Cloth Diapers, part 1

The benefits of clothe diapers

We are pleased to announce that we are expecting another blessing around Father’s Day!  So, in honor of the upcoming event, I thought this might be a good time to give a run-down of the various choices available these days in cloth diapers.

The “Old-Fashioned Kind”

If you were cloth diapered as a baby, most likely your mother use the kind most often referred to as “prefolds.”  They were rectangular pieces of quilted fabric with a double thickness in the middle.  They were held on with big diaper pins and then usually covered with plastic pants.  Prefolds are still available in big box stores (though the plastic pants are getting hard to find).  Most people use these as burp cloths rather than diapers nowadays.

Prefolds are one of the most economical choices in cloth diapers and have been updated in some online stores to be sized for babies for a better fit.  In addition to the old diaper pin method of using them, they can now be folded and placed inside an easy-to-use diaper cover that snaps or Velcros onto the baby-  no pins necessary.

Newer Versions

Beyond the old prefolds, there are now all kinds of diapers.  I originally sewed my own fitted ones using a pattern from Backwoods Home Magazine.  (Here is an additional resource).  For purchase, there are choices made of all cotton, microfiber, bamboo, hemp, and blends.  If you look online at these links and others, you will see that everyone has an opinion about why their particular choice is best, whether it is the insecticide-free production of the plant material or the softness of the fabric or durability in washing.  One recurring theme though is that synthetic fibers tend to stink over time because they are harder to get clean.

If I was going to invest in a set of cloth diapers now, I would get adjustable “all-in-ones” (this is one of several brands- notice the picture at the bottom of the page).  These are most like disposables in how they work.  They are pretty easy to use and economical considering that one size diaper (adjusted by how they are snapped onto the baby) can fit them from newborn up to potty-training.  They are basically a waterproof cover with an absorbent layer inside.  They fit the baby in much the same way as a disposable, but they will can be purchased in cute colors and patterns.

Why should I buy cloth diapers?

You may be wondering why you ought to have cloth diapers on-hand since your children are potty-trained or you have no plans to have children.  That is a valid question.  But consider a few things:

  1. You can’t be sure who will come to you for help or refuge in times of trouble and who they may bring along.
  2. Babies tend to show up when there is no birth control available.
  3. Diapers will be a hot barter item.  It is said that 95% of babies (in the U.S. at least) use disposable diapers.  Those will run out quickly if shipments to stores should stop.  Every parent of a baby in disposables will need an alternative quickly.

For these reasons, I think every serious prepper should store cloth diapers.  They are available in many online stores, on Amazon, and even eBay.  The prices are all over the board, so do your research and make sure you know what you are getting.  In addition, you may be able to find some gently used ones on Craigslist.

How many should I buy?

If funds allow, I would buy at least 48.  The reasons behind that are threef0ld.  First, babies go through a lot of cloth diapers.  Cloth has to be changed more frequently than disposables.  Newborns especially have small bladders and colons so diapering an infant can seem like a full time job.  They will need a diaper change with every feeding, plus a few in between.  Let’s say 10 a day!

Second, having spares delays wash day a bit.  You wont’ want them sitting around too long, but you’ll have other things to do besides wash diapers every single day in a less than ideal world.

Third, having several dozen will allow you to use a set for your own child and still have some to loan or barter.

In future pieces, I will share how cloth diapers can be effectively washed and some diaper rash prevention and cures.  After that, I will try to tackle alternatives to disposable baby wipes.

Do you have a favorite brand or style of cloth diaper?  Please tell why in the comments section.

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17 Comments on “Cloth Diapers, part 1”

  1. secretcreek Says:

    What? No mention that cloth diapers are also terrific for drying dishes and they are thin enough to dry fast…good for dusting and other general housekeeping jobs and can double( well, triple) as wound care covers/bandaging. The thinner, non padded kind can be used as a strainer, or…or…or…or… Too many to list. I also like the very similar flour sack towels. They are great neckerchiefs too- won’t rub necks raw…and longer than regular handkerchiefs. There’s going to be a lot more hard working sweaty people if it all goes to poop, with things like airconditioning, wipes, papertowels, that’ll become the stuff of memories. Maybe cloth diapers could be the new bath towels- smaller to wash, easier to dry???


    • Laura Says:

      Thanks for bringing those things up. For this post, I just focused on the main use, but your point is well taken. I have several more posts in the series, including alternatives to disposable baby wipes- we will have to stop taking for granted the convenience of plenty of throw-away items. We are left with nothing for the monetary investment we made and it assumes a a non-stop supply of new ones.

