Welcome to Little Red Parkas

Little Red Parkas,

here to bring resources, guidance and support for mothers of young children as based on a poem from the Bible about a Virtuous Woman.

Looking for the Cloth Diapers from the demo class? check out the "Cloth Diapering" page below.

Cloth Diapering

If you "google" Cloth Diapers, you get 1.3 million sites.  If you "shop google" Cloth Diapers, you get 63,000 sites.  In other words, there is A LOT of information out there and it becomes VERY OVERWHELMING, VERY FAST. 

On this page I will attempt to break it down as simply as I can while also re-demoing the diapers that I show in my classes.
We'll cover various styles of cloth diapers.
How to store and wash soiled diapers.
Why moms choose cloth diapers.
and How to decide what diapers to get.

(I mention/link to Green Mountain Diapers often on this page.  There are many places to purchase cloth diapers, but I like Green Mountain Diapers because they've been around for a while, have affordable shipping, and do an amazing job describing the diapers and showing pictures of their items on babies at various ages and sizes.)

Styles of Cloth Diapers.  There are several main styles of cloth diapers.  We'll go in order of affordability.

Flats:  Flats are literally a flat piece of fabric that gets folded down to fit the baby and requires a cover.  Depending on fold, the diaper may or may not require pins or a snappi (another type of closure).(The Snappi will be explained below)  Flats wash out very well since they are made up of only one layer of fabric.
Change diaper when wet, reuse the cover.
*Flats are available at WalMart stores (Gerber brand) or online at Green Mountain Diapers.

Prefolds are your basic, old-school cloth diaper.  The center panel is thicker with usually 8 layers of soft, absorbent cotton while the sides have 4 layers.  Prefolds get "pre-folded" before being placed on baby and require a cover.  Again, depending on fold, prefolds may or may not require pins or a snappi (The Snappi will be explained below).
Change diaper when wet, reuse the cover.
*Prefolds are available at WalMart stores (Gerber brand, which I don't recommend), or online at Green Mountain Diapers.

(at left top...prefolds)
(at left bottom...prefold on doll under required cover)

Fitted:  These have a more familiar diaper look, with elastic at the legs and in the back for a closer fit to baby.  These close on the baby with either snaps or 'velcro' (sometimes called Aplix or Touchtape).  Or they may have "no closure" on the diaper itself and require pins or a snappi.  Put the diaper on the baby, then put the required cover over that. 
Change the diaper when wet, reuse the cover.
*Fitted diaper can be purchased online at Green Mountain Diapers).

Snappi:  The snappi is a alternative closure method for flats, prefolds and no-closure fitted diapers.  Easier to use than pins (and less scary for mom), the snappi is a made of stretchy polyurethane and "y" shaped with little plastic grippers on the ends.  Grippers to do not pierce the fabric, they merely grab it...baby's skin is safe.  Snappis tend to help "hold everything in" better than laying the flat or prefold in the cover, but are not necessary to cloth diaper.
Snappis can be reused over and over.  Rinse with warm soapy water to clean.
*Snappis can be purchased online at Green Mountain Diapers.

Covers:  Covers are made of fabric that has been coated with a waterproof layer of PUL (poly urethane laminate).  Covers go over flats, prefolds and fitted diapers and close with either snaps or 'velcro' (also called Aplix or Touchtape). 
Change wet cloth diaper, reuse the cover. 
*Covers are available online at Green Mountain Diapers.
(at left, a one size cover...snaps on the front adjust diaper size.  sized covers [ie newborn, small etc] are available also)

Blog post with more details on Pocket Diapers.
These diapers consist of a waterproof outer layer (often  PUL [poly urethane laminate] fabric) and an inner layer of fleece.  Like the style implies, these diapers have a Pocket (usually in the back of the diaper) into which you add absorbent inserts in between the outer waterproof layer and the inner fleece layer.  The inside fleece does not get wet, but allows the pee to pass through to the absorbent insert inside the pocket.  Inserts are often made of microfiber, a very absorbent material that holds much more liquid that cotton.
Change whole diaper when wet, use a new Pocket diaper with insert each time.

All In Two, AI2: All In Two's involve a waterproof "shell" (cover)that works with a snap-in absorbent insert (also called a soaker).  The cover has fleece on the inside for a soft touch next to baby's skin.
Change (snap out) insert when wet, snap in new insert, "shell" can be reused multiple times.
(below - inside with snapped in soaker, close up of snaps, on baby) 

Are you with me so far?  Believe me, this is the simplified, as best I can make it.

Here is just a little more cloth diapering information.

