We didn’t know that there were “one-size-fits-all” diapers, and since we weren’t sure how old our little one would be, we didn’t want to invest in the wrong size. Then the adoption fees hit us, and our baby girl arrived in a rush of surprise
, right in the middle of the holiday traveling season. We stuck with disposables in that whole whirlwind of life season, and purchased cases of the disposable, unbleached Seventh Generation diapers
when they went on sale at our co-op. (Thankfully, the packages of prefold diapers I had ordered did arrive the week before Gen was born!)
Beginning The Journey
When Gen was almost a year old, we had transitioned to a whole new life of living on one income, paying for schooling out of pocket, and trying to pay extreme winter heating bills. We didn’t have much money for disposable diapers, muchless Christmas gifts! Just then, I saw an advertisement in a local publication (from the library) for an organization called Miracle Diapers.
So, after putting in an application, we got started on our cloth diapering journey through Miracle Diapers
. (What a blessing!)
Over the months of not buying disposable diapers, I have also supplemented with some items from a local baby products store
(with an online catalog, too!), as well as thrift stores and consignment sales, along with some sewing.
What We Use
Our typical daytime diapers are by Thirsties
. It is a two-part system (a cloth diaper and a waterproof cover
). The cloth diapers we have are a thick cotton-flannel type material, and are adjustable for different sizes with a series of snaps. We have used the size “large” for the past year, starting when Gen was about 17 lbs. (I believe they have discontinued this style, however, in favor of microterry material.)
We also have some old Bummis Whisper Wrap
covers, but I don’t like the ones we have as well as the Thirsties
. The Thirsties
ones have gussets on the legs, which help prevent leaks. (I think Bummis
may have restyled their diapers since then, though.)
We have also used regular prefolds
(from thrift stores) along with a hemp-fleece insert
, all inside of a Thirsties
diaper cover. These have worked great for those times at home, when we’re waiting on the laundry to dry! I just tuck the edge of the prefold into the inside of the cover. Diaper pins or Snappis
would probably be good, too (especially with a really active little baby!), but we’ve never gotten any. I have found that prefolds seem to be the most frugal cloth diapering option, so that is the only style that I have regularly purchased (plus, I use them for cleaning). They make great “burp rags” too, for infants.
For night-time diapers (for a heavy-wetter; this kid would wet through a Huggies
overnight!), we use breathable “pocket-style” diapers by Haute Pockets
. They are “one-size” diapers” that adjust with snaps. They have a micro-fleece lining, which wicks away moisture. (I have found that these diapers seem perfect for preventing yeast-infections and diaper rash!). Along with the provided micro-terry inserts (a double set that snaps together), we also stuff in an extra cotton doubler
(you could even put in more, if you wanted).
We have also used the flushable Kushies diaper liners
. These are great for keeping those sticky baby poos from gluing themselves to the diaper- (especially that tarry meconium-transitioning-to-mustard stage!)
. We’ve transitioned to the potty for this, so I haven’t bought any in a long time. I found that I could frugally use these diaper liners, by tearing them in half, and “strategically” placing a half in the diaper. This worked for the most part.
Also, I would only tuck a liner in when I anticipated the need, since our little one seemed to go “on schedule.” (If your baby still does “surprises,” you might want to just regularly add one in.) Also, if the diaper just ends up being wet, don’t flush the liner; it will wash out well with the rest of the diapers. (Just flush the poopy ones.)
We have rarely needed diaper ointment, but on occasion, we have used Hyland’s Calendula Ointment
, and Avalon Organics
. You want to avoid using diaper creams as much as possible, as they can affect the absorbency of the diapers. However, we’ve never had any problems with our minimal usage.
For wipes, the disposable wipes (such as Huggies
or Costco’s Kirkland
) can be washed (if they’re wet, not poopy), and reused a couple times. For long-lasting options, I recommend cloth. We use a combination of Hemp wipes
(from Miracle Diapers
), and cotton flannel wipes
, which I made. I add a couple drops of tea tree oil into the wipes container, fill it with warm water, and add the folded wipes (the “Simple, Easy, Natural Recipe”
). I have seen a wide range of diaper wipe solution recipes, so have fun making up your own!
To wash the diapers, I rinse out any solids in the toilet as well as I can right away. (This should be done even with disposable diapers, since human waste is not supposed to go out with regular garbage.) You can even outfit your toilet with a mini sprayer
and a “diaper duck
” if you’re super squeamish about this step.
Then, I spray it with a very well-diluted mixture of Biokleen’s All-Purpose Cleaner
. (I really do use this for everything!) The dilution directions are on the bottle.
Un-stuff all pocket diapers, and unsnap any snap diapers. Close all velcro tabs (to avoid the “chain-link” effect in the washer). Then toss the diaper either into the diaper pail or into the washing machine (as a “wet pail” option). By the way, I love this diaper pail
! It doesn’t leak, and doesn’t require any special bags.
I just go without bags, and wash it out after emptying. Instead of buying a deodorizer disk for the pail, I just dab some drops of essential oils onto a cotton ball, and place it in the lid compartment. I also add a few drops of lavender oil into the pail after I clean it (to remove odors). To wash the pail, I spray it with the Biokleen spray, and wipe it out with a clean prefold diaper (then toss it in with the dirty diapers to wash).
To wash a load of diapers, I have always used the information on this site (a local work-at-home mama; I recommend spending sometime browsing through this site)
. I just use about a 1/4 of a scoop of Country Save
detergent (after referring to this chart; lots of great info on this site, too!)
, and fill the “bleach dispenser” with white vinegar. Sometimes I also splash in some drops of essential tea tree oil. I wash diapers about every other day.
I like to hang them dry, weather-permitting. The sun has a nice bleaching/disinfecting/odor-removing effect. Otherwise, I hang-dry the waterproof covers and pocket diapers inside on a rack, and the other inserts/diapers go in the dryer.
When traveling, I have always kept a couple “emergency back-up” Gerber vinyl covers
and prefold diapers in our diaper bag, even when we were using disposables. The prefolds are great for any quick clean-ups (or for using as an “emergency” diaper). When we have been stuck in airports during long flight delays, with a dwindling supply of diapers, it was nice to know that we could fall back on the basic prefold/vinyl pants system. (Many airports do not sell diapers!) In dire need, you can purchase pads from women’s restroom vending machines, and stick them to the prefold diaper, inside the plastic pants, until you are able to obtain more diapers. For more traveling tips, visit this article
Now that we’re in the toddler years, I have been building up a stash of Gerber Training Pants
(in various prints/plain colors), which I purchased at consignment sales. I also have a couple of these all-in-one style
. We also have an assortment of Gerber vinyl covers
, in various sizes. (We will not be buying “Pull-Ups”!)
I also found some pretty Carter’s brand underwear (for later), that don’t have obnoxious cartoon characters on them.
Make Your Own
Sewing your own diapers is a wonderful frugal option! If you are interested in sewing diapers yourself, there are many wonderful resources out there. Here are a few that I’ve found.
There is obviously a wide range of venues offering cloth diapers, supplies, and materials. Where to start? I encourage supporting local, homemade endeavors, when possible. There are also many bargain sites to fill in your supply stash. Here are a few: