best Bottom system and upgrade to the hemp inserts, you’ll be using one of the TRIMMEST cloth diaper systems around.  The Best Bottoms full package deal costs around $407 for the stay-dry microfiber inserts (hemp is a little more).  It will fit babies from 6-35 lbs, and you can purchase extenders (sold separately) to increase that range up to 50 lbs!  This package would pay for itself in about 203 days or a little less than 7 months.

Fuzzibunz Elite one-size pocket diaper

Pocket Diapers

Pocket Diapers are easier to figure out how many you need because for 24 diaper changes you just buy 24 diapers, period.  Between the BumGenius 4.0 and the Fuzzibunz Elite pocket diaper, a full stash of 24 will range from about $406-455.  Both these diapers will fit from 8 or 10 up to 35 lbs.  If you need a one-size pocket diaper that will definitely start fitting at 8 lbs, try the Rumparooz (though it is a bit pricier).  A full stash of pocket diapers will pay for itself in about 7 months, closer to 6 1/2 months for the less expensive and closer to 7 1/2 for the more expensive diapers.

BumGenius Freetime one-size all-in-one

All-in-one’s (AIO’s)

Our two most popular aio’s at time of writing are both BumGenius diapers: the organic cotton Elemental and the stay-dry polyester Freetime.  Both are one-size diapers that will fit from 8 or 10 to 35 lbs.  The Elemental is the other diaper besides the Best Bottom ai2 with hemp inserts that I would consider the absolute trimmest cloth diaper.  Individual prices are 24.95 for the Elemental, 19.95 for the Freetime.  With quantity discounts, 24 Elementals will cost around $530 while 24 Freetimes will cost around $410.  This means they will pay for themselves in a little less than 9 months (Elemental) or a little less than 7 months (Freetime.)

We’ll talk about optional accessories next time like wet bags, wipes, etc.

*Estimated disposable diaper costs were figured by estimating 10 diapers/day at .20 per diaper, with the understanding that as babies grow and go through fewer diapers per day the cost per diaoper goes up.  If you choose brand-name or specialty disposable diapers the costs will be significantly higher and the cloth diapers will pay for themselves even more quickly. I did not factor in the cost of washing the diapers mainly because I didn’t want to do the math but also because unless you are using a coin operated washer, the costs are negligible.

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Stripping Diapers

Q. How do I know if my diapers need to be stripped?

A. You may start to experience one or more of the following problems: repelling, decreased absorbency, stinkiness even after being washed, or intense ammonia smell when your baby wets.

  Repelling means that instead of urine being absorbed into the diaper, it is rolling off and leaking.  It’s different than just needing more absorbency, because when you go to change your baby’s wet clothes and diaper, you’ll find that the diaper itself is not that wet. 

Q. How did my diapers get residue in them?

A. There are several ways a diaper can get residue: incorrect laundry detergent, rash creams, and hard water. 

 First, of course, cloth diapers need to be washed in a clean-rinsing and additive-free detergent like Rockin Green, Charlie’s Soap, or Tiny Bubbles.  NOT Dreft!!  If they are washed in a conventional laundry detergent with additives like scents, colors, fabric softeners, and optical brighteners, they can pick up residue from the detergent. 

Another frequent culprit is rash creams.  Many diaper rash creams work by making a waterproof barrier on your baby’s skin – which is good for protecting their skin, but bad if it gets on the diaper.  Be sure to use a cloth-safe rash cream like Grandma El’s or Earth Mama Angel Baby.  If you must use a cream that is not safe for cloth diapers, be sure to use a liner to protect your diapers. 

Finally (and we get this a lot here in the DFW area), hard water is often the culprit, especially if you are already being careful about your detergent and your rash cream.  “Hard” water is water with a high amount of minerals dissolved in it.  (It’s opposite, “soft” water is what you have when the soap is very difficult to wash off and your hands feel slippery even after rinsing, when washing your hands.)  These minerals in the hard water can be deposited onto and into the fibers of your diapers, where they decrease absorbency and hold onto stink – especially ammonia.  This happens to my kiddo’s diapers about once a month or so, even though I use residue-free detergent and cloth-safe ointment.  When this happens, I strip my diapers. 

Q. What exactly is stripping diapers and how do I do it?

A. Stripping your diapers is just removing the residues from them.  You can use the multiple-rinse method or the soaking method.

