Category Archives: Diapering

The Sweetbottoms Newborn Diaper Rental Program

12919850_10153420282996791_6137046328375626241_nThinking about cloth diapering your newborn, but a little daunted by all the info out there about CDing?

Not sure how to get started?

So many options that it’s confusing?


If you answered “Yes” to any of those questions, I have the answer.


It’s the Sweetbottoms Newborn Diaper Rental Program!


I used this with my third baby, and it was so easy! He was born on Oct 11th, and on Oct 15th, my rental was delivered right to my house! It was washed and ready to go and included everything I needed to get started! (Even without my existing stash).

So what do you get with a rental? A whole lot of fluffy awesomeness, that’s what! 🙂
You get 24 fluffy, soft, super absorbent organic cotton, newborn size fitted diapers (either Blueberry or Clover, or a mix of both), 4 Thirsties Size 1 diaper covers, a small pack of detergent, and a few samples. And let me tell you, these diapers can handle anything! I found myself reaching for the fitteds more then the newborn all-in-ones I had already, because the fitteds held up to anything my new boy could throw at them. They are also the perfect nighttime diaper, since they are stay-dry and so absorbent.

The Thirsties covers are some of the best you can get. They are durable, keep in leaks like a dam, and come in a wide range of beautiful colors and prints. When I was working in the Sweetbottoms store, many people used the $100 rental credit to buy the next size in the Thirsties, just because they loved them so much.

Credit, right. Let’s touch on that. The rental costs $220 for pre-loved (used) diapers, or $320 or all new diapers, for three months. Now, that can seem like a lot, but when you look at the cost of buying all new diapers right off the bat, this actually saves you money, especially if you are not quite sure about the whole cloth diapering thing. Plus, in 3 months, you would spend roughly $200-$300 on disposable diapers (on the high side), so it comes out about even. (And remember, you get all the stuff listed above.)
But it gets better. If you return your rental on or before the day it is due back, you get $100 of your original rental cost back in store credit! That means you can use that $100 to start your own stash of cloth diapers! Or, if you decide that cloth is not for you, or you have a good stash already, there are plenty of other things at Sweetbottoms that you can use that $100 for. (New carrier, anyone? 😉 )

Now, there are a few other things you will need. The rental does not include anything to store your used diapers in, so you will need to purchase a wet bag or pail liner. And if you are afraid that you will never use a wet bag again if you decide that cloth diapering is not for you, just check out this post. You can never have too many!
You will also need a cloth diaper safe diaper cream. You will be provided a list of cloth diaper safe creams when you get your rental. (Hint: it’s pretty much anything Sweetbottoms sells. Just steer clear of creams with zinc and/or fish oils. Those stick in cloth diapers and hold on to the stink. Plus, if you use them, it will void your $100 on-time return credit. You also cannot bleach the rental diapers. That will also void your credit. Sunning is the best stain remover. 🙂 )

Overall, I was very happy with diaper rental. I have been using cloth diapers for almost 4 years, and I can say that I will be seriously considering the diaper rental when I have my next baby.

You can find all the info you need about the diaper rental here and you can read the terms and conditions here. And, as always, if you still have questions, you can just message and someone will get back to you ASAP!

The Sweetbottoms Diaper Rental – The Prefect Answer to your Cloth Diaper Question. 🙂

Featured Natural Product: BALM! Baby Diaper Balm {and 1st Aid!}

Vivid colored leaves fall to the ground, and the cool air comforts you at night. Fall weather is wonderful, but the cold air tends to cause dry, cracked skin! Luckily for us, we have BALM! Baby Diaper Balm {and 1st Aid!}, an ALL ORGANIC multipurpose balm, which can also be used to treat just about any skin issue!

BALM! Baby Diaper Balm

BALM! Baby Diaper Balm {and 1st Aid!} is created using a mixture of healing herbs and oils. Not only is it cloth diaper safe, it is also anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, vegan and cruelty free!

Balm Open

BALM! Baby is a family business, owned and operated by Malena & Dominic Taylor. They use the best natural, organic products available, and all of their storage containers are also health safe and toxin-free. Sweetbottoms carries quite a few other products by BALM! Baby, including: natural tinctures (Be Well, Stay Well, Baby and Bye-Bye Teething, Hello SLEEP!), Shue Bug Spray, and Teething RUB! All of their products are 100% natural, and stored in eco-friendly containers.

