Baby, family, Pregnancy

Cloth Diapering Part 4 – How Do I Cloth?

Welcome to part 4 of my Cloth Diapering series. We’ve talked about why you should try cloth, what the options are and what other bits and bobs you might need. Let’s talk about how I (as in me, Heather) cloth diaper as well as the basic How Tos for the Average Cloth Diaper-er.

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Ok, so this is it. You have everything you need. It’s time to get started.

  1. Organize your cloth stuff somewhere where you will be able to easily access it during diaper changes. Stuff your pocket diapers, have your snappies and wipes within reach. Basically, be ready for a baby bum.
  2. Take one diaperless or stinky-butted baby or toddler and bring them to where ever you have gathered your diapering stuff.
  3. Remove clothes and diaper you wish to replace. Cloth diapers that are soiled go in wet bag. If baby is eating solids, be sure to scrape/shake/spray poop into toilet first.
  4. Pick the cloth you want to use.
  5. Put it on the baby.
  6. Rejoice
  7. Smell something funky or hear complaining baby, start back at step 2.

About twice a week, take your wet bag of diapers to the laundry area of your choice, wash and dry. Start back at step 1.

It’s pretty simple, really. Oh, you want more details? Well, sure! I’ll do my best to take some pictures without flashing you poor Mason’s bits.

Prep Your Diapers

  • Wash all of your diapers, whether they are new or used. Follow the instructions provided by the brand for washing. Make sure to wash all of your like fibers together. So, hemp is washed with hemp, cotton with cotton, etc… This is important because hemp and bamboo have natural oils that may cause issues for your other materials after washing.
  • Prefolds needs to be prepped before use. This means washing them a few times or boiling them in a large stock pot. This opens up the fibers and makes them more pillowy and absorbent.

What I do: For new all in one or pocket diapers, I do one warm wash with an extra rinse, with detergent. I then do a dry in the dryer on medium or low, anything still damp goes out in the sun. For new prefolds, I boil them (like fiber with like fiber) and then toss them in the dryer. For covers, I wash them on a regular cycle with detergent and put them up outside to dry. Make sure when washing anything with velcro/hook and loop that all tabs are folded in so as to not catch and damage your diapers.

For used diapers, I do a bleach soak to sanitize. I fill my bathtub with water and add a very small amount of bleach. I then soak the diapers for a few hours. I then ring them out and run them through my regular wash routine.

  • Stuff your pocket diapers with whatever insert you want to use. Remember that if you want to use boosters or need to fold your inserts that boys need extra absorbency in the front and girls need it in the middle.
  • For Hybrid diapers, attach one of the inserts so that the diaper is ready to go. Have extra inserts near by for the following change.
  • Sort your prefolds by size
  • Snap your diapers or covers if you need to size them (ie: if you are diapering a newborn, you will need them snapped to the smallest setting. If you are diapering a toddler, make sure all the snaps are undone). One size diapers may have elastics in the legs that need to be adjusted as well.

Organize Your Space

Make sure your diapering station is all set to go. Everyone does this differently. Do what whats for you.

What I do: My diapering area is in the family room, where we spend most of our time. I have one large bin for all of my diapers, one small bin for my extra inserts and bits and bobs. The pack and play has an attached organizer, in which I have wipes, bum cream and snappies. My wet bag is hanging near by and my diaper genie (for disposables diapers and wipes) is right there.

Put the Diaper on your Baby

  • As I mentioned up top, this is the straight forward part. Put the diaper on your baby.
  • All in Ones go on just like a disposable diaper if they are velcro, otherwise you just have to do the snaps to whatever size works for your baby.IMG_20160527_060616
  • Pocket diapers go on like disposable diapers, assuming you’ve already stuffed them. If not, do so.
  • Fitted Diapers are a two step process. First, put the fitted diaper on your baby (much like a disposable diaper). Once on, put the cover over top the same way. It will be quite bulky but super absorbent.IMG_20160525_110930IMG_20160525_111005
  • Hybrid diapers need their inserts snapped or tucked in (depending on the brand), and then you put them on babyIMG_20160525_083507
  • Prefolds can go on in a bunch of different ways. I suggest checking out this site for a few options. After the prefold goes on, put on your cover. Here’s a couple ways I do it:

With all of these, make sure that the insert covers all the parts it needs to cover, and that none of the inner fabric or fleece is peeking out the leg holes or out the top.