The multiple-rinse method is one that I have seen a lot on online cloth diaper communities.  Basically, you wash your diapers in HOT water with just a squirt of Dawn liquid dish soap.  Then you continue to run hot wash/rinse or just hot rinse cycles until there are no suds left.  This method works best for top-loading washing machines where you can lift up the lid in the middle of the wash cycle to look for suds.  It’s a bit difficult for me to use with my front-loading machine, so I use the soak method.

To use the soak method (as found on the back of packages of Rockin Green detergent), you will soak your diapers in double the normal amount of cloth-safe laundry detergent for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.  Then, wash as usual (prewash + hot wash + rinse + extra rinse), but don’t use any detergent in your prewash.  If your diapers were clean before you did the soak, you don’t have to use detergent in the prewash or the regular wash. 

If your washer doesn’t have a “soak” button there are two ways to do this.  In a top loader, just set your washer for a regular laundry cycle, and then as soon as it is full and agitates for a minute or so (to make sure everything is wet through), turn your washer off and let everything soak in there.  You can also take your clean-but-not-stripped diapers and soak them in your bathtub.  (I suppose you could soak your dirty diapers in the tub too but then you would have to clean your tub afterwards.)  If you soak in your bathtub, it goes without saying to make sure you keep your bathroom door CLOSED since a tub full of water is a safety hazard for small children.

Giveaway Time!

Yes, it’s Friday and today we are giving away a package of the NEW Rockin Green Funk Rock Natural Ammonia Bouncer.  So new, it’s not even on the market yet, but we have one!  One package of Funk Rock will de-stink your diapers AND keep the stinkies away for a full month when added to your pre-wash cycle. 

To enter, please leave a comment with one question you have about cloth diapering, babywearing, or breastfeeding.  The winner will be chosen randomly, but questions will be answered in future blog posts.

Cloth Wipes

Why cloth wipes?

I admit, when we first switched to cloth diapering, I thought there was no way I was going to ever use cloth wipes.  “I’m willing to make a lot of sacrifices to save money,” I told my husband, “but I am NOT going to save THAT much money!”  We looked at our budget and decided that with all the money we would be saving with not buying disposable diapers, we could afford to “splurge” on disposable wipes.  “A Mommy luxury”, I thought of them. 

Fast forward a couple of weeks, to when my new baby had a huge poo-splosion in his diaper.  It was epic.  I mean it took 5 or 6 wipes to finally get him cleaned off.  After this messy job was done, I tossed the cloth diaper in the diaper pail right next to the changing table, and started looking around to find where I could put the wipes.  This was my first realization: you can’t put disposable wipes in with your cloth diapers. 

I knew you weren’t supposed to leave a baby on the changing table, but I had no room to put a clean diaper on him (since there was a mountain of poopy wipes on the changing table!) so I carried my half-naked baby to the bathroom where I put the wipes in the bathroom trash can.  This was when I had my second realization: Around here, we take out the trash when the trash can is full.  But with only wipes, no diapers, going in that trash can, it was going to be a LONG time before it got full.  And 3 month old poopy wipes were not something I wanted in my bathroom. 

At the next diaper change, I grabbed some baby washcloths (we had a million of those hanging around) and got them wet in the sink.  They worked GREAT, got my baby’s bottom super clean, and best of all, I could toss them right in the diaper pail!

But there was still a part of me that just thought cloth wipes were gross.  Cloth diapers made sense to me, but cloth wipes were just… weird.  But then I started thinking about cloth napkins.  Like wipes, napkins come in cloth or disposable.  Like wipes, the cloth ones just work so much better.  And like wipes, we put them against our skin and get them very dirty, then we wash them, and use them again. 

I realized it had never occurred to me when sitting down to eat at a fancy restaurant with crisp white cloth napkins, to ask the waiter whether or not this napkin had been used before.  Of course it has!  And not only that, but used by a perfect stranger, and washed by an anonymous laundry service somewhere – yet I trust that it’s clean.  How much more then could I trust that the wipes which had only been used before by MY baby, and had been personally washed by ME, were clean? 

How to use cloth wipes

You’ll need about 10 wipes to get started, but ideally you’ll want to have 1 wipe per diaper in your stash.  You won’t always use a wipe with each diaper change, but with some really messy ones you will use more than one wipe.  Pretty much anything can be a wipe – baby washcloths or squares of flannel work just fine in a pinch.  My favorites are the thicker ones made specifically to be baby wipes.  I make my own (and sell them in the store) that are sherpa on one side and printed flannel on the other.  My philosophy is, you’re going to be looking at these every day for the next two years, so make sure they’re pretty and you like looking at them! 