Storing and Washing Soiled Diapers

Storing soiled diapers: Basically, you just need a place to put the diapers until wash day.  Some moms use a trash bin (with a cover...you don't those little surprises tossed all over the room by curious little hands) and just tip the load into the machine.  The trash bin can be lined with a wet bag, a special bag to keep the wet and stink inside.  The wet bag just gets tossed into the washer along with the diapers.  You can also just use the wet bag by itself, stored wherever you change diapers most often.  Wet bags have either a drawstring or zipper closure.

Washing the diapers: Ask 10 different people how to wash cloth diapers and you get 10 different answers.  When purchasing new diapers, you will receive instructions with your diapers on how best to wash that brand.
Simple yet important washing tips to keep in mind: 
Use about 1/2 as much detergent as you usually would.  Yes, half.  Too much detergent will leave a residue on your diapers and they will start to repel liquid and not absorb as much. 
Use a dye and fragrance free detergent.  Dyes and fragrances can also leave residue on your diapers.  I use All Free & Clear (available in regular and HE) and available at WalMart (you may have too look near the baby detergent).  Happy Baby Bum sells Rockin Green at their store, a cloth diaper detergent that many moms absolutely rave about.
Use extra water.  If possible, add an extra rinse and/or a prewash so that more water is used on your diapers. 
Experiment.   You will need to play around a little find what works best for you, your diapers and your machine.  I know many moms run their diapers through two regular wash cylces.  I just add a prewash and extra rinse and have had no problems.
Drying:  Again, check your instructions with your diapers.  Many moms line dry their covers so they won't over heat in the drier. 

What about #2?  Poo goes into the toilet; you may need to use some TP to get it off the diaper.  Some moms use a special poo spatula (any old spatula, only now it serves just one purpose) to scrape the poo off.  Some use a diaper sprayer (a little handheld shower head) that attaches to your toilet.  I use liners in my diaper.  Happy Baby Bum sells fleece liners at their store.  The poo tends not to cling to the fleece very much, so it will fall off easier into the toilet.  The liner just gets laid on top of the diaper interior and is between the diaper and the baby's bum.  Liners also protect your diaper from staining.  Stained diapers can be "sunned out"; hang cleaned diapers out in the sun and the stain will slowly fade.
Do I have to dunk the diaper?  No you do not.  When I started, I vowed my hand was never going into the toilet.  Now, I do find it easier, so sometimes I dunk, but only the poo diapers.  Pee diapers do not need to be dunked or rinsed, just into the wet bag or diaper pail until washday.

Why do people cloth diaper?  The three main reasons are Financial, Health, and Environmental.
Financial.  You can spend as little as $200 to $500 and have a simple yet complete cloth diaper set for you child that will last from birth to potty training.  Buying disposables will cost around $2,500 over the course of your child's diapering days (average 2.5 years).  And disposables will only work once, then into the trash it goes (around $2-$3 worth of diapers a day).  Cloth diapers can be used over and over again, and will very likely last through multiple children.
Health.  Cloth Diapered children tend to have far less rashes.  Some moms even report no diaper rashes ever!  Disposables are filled with chemicals to help make them absorbant and block odor.  Convinient for the moment, but hard on baby's little bottom.
Environmental.   In "proper conditions", a disposable diaper will take hundreds of years to decompose.  Yes, hundreds.  That is a lot of waste in landfills and a lot of strain on the environment.

You're almost there!
How do I decide what style of cloth diapers to use?
Here are 3 Key Questions to ask your self to help determine a style that works best for you.
Affordability: What can I afford to spend on cloth diapers? 
Cloth diapers do require a larger start-up investment that disposables.  While you may not be able to afford the style you want, all cloth diapers do what they are intended to do...hold pee and poo.  That is the bottome line.  If you can't afford the system you want, start with a less expensive one and slowly save and buy up the style you want.
Cloth diapers hold value surprizingly well.  You will very likely be able to sell your used cloth diapers when you are done to recoup some of your investment.  (try reselling your used disposables! haha)

Convenience:  Will you and others who care for your children be able to figure out the diapers?
Some systems are definitely more daddy, grandparent, babysitter friendly than others.  Many moms have a few different style diapers for different occasions (diapers for overnight, diapers for babysitting etc.).

Wash Routine: Where and how often are you able to do your laundry?
If you have laundry at your home, any style will be fine.  If you do your laundrying at a laundromat, I would recommend flats, prefolds or fitteds and covers.  These cotton diapers will wash better in one wash cycle than other synthetic fiber diapers.  That being said, many landromats have machines that are more industrial, so it is possible that all styles can be washed at a laundromat.
You want to have enough diapers so that you wash every 2-3 days.  If you have more than one child in cloth diapers, you may find it easier to wash one load of diapers every day.

Finally, Is it hard to cloth diaper?
It is like any other new venture you set out to do. At first it is awkward and you feel a little clumsy. Then, as you get into a routine, it becomes more normal and you feel comfortable with it. It still takes work, but you can handle it!

Whew, that was a lot of information.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about cloth diapering.

the end