We would like to use "real nappies" (reusable diapers); both to minimise environmental impact, and to save a bit of money

Please note I've asked a related question on basicallymoney.com about the cost saving aspects of real nappies. If you've anything to add about the cost savings potential please answer my question there too.

We've been to see an adviser to discuss the various options but I'm interested to hear about other people's experiences, good and bad.

If you've used real nappies and would recommend for or against the ones you've used, please share your experience with me.

I'd like to know:

  • The type you used (e.g. Terry cloth, fitted, pocket, all-in-one)
  • The brand.
  • How easy they are to fit.
  • How well they contain the 'contents'.
  • How easy they are to wash and dry.
  • Any tips around using them out and about (e.g. do you use disposables if out for the day or do you take a waterproof bag)
  • Overall would you recommend them?
This question is marked "community wiki".

asked 29 Mar '10, 11:38

Rich%20Seller's gravatar image

Rich Seller
accept rate: 19%

edited 29 Mar '10, 14:33

Tammy's gravatar image

Tammy ♦♦


Hi Rich,

Answers to this questions might also be useful to you. http://moms4mom.com/questions/55/how-many-cloth-diapers-do-i-need-and-what-is-stripping

(29 Mar '10, 14:23) Tammy ♦♦

Thanks for the link Tammy

(29 Mar '10, 14:44) Rich Seller

We chose to do cloth largely for environmental concerns, but also for the health and cost reasons. We looked at a diaper service - but it is only marginally cheaper than disposables, you have no control over what they wash them in, and don't have a lot of choice on the type of diaper that you get, so we decided to buy diapers and wash at home. We got some hand me downs from a friend and some as gifts, and all others used so our investment is actually minimal at this point. We have used cloth on both our children.

The two that I like best are the MotherEase one size, which last til the child is toilet trained, it grows with him/her and the Kushies All-In-One, which come in 3 sizes (NB, Small/til 20lbs and Large/til 40+ lbs). If you want to try cloth diapers before you commit, some baby shoppe's do a "try before you buy" for cloth diapers. You get a bunch of different types to try for a week for a small fee. At my local store it is $20. I didn't do this, but only because I didn't know about it til after I had my diapers.

We used disposables from the hospital til our first's umbilical cord stump fell off (about two weeks), then switched to the cloth. We used cloth from day one with our second. My kids were skinny when they were born, so they were too big at first, but so were the disposables. They make their bums humongous, so sleepers fit a bit tighter, and they grow out of stuff a bit faster, but they grow so fast I can't say that it is just the diapers. You can but some types that are now just as trim as disposables, and there are clothes that are cut for cloth as well.

We have not had a tonne of trouble with containing contents, largely because we change often. There are the occasional messy blowouts, but they are really rare. I suspect they are about as frequent as with disposable. Stripping your diapers makes a HUGE difference with absorbtion - that is explained here. Our washer has a "sanitize" function that I run when the diapers need stripping.

So how much work is it? At most, each change entails the diaper and the wrap that goes over it, so it is two steps vs one for disposables. If you use the all-in-one type (IE like the kushies), then it is virtually the same as a disposable. We had about 24 diapers when they were really little, and about 15 at the toddler stage. I do a load of laundry every second day that is just diapers, liners, change pads, covers and wipes. Its a full load. You want to do the diapers every second day so that bacteria doesn't start to grow!

Washing is pretty easy. I only rinse poopy diapers, the rest go in the pail directly. When I wash, it is a hot water wash. I use minimal detergent, and a product called oxygen bleach. This is the best combo that I have come up with to keep the diapers from having an amonia smell (which would happen occasionally). You can also use combos of detergent/baking soda/vinegar or special detergents for cloth.

People who use cloth have told me babies in cloth toilet train earlier, up to a year earlier than disposables. That is a lot less diapers in the future! Both my children started to train early, communicated a need to be changed before one year, my son was trained at 26 mos, and my daughter is well on her way at 16 months! I think this awareness is linked to using cloth. Baby feels wet when he/she is wet, and lets you know it much sooner than with disposables.

We use cloth whenever we can, so take a wetbag and our cloth dipes out for outings day trips and overnight. If we are going on a longer trip (ie to my cottage) where there are washing facilities, we take cloth. Any other trips (ie hotel) we use disposies.

I also have heard that diaper rash is less frequent with cloth, will try and find a link for this.

If you take care of the dipes too, you can resell them. I have some that I purchased used, diapered three kids with (my neice and my two) and will be able to sell for what I paid for them, as their condition has not deteriorated.

Yes, I recommend cloth!