BALM Products

You can receive your FREE sample of BALM! Baby Diaper Balm {and 1st Aid!} with a purchase of $25 or more. Just add the product to your cart and use code: FEATURED (or ask at the register, if shopping in the store).


Keep in mind that this balm isn’t only for little ones in diapers! How will you use your FREE Balm?

Featured Natural Product: Motherlove Diaper Rash and Thrush

Although my first baby was a breastfeeding champ, he was riddled with constant diaper rashes. Rough, painfully irritated yeast rashes that just wouldn’t go away. We tried what seemed like every cream and ointment on the market to no avail, passing the yeast back and forth. Itchy and in pain, we reached for Motherlove Diaper Rash and Thrush Salve. Ahhhh, relief at last.

Motherlove Diaper Rash and Thrush

If you’ve ever had a little one with a diaper rash, you know how irritating it can be. That’s why I’m thrilled to announce that we’ll be giving away FREE samples of the amazing Diaper Rash and Thrush Salve by Motherlove this month!

Created to heal all inflamed diaper rashes, including those caused by yeast, this all-natural ointment helps soothe and protect tender skin from further damage. The best part about this salve is that it can also be used by breastfeeding mothers! Simply apply Diaper Rash and Thrush Salve on clean, dry nipples and diaper areas, and let this salve by Motherlove do it’s magic!

Motherlove Samples

Unlike most other diaper ointments, Motherlove Diaper Rash and Thrush Salve does not need to be wiped off of mom’s nipples before breastfeeding, and is cloth diaper safe!

With a purchase of $25 or more, you can receive your FREE featured product to your cart, by using the coupon code, FEATURED. Your cart will be adjusted accordingly so that your Diaper Rash and Thrush Salve is free. Just make sure you have a total of $25 in your cart after the discount is applied. If you’re local and shopping in-store, simply ask at checkout.

We carry many other great products by Motherlove, intended to help baby and mom during pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and more. Motherlove is a family business, founded by Kathryn Higgins. Kathryn saw the health and medical benefits of plants and herbs, but was unable to find any of these products on the market during her pregnancy. She began creating her own blends, and the Motherlove brand was soon to follow!

Motherlove Products

Don’t forget to add your Featured Freebie to your next purchase! Limit one free product per address. This free item will be available for the month of September until they have all been given away. Supplies are limited, so shop fast!

Featured Natural Product: GroVia Itty Bitty Magic Stick Diaper Balm

GroVia Itty Bitty Magic Stick

Applying diaper cream during a diaper change can create a gooey mess, which is especially frustrating during quick changes on the go. GroVia’s Magic Stick Diaper Balm has become a must in our diaper bag for this very reason. I’m excited to announce that we’ll be giving away the smaller version of GroVia’s Magic Stick this month: GroVia’s Itty Bitty Magic Stick Diaper Balm.

GroVia Itty Bitty Magic Stick

This organic, all natural diaper ointment is the perfect size to toss into any diaper bag, and the mess-free applicator keeps diaper changes clean and simple! The petroleum-free Itty Bitty Magic Stick is cloth diaper safe, and perfect for treating diaper rash, chapped skin, cuts, and scrapes.

With a purchase of $25 or more, you can add this FREE featured product to your cart and then enter the coupon code, FEATURED. Your cart will be adjusted accordingly so that your Itty Bitty Magic Stick is free. Just make sure you have a total of $25 in your cart after the discount is applied. If you’re local and shopping in-store, simply ask at checkout.

GroVia Products

We also carry many other great products by GroVia, including all-in-ones, all-in-twos, fitteds, trainers, newborn and prefold diapers, as well as wool and waterproof covers, wetbags, laundry detergent, leggings, and more. GroVia was founded as a small ’mom and pop’ company by Kim Ormsby in her home, and her husband, Duane, created the Magic Stick. GroVia has since become a household name amongst cloth diapering families.

Don’t forget to add your Featured Freebie to your next purchase! Limit one free product per address. This free item will be available for the month of August until they have all been given away. Supplies are limited, so shop fast!

Smart Bottoms Smart One 3.1

Smart Bottoms Smart One 3.1

Although I’m fairly new to cloth diapering (my oldest is 2 ½), I’ve tried almost everything currently available on the market. After testing a Smart One 3.1 all-in-one diaper by Smart Bottoms, I’m ready to buy all of their bold solid colors and bright, pleasing prints!