You can just get the wipes wet in the sink before each use, but most people like to use some kind of wipes solution.  We carry two different kinds of wipe solution soap bits, Sheepish Grins Washy Wafers and SweetSydneyBean’s Organic Soap Bits.  Just put one soap bit or wafer into a cup of warm water and shake it up.  It will dissolve to form a mild wipe solution (and will smell SO GOOD!).  Most people like to keep their cloth wipes in an empty disposable wipes container and pour the solution over the wipes to premoisten them.  I did this and my then-4 year old used them to clean the bathroom with, so now I keep my wipes solution in a squirt bottle and wet each one as I need it.  (A peri bottle from the hospital works GREAT for wipes solution.)

All-in-Two Diapers: New Kids on the Block

*If you’re looking for the Scratch Me Not giveaway entry page, it’s the entry after this one. 🙂

This will wrap up our series of posts introducing the main types of cloth diapers.  We’ve gone through the diapers that are used with waterproof covers (flat fold, prefold, contour, and fitted diapers) and two of the kind that go on in one piece with no cover required (all-in-one and pocket diapers).  The last one, and the last to hit the market, is the All-in-two diaper, or AI2. 

WHAT IS AN ALL-IN-TWO DIAPER?

An AI2 builds on the concept of a 2-part diaper that is assembled before putting on the baby, like a pocket diaper.  Unlike a pocket diaper, the absorbent part fastens directly to the waterproof shell and goes right up against the baby’s skin.  The benefit to this is that instead of having to wash both the diaper and the insert like with a pocket diaper, you can switch out a dirty absorbent part (sometimes called a soaker pad) for a clean one and reuse the outer waterproof shell.  Since the outer shell has all the fancy parts like velcro/snaps, elastic, and waterproofing, it is the more expensive part. 

WHAT ARE THE BENFITS?

The cost benefit is that you don’t need as many shells as you do inserts, and the inserts are relatively inexpensive.  On average, you will need 1 waterproof shell for every 2-3 absorbent soaker pads.  The AI2 system is very similar to a contour/cover system, except that you assemble the diaper before putting it on the baby instead of having to put on the absorbent contour diaper and then put on the waterproof cover in a second, separate step. 

Another benefit is that the AI2 system is more versatile.  In some systems, like the SoftBums diapers, you can choose your soaker fabric: either stay-dry microfiber OR organic bamboo velour.  Also, some AI2 brands have a disposable soaker option.  Gro-Via makes biodegradable, chlorine-free, fragrance-free disposable soakers that can be used inside their cloth shells (or any other AI2 shell, unstuffed pocket diaper, or PUL diaper cover).  This option is very popular with people who want to use cloth diapers but are nervous about making the plunge to full-time cloth.  They have the option to use cloth at home and disposables when they’re out of the house (or at daycare, or with a sitter, or on a weekend trip) while still reducing their carbon footprint and the amount of chemicals against their baby’s skin. 

WHAT ARE THE DOWNSIDES TO AN ALL-IN-TWO SYSTEM?

The biggest downside is that once you decide on a particular AI2 system, you are mostly committed to that brand.  Unlike with a pocket diaper, the soakers/inserts are not interchangeable.  A soaker from one brand will not fit in another brand.  You really don’t want to be fishing around trying to match a cover to a soaker of the same brand in the middle of a diaper change, so for practicality’s sake it’s best to stick with one brand.  Not surprisingly, the AI2 systems are most popular with new parents who are building their cloth diaper stash for the first time.  Personally I don’t use the AI2 system (though I do have a few AI2 diapers, I use them like all-in-one’s and wash the whole thing, soaker and shell together, every time).  My reason is just that I already have quite a few all-in-one and pocket diapers and I don’t really want to get rid of all of them and replace them with all one kind of diaper.  For someone who is building their stash all at once, though, the price savings are significant. 

For example, 24 BumGenius Elemental diapers, a one-size all-in-one with organic cotton inner, costs $529.90.  In comparison, the Gro-Via Live package, a one-size all-in-two with organic cotton inner, costs just $375 and includes 12 shells, 24 absorbent soakers, and 4 boosters (to add absorbency for nighttime diapering).  Both packages will cloth-diaper a baby full-time from 8-10* to 35 lbs – basically infant to potty training age.  (*Most one-size diapers are rated for babies 8-35 lbs.  However in my experience although SOME babies’ legs may be fat enough to get a snug fit at 8 lbs, most babies don’t fit an 8-35 lb diaper until they are about 10 lbs.)