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Go About Your Life

  • Yep. Dress your baby and do your thing. You may find that you have to size up pants for them to fit on your kiddo’s adorable fluffy bum.  They also make snap extenders for onesies that you can get.
  • You may find that you need to change your baby more often. Babies feel wetness in cloth, where as in disposables the diaper falls away from their body. That said, you may find you need to check baby more often too, as the tell tale diaper sag doesn’t happen with cloth.

Change Your Baby

  • When Baby is dirty, it’s time to change that diaper. Unsnap or undo the hook and loop and the snappi if in prefolds. You can reuse the cover if the binding is unsoiled. Simply wipe the PUL or lining. If the binding is wet or has poop, throw it in the wet bag. For pocket diapers you need to remove the insert before washing, so I try to remember to remove it before putting it and the diaper in the wet bag. For Hybrid diapers, just unsnap the insert and reuse the cover if its clean.
  • Wipe with either a disposable wipe or a cloth wipe.
  • If you need bum cream, be sure to use just a tiny bit of cloth safe cream, like Eco Chic Movement or Substance.
  • Put on another adorable cloth diaper.

There you have it, folks! The basics on how to cloth. I hope this series has been able to help demystify cloth diapers for you. Please let me know if you  have any questions or a theme for another post in this series (or another series entirely!) Thanks for reading!

 

The rest of the Baby Basics Series:

Baby, Review, Shopping

Cloth Diapering Part 3 – What Else?

Welcome to part 3 in my cloth diapering series. So far, we’ve talked about why you should try cloth and what your cloth diaper options are.  Now what? What else is there?

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Well, there are a few things. First, I want to break down a few more things that you will face when choosing your diapers. After that, I am going to briefly talk about the last bit of stuff you will want to think about getting if you are going to cloth diaper your kiddo.

I know this seems like a lot. Just remember that this is all of the extra bits, sort of a Cloth 102 section. If you are overwhelmed, that’s fine. Just walk away and come back later.

So, first, let’s talk about some options that you’ll come across when choosing diapers.

Sizing

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Rumparooz One-Size diaper size range

Cloth Diapers are a bit of a pain when it comes to sizing. You will see that you often have several options. Preemie (tiny), Newborn (itty bitty), Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large, Size One, Size Two, Size Three and One Size. Yeah. And just to make things more of a pain, there isn’t really a set standard so you will find that one brand of One Size will fit differently than another brand.

The easiest way to manage all of this is to look at the weight guidelines for each size. Pick the size that your baby’s weight fits in to. For those that want to start cloth from day one, you will need some Newborn sized diapers and then up, even if you go with One Sized. Why? Well, most diapers, unless specifically stating otherwise, start at around 8lbs. This means that they are just a little too big and bulky for those tiny little squishes.

Some diaper brands have really tried hard to make a one size diaper truly one size. I have personally been really impressed with Bum Genius, Charlie Banana and SoftBums for how small they can be, and yet how large they grow.

Materials/Fiber

I sort of mentioned fiber a little bit in my last post. This is a way to really customize your diaper. Inserts come in a variety of materials, including blends, to cater to your individual needs. For those that are concerned, you can choose organic materials. For those that want to customize the absorbency and options of your diapers, you can choose to pick up diapers and inserts in different fibers and blends.

Generally speaking, from least absorbent to most absorbent, fibers range from microfiber (which is what comes with most diapers), minky (another man made material that is softer than microfiber), to cotton, bamboo and hemp. Microfiber is a manmade material that wicks away liquid extremely quickly but doesn’t hold as much as the natural fibers. Cotton is the most traditional and affordable of the natural fibers. Bamboo and hemp are super absorbent but can take a little longer to wick the moisture away. Also, hemp can get a little stiff, so make sure to give it a tumble in the dryer to help keep it soft.

