How to Cloth Diaper for Beginners

Cloth Diapering 101

For many parents, this COVID-19 pandemic means adopting a more frugal lifestyle. It also means being prepared for shortages in baby supplies (including disposable diapers) due to a fragile supply chain. These concerns join the many other reasons for parents to consider cloth diapering for their babies. Many moms and dads are saying goodbye to disposables because of the cost, the environment, or the appeal of having all those cute colors and designs on baby’s tush. If you’re considering cloth diapers or just starting out, here are the basics.

It’s easier than you think!


Cloth diapers have come a long way from when your parents or grandparents diapered their babies. Diaper pins are all but a relic from the past and plastic pants are no longer the only way to prevent leaks. There is so much variety they can be truly customized to your lifestyle, aesthetic preferences, and laundry set-up.

There is a diaper that works for everybody (and every baby).

The choices seem almost endless. It may take time to find a preference for which type of diaper works best for you & your baby. Here’s a little breakdown to make the decision easier…

  • An all-in-one cloth diaper is one leakproof piece that goes on and off the baby in a manner similar to a disposable, with snaps or velcro.
  • All-in-two diapers feature an absorbent insert attached to the inside of a waterproof diaper cover. The insert separates partially or fully for ease of drying.
  • Pre-folds are flat, thick, rectangular cotton or hemp diapers that you will lay inside a separate waterproof diaper cover.
  • Fitted diapers are contoured to baby’s body but still need the protection of a waterproof cover.
  • Flat diapers are large, thin cotton fabric squares that can be folded in many different ways and require a separate cover.
  • Pocket diapers feature a pocket into which you will stuff separate absorbent material such as a folded prefold diaper, an ultra-absorbent bamboo or microfiber liner, etc.
  • Hybrid diapers are covers that allow the use of either a washable cloth insert or a disposable insert for those who prefer not to wash soiled diapers or for during trips where laundry isn’t available. 

You can use diaper rash ointment without destroying your cloth diapers.

Thick, petroleum-based commercial diaper creams available at mainstream retailers aren’t great for cloth diapers. Natural, cloth diaper safe ointments and salves won’t destroy your diapers or require special laundering because they are made of ingredients that wash more easily out of cloth. Look for petrolatum (petroleum) and paraben free diaper creams (such as our Baby Salve or Newborn Salve) that are safe for both natural and synthetic fabrics. Natural products like these have gentle vegetable oil as their main ingredient which can be removed from diapers with just hot water and diaper-safe laundry detergent. Products that are free from chemicals and synthetics are also better for baby’s skin.

Happy diapering!

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