WHAT AI2 BRANDS DO YOU CARRY?  WHICH ONE SHOULD I CHOOSE?

Babies Bottoms and More carries the Flip, Gro-Via, and SoftBums all-in-two systems. 

Inside view of the Flip shell

Flip is made in Egypt by BumGenius and has the same BG fit we all love.  The shells come in 8 pastel colors including white (bold versions of four of the colors may still be available but are no longer being manufactured.)  You can choose between a stay-dry insert (microfiber topped with wicking suedecloth) or organic cotton (the same soft, stretchy cotton knit as in BumGenius’ Elemental organic AIO).  To use, simply fold the insert to fit and tuck the ends under the flaps inside the Flip cover and put on your baby.  Snap closures wear well and prevent toddler streaking.  The Flip system will fit babies 8-10 to 35 lbs.  To get a stash of stay-dry Flips (12 covers and 24 inserts) it would cost you about $255.60, for the same package in the organic it will cost about $295.60.

The Flip system is completely interchangable with the more inexpensive Econobum system. 

Interior of a Gro-Via Shell plus Soaker

Gro-Via is made in China and comes in 6 solid colors (including vanilla) and 4 prints.  The standard closure is velcro, although some shell colors are offered in snaps and you can have any shell converted to snap closures for $3.50 per shell.  The organic cotton soakers are backed in PUL (waterproof fabric) to help keep the outer shell cleaner.  They snap in to the shell with two snaps – one on each end of the soaker.  Boosters (lay inside the diaper on top of the soaker pad to “boost” absorbency) are available in both organic cotton and stay-dry fabric.  Disposable, biodegradable soakers are also available.  Gro-Via diapers fit babies from 8-10 to 35 lbs.  The Gro-Via Experience package includes 12 shells, 24 soakers, and 4 boosters for $375.  Biodegradable, disposable soakers are available for $7.99 for a 20-pack. 

Inside of a SoftBums Shell and Pod

SoftBums are made in the USA and come in 9 solid colors and 3 prints.  The most common closure is velcro although snap SoftBums shells are sometimes available.  Soakers are available in either Dry-touch (microfiber topped with wicking fleece) or Organic (bamboo velour – SUPER soft and more absorbent than cotton).  They snap in to the back of the shell with a single snap, and then are folded to the length of the diaper in front.  SoftBums uses a unique drawstring and toggle system on the elastic to adjust the size instead of the snap-down front system that Gro-Via and Flip diapers use.  The benefit of the SoftBums “slide2size” system is that the diaper will actually fit a baby as small as 6 lbs, making it a great choice for parents who want a one-size diaper that will fit their baby from Day 1.  (One downside to the SoftBums adjustment system is that it takes a few seconds longer to adjust the size than with the snap-down system.  Usually this is not an issue since you only adjust the size as your baby grows, but if you plan on having two different-age children sharing the same diapers it’s worth considering how quickly you can adjust the diapers.)

The SoftBums Good To Go Pack includes 8 shells, 24 “pods” (soakers), and 8 “mini pods” (doublers, or can be used alone as soakers for newborns) for $282.95, or $385.95 for Organic bamboo.  You could add 4 extra shells for an additional $87.80, or add the Newborn Booster Pack which contains 4 shells and 24 “mini pods” (newborn soakers) for an additional $155.95 ($179.95 for Organic Bamboo mini pods).

Diaper Fabrics

One of the important things to know when shopping for cloth diapers is what fabric it is made of.  Different fabrics have different absorbency levels and other characteristics, like care instructions and whether or not they feel dry to the touch when the diaper is wet.  But who really knows the difference between a hemp/cotton blend fleece and a bamboo french terry?  Read on!

The first thing to remember is that the name of a fabric will contain two words.  The first word refers to what fiber the fabric is made of, like cotton, polyester, silk, wool, etc.  The second word describes what has been done to the fiber, how it was woven or knitted.  You need to know both pieces of information to figure out what the fabric will feel like in your hand. 