Owner and creator, Christy Malone, started Smart Bottoms after discovering that her youngest daughter had an allergy to the polyester in the cloth diapers they were using at the time. Did you know that polyester is often made overseas, and may contain chemicals from the manufacturing process? These chemicals can cause irritatingly painful diaper rashes on some children. Christy created Smart Bottoms to solve this issue. All of the products Smart Bottoms offers are made in the United States, and their cloth diapers are lined with 100% organic cotton.

Smart Bottoms Smart One 3.1

Smart Ones contain ten layers of this organic cotton! Natural fibers are gentler on the skin than polyester, and are void of harsh chemicals found in disposable diapers and some synthetic materials. Cotton is also more absorbent, easier to clean, and trimmer than microfiber! Because Smart Ones contain 100% cotton, they are incredibly absorbent, yet trim. They fit well under my children’s clothing, and the insides are soft to the touch.

Smart Bottoms Smart One 3.1

The Smart One 3.1 includes a long organic cotton insert, attached to the inside of the diaper. This insert is fabulous, and can be folded many different ways to customize the diaper for your child’s individual needs. For instance, our son needs more layers in the front of the diaper, but our daughter requires more absorbency in the center.

Smart Bottoms Smart One 3.1

Insert Folded for a Boy

Smart Bottoms Smart One 3.1

Insert Folded for a Girl


I love how Smart One 3.1s fit my children. With four rise settings, I’m sure to get a great, custom fit on each child. Although Smart Bottoms advertise these diapers as fitting children 8-35 pounds, they still fit my 36-pound son comfortably. I also like that unsightly red marks around their thighs are much less common when wearing Smart Ones, due to the wide elastic around the legs.

Smart Bottoms Smart One 3.1

Due to the natural oils found in organic cotton, Smart Ones must be washed 6-8 times, prior to the first use, before they’re fully absorbent. The Smart One insert allows for quicker dry-time than many other diapers on the market, though, and this diaper can easily be line-dried or tossed into the dryer.

Smart Bottoms makes other products, which are also crafted in the USA, including: prefolds, training pants, swim diapers, and more.

Smart Bottoms Smart One 3.1

Are you ready to try a Smart One 3.1? You might just fall in love, like I did.

Featured Natural Product: OsoCozy Cloth Wipes

Cloth Wipes by OsoCozy This month’s Featured Natural Product is a three pack of wipes by OsoCozy. You can get yours FREE with a purchase of $25 or more. Just add the product to your cart and use code: FEATURED (or ask at check out, if shopping at the store.) We have two adorable prints available: blue castles and pink baby chicks. If you specify your gender preference in the comments section, we will do our best to send you the wipes of your choice!

OsoCozy is a brand name for cloth diapers and accessories produced by the All Together Diaper, Co, located in Sandy, Utah. Since the early stages of working from his basement, Owner and CEO Dennis Frederick has created one of the largest suppliers of flat and prefold diapers in North America! They offer many products, including cloth diapers, flushable diaper liners, wipes and more. OsoCozy strives to provide ecological and economical cloth diapers and accessories that are durable, yet comfortable for little ones.

OsoCozy Flats, cloth wipes

Have you ever had disposable wipes tear during a diaper change? Have your kids ever had diaper rashes that just won’t go away, or greasy skin after using disposable wipes? I’ve experienced all of these issues! I love that I can choose what goes on my children’s skin when using cloth wipes. I tend to use water on the wipe for urine only, and a good wipes solution for messier diaper changes.

OsoCozy Diaper Liners; Cloth Wipes

All of OsoCozy’s wipes, diapers, and doublers are made of sustainable and renewable 100% cotton. Whether you’re new to cloth wipes, or a cloth diaper and wipes veteran, these 100% cotton flannel wipes are the perfect addition to your stash! They’re cute, absorbent, and easy to wash. The best part? They’re chemical-free, durable, and softer than disposable wipes.

Cloth Wipes by OsoCozy

Are you ready to try these cloth wipes? Don’t forget to add them to your cart, or ask at check-out!

Cloth Diapering with Pocket Diapers

We are nearing the end of our “Cloth Diapering With” series in today’s post about Pocket Diapers. In this post we’ll cover all the basics of pocket diapers and a few pro tips. Pockets just so happen to be my favorite kind of diaper for my baby and I’ll tell you why!