Changing up your materials allows you to control what goes against baby’s skin, how much moisture it can hold (like for overnights or heavy wetters) or how dry baby feels after a pee (microfiber for the win). Obviously, they all do their job of absorbing what baby puts out, but it’s just another way that you can make your diapers work better for you and your lifestyle.

Ok, so now that you know about those options, how about we talk about the other stuff that you might need when choosing cloth diapers?

The Other Stuff:

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Detergent. So, the thing with cloth is that it needs to be washed. Some people are really super precious about their laundry routines. Others, like me, not so much. What I recommend is that you choose a cloth friendly detergent (no scents, no softeners, etc… all of which can cause build up on your diapers which can cause repelling of moisture and stinkiness). You can go with fancy cloth specific detergents, like Rockin’ Green or Laundry Tarts, or you can try something like Tide Free and Gentle. Some detergents have sneaky ingredients, so avoid any of the baby specific detergents as they have softeners. What do I use? Country Save, as I am allergic to Tide.

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Planet Wise Wet Bags

Wet Bags. Because these diapers probably aren’t going immediately from butt to laundry, you need somewhere to put them in between washes that won’t make them gross or make your house stink. Enter the Wet Bag. Wet Bags are coated fabric bags that contain the mess, but allow air flow to keep stink to a minimum. They are washable and go right in the wash with your diapers. You can get them in a number of shapes and sizes, depending on where you want them or how you want them stored. Some people get a laundry basket and put a wet bag inside. Other’s hang them from the back of a bathroom or bedroom door. Whatever works best for you. I recommend having a couple big ones (so you always have one ready to go while one is in the wash with the diapers), and a couple small ones for diaper bags. They come in all sorts of cool fabrics so you can really make them fit your taste and your home. What do I use? A mix of brands. I currently love Planet Wise and Rumparooz/Kanga Care.

Dryer Balls. For those who love their dryer sheets, I have some bad news. Unfortunately, they also create a residue on cloth diapers. Not only can you not use them on your diapers, but we actually recommend quitting them all together because the left over residue in the dryer can still coat your cloth and cause repelling issues. So, what are you supposed to do to keep clothes soft and static free? Dryer Balls! Wool Dryer Balls are the big thing right now, as you can scent them with essential oils (lightly, otherwise you end up with residue agan), and they make fun safe toys for kiddos too. Laundry Tarts also has some that work great. What do I use? A mix. I have a couple Laundry Tarts old school ones that allow you to add scented sticks, as well as their newer blue ones. I also have a few wool balls (that usually get stolen by my son and used as toys)

Cloth Diaper Safe Creams. While cloth babies are reportedly less likely to have rash issues, I would say that rashes happen to everyone at one point or another. Unfortunately, a lot of the common creams on the market aren’t safe for use with cloth diapers. Any zinc based cream (opaque white creams) create a seriously bad residue which basically kills the absorbency of cloth. There are many “safe for cloth” creams out there, however I would warn that any cream used to excess will eventually create a residue on cloth. Some people opt to switch temporarily to disposable diapers when having to use cream, just to be safe. What do I use? I have tried a ton of different creams. Some of my favourite cloth safe creams are Eco Chic Movement, CJ’s, Substance, Pea in a Pod and Earth Mama Angel Baby.

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Cloth Wipes. While I personally just kept using disposable wipes, I know some people find it to be a pain to use cloth and then still have to find a garbage to toss your wipes. You can either make or buy cloth wipes. Some people use them dry, others make their own wipe solution or buy some for easier clean up. Some people just use water. What do I use? When L has had a bad flu and a sore bum, I have cut up flannel receiving blankets to make my own. Otherwise, I use Pampers Sensitive disposable wipes because they can be used for EVERYTHING.

Snappis/Fasteners. For those of you that use prefolds, snappis and other similar fasteners have taken the place of the old school safety pins. Safe to use on baby, they hold your prefolds closed snugly against baby for easier diapering. Bonus side use: They are AMAZING for getting fuzz out of velcro. What do I use? Snappis.

