The Ultimate Cloth Diapering Shopping List

Welcome to the First Annual Freedom of Cloth Carnival


This post was written for inclusion in the Freedom of Cloth Carnival hosted at Natural Parents Network by Melissa of The New Mommy Files and Shannon of The Artful Mama. This year’s carnival will run from Sunday, July 3rd through Saturday, July 9th. Participants are sharing everything they know and love about cloth diapering, including how cloth has inspired them.


Photo Credit: Amber Bee Cee on Flickr

I was browsing a cloth diaper forum one day when I came across an interesting question: “If your only option was a dozen prefolds and some plain white covers, would you still cloth diaper?”

It was a good question, particularly for those of us who can’t seem to quit buying diapers, but it gave me a bit of a chuckle because it is precisely what I started with. I planned all along to practice elimination communication with my daughter, but to have cloth diapers as a back-up. It wasn’t the cuteness that appealed to me in the beginning; I’m inclined toward all things crunchy as it is, so I didn’t need any convincing. I knew I would do it, I just didn’t know how many options I had and how very simple it could be! My stack of prefolds and my three white covers got me off to an interesting start. I have managed to pass some things up in the interest of saving money, but I have found so many conveniences since those super minimalist early days of cloth diapering. For those just starting out, I present to you a list. This is by no means a list of things every cloth diapering family needs, but it is a list of everything you could possibly want.

  • Diapers: Tara of The Cloth Chronicles wrote a great post on the different types of diapers out there. Prefolds are a great inexpensive option, but parents these days have so much more to choose from, including diapers that go on and off just like a disposable, and are just as absorbent but much cuter and much friendlier to the earth and the wallet. Whatever kind of diaper you choose, a respectable “stash” will have at least 18 or more. Consider how often you’d like to wash (anything more than about three days and things start to get stinky), how many diapers you generally use a day and do the math.
  • Diaper-Friendly Detergent: While there are great detergents on the market made specifically for cloth diapers, it’s not necessary to buy a separate detergent for just your dipes. You will, however, at least want to look for a brand that is free of things like fragrances and optical brighteners as these can leave behind a residue on your diapers, making it harder to get them clean. The “free and clear” version of many brands works just fine. Diaper Jungle has a great chart to help you decide what type of detergent to try.
  • Covers: If you opt for flats, prefolds, or fitted diapers, you’ll need covers to make them waterproof. If you choose all in one (AIO), all in two (AI2), or pocket diapers, you won’t need covers at all. Your options are varied, from the old school rubber pants that go on like a pair of underwear, to custom made super soft covers with cute prints and Velcro or snap closures. Covers can be wiped out and reused multiple times between washings, so while it’s great to have several, you won’t need dozens of them.
  • Wool: Some love it, some hate it, but few would argue the fact that it’s cute! Wool is a great material for diaper covers, but it is also used to make “skirties,” “shorties,” and “longies,” all of which function as a diaper cover but double as part of an adorable outfit. Aside from the cuteness, a big part of the appeal of wool is that is has antibacterial properties and can also be made waterproof, but this is a downside as well, since the process of waterproofing, called “lanolizing,” has to be repeated from time to time and this can be time consuming.
  • Wool Wash: If you use wool, you’ll want a soap that will help you to clean it while still maintaining its water resistant properties.
  • Fasteners: You only need a fastener if you are using prefolds or flats, though occasionally you will find a fitted diaper that needs a fastener as well. The old school option is diaper pins, and these still work out just fine. For the risk-averse caregiver who doesn’t like the idea of holding a sharp metal object next to a squirming child’s skin, however, there is also the snappi, a fastener that uses plastic claws to hold diapers closed (youtube has some videos of snappis in action). If you are using mostly prefolds or flats for diapering, you’ll likely want a few of these, in the event that you misplace one. They also break from time to time, so you’ll be glad to have a back-up.
  • Liners: Liners are by no means necessary, but can come in handy to those averse to handling poop. As the name would suggest, they line your diapers, allowing liquids to pass through but hanging on to solids. Instead of having to scrape or spray sticky, solid waste off your diaper before you throw it in the wash, if you’ve used a liner you can simply flush all of the solids right along with it. There are a number of disposable, biodegradable, and flushable liners on the market that come in large rolls, or you can buy or make your own washable, reusable fleece liners. Liners also come in handy when you need to use diaper rash cream, since most creams shouldn’t be used directly on cloth diapers, as they will leave a residue behind even after washing.
wool soaker pants