CD with Pocket Diapers



Pocket Diapers are the most obviously named diaper style. They’ve got a pocket? Bingo! The pocket is used to stuff your absorbent layer, which is typically a microfiber insert that is sold along with the outer piece. The outer piece consists of a waterproof PUL exterior and a stay-dry lining that’s sewn in. The absorbent insert is stuffed in between these two layers of the outer piece.

Pocket Diapers

They are a one-and-done style of diaper meaning that no part of the diaper can be reused before washing after it’s been soiled. Unlike prefolds/flats/fitteds with a cover or All-in-Twos, the entire pocket diaper will need to be laundered because that stay-dry layer that comes into direct contact with baby’s bum is sewn in the waterproof outer. So why use them? Well, there are a few things about their design that make them unique and might make them perfect for you.

With pocket diapers, you are able to customize your absorbency. If you have a newborn or a three-year-old you can use the same pocket outer and stuff the appropriate about of absorbent inserts inside. Because they are neatly contained inside the pocket, your absorbent layers can’t poke out the side of the diaper or become unruly on the changing mat with a squirmy baby. (Of course, you can always add booster inserts to up absorbency in any other type of diaper! I’ve just found it easier to do with pockets.)

You also aren’t limited to using the microfiber inserts that come with most pocket diapers. I actually use my tri-folded prefolds inside my pockets. For daytime, it’s just an infant prefold tucked inside. At night, I use a Thirsties hemp prefold plus a premie prefold. You can also purchase inserts made from different materials or, of course, just stick with the microfiber that comes with most pockets. You can even use an old t-shirt in a pinch! It’s really just a matter of your needs, which might change as your baby grows.

The biggest draw to pocket diapers for me is the stay-dry interior. Some parents don’t like the idea of synthetic fibers touching their baby at all. So if that’s you, then you can pretty much cross pockets off of your list. It doesn’t really bother me and I find that my daughter seems much happier in a drier diaper. It really just comes down to whether or not you want to have a more natural, wetter diaper or the stay-dry kind. It’s really just a personal choice. And I’ll say that some babies (like my son) really don’t seem to care about having a wet feeling diaper while others do.

(There are stay-dry options in other diaper styles! So if you like the stay-dry but aren’t sure about pockets, look into fleece liners, GroVia hemp inserts with their All-in-Two system, or several All-in-One options.)

I will also mention that most pocket diapers are made in One Size sizing. This means there are snaps along the rise that close or open to make the diaper smaller or larger. AppleCheeks are one notable exception with a 1/2 sizing system. It’s also worth mentioning that the stay-dry fleece varies slightly by brand. If you can see a friend’s or go to a store in person, that’s something to compare.

Pocket Diapers - Kawaii

Once your pocket diaper is soiled, you’ll need to unstuff it and drop it into your wet bag. This is because the absorbent insert might not agitate out in the wash and won’t be properly cleaned. If you feel icky about touching the inserts, these charming little Diaper Dawgs might help.

Make sure to follow a good laundry regime with you pocket diapers. Because they have synthetic fibers, they are more prone to buildup. Don’t cut corners with your detergent. I always use commercially-made cloth diaper safe detergent along with a cold rinse and hot wash. To me it’s a protection on my investment. That, plus I really just can’t deal with the hassle of troubleshooting laundry problems!

After the wash, I dry the prefolds in the drier and air dry my pockets (and covers and All-in-Ones– anything with PUL). Once they are all dry, I stuff them and put them away if I’m feeling very organized. Sometimes though, I just keep them in two piles and stuff as I need them.

I hope I answered any questions you had about pocket diapers!

What do you think of pockets? Any lingering questions? 



AI2 Cloth Diapers

As we continue the “Cloth Diapering With…” series, we are venturing into more modern, new-fangled diaper styles. We started with the basics: prefolds, flats or fitteds with a cover. Today’s post is about the style known as All-in-Twos or ‘AI2’ for short.

Cloth Diapering with AI2 Diapers

What’s an AI2?

I remember when I first read this AI2 abbreviation on a website about four years ago and it immediately made the prospect of cloth diapering seem complicated and overwhelming. But fear not! Because All-in-Twos are just simple two-part systems that improve on the prefold/cover style we’ve already discussed.

All-in-Two just means that there are two separate pieces to your diaper. There’s the waterproof cover, which can sometimes be called a ‘shell’, and the absorbent cloth piece that’s placed inside. If you read that and thought, “Wait, that’s what you said about prefolds,” — you’re right! Brands that make All-in-Two diaper systems took a look at the traditional ways of diapering and made some modern improvements.