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Bummis Bio-Soft Liners

Disposable Liners. Disposable liners are awesome for bigger kiddos, when poop becomes more solid. Basically, you put down the small sheet (that kind of looks like a dryer sheet) on the middle of the diaper where the business happens, and when baby poops, you can just toss the poopy liner and not have to worry about scraping or spraying the poop off the diaper itself. They allow liquids through, so they don’t inhibit absorbency of pee however this means they are useless for young baby poops, as they tend to be mostly liquid anyway. What do I use? Nothing. I have no problem scraping and shaking poop off diapers.

Other Liners and Boosters. You can get washable cloth liners to help protect your diapers from stains and for easier poop removal. Fleece liners are great for more solid poops as poop tends not to stick to them, which allows you to just shake them above the toilet and the poop falls right off. They are also a great option for those moments when you use a safe diaper cream but want to be extra sure that your diapers don’t get any build up. Boosters are for those that haven’t found the answer to their problems with different inserts. They allow you to add an extra layer to your diaper for extra absorbency. Great for older kiddos, heavy wetters, long trips and over nights. What do I use? I haven’t used any other liners or boosters so far, but I did pick some up for Baby M to try. I have a few hemp boosters and a couple Apple Cheeks fleece liners.

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Diaper Sprayer. So, the thing with poopy diapers is that you need to scrape/shake the more solid bits of poop off the diaper before washing. A great product that has arrived on the scene to help this unpleasant task is the diaper sprayer. It’s basically a little hose and nozzle that attaches directly to your toilet. You use it to spray the poop right off the diaper into the toilet for easy hands-off removal before tossing the diaper in the wet bag. Woo! What do I use? I picked up a cheapy sprayer, but it turns out our plumbing and toilet at not sprayer friendly. I’ve heard the BumGenius one is great.

rlr

Stripping Agents. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, you end up with your diapers repelling or a nasty stink that your regular wash routine just can’t seem to kill. There are a few products out there that promise to strip your diapers of all residues. Some people swear by RLR, others prefer just adding vinegar to their routine. It’s really up to you. What do I use? Well, I picked up a bunch of cloth second hand for Baby M. Just to be safe, I decided to do a disinfecting soak. I used a bleach bath and picked up some RLR so that I can do a stripping if I notice any repelling. I have also heard that vinegar works great, which I also intend to try down the road.

 

There you have it. There are always new products popping up, but these are the ones you are most likely to come across. If you have any questions, please feel free to shoot me a line. I am by no means an expert, but I will try my best to help. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and found it helpful as you consider starting your cloth diaper journey.

 

The rest of the Baby Basics Series:

 

Baby, family, Review

Cloth Diapering Part 2: What is it?

On any one of my shifts, I knew that I some point I would encounter it. I could spot the look from across the store. I knew it well, you see. I had had it once (or twice, or many times) too. What is the look, you ask? The look of “Holy crap, that is a whole freaking wall of diapers! What are they all? How are they different? I just want to make sure my kid doesn’t pee on me and all my things!

Cloth diapering sounds simple in theory. I mean, for the longest time it was the only option out there. So, why is it when we start looking in to it do we find ourselves completely and totally overwhelmed by information? Because, my friends, this is a time when you are already being told by a million companies and stores that you NEED all this baby stuff, and without x, y and z, you will have a miserable child who will never sleep or eat or thrive blah blah blah. Look at the options! The colours! The features!

My goal here to is avoid all that pressure and insanity. Like anything else in the commercial baby world, cloth diapers can be as insane and as complicated as you want it to be, OR as simple. Try to remind yourself, that at the end of the day, we are talking about things that catch pee and poop. No matter what you choose, your kid is going to be ok.

Say it with me, please. Your kid is going to be ok.

So, take a deep breath and walk with me into the world of cloth. Take your time. Any of these options will do the job. There is no right or wrong answer here.

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We live in a world, at least here in Canada, where disposables are tops. With that in mind, how about we start with the diapers that are closest to throwing a disposable on, moving towards the types that your parents or grandparents would recognize.