Wool Soaker Pants, Photo Credit: el.jefe on Flickr

  • Doublers: also called boosters, are simply an extra insert that can be placed inside your diapers for more absorbency. They’re great for heavy-wetters, and for nighttime when some babies tend to soak right through any diaper.
  • Wipes: As long as you’re doing diaper laundry, you may want to consider using cloth wipes as well. There are many different brands available for purchase, ranging from very plain to super luxurious wipes with cute prints. You can also make your own from leftover squares of fabric, or purchase a large number of baby washcloths and use those instead. You will likely want at least as many wipes as you have diapers.
  • Wipes case and solution: Some people pre-moisten their cloth wipes and carry them in a wipes case. Others carry dry wipes along with their diapers and moisten them with wipe solution (a spray bottle works great) as needed. There are a few different brands of wipe solution on the market, or you can easily experiment to find out what you like and make your own.
  • Wipe Warmer: Wipe warmers are popular with people using disposable diapers and wipes, but you can use them for cloth wipes, too.
  • Diaper Sprayer: Diaper Sprayers attach to the water source for your toilet and use water pressure to spray off solid waste from your diapers and rinse it into the toilet. Picture the little sprayer next to your kitchen sink, but in the bathroom. Of course it can also make you feel like you have a bidet in your home, and that’s a great thing to have in the first days postpartum.
  • Diaper Pail: You will definitely need something to put your diapers in when they’re wet or soiled. You can buy a pail designed specifically for diapers, but a plain old trash can with a lid works just as well. Another option is to purchase an extra large wet bag instead, which would functions as a place to put all your dirty diapers and doesn’t require a liner.
  • Pail Liner: If you use a pail, you’ll likely want to purchase a liner for it, to save yourself from having to clean out your pail each time. Having two is not a bad idea either, so that you can always have one in the pail and one in the wash.
  • Essential Oils: A great feature of many pail liners is a small flap of fabric sewn into the seam near the top. You can add a few drops of a fragrant essential oil to the flap to keep your pail fresh. If your liner doesn’t have this feature, you can always pin a scrap of fabric into it for the same purpose. Essential oils also come in very handy for making your own wipe solution. There are also dedicated products for controlling pail orders, like deo disks.
  • Wet Bags: Small wet bags are great to have for outside the house. They are washable waterproof bags that fit in your diaper bag and act as a place to put your soiled diapers and wipes. They hold odors in until you get home and can put your diapers in the pail. In a pinch, you can always reuse a plastic shopping bag. Having one works just fine, but it’s nice to have a spare or two or you spend a fair amount of time away from home. They work great for things like swimsuits later on, so they’re always useful.

Photo Credit: ex.libris on Flickr

  • Diaper Rash Cream: As discussed in the section about liners, the majority of rash creams should be kept off your cloth, as they leave behind stains and/or residues that compromise the effectiveness of your cloth. The All About Cloth Diapers Blog has a list of cloth safe diaper creams and a great discussion in the comments. Of course you can always stick to your old favorite and use fleece liners to protect your diapers (see above).
  • Leg Warmers and Pants with Ample Bums: There is no need to buy special clothing for the
    cloth diapered baby, but it is helpful to consider that many cloth diapers are fluffier than their disposable counterparts and therefore take up a bit more space in a child’s trousers. Everyday infant clothing certainly fits all the same, but you may find yourself buying things in a size larger than you would if you had a child in a trim disposable diaper, or jumping on a sale of pants with particularly ample bums. Cloth diapered babies also look fabulous in leg warmers, and these make an easy alternative to pants since they allow an adorable diaper to be seen, and they fit regardless of the fluff factor.
  • The Classic Accessories: All of the accessories that go along with diapering in general, disposable included, can be considered to make cloth diapering easier. Changing tables, changing pads, and the like are the same no matter what type of diapers you’re using, so think about what you feel might make your life easier.

Cloth diapering is truly simple, but if you’re a fan of accessories and gadgets, there is a whole lot out there. What have you found necessary and what have you passed up? We would love to hear what has worked for you.


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Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants on the following themes. Articles will go live on the scheduled theme day:

  • Sunday, July 3rd, 2011: Cloth Related Recipes — Writers share their best cloth-related recipes and tutorials.
  • Monday, July 4th, 2011: Choosing Your Cloth Style — Today’s posts discuss parents’ individual journeys to finding the cloth diapering “style” that best suits their families.
  • Tuesday, July 5th, 2011: Cloth Diapering Must Haves — Parents talk about the most important items in their diapering “stash” and why they love them.
  • Wednesday, July 6th, 2011: Wordless Wednesday, Inspired by Cloth — We asked parents to share their favorite cloth-related photo with us and turned them into a fluffy Wordless Wednesday photo montage on Natural Parents Network. Link up your own Wordless Wednesday post there!
  • Thursday, July 7th, 2011: Cloth Through the Stages: From Infancy to Potty Independence — Today’s participants explain how cloth diapering has served their families throughout one or more stages of their children’s lives.
  • Friday, July 8th, 2011: Cloth Troubleshooting and Laundry Day — Seasoned cloth diapering parents share their best tips and tricks for handling common cloth problems and tackling the diaper laundry.
  • Saturday, July 9th, 2011: Inspired by Cloth — For today’s theme, we’ve asked writers to explore the ways cloth diapering has inspired them to become “greener” overall.

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