This answer is marked "community wiki".

answered 29 Mar '10, 17:08

Krista's gravatar image

accept rate: 18%

I agree with everything above except it doesn't neccessarily lead to early toilet training. My son worn cloth nappies from about 3 months and was late toilet training (over 3 1/2 yrs)

(29 Mar '10, 23:10) K D

The type you used: Pocket one size diaper

The brand: BumGenius

How easy they are to fit: They are bulky at first since they are one size but fit well all the time.

How well they contain the 'contents': We have only had a few leaks that were our fault for not having the right size liner(s) inside.

How easy they are to wash and dry: We wash ours in the washer and dry them in the dryer like another load of laundry. BumGenius has specific washing instructions on their website for laundry detergents and temperatures. http://www.bumgenius.com/help.php (#8)

Any tips around using them out and about (e.g. do you use disposables if out for the day or do you take a waterproof bag): We use a waterproof bag to put used diapers in. We only use disposables or diaper liners when she has a diaper rash since the cream is not good for the diapers.

Overall would you recommend them? I really like pocket diapers and would definitely recommend them. I also like the one size because then I only had to buy diapers once and can continue to use them until my daughter is potty trained.

This answer is marked "community wiki".

answered 29 Mar '10, 18:14

nikjoyce's gravatar image

accept rate: 11%

+1 for recommending BumGenius - we opted for them too, as the sales representative at a baby show was so helpful and their product looked great. However, in the end we switched to disposables due to cost and convenience.

(14 Apr '10, 19:57) Lazlow

@Lazlow thanks. there is a big upfront cost with them but we found the cost to be much lower then disposables since we only had to buy them once. we just had our second child and are using the same diapers for both of them now.

(14 Apr '10, 20:57) nikjoyce

The type - All-in-one, one-size diapers.

The brand - I choose FuzziBunz One-Size Diapers because I wanted an easy cloth diaper that would last over multiple children. I felt that snaps were better than velcro which is why I went with the FuzziBunz instead of the BumGenius (though I heard a rumor that some BumGenius now come with snaps).

How easy they are to fit - When you get them, they aren't sized for a newborn so you have to go through and shrink them all down. This is a bit of a pain but it's a one-time thing. Once they are sized properly, you can adjust them fairly easily. I bought 2 12-packs of FuzziBunz and within that time period, they changed the design slightly to add "hip snaps." I think either design works fine. Both of the designs have elastic in the waste and legs that can be reduced or expanded.

How well they contain the 'contents' - I use both cloth diapers and disposable (Costco Kirkland brand) and haven't noticed a significant difference between the two in regards to mess. For wetness, the FuzziBunz diapers allow you to choose how many pads to stuff the diapers with. During the day, our one-year old uses the longer pad and at night I use one long pad and one short one. Note: many cloth diapers say you should not use diaper cream with them because it reduces the cloth's ability to absorb liquid. Our baby has sensitive skin but rarely has any diaper rash with the cloth diapers. Regardless, I do sometimes put a little bit of diaper creme on him, especially if he got a rash while in the disposable diapers, and I haven't noticed any absorbency problems yet.

How easy they are to wash and dry - Here's the official FuzziBunz washing instructions. When I take the diaper off, I immediately remove the insert before dumping both the insert and the main diaper into a dry pail. Originally, when my baby's messy diapers were very liquid, I didn't do anything special with them and just dumped them straight in the pail. Now that they are more solid, I shake what I can into the toilet and them dump them into the pail. I do laundry every 2-3 days. I dump the diaper pail into the washing machine and use our cold prewash cycle (about 15 min). Next, I change it to a cold/hot washing cycle. I just use regular laundry detergent which works fine, even for my son's skin which is pretty sensitive. After washing, I stick them in the dryer on low for 90 minutes. After they come out of the dryer I then stuff them. Stuffing takes less than 15 min and I usually do it while watching TV so it's not a big burden. I have been very impressed with how little the diapers stain. In 11-months, I only have one badly stained diaper and that was from a particularly bad BM day.

Any tips around using them out and about (e.g. do you use disposables if out for the day or do you take a waterproof bag) - I use old ziplock plastic bags when going places. Before putting the dirty diaper in the bag, I pull out the insert so I can just open the bag and dump it in the laundry without touching the diaper again. For long vacations that involve flying, I usually take disposables just because they take up much less space than cloth.

Cost savings - I've posted my thoughts on the basicallymoney.com site.

Clothing - One con to using cloth diapers is your baby's clothing may not fit as well. We have some pants that I only use when he's in daycare because I can fit them over his cloth diaper.

Overall would you recommend them? - Yes. I use disposable diapers while at part-time daycare and cloth for the remaining time. I feel that the cloth diapers have performed at least as well as the disposable.