Most AI2 systems use snaps to hold the absorbent insert in place, though some use a tuck-in flap. To use the diaper just attach the insert to it’s shell and fasten it to the baby with the snaps or aplix on the cover. When it’s time to change, you snap out the soiled insert and keep it to be washed. If the shell is not dirty, you can either snap in a clean insert or let it air dry and use it again after the next change. The typical baby will need approximately 5-6 shells and 24-30 inserts.

AI2 Inserts

There are a few options when it comes to picking out an insert. Most brands make both a stay-dry and organic cotton version. There are also extra boosters that help for naps or nighttime. The stay-dry option means that there is a top fleece layer that creates a drier feeling for your baby. (Though if the diaper is very well soaked, it will eventually become saturated.) Whether or not you choose stay-dry is a personal choice. Some babies really don’t care if their bums feel wet, for others, it’s uncomfortable. The stay-dry layer is made from a synthetic blend and some parents want to keep their baby in all natural fibers. If you aren’t sure what to choose, you can always get a few of both and see what you prefer. (Cloth diapers have good resell values, so you can always sell it if it doesn’t work for your baby.)

AI2 Covers

Most AI2 brands use a One Size model for their covers or ‘shells’. One Size (abbreviated OS) means that there will be snaps along the rise to increase or decrease it’s size. One notable exception is SoftBums, which are One Size but use a teeny adjustable elastic system to change their size. Some brads, use the OS cover with sized inserts. This will give your baby a more exact fit. Here’s a little comparison chart to heal you see the subtle differences between the AI2 brands we carry.

AI2 Comparison Table

Many AI2 systems are interchangeable across brands and you also have the option of using your plain, old prefold inside of an AI2 shell. Some families like to stick to one brand, one system and keep things simple. Brands will often have package deals or special sales on their systems. (Tip- Black Friday and Earth Day are the times of year for big cloth diaper savings.) But, if you’re anything like me, you will have a little bit of everything. I tend to try diapers based on their colors and prints and if it works well, I’ll probably get more.

Hybrid Diapers

Hybrid Systems

With AI2 systems, the word “hybrid” sometimes sneaks in. A few cloth diapering companies also make absorbent, eco-friendly, disposable liners to be used inside the cover in lieu of the absorbent cloth piece. These can be extremely useful if you are traveling or going out. They are made for occasions when you want the convenience of a disposable without their full environmental impact.

A couple of tips for using disposable inserts— while they may be made for a specific cover by the same brand, they are for the most part acceptable to use in any cover. I’ve used Flip, GroVia, and gDiapers inserts inside of any cover I have. (I’ve even used them in an unstuffed pocket!) Also, be aware that a runny poop might make it’s way off the liner and inside your cover, so still carry a wet bag and extra covers just in case.

I’ve been asked a lot which disposable insert is best, so I wanted to test out all three (that we carry and I know of) so I could give an informed opinion. And honestly they all worked fine! The GroVia Biosoakers have adhesive that can stick to the cover and help hold it in place. (Sort of like a maxi pad.) They also have a bit of a gusset. The Flip and gDiaper inserts are a bit longer and are both rectangular. The Flip has a nice soft quilted top. I really didn’t have one strong preference. They all did their waste-catching jobs!

I’ve mentioned gDiapers disposable inserts so I’ll talk a little about this brand specifically. It’s categorized by some as an AI2, but I usually tell people it’s more like an All-in-Three. With gDiapers, there’s a cotton, cloth outer, a waterproof ‘pouch’ layer inside that, and finally an absorbent piece inside that. Another feature that sets gDiapers apart from others in the AI2 category is that the cotton outer part called the gPant is sized Small-X-Large. You can read more and see photos about gDiapers in this post.

I hope this post helped demystify the AI2 cloth diapering systems. These diapers have many of the same benefits as the types we’ve previously discussed with a few more bells and whistles.

Have you ever tried an All-in-Two? What’s your favorite?

