I’m just going to say this now. To those of you who are unfamiliar with the world of cloth diapering it can be very overwhelming and confusing in the beginning. There are all sorts of abbreviations and acronyms and there is no one right way to do it. Every family finds their own system that works for them eventually, but getting started can feel like learning a new language.
These are the basic types of cloth diapers:
Prefolds– those big squares of fabric most of us think of when we think cloth diapers. They can be folded in a variety of ways, and they need a cover to go over them.
Fitteds– these look like, and go on and off very similarly to a disposable diaper (some fastened by Velcro, some by snaps), but they are made of cloth and also need a separate cover to go over them. Often they are made of hemp, cotton or bamboo velour.
Pockets– these look like, and go on and come off just like a disposable diaper, too. They do not need a cover. Think of them as a waterproof shell that is stuffed with absorbent inserts. There are two pieces to this diaper. You remove the insert, wash it along with the cover, and then re-stuff it before using it. (All-In-Twos are a sort of subset of pocket diapers that sometimes offer the option of using disposable/compostable inserts with a waterproof cover.)
All In Ones (AIOs) – these are the closest thing you’ll get to the simplicity of a disposable diaper. There is no need to stuff anything in them, and they don’t need a cover. Conversely, they take a while to dry, and it’s hard to adjust their absorbency.
Within each of these categories, some are one size fits most and some are sized for each stage of growth.
We started out using newborn sized fitteds by Kissaluvs with covers, and then we transitioned into mostly pocket diapers by Bum Genius when our son was 10 weeks old and a chunky monkey with walrus rolls up and down his legs. He’s 20 months old now, and we’re still using the same pocket diapers since they’ve grown with him.
When he was exclusively breastfed we just threw the whole diaper, poop and all, into the plastic step-lid trashcan, lined with a special bag, called a “wet bag”. I know that sounds like a stink bomb waiting to happen, but it never smelled. Never. Now that he’s eating solids and long gone are the days of mild smelling, water-soluble breast milk poop, we use flushable liners to flush his poop down the toilet before tossing the diapers in the pail.
The diapers are washed every 2 or 3 days, starting with a cold rinse, followed by a hot wash and a second cold rinse. We use Charlie’s Soap on all our laundry. It’s cloth diaper friendly, meaning it’s not going to build up on the diapers, making them repel liquid, instead of soaking it up.
When we leave the house I take a small, zippered wet bag with me and use it to keep soiled diapers in. Again, I know you’re thinking “Yuck!” I swear, it doesn’t smell. We use cloth wipes, which are just thin washcloths, and we wash them right along with the diapers.
To read more about the specifics of our cloth diaper routine, and for a more comprehensive list of resources, check out my blog post “Cloth Diapering- the specifics”.