 

All in Ones (commonly known as AIO)

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Smart Bottoms All In One
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BumGenius Freetime All-in-One

What is it: An All In One is exactly that. It is a diaper that has everything you need, sewn right in. It is the closest to a disposable in both look and use. You literally just put it on your kid. For a long time, these were favoured by those who wanted the easiest cloth option out there, including daycare providers and those who were a little more cloth shy.

Why is it awesome? With minimal prep, these bad boys are ready to go. After washing, all you need to do is throw it on your baby. Some require you to make sure the sewn in insert lays flat or is tucked in, but that’s it.

Why might I not like it? Firstly, because all the pieces are attached, they take longer to dry, which can be annoying if you have a smaller stash. Also, they tend to be the most expensive option because everything is there. They are a bit more of a pain to customize. You have a heavier wetter and you may struggle a bit to add a booster. Want to try a different fiber? You may have to buy a completely different brand or diaper. Also, you really only get one use at a time with AIOs. Kid pees or poops? Into the wet bag it goes to be washed.

What brands do you recommend? BumGenius offers two AIO options in either Freetime or Elemental. Thirsties is a great, affordable brand as well and I love their new prints. You can also try Imagine, Funky Fluff and Sweet Pea.

 

Pocket Diapers

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Kangacare Rumparooz Pocket Diaper
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Kawaii One-Size Pocket Diaper

What is it: A pocket diaper is a water proof cover that is lined with a soft and absorbent fabric that has a pocket. In the pocket you put an insert. Some pocket diapers come with inserts, usually microfiber. Other inserts can be fleece, bamboo, hemp, cotton, or a blend or combination.

Why is it awesome? I love pocket diapers. They are my personal favourite. Why? Well, they are incredibly versatile while still being easy to use. What do I mean? Well, if you need to add boosters, or change the kind of insert you use, you just need to buy the insert or booster and throw it in the pocket. Taadaa! Done. This means a pocket diaper will work for different kids with different needs, and for different phases of cloth diapering. You can mix and match different brands of inserts and boosters as well, so if you find one you love, you don’t have to stick with whatever insert came with the diaper.

In terms of prep and use, they are still really easy (though a bit more hands on). All you need to do is wash, dry, then stuff your insert into the pocket and you’re good to go! Once stuffed, they basically look like an All In One and go right on the kiddo. They are usually cheaper than All In Ones too, which is a nice bonus.

Why might I not like it? It is a bit more work than just diapering your kid. You do have to stuff the diaper, and, when it comes to washing, most brands require you to remove the insert from the pocket first (which means you may come in contact with pee or poop). Like an All In One, they are a one use before wash diaper, which means they need to be washed once they come in contact with pee or poop.

What brands do you recommend? My personal favourites have changed a bit over the last year. Currently, I’m a big fan of Bum Genius, Apple Cheeks, and Rumparooz.

 

Hybrid Diapers

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GroVia Hybrid Diaper
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Best Bottom Hybrid Diaper

What is it: A waterproof cover, usually without any kind of lining. Cover has buttons to which you can attach their insert directly, without any pocket or covering.

Why is it awesome? The big seller for Hybrid diapers is that they are quick and easy to prep and you can reuse the cover. To prep, all you have to do is wash, dry, snap in their insert and put the diaper on the baby. Most hybrid brands offer different kinds and sizes of inserts so that you can customize your diaper as baby grows and their diapering needs change. A big plus is that so long as the cover itself doesn’t get poopy, you can reuse it between uses. So, baby does their business? You remove the soiled insert, wipe down the cover’s waterproof lining, put in another inset and you’re good to go. This means you need fewer covers, which is great for when you’re out and about, for storage and, in theory, for the pocket book. One thing that’s nice is that if you have a mixed stash, you can use the hybrid covers as regular covers with prefolds or fitteds.

Why might I not like it? Well, despite the idea of not needing many covers, hybrid systems tend to be a bit more expensive than one would expect. Inserts are shaped to the diaper and aren’t always swappable between brands, which means you usually need to buy the correct insert for the same brand of cover.

