The How-To Guide to Cloth Diapering

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Published: 27th June 2012
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Many parents are turning to cloth diapers because of the numerous advantages they provide. Aside from the obvious economic and environmental benefits, cloth diapers are also healthier for babies than disposable diapers, which can contain toxic chemicals. Cloth diapering is a learned skill, however, and there are a few tips that every first-time cloth diapering family should be aware of.

First, parents should be prepared with the essential materials before the baby arrives. The basic structure of a cloth diaper is an absorbent fabric, which is placed directly against the baby’s skin, and a waterproof fabric, or diaper cover, which goes on the outside of the diaper to prevent leaks. Purchasing 12 to 24 quality pre-fold or fitted cloth diapers and two to four waterproof covers from a baby supply store is sufficient for a newborn baby. As the baby grows, caretakers will begin to develop preferences for certain styles, materials and brands, so it’s important not to buy too many garments at the beginning. Newborn babies usually need about 12 diaper changes per day, so beginning with a one- or two-day supply will allow parents the time to decide what type is best for their baby.

Parents should be aware of the different styles available. Pre-folds, the most popular style of cloth diapers, are rectangular-shaped cloth fabric pieces which are folded around the baby’s bottom and pinned or otherwise fastened to keep them in place. Fitted diapers, a newer innovation on the market, are cloth pieces which are shaped to fit the baby’s underside. These fitted styles usually come with snap, or hook and loop fasteners to keep the diaper in place. Many parents prefer fitted ones to pre-folds because they require less folding and pinning and come in a variety of sizes, ranging from newborn to three years of age. All-in-one styles are also available, although they can be more expensive than pre-fold and fitted types. These pre-shaped garments are designed with both absorbent and waterproof layers attached to one another, so there is no need to purchase separate pieces.

Another tip for beginners is to purchase one or two types of each style, pre-fold, fitted and all-in-one. There is no reason to stay with only one type, although some parents will find they have a strong preference for one type, while another parent—even one in the same household—may like to use a different design. Trying out all styles is a good way to be certain about which types to purchase and which may not be worth the money.

One of the most important things to learn is how to dispose of waste and wash the garments in the cleanest and most efficient manner possible. This is easy and can be learned quickly. After removing the dirty diaper from the baby, parents should dump any solid waste in the toilet and flush it down. Then, they should rinse the garment in warm water before putting it in a waterproof laundry basket. Once the basket is full or the day is over, depending on how many diapers the parents have, the diapers can be washed in the washing machine with detergent on the hot water setting. Once the load is finished, parents can rinse the diapers once again if necessary to remove any detergent residue which can irritate a baby’s skin before hanging them to dry or tumbling them in the dryer.

Author is a freelance copywriter. For more information about cloth diapers, please visit

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