Today, we're looking at an oldie but a goodie- how to cloth diaper. That's such a loaded question, because there are a million ways to do it, and none of them are necessarily better or worse. But today, we'll show you how we're doing modern cloth diapering at Stout House. Here are the details.
Cloth for all
We first of all want to share a commitment that we have here at Stout House. We truly believe that cloth is for all. Whether you do it full time, part time, some of the time, on the weekends only, on the weekdays only, or any variation of possibilities, cloth is for you. Cloth diapering is one of the best journeys my wife and I have ever set out on. First of all, the cost savings we've seen over the years have been incredible. I haven't officially done the math, but I would be we've saved thousands over the first two years of his life. Beyond that, the reusability is great for the environment, they are so much more gentle on baby's skin, and they're honestly a lot of fun (believe it or not!)
Types of Cloth Diapering
Ah, yes. Like anything in life, there are multiple ways of mastering one end goal. In the end, we want a diaper solution that is affordable, sustainable, catches poops and pees, and secures what is best for baby and parent. I'll be brief, but I want to highlight some of what's out there below.
Pre-Fold Cloth Diapers
Pre-folds are the closest thing that you might imagine to old school cloth diapering. They are a shaped piece of fabric with multiple layers for absorbency. They are typically accompanied with a "diaper cover" to, you guessed it, cover the pre-folds on the exterior.
Hybrid Cloth Diapers
A hybrid cloth diaper is the exterior portion of a hybrid system. This is a very versatile way to cloth diaper, as it really allows the parent to decide what is touching baby's skin. In this system, you can choose whatever you'd like for the absorbency part of the diaper. You could choose a pre-fold diaper, a typical "insert", a disposable option, or anything your heart desires. Then the hybrid diaper comes in to "cover" the insert. These diapers are typically made of a PUL material, making them moisture resistant. In other words, they're what keep the pee in the diapy.
All in one cloth diapers get their namesake because they are quite literally "all in one." With this system, your absorbent insert layer is attached to the water resistant outer layer, making a system that is all encompassing. The plus side of this system is that it's a little more convenient. You don't have multiple pieces laying around that make up one single cloth diaper. The draw back, however, is that you really have no options when it comes to what types of inserts you'd like to use. Additionally, if anything goes wrong and the absorbent layer loses its absorbency, you have an entire diaper that won't work, as opposed to just the insert.
And now for what is easily our favorite: The pocket diaper. Pocket diapers get their name from having a single "pocket" between two layers of fabric that an absorbent insert is stuffed into. At Stout House, we use athletic wicking jersey (AWJ) on the inner side of our diapers to be gentle on baby's skin and also to get the moisture off of baby as soon as possible. The system works by wicking the moisture away from the skin, absorbing it in the insert, and protecting baby's clothes through the final layer that is a water resistant material (we use PUL). It really is a great system that has worked super well for most parents over the years. At Stout House, our pocket diapers are even designed to grow with your baby, with specialty snaps that allow for size adjustments.
Getting started in cloth seems daunting and overwhelming, but frankly, it is easier now more than ever. At Stout House, we always say that we are selling the modern cloth diaper. It's extremely easy to master. Let's go over some details below.
Where do I buy?
The modern era has made things both extremely easy and extremely complicated when buying your first cloth diaper system. On the plus side, the internet is home to tens, if not hundreds of incredible cloth companies doing incredible things. On the flip side, there are also some companies in the market who are best to avoid. We aren't in the business of naming names, but we are asking you to do your due diligence. Some items to look for include the reviews. Look for store reviews, and look for individual item reviews. How do people like the products? That's important! Additionally, I would log onto social media and see if the company has a community over there. Take a deep look if they do. Is the community supportive? Is the community loving? Yes, you're buying a cloth diaper. But, if you choose, some companies have incredible communities of moms and dads out there who are supporting each other in the cloth journey. If you can find an incredible community, then you'll be doing great! Cloth diapering is very rewarding, but it can certainly be tiring at times. It's great to have people around you who can support you. At Stout House, we have a Stout House Cloth Diaper VIP Group on Facebook that is full of nearly five thousand parents who are extremely loving and supportive, and we couldn't be more proud of that community.
What do I buy?
There are so many avenues to cloth! At the end of the day, when it comes to diapers, I would suggest purchasing some "tests." Purchase one of each type that we described. Figure out how the systems work so you can make an educated decision on what will work best for you and your family. At Stout House, we've really landed on the pocket diaper as one of the best systems. But that is entirely up to you to decide for yourself! Everyone is different and every situation is unique.
Once you've figured out what type of diaper you'd like to buy, now it's time to do some math! When it comes to "how many" to buy, there is really one big question to ask yourself: "how often do I want to do diaper laundry?" One big thing to remember is that, depending on age, little ones can go through as many as six to ten diaper changes a day. If you're doing daily laundry, ten is probably a good number to shoot for. If you're doing laundry once a week, then you'll probably want a stash of as many as 60-70 potential diaper changes. For my family, we do our diaper laundry every other day, so we typically have a rotation of 12-20 diapers that we use (although we own way more than that. It's an addiction to some! Ha!) So, really, it's just a math problem.