For example, polyester fleece is made from polyester and has a thick, fluffy, stretchy texture.  There is also cotton fleece, bamboo fleece, and hemp fleece.  (All three of these are absorbent and used for inner diaper materials, polyester fleece is not absorbent and depending on the thickness can be used for a stay-dry liner against the baby’s skin or a water resistant diaper cover.)

We’ll go over absorbent fabrics today, and save the waterproof fabrics for another day. 

Diaper Twill,  flannel: Woven, non-stretchy cotton fabrics.  They are relatively thin, but usually are layered together to make absorbency.  Prefolds are made from diaper twill, which is also used inside some fitted and all-in-one diapers. 

Terrycloth: towel-like texture.  Regular terrycloth is not used often in diapers, usually it is french terry or burley knit terry.  French terry is knit (stretchy) and has tiny terrycloth loops on only one side.  Burley knit terry is like a very thick, chunky french terry. 

French Terry in several colors

*Microfiber terry is a terrycloth made from polyester microfiber.  It is very popular for pocket diaper inserts, but should not be used directly against the baby’s skin.

Sherpa: Kind of a cross between a knit terry and a fleece, sherpa is burley knit terry that has been brushed to cause the loops to puff out, fluff up, and get softer.  It is used mainly in fitted diapers and cloth wipes, chosen for it’s great texture that is soft, yet absorbs very quickly because of the large surface area.  Happy Hempy’s fitted diapers are made from sherpa.

Fleece: A fuzzy, thick fabric, very similar to the inside of a new sweatshirt.  Some fleece is only fuzzy on one side, like a sweatshirt, but other kinds are thicker and fuzzy on both sides.  Babykicks hemp prefolds are made from hemp fleece; Tiny Tush Deluxe cloth wipes are made from cotton fleece.

Prefold made from Hemp Fleece

Jersey and Interlock: t-shirt fabric.  Jersey is thinner while interlock is thicker and generally softer.  BumGenius one-size Elemental diaper has organic cotton interlock on the inside. 

Velour: like velvet with a stretch. Bamboo velour is very popular.

Bamboo Velour fabric

Flatfold diaper: the old is new again

A flat fold diaper

Recently I have noticed an increase in the number of parents who are a fan of flatfold diapers, or Flats for short.  The ancestor of the prefold, a flat diaper is just a large square of absorbent fabric, usually woven cotton.   Way-back-when, frontier mamas used to use old flour sacks as diapers, folded in much the same way as today’s flatfolds.  In fact, that is where the name “pre-folds” came from, in that they have been “pre-folded” to have extra absorbency down the middle and multiple layers of fabric. 

There are many benefits to using flat diapers, like:

  • Cost – most flat diapers range from $1 – 3 per diaper.  (www.babiesbottomsandmore.com carries Imse Vimse organic flat diapers in a 4-pack for $8.50-10.50 depending on size) http://www.babiesbottomsandmore.com/imse-vimse-organic-flat-diapers.html
  • Extreme versatility – a single flat diaper can be folded different ways to fit a 6-lb newborn or a 35-lb toddler.  For extra absorbency or to use as a diaper doubler in other diapers, just fold the flat diaper into a small rectangle and lay inside another flat diaper.  I have used flat diapers as pocket inserts, burp cloths, and when they get worn out, cleaning rags.
  • Energy savings – Flat diapers are really the only type of cloth diaper that can easily be hand-washed, and the single layer of fabric dries very quickly.  I have a friend who swears that in this Texas heat, by the time she finishes hanging up the last one on her clothes line she can go back to the beginning and start taking them down right away, they’re already dry!

There are also reasons some parents choose not to use flat diapers:

  • They do require quite a bit of folding, which while not difficult, is more work than other kinds of diapers and can be intimidating for other caregivers like babysitters or day care.
  • They will need some kind of diaper fastener, either pins or a Snappi
  • You will need to use a cover with these diapers; they are not self-contained like an all-in-one.

Personally, I enjoy the oragami-like folding of flats and I marvel that it is possible to make a diaper out of a simple piece of cloth.  Curious?  Come by our store and ask to play around with one of our sample flatfold diapers.  We’ll show you how to fold it and let you decide for yourself whether you may want to try flats!

This way of folding is called the "oragami fold"

Prefolds, they’re not as bad as you think!

Sorry I’ve skipped a couple days of posting.  My morning sickness has been especially bad for the past few days.  But I’m sure you don’t want to hear about THAT, so let’s get to diaper talk!

