Parents are choosing to use cloth diapers more and more these days. As the environmental and financial benefits of using them become more widely understood, reusable diapers seem a sensible choice to make. But what exactly are organic cloth diapers, how do you use them and why should you consider them for your child?
What are cloth diapers?
In our grandparents’ days, cloth diapers were the only option. These squares of cotton were neatly folded and secured around baby’s bottom with safety pins. The process of washing and drying these cloths was time consuming, so when disposable diapers came along, most parents switched to them with relief. But each baby goes through 9000 diapers before becoming potty trained, and as disposable diapers take a hundred years to degrade, the environmental impact became a worry. The old cloth diapers have made a comeback, but today they have been reinvented and reimagined.
Different types of cloth diapers
There are many different kinds of cloth diaper available to buy. At first glance, the choice could be overwhelming, but these are the most common ones:
- Flat diapers are close to the diapers of old, they are a simple square of fabric that you fold into shape and clasp into place. A separate waterproof diaper cover keeps the moisture from leaking onto clothing and bedding.
- Prefolds are cloths that have been stitched into the correct shape with a thicker, padded section for extra absorbency. These also need to be used with a waterproof diaper cover—when baby needs changing you replace the prefold part but reuse the cover.
- Fitted cloth diapers are contoured and shaped to fit baby snuggly. They are held in place by poppers and Velcro. A separate diaper cover is required with fitted diapers too.
- Pocket diapers have a waterproof cover and a replaceable cloth insert. Multiple inserts can be used together for extra absorbency—which is useful for overnight diapers.
- All-in-one cloth diapers look similar to disposable diapers but they are washable. The absorbent material is sewn into a waterproof diaper wrap. All-in-ones are nicely contoured and come with elasticated legs and adjustable Velcro fastenings. Once they are soiled, you simply replace the whole thing with a completely fresh one.
Why choose organic?
Organic cloth diapers are made from natural, unbleached material that is free from toxic substances, chemicals, dyes and non-eco plastics. Cotton, bamboo, wool and hemp are most commonly used. Babies have very sensitive skin and choosing organic materials keeps harsh chemicals and allergens away from them. Organic cloth is also kinder to the planet.
What’s a diaper service?
If you like the idea of eco-friendly cloth diapers, but are short on time, a diaper laundering service could be the answer. For a fee, washed diapers are delivered to you and the dirty ones are taken away. It works rather like a hotel towel service. Search for one in your area and ask for a diaper service as a shower gift.
How to choose the right type of cloth diaper?
Reusable diapers are an expensive outlay in the first instance, so you’ll probably have an eye on the price of each type. The flat diapers are the cheapest, with the all-in-ones being the priciest. The most convenient options, therefore, are the most expensive, so you’ll have to consider your budget and your available time.
How to prep organic cloth diapers
Before you can use them, these diapers have to be prepped ahead of time. Preparation is simple – the diapers just require multiple washes. Organic fabrics have a certain amount of dust, natural particles and oils within them. It’s not at all harmful, it just makes the fabric less absorbent. Wash the diapers several times to plump up the fibres, soften the fabric and increase the absorbency. The diapers don’t need to be dried every time they are washed, but a couple of times helps the process.
Are cloth diapers easy to use?
They are much like disposable diapers to use. The flat diapers require folding, but this is easy to master. Change your baby every two hours or so by removing the soiled diaper, cleansing baby’s skin and placing a fresh one on. If one is needed, a diaper cover just adds a second stage, which takes seconds.
What to do with soiled cloth diapers?
- If there is any poo in a soiled diaper, shake it into the toilet.
- If you’re not near a toilet when you change your baby, fold the diaper to retain the poo and place inside a waterproof bag until later.
- Put dirty diapers in a diaper pail with a lid.
- Some parents choose to have a bucket half-filled with water, others prefer a dry bucket for storing dirty diapers
- Launder the diapers every day or two.
How do you launder organic cloth diapers?
Diapers should be washed every day, or every two days at the most. They should be washed separately from other laundry – don’t mix in other clothing. Make sure the machine isn’t overloaded and there is plenty of room for the diapers to move in the water. Look at the washing instructions for washing machine settings and temperatures and only use fragrance-free detergent. Line dry or tumble dry.
How many cloth diapers should I buy?
Babies go through 10 to 12 diapers a day and you’ll need enough to allow for washing them and drying them. A few extras are also handy just in case. If you have a busy life and don’t want to be stressed, it’s a good idea to have more than this, but it’s an added expense.
Don’t buy too many cloth diapers at the beginning. You might find they’re not for you after all, or you only have time for reusable diapers on the weekend. You might also find that you prefer one type of diaper over another when you get into the swing of things. Once you have established a routine that suits you, buy more of what you need. While there are a few great disposable organic diapers out there, there’s no doubt that cloth diapering is more eco-friendly and a very viable option for parents and babies today.
Hi There! I’m Shobita Ravichandran. Architect, blogger and mum of 2 stubborn toddlers. As a young mum living in a big city, I have been extensively researching safe and non-toxic products for my tiny humans. Now, I would like to take you along with me on this non-toxic journey of parenthood. My website, Parenthood.Guide, is a treasure-trove of information regarding the best safe and non-toxic baby products to keep your family chemical free.