Next, just like disposable diapers, you're going to want to have a place to store the soiled diapers. For an at home solution, we really recommend a cloth pail liner. These pail liners function sort of like a trash bag or "diaper genie" system. Most of them will fit flawlessly into any diaper pail you can find, and they are 100% machine washable. Use them to store your diapers, and then throw them in the laundry with your diapers for reuse. It really is a great system!
How Do I Buy?
This seems like a silly question, but in reality, there are a few different avenues you can take. You'll notice when you hop onto many cloth sites, including Stout House, that there are a bunch of beautiful designs and prints on these diapers! Usually, most of these are going to be a limited addition and hard to get your hands on once they're gone. Because of this, and because of the sustainable mindset behind them, you'll be able to find a lot of pre-loved (used) diapers on secondhand shop sites and groups. Usually, they are priced at retail or above. So, if you find a print that is a *must have* and is out of stock, you'll likely have to buy it second hand.
For the majority of people starting out, however, I'm sure you'll be more than happy with the selection available brand new on the market!
As far as market options are concerned, the majority of people are going to have to purchase their diapers online. The modern cloth boutique movement is incredible, and part of the newness of it all is that there are few storefronts that sell these items. At Stout House, we're in the beginning phases of starting to look for little boutiques to put some of our products in throughout the US, but as of now, we are found entirely online. There are many products and brands on Amazon, but it is my opinion, that the best communities and customer care you can find will be found in little online boutique shops, such as Stout House. I can't speak for everyone, but we really love interacting with our customers, so much so that we legitimately refer to everyone as family.
How Do I Care For My Cloth Diapers Now That I've Bought Them?
The key words for cloth diaper care are as follows: ABSORBENCY and INTEGRITY. The cloth needs to absorb moisture, and the cloth needs to stay as put together as humanly possible. And naturally, there are many factors that can affect absorbency and integrity when it is going through a wash cycle. First and foremost, that would include what detergents and cleaners you use. The golden rule is, first off, to never use bleach. That stuff will destroy a cloth diaper. Trust us, we've learned from hard experience. Ha! As far as detergents go, the gentler the better. Every cloth diaper you buy should have wash instructions on the tag. As a rule, if you follow these instructions and use only gentle cleaners, you should be good to go.
Some people really get into water softness or hardness tests, pH, and other in depth science. And if you're into that, we totally support it! I actually think it's really neat! But for a lot of people, it can get overwhelming to be there. Gentle detergents and gentle washing is the best rule of thumbs for beginners.
Once they are nice and clean from the washer, it is important to not introduce *too* much heat to them. So you can either hang them to dry or machine dry on a low temperature setting.
After they come out of the drier, it's super important to make sure they're stored cool and dry. The nature of cloth diapers is that they hold things that have a lot of bacteria. If the diapers aren't cleaned thoroughly or are stored in a damp environment, it is possible that mold could begin to form on them. However, this certainly shouldn't happen if they are cared for properly and cleaned often.
You've got this! Cleaning can feel daunting, but it really is very simple once you get your system down. You've got this!
How Do I Properly Put The Cloth Diaper On My Little One?
At Stout House, we sell pocket diapers and covers for newborns, which have similar systems, so for the purposes of this article, I'm going to focus on those two options, and mostly on Pockets.
The time has come! With diaper and insert in hand, you are excited and wondering what to do! And genuinely, to start, it's as easy as taking that insert and stuffing it right in the pocket of the pocket diaper. If you're using a Stout House diaper and insert, there are two snaps that can pair together to hold the insert in place. If not, it's a tad more work, but regardless of what system you're using, your goal is to get the insert to fit well inside the pocket without any bit of it sticking out of the pocket, as this could cause a leak. If you're using a diaper cover, simply place whatever absorbent insert you choose into the tummy flap and rear flap (if equipped) of the diaper, ensuring that none of the insert is escaping from the cover. Otherwise, some parents will choose to use a pre-flat with the diaper cover as well. There are many options!
Time to Button up!
Once you have that diaper stuffed and ready to roll, it's a simple as putting it on baby like you would a disposable diaper. Once you have it on, bring the waist and hip snaps together to create a snug, but comfortable fit around baby's waist and legs. If your diaper has rise snaps, you can also use that to adjust the vertical size of the diaper to fit your baby's needs.
Boom! Diapered Baby
And just like that, you are officially cloth diapering! Congrats! The overall rule of thumb for getting that perfect fit is to make sure baby is comfortable while also eliminating any spot for moisture to leak. If you can achieve this, you're in business! It may seem intimidating at first, but like anything, practice makes perfect. It will be second nature to you very soon.
What Else is Out There?
Shameless plug time! At Stout House, we sell not only cloth diapers, we sell an assortment of items that make life easier and better for parents and kiddos alike. We have wet bags, which are designed to be a place to store soiled diapers on the go. We have diaper pods, which are designed to be a cloth diaper carrying case while on the go! We also have diaper pail liners, large carrying bags, and a slew of other items that most moms and dads find super useful for the cloth journey. Really, the options are endless when it comes to switching to cloth. Because after all, we are all on a mission to be sustainable and save some money while doing it.
So How Do I Cloth Diaper?
Easy. You just do it. Get into it! Wade into the water! I'm sure you will find, like hundreds of thousands of parents already have, that modern cloth diapering is very achievable, very easy, and perhaps, very fun.
And as always, if you have any questions along the journey, we're here for you! You're an incredible parent and we love supporting you.