Fitted Diapers

Moving along with our Cloth Diapering series, we are on to fitted diapers. When I originally thought about the posts in the series, I considered including fitted diapers with the Prefolds and Flats post. Fitted diapers are the same in that they are all absorbency and require a waterproof cover to keep from leaking. But since that post was really long and there’s a bit more detail I wanted to add, I decided to give them their own fluffy little post so you can see what they are all about!Fitted Diapers

Fitted diapers (sometimes just referred to as ‘fitteds’) are made of absorbent cloth like cotton, organic cotton, bamboo or hemp (or a blend of these). As I mentiond in last week’s post, different materials have different absorbency rates and the price point of the diaper will reflect this. Fitted diapers are sewn into a complete diaper with snaps or aplix and elastic. So there’s no folding or pinning as with prefolds and flats. One exception is the contour diaper or “snapless fitted,” which would need a pin or other fastener to stay put.

Fitted Diapers

Fitted diapers are known for being extremely absorbent and great for naps and overnight diapering. Many people use other types of diapers in the day and buy fitted diapers specifically for night. Others use fitteds all the time. Some babies are heavy wetters and parents find that other styles of diapers just don’t have the absorbency their child needs so they switch to fitteds. Some parents just pick fitteds from the start!

In comparison to other diaper styles, fitted diapers tend to be on the fluffier side because they are made from many layers of absorbent fabric and often contain snap-in doublers or boosters. Of course, fitteds can be made to be less absorbent. Some materials, like hemp, are still extremely absorbent yet naturally trimmer.

One Size Fitted Diaper

There are also sizing options. A one size (sometimes written OS) diaper has snaps that can be adjusted to make the rise smaller or larger. Generally speaking, a OS might be very large on an infant. If you select of of the fluffier diapers, expect to size up in clothing when you baby is on the smaller size of the weight range.

Sized diapers tend to be trimmer because there is comparatively less material. Some brands have a 2-size system and others use XS-XL. Although a OS diaper will fit for a long duration, be prepared that some children do grow out of them. Depending on their size and when they potty train (night training often comes later), toddlers might eventually need a something like an X-Large.

One great option in fitted diapering is the Newborn Rental. You borrow the teeny newborn size for the first three months. At this time, a one size will be very bulky on your baby so opting to rent saves you from buying a set of diapers that will only fit for a short time. You can actually get store credit toward your stash when you return your rental. Read more about it here.

Fitted Diapers-Thirsties

As with prefolds and flats, fitteds require a cover. Your first choice is selecting a cover is between PUL or wool. Many people choose wool to wear over a fitted diaper. When lanolized, wool is naturally leak-proof and breathable. You can read more about it here. Because they are stretchy and typically more roomy, wool covers fit nicely over even the fluffiest of fitteds. The option of wool longies (or shorties) is also a nice idea for use with a fitted. Longies are just pants made of wool. Pair that with a shirt and your baby is all dressed. Style!

Wool Longies

PUL covers will also work with a fitted diaper, however you will need to take into consideration the size of the fitted when selecting the size of the cover. A fluffy one size fitted will probably work well in a one size or larger sized cover. In warmer times of the year, some parents keep their babies in a fitted without the cover while at home. You have lots of freedom when you choose a fitted diaper!

One note about laundering fitted diapers. As you might imagine, these guys take a while to dry. You’ll definitely want to have access to a dryer. Some people like to line dry for a bit and then use the dryer to finish and soften them up. You can try adding dryer balls or a towel to your load to help speed drying time.

I hope this post helped you understand fitted diapers a little better. Hit me up with questions or share what you love about fitteds in the comments below!


Prefolds and Flats

Today I’m excited to start a new, in-depth series on cloth diapering! Maybe you’re a newbie who’s surfing around for information on how to get started. Maybe you have tried cloth and want to experiment with a different style. In this series I’ll talk about all the different cloth diapering systems (cause I’ve tried ’em all) and give you an overview of the basics of cloth plus some tips and tricks. Ready?

After working in both Sweetbottoms’ storefront and online sectors for two years, I’ve helped a lot of customers understand cloth diapers. Although your options can seem overwhelming, it really just boils down to two layers: the absorbent inner and waterproof outer. All of your different styles and brands are just different versions of the absorbent and waterproof layers.

Cloth Diapering with Prefolds and Flats

I start with Prefolds and Flats because they are the most basic. They are the styles that our grandmothers used. My family tells me that my great-grandmother had three diapers for her children. One would be on the baby, one would be in the wash and the third would be drying. I assume what she had were “flats.”

Flats are a single-ply piece of cloth that can be folded and/or fastened around your baby in whatever method you need. These are extremely inexpensive, wash very easily and dry quickly.

