Inspired by Earth Day, expectant mom Tara Vorhes of the blog In This Instance discusses the ins and
outs of cloth diapering.

Blogger and Mom-to-be Tara Vorhes

From the day that you find out you are pregnant, there are a lot of decisions to be made.  Which car seat, bassinet, crib, or co-sleep during those early days, and if you are going to try baby wearing, which carrier or perhaps a sling are just a couple of the decisions that you find yourself dwelling over.  Another decision you might find yourself pondering is whether to use cloth diapers.

Cloth diapers all but left the modern family’s baby scene for a while but in recent years have been making a big comeback.   There are a lot of positives for cloth diapers and, lucky for us, they are a lot more user friendly than the cloth diapers of our parent’s generation.  Early in my pregnancy we decided on going the cloth diaper route.

For me, the positives simply outweighed any negative that I could come up with, but as with most parenting decisions, it helps when you are both on board with the choice.  Cloth diapers sound like a lot of work, and juggling both of our careers in addition to being first times parents’ makes convenience sound pretty nice.  There were a couple of factors we discussed which helped my husband commit to using cloth.


Leaving a smaller footprint.

Enter below to win this Cocalo Starter Set!

It is absolutely crazy how much volume the disposable diapers from one baby add to a landfill, not to mention how long it takes for them to decompose.  Each baby wearing disposable diapers creates approximately 2,000 pounds of garbage over two years.  Not to mention the natural resources, both crude oil and trees take a big hit when it comes to manufacturing disposables.

Reduce our baby’s exposure to chemicals.  When I read about the chemicals that are in disposable diapers it made them not worth the convenience.  Even many of the eco-friendly disposables contain traces of some chemicals.  The natural fibers of a cloth diaper were a clear winner for us.

Easier on the budget.  Let’s be honest, expenses for the baby add up rather quickly!  Cloth diapers will cost more upfront, but over the years a baby is in diapers will be significantly less than disposables.  It is estimated at thousands of dollars saved by using cloth!  And this is a cost savings that doesn’t hinder quality.  We can reallocate that cost savings to start the little one’s college fund!

Aren’t they extra work?  Cloth diapers get the reputation of being a lot of extra work which is less than ideal for busy, new parents that are sleep deprived as it is.  When we thought about it, the trip to the trash will take about as much time as it takes to start and change a load of wash.  The modern cloth diaper is also much easier to use than those from a couple decades ago, from all-in-ones to pocket diapers, they make changing a cloth diaper a snap.  Plus, you can save yourself those extra trips to the store to pick up diapers.

Cloth diapers are cute.  As an added bonus, there are some seriously cute cloth diapers out there!  How can you resist those tiny cute covers for their little bottoms!?


After our discussions about the positives related to cloth diapers, we were both on board with cloth diapering being the right direction for us.  Now I get to build up a stash of cute cloth diapers!  But oh my, there a lot of options and different types to select!

Here is what I found to be the popular types of cloth diapers:

Prefolds – Flat cloth diaper with absorbent padding.  These are inexpensive, are usually one-size fits all, and are multi-taskers, doing double duty as an extra layer in pockets or all-in-ones, a burp cloth, or even a dust rag once diaper duty is done.  You do need to use a cover, fold them to fit, and use pins or snappies to fasten them for preventing leaks.

Fitteds – These diapers resemble a disposable and are made of a variety of super absorbent and breathable fabrics.  They are very easy to use as they snap together, but they are not waterproof so do require a diaper cover.  Thirsties, Kissaluvs, Bummis, and BabyKicks have fitteds.


Diaper covers – These are the waterproof layer that wrap around the prefold on your baby and secure by snaps or Velcro.  Covers can be used a couple of times between washing if they are air dried between use.  Cocalo, Thirsties, and Bummis have diaper covers.