This answer is marked "community wiki".

answered 29 Mar '10, 23:14

Kiesa's gravatar image

Kiesa ♦
accept rate: 26%

The type you used (e.g. Terry cloth, fitted, pocket, all-in-one)
The brand.

We used All in one Kushies for our first child, and for a portion of our second and third child's diaper years, but I think we switched to disposables gradually somewhere around the time we had our third kid.

How easy they are to fit.

We used infant disposables until the Kushies fit correctly, but even then you have to tighten them quite a bit more than disposables to get the same leak protection.

How well they contain the 'contents'.

In our experience, they don't do quite as well as diapers. Right now we carry 1 change of clothes for the baby, and use them mostly for eating messes (we aren't consistent bib users). When we had reusable diapers we always tried to have two changes of clothing on hand. Still rarely used, but used more frequently than we have to with disposables.

How easy they are to wash and dry.

Very easy. We hung them up to dry to lengthen their life, and kept a 5 gallon pail in the basement with oxy-clean and water which we would place them in throughout the day (after putting any solids in the toilet and rinsing). Do one load a day and hang them up before bed, and generally they were ready for use in the morning. It can be considered messy and/or unpleasant, but you get used to it.

Any tips around using them out and about (e.g. do you use disposables if out for the day or do you take a waterproof bag)

We would bring a waterproof bag and an extra reusable diaper for regular out and about trips, and always kept a few disposables on hand for days where we were going to be out for longer, or when the baby simply needed frequent changing.

For longer trips (more than a few hours, vacations, etc) we'd switch to disposables, as well as some illnesses, or when we were under the weather. It was nice to have the option for whatever reason to switch and make our lives a little easier.

Overall would you recommend them?

They were fine when we had one child, but we were stretched pretty thin when we had two in diapers, and even when one was potty trained, the second in reusables was a bit of a chore. At three kids the diapers were pretty well used, and the expense and additional work was greater than the expense of disposables, so we switched.

We had them on our gift list for the first child's baby shower, so the cost was largely absorbed by others, and we also purchased some very lightly used diapers from eBay (a lot of people try them out, then give up quickly, so there are good deals to be had for nearly new diapers - if you can get past the 'icky factor'). If we had to buy them ourselves, we probably wouldn't have gone that route.

We also had some of the non-lined diapers, with separate liners, which we used occasionally. They didn't seem to leak any more of less, but were a little more of a hassle to deal with, and didn't have quite as much absorbency as the kushies with the extra flap. Dressing the baby into more layers takes longer, frustrating both baby and parent, and the liner was put on like pants, while the kushie could be put on like a diaper (which, as you might know, is easier).

The Kushies have an extra flap inside, which we could position strategically to absorb more in the right area, so there was a slight benefit to that particular diaper feature.

We did the calculations and it is cheaper in terms of cost in the long run, especially if you can use them for more than one child (or resell them), than even the cheapest disposable diapers. However, there's an additional hour every other day you spend with reusables that you don't spend with disposables. The cost difference was not measurable in terms of dollars per day, but it was still substantial over a year. In other words, if your time is worth more than a few dollars an hour, you'd probably be better off with disposables. But if you have more time than money, or value the lower environmental impact and other benefits more highly, then it would make sense. At least one parent has to be committed to dealing with them, because one's resolve quickly wears if one is only doing it for cost reasons.

I think we ended up with 15-20 kushies, and could do laundry every other day on average, filling in any gaps with disposables.

We didn't notice any particular difference in terms of rashes or other irritation between disposables and reusables.

A few other differences we noticed:

  • Reusables are very large - so pants and other clothing were more difficult to put on
  • The size did seem to make it harder to keep the legs together when learning to walk
  • Reusables don't hold as much liquid, requiring more frequent changing if you want to keep the clothing dry
  • It's harder to tell if they're wet with reusables - a disposable gets physically larger as the fibers absorb moisture, and you can squeeze it from the outside and tell. With reusables you pretty much have to look or put a finger inside the diaper (just to the edge - the moisture goes throughout the cloth when full) to see if it's wet.
  • Potty training is a little bit easier with reusables - they feel wet, whereas disposables wick the moisture away from the skin. Our first two were potty trained while still mostly using the reusable diapers, while with the others we've inevitably had to switch to underwear with liners before they really decided to make the switch.
  • As they got older but were still in diapers, one reusable diaper at night was not enough, and we had to either switch to disposables, moderate their liquids before bed, or simply deal with soaking wet babies and bedclothes in the morning.
  • We started using the flushable liners as well, and that made a big difference in dealing with diaper solids. We found that we only needed a half a sheet per diaper, and they could actually be washed a few times if the diaper was only wet, we we were able to reduce the cost of the liners significantly, and still use them in every diaper.
  • You do have to change more frequently with reusables than disposables to avoid rashes, but we still found that 6-8 diapers a day was enough. With the liners and oxy-clean pail soaking method, we didn't have to do any special rinses or extra washing.
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answered 29 Mar '10, 14:24