Prefolds are just a PRE-folded version of a flat. But instead of just being folded, they come sewn together in a tri-paneled rectangle. Different brands may vary on thickness, but there are typically 2-8 layers of cloth sewn together to make the pre fold. The most absorbent layer is in the middle. Like flats, these can be folded or fastened as you wish. They are also easily washed, but take much longer to dry than flats would. They come in sizes. Each brand may have slightly different sizing, but generally speaking there are four sizes: Preemie, Infant, Premium, and Toddler.

So why pick prefolds over flats? With all your cloth diapering choices, you have to pick which characteristic is most important to you. Prefolds are significantly smaller and require much less wrangling and folding than flats. But if fast drying and maximum customization are top of your list, then flats might be your pick. In the end there’s no “best diaper” there’s just what works best for you!

Another piece of information you’ll need to help you narrow down your choices is the material option. These materials will pop up again in the absorbent layers of other styles, so keep them in mind. The price point of diapers is usually related to the materials used.

  • Cotton- This is the most basic absorbent material. You might see “bleached” or “unbleached.” This simply tells you if it’s been treated with whitening bleach or not.
  • Organic Cotton- Just like regular cotton, this is commonly found in diapers. The “organic” just means that the cotton plants were grown organically. It’s also known to be more absorbent than regular cotton.
  • Bamboo- Made from durable bamboo, this natural fiber is extremely absorbent, organic, and antimicrobial.
  • Hemp- Like Bamboo, this natural fiber is extra-absorbent. It’s known for slower absorption, so many people use it overnight and with an extra cotton doubler.
  • Fleece- Made a polyester, this is a non-absorbent stay-dry layer that’s sometimes sewn into a prefold or added individually as a single layer.

Because they are made from natural fibers, both prefolds and flats are extremely durable. I’m using the same set today that I used when my son was born in early 2011. I estimate they have been washed more than 200 times and they are still going strong.

Diaper Pins Cloth Diapering with Prefolds and Flats

Some people use fasteners to secure the flat or pre fold around the baby. Traditionally, we had just pins–and this is what intimidates some people. However, today we also have Snappi and Boingo fasteners, which make things super easy. There are many ways to secure the diaper. You can also skip using a fastener and just fold your fabric into the cover. (From personal experience, doing this is much easier but ends up making covers a bit dirtier so there’s a tradeoff.)

Cloth Diapering with Prefolds and Flats

That brings me to the waterproof layer: your cover!

Prefolds and flats need some sort of waterproof cover to keep your baby from leaking. You always have the option of keeping them in just a fastened prefold and changing them as soon as it becomes wet, but most people use a cover. As opposed to other diaper styles, the cover can usually be re-used several times before it needs to be laundered. We recommend 5-6 covers for a newborn. (And 25-30 prefolds/flats)

I’m not going to go into a huge explanation of your options here, but you have two basic choices: PUL or wool. PUL is polyurethane laminate and it’s a synthetic material that will hold in wetness. Wool, by contrast, is a natural fiber. You can read much more about it here. Some choices you have for PUL covers include:

  • Gussets – These are extra panels sewn into the cover that help hold in the liquidy poo that newborns and exclusively breastfed babies typically have. If you are buying covers for a newborn, it’s recommended to look for a type of cover that has them.
  • Snaps or Hook and Loop/Aplix/Velcro- This refers to the way that the cover fastens. Snaps are extremely popular because of durability, however the hook and loop variety can be easier on tired hands and restless babies.
  • Sized or One-Size- One Size (OS) covers are made with more snaps so that they can become smaller or larger to accommodate your growing baby. Sized (typically small/medium/large or 1/2) will fit more perfectly without the extra fabric. Many people use a small or newborn sized cover for the first couple of months and then move to a OS cover. If your cover isn’t fitting properly, you’ll get leaks so this is an important decision.

In summary, prefolds and flats are a very inexpensive way to cloth diaper your baby. I recommend them especially for people who aren’t ready to make a huge upfront investment. They work well for newborns. I used the Preemie size prefolds for a week or so and then switched to the Infant. My daughter was about 9 lbs, so she grew out of them faster than a smaller baby would! The Preemie size can still be used as a doubler for extra absorbency later. Any flat or prefold can actually be used for extra absorbency or as a multipurpose cloth for your household needs.

If you would like information on prepping and laundering your diapers, I’ve got a whole post planned for that. But this should get you started.

Now share with the group: What do you love about flats or prefolds? Were you intimidated to try them? Who would you recommend them to?