All-in-ones – These diapers are basically just like disposables but you wash and reuse them.  They are super convenient and easy to use, but are also the most expensive option.  GroVia, bumGenius, Kissaluvs, Rumparoos, and Swaddlebees have all-in-one diapers.

Pockets – These diapers have an opening in the cover for an insert or a prefold diaper which help to add absorbency.  Pockets have a reputation for being convenient and fast drying, but do require the cover to be washed after every use. bumGenius, BabyKicks, Bummis, and FuzziBunz both have pocket styles.

Hybrids – These diapers include a cloth diaper cover that is used with an insert, either a cloth insert or a biodegradable insert.  The main difference from a pocket diaper is that with a hybrid you put the liner between the cover and the baby for quick changing.  gDiapers, Cocalo, and GroVia have hybrid diapers.

And here are the major diaper accessories that you will hear about when looking at cloth diapers:

Snappies – A “y” shaped fastener used with prefolds and flat cloth diapers to help prevent from sticking yourself with a diaper pin.  They have little, grippy “teeth” that grasp the cloth.

Diaper sprayers – A sprayer that attaches to your toilet for easy diaper clean up.

Liners – Washable or flushable liners are a way to make diaper clean up easier and add absorbency.

Wet bags – A waterproof diaper bag that can be used when on the go or at home as they come in different sizes.  Wash with your diapers.  Try the Itzy Ritzy wetbags

Cloth diaper wipes – To be even more earth-friendly and economical you can use washable and reusable flannel cloth wipes.  Just toss them in the wash with your diapers.  Prince Lionheart Wipes Set made from bamboo.


{gdiapers in glacial blue, Cocalo ruffle diaper, Cocalo navy tile,  gdiapers in guppy green}

We are planning to start out with prefolds with diaper covers and all-in-ones.  The all-in-ones sound perfect for late night diaper changes and for quick changes when out doing errands.  By mixing in the prefolds with covers during the day we can hopefully keep some of the economical benefits in play.

How many should a well-stocked diaper stash include?  In my reading, I have found the suggestion to have enough diapers for 8-12 diaper changes a day for an infant.  So “how many” will depend on what type of diaper you plan on using, but roughly you will want around 24 cloth diapers so that you can do laundry every other day.  Since we are doing prefolds with covers, we will get about two dozen prefolds, six covers, and four to six all-in-ones.

Different brands have different fits, so my plan is to start with a few different brands and see what works for our little one.  So far we have selected Thirsties, Lil Joeys by Rumparoos, Kissa’s, and Bummis for the covers and all-in-ones and Real Nappies for the prefolds.  When it is time to move up a size, we can focus on the brands and types that work best for our family.

With Earth Day coming up, it is a natural time to think about how environmentally friendly our lifestyles are and what condition will we leave our planet for future generations.  Diapers are one place that we can make a big difference in minimizing our footprints as parents.  It is something to think about.  As I look ahead to bringing my baby home from the hospital, I can’t wait to share this beautiful planet with them and to teach them about leaving as small a footprint as possible in their life adventures.

Additional resources on cloth diapers:

Cloth Diapers: Cloth Diapers 101

The Great Cloth Diaper Change

The Real Diaper Association and Real Diaper Association Diaper Facts

Sage Diaper: Your Environment

Tara Vorhes is a corporate marketer by day and amateur photographer by night.  She lives in Chicago with her husband and two rescue dogs; their first baby is estimated to join the family in July.   Tara enjoys exploring new places, trying new foods, being outdoors, a good book, and finding the beauty in the simple and everyday moments.  She shares her adventures and photography on In This Instance.


Tell us what diapers you have chosen to use for your baby to be

entered to win the Cocalo Save the Planet Starter Set.

Update on Winner for the Cocalo Cloth Diaper Starter Set – May 1, 2012:

The tottini winner is Kat who was the 3rd person to comment on our blog post.  Congratulations to Kat!

If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!

Melissa M. on April 23rd, 2012 | 19 Comments -