For today, let’s talk prefolds.  A lot of people get scared off by prefolds – one look at the rectangular burp-cloth type diaper and you start to think about pins, dunking, and rubber pants!  So let me assure you, it is possible to use prefolds without any pins, dunking, OR rubber pants. 

Folding a prefold isn’t hard, actually – there are a lot of videos on YouTube that show you how to do it better than I could describe here.  But you need something to hold the diaper on the baby, right?  Some people still do prefer pins, but I always struggled with keeping them sharp enough to easily go through all those layers of fabric and worrying that I’d stab myself or my baby.  Now there is a different diaper fastener called a Snappi – I like it much better than pins.  It’s a T-shaped piece of stretchy plastic that has little grippy teeth on all three ends of the “T”.  These teeth grip the diaper fabric just like those things you use to put on ace bandages.  So you fold the diaper onto the baby, run the Snappi across the diaper fabric on one side, stretch it to the other side and attach, and then pull the center part down and let it grip there.  Ta-da!  You’ve just put an elastic waistband on the diaper, resulting in a good, snug fit. 

How does a Snappi work?

Okay, so what about dunking?  Well, first of all, before your baby starts eating solids, you don’t have to do anything with a poopy diaper besides put it in the diaper pail for laundry day.  It’s all water-soluble and will wash right out.  If you already have a baby you’ll know I’m not lying when I say that breastfed poo really does not stink.  Once your baby starts on solids, you will need to shake any poop into the toilet before you put the diaper in the pail.  When your baby starts eating lots of solids (not purees), the poop will shake off quite easily.  For that in-between stage, I LOVE flushable liners.  Flushable liners are paper-towel sized sheets of flushable, biodegradable material that catch any solid waste.  They come in rolls of 100-200 and cost ranges between $8-12 per roll.  To use, you just lay one liner on the diaper before you put it on your baby.  Then, when changing the diaper, just lift off the liner and flush!  It will easily lift off any poop, and the amount of waste is comparable to the amount of toilet paper an adult uses.  If your baby usually poops at a certain time each day, you can even just use the liner for that diaper change only. 

Ah, you say, but what about those horrible rubber pants? I know, I’ve used them!  They don’t last very long, because if they get a hole in the plastic they’ll rip all the way down, and they always seem to be either too big (leaks!) or too small (red marks) around your baby’s legs.  Plus, if you have a really messy diaper, you have to pull them down the baby’s legs to take the diaper off, and I’ve found that in that case you have to wipe off so much of your baby’s bum AND legs that you might as well put them in the bathtub.  The good news is that today’s diaper covers are very different from the old rubber pants.  First of all, instead of being made of vinyl, they’re made of PUL, which is a waterproof polyester fabric.  That’s right, it’s a real fabric – not plastic-y feeling and won’t rip!  Secondly, the covers wrap around your baby and velcro (or snap) on in the same way that a disposable diaper would.  This is good news for two reasons.  One, you can get a better fit around the legs and waist with the adjustable velcro/snaps.  This means leaks and blowouts are almost nonexistent!  Yay!  Two, when you have those epic poopsplosions, you can change the diaper without getting the mess everywhere – just open up the cover, remove the snappi, and wipe your baby’s bum. 

Bummis diaper cover

One more thing about prefolds, and that is how to pick a good quality one.  Not all prefolds are created equal.  First, you want one that is 100% cotton (or hemp or bamboo, but the point is you want natural fibers).  Some Gerber prefolds actually have a layer of polyester in the center to pad it up, but unfortunately polyester is NOT absorbent.  Once you have narrowed it down to all natural fibers (let’s assume cotton), the next step is to figure out how many layers are in the diaper.  Most standard diaper-service quality (DSQ) prefolds are 4x6x4.  That means they have 4 layers of fabric on the side, 6 layers of fabric down the center panel, and 4 on the other side.  Slightly more absorbent and thicker are the “premium” prefolds, which are 4x8x4.  I prefer those because they are more absorbent.  Finally, you will encounter Chinese and Indian prefolds.  Chinese prefolds are a little sturdier, made from stronger fabric and the edges are sewn with stronger thread.  They tend to pill a little bit more than Indian prefolds.  Indian prefolds are softer than Chinese, but they are a little less durable.  Personally, I can’t really tell a difference by touch, but I prefer the Chinese because they last longer, and since we pass diapers down in our family of soon-to-be 4 kiddos, that’s important.