      We will probably run one from the series each week. Thanks so much for all your recent comments


  2. bluefiiire Says:

    I use a brand called fuzzibunz and they work out just fine. These are covers with removable inserts. Also the kissaluvs diapers/nappys are great as well. With these you have to have a cover over and I found wool to be the best. It’s naturally water resistant so it won’t leak and when it gets damp you simply hang it and the urine actually evaporates with no smell left behind. Having a heap of soft and absorbent fabric on hand in general is a good idea if you think about it because cloth diapers are actually very easy to make(tutorials on youtube, etc.) If you know how to knit/etc. you could easily make wool covers to go over diapers (a popular style are called ‘longies’ that are like long pants but also a cover). It’s also easy to take the sleeves, or any part for that matter, of an old wool sweater and fashion up a pair of breathable pants to go over diapers that won’t leak and also keep baby cool in summer and warm in winter(so don’t throw out any with holes!). Also it seems almost anything used to make diapers for baby would also work in a pinch to cut up for feminine pads as well. For baby wipes just about ANY fabric pieces will do and just add a bit of water or softer solution mix if you have some. Cut up flannel or t-shirts seem to do the trick just fine for us. =)


    • bluefiiire Says:

      1 more thing: in a pinch a cut up towel would work well in making diapers.


      • Laura Says:

        Thanks for mentioning Fuzzibunz. I hear good things about those too. And your point about cutting up old towels was great. I should have mentioned that I used them as the “soaker” layer in the diapers I made for our children.

        I have read lots about the wool covers but never used any. Unfortunately, I do not know how to knit yet. I need to learn for reasons like that.


        • bluefiiire Says:

          You can make a wool cover easily with an old wool sweater. Simply wash it in hot water & dry with heat to shrink it(this is called felting the wool- bringing the fibers closer together). Then you can cut it into whatever shape you need and sew it easily to fashion a cover to fit your baby! Have some lanolin on hand(which is the what is stripped off the wool for processing and dyeing that keeps it water resistant) and soak your cover in a bit of it disolved in water. It will stick to the fibers and make your cover soft & leak proof. You won’t have to wash it- only air it out and it will evaporate and not smell. You can wash it every few weeks and then also lanolize again.


          • Laura Says:

            Thanks for explaining that more. Wool sweaters with a hole or two are so easy to find at thrift stores for just a dollar or two. Each would probably make several covers. To prevent it from unraveling where you cut, do you just do a zigzag stitch around the openings or something more?

            I think lanolin is great stuff and I knew it came from sheep’s wool. I like using it as a diaper rash remedy because it does create that sorta Teflon effect to seal out new moisture and irritants. It makes sense that it would create a water resistant effect on the cover too. Great info. Thanks!


            • bluefiiire Says:

              I’m glad you mentioned how you could use it for diaper rash- I forgot to! Lanolin would be a great thing to put on your prepping checklist. As for the stitch anything will do -just depends on what type of sweater it is as far as how much reinforcing you’ll need. =)


  3. stephen Says:

    Ahh yes. Went thru the same with my son. Many different types too. I always preferred the ones that velcro’d up just like disposables. But my comment here is about the “reusable wipes”. I purchased a “wipe warmer” from cotton babies. Then used little terry cloth rags, set them in a tupperware container, added enough water to wet them, added some burts bees liquid baby soap and a touch of hydrogen peroxide. Shake it all up, squeeze them out, and place into warmer. Never had to use disposables except for dining out and the like. Worked great. Just be sure to purchase a separate trash can w/lid as your “dirty baby stuff hamper”.


    • Laura Says:

      Thanks for sharing what you did for “wipes.” I have a piece coming up on a possibility for those and a recipe for a liquid wipes solution. Never heard of using hydrogen peroxide. Do you know the rationale for including it in the liquid? To prevent staining on the wipes? To sanitize the baby’s bottom? Interesting…


  4. prudenceblue Says:

    I use the cheap pack of flats that you can get a walmart as the soaking liner in the fitteds I made. It works great! I have a tutorial on my blog if you are interested.

    I have you looked into using momma cloth (cloth pads for you)?

    Also, you probably already know about FAM for birth control but if you don’t I could point you in a good direction. That’s one area I’m sure we’ll be ok in if anything happens 😛 We’ve been using FAM for three years now both to conceive and avoid.


  5. Lyrissa Says:

    I use a right old mixture of different nappies… as baby grows different nappies suit different bottoms so I thought ahead and bought tons. … a little tip is that new nappies need to be washed and dried several times before they reach full absorbancy so if you are storing them away incase of disaster I’d pre-wash them first rather than waiting till you have no water.

    There would definetely be some panicked mums if disposables weren’t available… I remember a few years back on holiday something had happened to the nappy deliveries and not a single shop in the area had any… I remember the mums all panicking and searching every shop in desperation… I just carried on with my cloth nappies and enjoyed my hols!!!

    Unfortunately I am back on disposables (tho eco friendly ones) thanks to lack of drying space when the weather is bad but always have some cloth around just in case.



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