What Do You Wish You’d Known about Cloth Diapers?

The title pretty much says it all: What do you wish you’d known about cloth diapers before you tried them yourself? My main concern? What size Chinese prefolds to get! I felt sure it was possible to buy three dozen of just one size and stick with them from birth through potty training. I ended up getting the regular size with green stitching, and they did work until my daughter was out of diapers.

What were your concerns? (Or if you don’t have a baby yet, what are you wondering about?)


  1. I only wish I new how easy prefolds were! I really wanted to CD my first baby but our budget simply wouldn’t allow for a stash of pockets or AIOs and I was intimidated ny prefolds. With my new baby I really wanted to CD still so I looked into the sized prefolds and have not looked back! Even after trying a few of the pockets and AIO and AI2’s I am confident that we made the right choice!

  2. I wish I’d known that prefolds would be so huge. I knew they’d be bigger than disposables but I didn’t realize they’d be THAT big. Or that my daughter would be THAT small. My daughter is only 3rd percentile in weight but 35th in length. She’s been wearing prefolds since the day she finally put on enough weight for them to stay on but months later they still come down to her knees. I have trouble finding clothes that fit – if they’re long enough to cover her cloth diapered bum, they’re falling off her shoulders. When she outgrows her current diapers, I think we’re going to pocket diapers.

  3. I also wish I would have known about the giant-ness of prefolds! The biggest wish I have, though, is that I would have started cloth diapering BEFORE I had two kids. It was more challenging trying to figure it out with a newborn and toddler still in diapers.

  4. I wish I’d realized how easily I could make diapers and wipes myself! Then you can customize materials and size. I would love to try, but we have plenty, so I can’t justify it.

  5. Angela A. says

    I wish someone would have told me that it really isn’t necessary to order prefold’s online or get some expensive ones. Just walk into Target or Walmart and buy some gerber prefolds and some gerber diaper covers and they work just as great!! My whole stash consists of Gerber prefolds. I did invest in 2 bumGenius AIO and a few gdiapers…but I always prefer my prefolds. I do recommend buying Thirstie covers though 😉

  6. 1. That most children continue to use diapers at night well after they’re potty-trained during the day. I would have invested in more pockets (my preferred nighttime diaper).

    2. To invest in easily washable dirty diaper storage at the same time as I bought my diapers. (I have a set of machine-washable wet bags now.)

    3. And to invest in a diaper sprayer. I didn’t even know what a diaper sprayer was when I started. Too late now, but if I have a second child I may have to get one.

  7. I am due with my first child in October.
    What is a diaper sprayer?
    Also, my friend came me a huge bag of prefolds and some plastic pants. I want to use the prefolds but not the old fashioned plastic pants. What do I need to get? Did you all still use pins with prefolds?

  8. I wish I had known about the special laundering instructions of cloth (which detergent to use, extra rinses, etc.) because I had a lot of leaky diapers before I figured out it was my laundry habits. Once I’d done the damage, it became difficult to fix the ruined diapers!

    I wish I had known that some day cares will accept cloth diapers. I just assumed they wouldn’t, so for the first year I used disposables until I got up the guts to ask my day care.

  9. That babies get wriggly and I would be buying velcro covers to add to my stash of snap covers.

  10. That you don’t have to toilet dunk.

  11. Debby,
    Great questions! Please forget the diaper pins! You can just fold a prefold diaper into a velcro cover and you’ll be set without anything else. (Some people recommend buying snappys, a device that fastens the diapers together, but neither Rebecca or I needed these.)

    As for the diaper sprayer, it is similar to a kitchen sprayer and has a similar hose attachment, but it hooks onto your toilet. This makes it easy to spray poop off of diapers without ever having to make direct contact. While it sounds very handy, we both lived without it.

    The diaper covers you probably want are going to be either Thirsties, Diaperaps, or Bummis. (There are SEVERAL more brands out there but these are three main standbys.) You can also buy covers used if you shop on craigslist or Ebay. They can be as cheap as $1.00 each used which is a huge savings over buying them new. We bought several used covers in the small sizes for our baby and then invested in new Bummis when he was a bit bigger. They’ve all also been used with our second child and are faring very well.

    I do hope that you at least check out our book from your library, if not buy it. I dearly, dearly wish someone would have given me a similar book early in my pregnancy so that I could have gotten a better understanding of the care and treatment of cloth diapering. (Plus you’ll save thousands on baby gear!) If your library doesn’t have The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down to Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet, request it! Then you’ll get to read it for free and save the $13.00 to use on diaper covers!

    Good luck and keep those questions coming!

  12. That if you’re buying for more than one child it can be a good investment to buy new. I bought used fitteds and the elastics are starting to go or gone so I have to buy more diapers for this baby (I’ve heard, though I don’t have personal experience– this is especially a probably if you go with one-sized diapers because they’re so heavily used). My awesome second-hand prefolds are also starting to fray at the edges so they may need to be replaced as well. I have to say I like new diaper covers, too. I found that mine were so heavily used new ones were well worth the money.

  13. I wish I had tried one of the “Try cloth diapers for xx days!” things that a lot of cloth diaper websites are doing now. I spent literally HOURS researching all the different kinds of diapers and learning a whole new set of lingo: AIO, prefold, one size vs. perfect size, sprayer, Snappi, etc. And despite learning a ton, when I finally decided to bite the bullet and try a few different kinds, I didn’t do one of the trial programs, so now I’m stuck with a few random diapers that don’t even come close to fitting my daughter (who is below the 1st percentile for weight and length) or were just a mess for other reasons.

  14. I bought my prefolds used from a diaper service, used them with my first, loaned them to a friend, then used them with my second and am handing them down to another friend. Some are a bit frayed, but I realized that there was no need to replace them when all they are for is pooping/peeing on! Your diapers will last much longer if you avoid bleach and use natural stain removers like sunshine and Bac-Out. I hear you on the elastic though Pippi! And I do think that if you plan on having several children, it would be a good investment to go with new. New prefolds are really inexpensive!

  15. I wanted to comment on the diaper sprayer. There are some models that you can buy through cloth diapering websites, but my friend who introduced me to cloth diapering made her own with a kitchen sprayer and a T plumbing fitting from Home Depot and she did it a LOT cheaper than by buying one of the pre-fab diaper sprayers. I am going to get my handy dad to hook me up with the same thing my friend did. I will try to get a photo to share with any others who want to give it a try.

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