Adam%20Davis's gravatar image

Adam Davis
accept rate: 31%

edited 29 Mar '10, 14:30

Thanks for all the info

(29 Mar '10, 14:40) Rich Seller

•The type you used (e.g. Terry cloth, fitted, pocket, all-in-one) We used three diffent types all in ones(Kushies), fitted(weenes)see link and pocket(Peapodssee link). I mainly used the weenes with 2 microfibre liners . But was given 10 Small Kushies so wanted to use them.

•How easy they are to fit. I never had any major problems getting them to fit. They were all adjustable with either velcro or domes.

•How well they contain the 'contents'. I found that with the Kushies I needed to have a overnappy over the top because we did have some issues when they were new borns. I preferred the weenes as they had two layers of elastic around the leg.
You definitely do need to change more often that a disposable.

•How easy they are to wash and dry.

I wash every couple of days. I use a hot wash and the setting on machine that give them a two hour soak after the initial wash cycle. If they are not going to get outside to dry I use a disinfectant laundry rinse. Once every couple of months I soak them in nappy soak. I do this for two washes so that I get all my nappies. I also use cloth wipes so I normally have full load. I also put in any wet clothes due to toilet training issues.

I liked the weenees because they come into 3 parts to wash. This means if it is just a damp nappy then I only need to wash the insert every change. This also means that they dry easily. I try to hang them outside but if not the dry on the clothes airer. The Kushies I found took several days to dry in winter (both my kids were born late Autumn).

•Any tips around using them out and about. I have a waterproof bag that I put them into. This just goes straight into the wash with the nappies. I have about 4 such bags. I try to get rid of use much contents as possible to minimise the smell.

When we are on holiday I use disposables just because it is easier and takes less space when travelling.

•Overall would you recommend them?

I would recommend them. The key to keep using them is to have a routine about washing them so that you don't run out and start using disposables and then decide that it is easier to use disposables.

My other comment is that this can become a passionate issue for some people either way. If doesn't work for you to use cloth nappies it is not the end of the world.

Better go as I have a nappy to change and then a bucket of nappies to wash.

Added: Before I decided to buy the Weenees I talked to people around me about what type of nappies they used and had a look at the different brands and types. Most reusable nappies are sold online (at least in NZ) so it is quite hard to see/examine before you buy.

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answered 29 Mar '10, 23:49

K%20D's gravatar image

accept rate: 13%

edited 30 Mar '10, 10:33

Rich%20Seller's gravatar image

Rich Seller


Excellent points, I especially like your point that you do what is best for you and babe - that is all that matters, ultimately.

(30 Mar '10, 00:07) Krista

I'm sure Fun2Dream will have more to say about what we do, but I'll highlight our overnight solution. We have come to use Blueberries pockets with a microfiber/hemp insert and a bamboo insert. That works quite well for us in containing our 8mo from 8:00 pm-7:00 am.

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answered 30 Mar '10, 18:16

Scottie%20T's gravatar image

Scottie T
accept rate: 15%

We use Fuzzibunz perfect fit (with pocket and liners) - and they're great. The only issue we have is that we have a SUPER heavy wetter. At 7 weeks old he has some nights with a stretch of sleep longer than 3 hours, and as such no cloth diaper can hold him. (though a heavy wetter like him is not so common) So we use disposables at night. In the day we have added a piece of Shamwow (yes, shamwow) under his liner to make them last the way they should. (you can double up liners, but they're thick and would make sleepers and onesies difficult to snap) When venturing out we leave with a fresh cloth diaper on, bring a wetbag, then change to disposables at the first change. Washing is SO easy. We put the diapers in for a pre-rinse, then add any other laundry he has to the load and wash as usual, no extra rinse needed. We would be doing his laundry anyway, so the added cost is just the pre-rinse.

The biggest plus - NO DIAPER RASH. He had a bad one when we were using disposables (the first week before his thighs could fill out the cloth diapers) and we tried every cream on the planet. In the end, airing out his bum everyday plus using the cloth (allows air to the bum still) and NO cream (you can't use cream with cloth diapers) cleared the rash up in record time. We give his bum air time every morning after each night in disposables just to prevent another rash. We also found wipes to be bad on sensitive skin so we wipe him using cloths and olive oil (any residue comes off at bath time)

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answered 30 Mar '10, 16:57

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accept rate: 50%

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Asked: 29 Mar '10, 11:38

Seen: 5,812 times

Last updated: 30 Mar '10, 18:16