What brands do you recommend? I loved these when L was little. They made for quick changes and less bulk in the diaper bag. I am a big fan of Best Bottoms, Grovia and the new Bummis hybrid.

 

Prefold Diapers and Covers

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BabyKicks Prefold Diaper, without cover.
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Bummis Prefold and Cover

What is it: A prefold diaper is pretty similar to what previous generations would have used for diapering, but have been upgraded for better fit, use and absorbency.

The prefold itself is a square piece of cloth with two seams sewn in. The middle portion is usually thicker with more layers of absorbent fabric. The seams are what make this “prefolded”. You would then fold the square into whatever shape works best for you and baby, and then you would cover the prefold with a waterproof cover of your choice. Without the cover, the prefold isn’t waterproof on its own.

Why is it awesome? Firstly, these are the cheapest diapering option out there. This is where you can save some serious money, especially compared to disposables. Secondly, prefolds only get more absorbent with use. The more you wash them, the more the fibers loosen up. Thirdly, they are incredibly versatile. You can change the kind of prefold you use if you want, you can buy different prefolds in different fibers and different sizes. You can fold the prefold however you want, with different folds to serve different purposes. Prefolds themselves are also awesome burp cloths and rags, which can give them a second life if you decide not to sell. Oh, and if you have a mixed stash, you can use prefolds as inserts in your pockets or use your hybrid covers with your prefolds.

I actually really love how you can have a bunch of really awesome covers, and a bunch of different kids of prefolds. Also, like the hybrid, these are a multi-use diaper. Toss the prefold into the wash, wipe down the cover and use a new prefold to keep on going. This keeps you from having to carry around as much and keeps costs down. For multiple kids of different genders, if you want to go girlie or boyish, you can cheaply pick up a couple more covers and reuse the prefolds you already have. Oh, and for washing, these babies dry up much much faster because they are all separate pieces.

Why might I not like it? These are probably the most labour intensive and intimidating cloth option, but I promise, they aren’t as complicated as they seem.

They require more bits and pieces, from the prefold, to the cover, some people like to use either pins or snappis to fasten the prefold on baby before putting the cover on.

Also, the obvious: Folding. I know, it looks fussy and crazy, especially when you add a baby to the mix. You don’t need to be a fancy origami expert to do this, I promise. You can go from as easy as a rectangle (outside flaps folded in, to create a pad) to something more diaper like. There is a learning curve, and it isn’t for everyone, but I swear anyone can figure it out.

What brands do you recommend? For the prefolds themselves, Bummis is tops for me. There is just something about that puffy cotton quilted looking fluff. Baby Kicks are also awesome for different fiber blends. As for covers, Thirsties, Rumparooz, Planet Wise and wool have my vote.

 

Fitted Diapers

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Babee Greens Fitted Diaper

What is it: A fitted diaper looks more like your disposable, but unless you know what a prefold is, it’s hard to explain, so I’ve put them here. Basically, a fitted is a prefold that has been sewn into a diaper shape for ease of use and fit. Most are not waterproof on their own, so you would put the fitted diaper on baby and then put a cover over top.

Why is it awesome? The ease of use of any of the other fitted types (AIO, Pocket. No folding!). The ability to mix and match a fitted with a diaper cover, the multi-use like a prefold. They are insanely absorbent. Like, crazy absorbent. A lot of people use these for over nights, for heavy wetters or long trips.

Why might I not like it? Because of their shape and the need to have a cover, they tend to be bulky. This can make clothing baby a bit of a pain. They are also far more expensive than a prefold, because of their tailored fit. Because of this, I don’t know many people who just use fitteds for all their diapering needs. Also, because of the way they are made, they take a while to dry.

What brands do you recommend? Sustainablebabyish, Baby Kicks and Kissaluvs.

There you have it. There are always new products popping up, but these are the ones you are most likely to come across. If you have any questions, please feel free to shoot me a line. I am by no means an expert, but I will try my best to help. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and found it helpful as you consider starting your cloth diaper journey.

The rest of the Baby Basics Series: