Cloth diapers are cheap, eco-friendly, and less of a hassle than you think. Here's what you need to know.
With cheerful fabrics, major moisture-wicking abilities and ouch-free fasteners, modern cloth diapers are nothing like the nappies your grandma used. They make changes a snap and don't clog landfills. Plus, choosing cloth saves money, too. "It's possible to get set up with cloth diapers and accessories for around $350 to $500 for 2½ years of use," says Paula DeVore, cloth diapering expert and owner of Babyworks, who notes that disposable diapers over the same time frame may cost upward of $1,800.
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To get started, you'll need two washable diaper pail liners, a diaper sprayer attached to your toilet to wash poop into the bowl and a waterproof wet bag. Here, the most common types of cloth diapers and our favorite picks for each:
Pocket diapers consist of an absorbent insert made of microfiber, hemp, cotton or bamboo that slips between a waterproof exterior and a wetness-wicking liner. Many pocket diapers offer a one-size-fits-all option. For full-time use, you'll need at least 24.
We like: Rumparooz one-size- fits-all reusable diaper features patented interior gussets to keep leaks at bay. ($26, amazon.com)
All-in-ones have the layers— cover and moisture-absorbing insert—tacked together, so it's your easiest alternative. All-in-ones are best for day use and sometimes need an extra soak to get clean.
We like: Thirstie's Duo AIO built-in soaker sops up liquid without giving your baby a bulky behind. ($17, amazon.com)
Diaper covers pair with the prefolded diapers provided by a laundering service. You can also use a fitted diaper with a cover. DeVore recommends six covers and 36 prefolds if you're washing at home.
We like: Econobum One Size Cloth Diaper Cover is waterproof and affordable. ($10, amazon.com)
Hybrids blur the categories of disposables, cover and pocket diapers. Cloth or disposable inserts catch messes while the cover (usually) stays clean.
We like: gDiapers offers a rainbow of colors and designs; try the flushable/compostable/tossable inserts or the washable microfleece, cotton and hemp inserts. ($20 for diaper covers, and $15 for inserts, amazon.com)