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Cloth Diaper Do-Over

Apr16

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Hey Amy,

First off, we love your blog! My wife and I will be welcoming our first baby into the world this July and we have been researching cloth diapers for her. My MIL who is eminently crafty offered to make us cloth diapers, but as yet we have not seen any completed (though she has knitted some cute covers). I’m trying to prep for buying some diapers and I think we’d like to try GMD fitteds and/or prefolds. Did you find the workhorse fitteds to be worth the extra cost over the prefolds? I noticed you recommended the Thirsties Duo PUL covers. The Bumgenius Flip covers also look nice. Do you have any experience with them? I wish Rebel Baby Co would start making some as their fitteds look freaking adorable. Since your last posts on cloth diapering have you had any new products/tips you could give me?

Thanks so much for your help and time!

Best,
Steve

Cue up your best Kermit the Frog voice for MOAR CLOTH DIAPER TALK YAAAAYYYY!

So, first of all: Green Mountain Diapers, the site many of you may have stumbled upon in your cloth diaper research, usually in the form of someone mentioning “GMD prefolds.” And talking about how WORTH IT they are, and how much better they are than other prefolds, and blah blah blah.

Well, I’m certainly not going to reinvent the wheel today either: GMD prefolds are the best best bestest prefolds out there. Do not bother buying anything else. Step away from the Amazon Prime membership and the inferior options sold elsewhere and get the GMDs.

And I have similar levels of hysterical love for the GMD Workhorse Fitteds. They’re fantastic, especially if you compare the price to other, fancier fitted diapers, ESPECIALLY in the newborn size. Five dollars! Five!! They aren’t quite as snazzy/fancy as a lot of the options out there, but…I dunno. I think they’re plenty adorable. I love basic, old-school white diapers!

I did not necessarily do everything “right” while trying to cloth diaper Ike as a newborn, and so the most frequently-asked question I get these days is usually a variation on: If you had to do it over again, what would you buy?

Well, I’d have bought some newborn fitteds, right from the start. Probably the Workhorses. And preemie-sized covers. No, you won’t use them for very long, but 99.9999% of my frustrations in the beginning had to do with poorly-fitting diapers and covers. Ike was 7 pounds, 9 ounces and everything I had for him was comically oversized. I had some preemie prefolds — but they weren’t GMD, and sucked — but if the cover is too big you’ll get leaks out the leg holes, no matter what you do with the diaper or how you fold/Snappi/pin. The whole “one-size” thing is a TOTAL LIE, and I don’t care how adjustable the rise and/or leg holes are. They aren’t going to fit properly until at least 10 pounds, maybe 12, and will drive you insane in the meantime. Buy diapers that FIT, and save the one-size versions for later. Trust me, you’ll still get your money’s worth out of them, even if you wait a couple months.

(On the other hand, if I’d been cloth diapering the 9 pound, 15 ounce Noah as a newborn, I probably would have declared myself a genius for skipping the tiny-sized diapers and covers. So. GAH WHO KNOWS.)

Jason loves prefolds — he doesn’t usually bother with fastening them, but just lays them in a cover and velcros it up. But I love the extra protection from leaks and blow-outs that fitteds give you, with the waist and leg elastic. I also find them to be easier to double and triple stuff, especially if you plan to Snappi or pin and are dealing with a wriggly, squirmy baby. Like you, I very much wanted to replace my outgrown Rebel Baby Co. fitteds with bigger ones — by that point Ike was ready for one-sized diapers — but alas, life happens and Leanne is unable to take on many orders. So I went looking for the most economical replacement, and tried a few different styles and Etsy sellers (with not much success, alas) and got completely overwhelmed by Hyena Cart…and then placed an order at GMD for some medium prefolds and tossed a couple medium Workhorse diapers in, just for the hell of it.

My stash these days is now almost exclusively GMD products: Two dozen medium prefolds, six medium Workhorses, six large Workhorses (Ike’s 20 pounds so we’re gradually sizing up, spreading the cost out as much as possible), and about a half dozen Workhorse doublers. I’ll also double up with our small/infant prefolds, or OCCASIONALLY stuff them into our much-maligned, leaking pocket diapers. Although the Rebel Baby Co. fitteds are too small, I still use the snap-in doublers from them. They’re very long and a thin combo of bamboo velour and hemp, and I add them to the GMD offerings for nighttime or long car rides, outings, etc.

I went doubler-crazy for awhile when Ike was soaking through EVERYTHING at night, so I have a ton of hemp/bamboo/velour/whatever doubler options. Then the heavy wetter stage passed and Ike now longer requires so much fabric at night. Which I didn’t know was something that…you know, happened. Oh well. I have enough doublers and extra inserts to cobble together extra whole diapers, if I had to.

We still use all Thirsties Duo Wraps (though I agree — the bumGenius Flip covers look awesome as well), and some wool covers. Bummis fleece and flushable liners. Snappis, cloth-diaper-safe ointment (GroVia Magic Stick, Grandma El’s, Earth Mama Angel Baby, etc.). Charlie’s Soap, plus a little OxyClean every once in awhile to fight staining.

And that’s about everything in the exciting, thrilling world of cloth diapering. Except for the part about how oh! Our utility sink is hopelessly clogged and the washing machine drains to the utility sink so GUESS WHO CAN’T WASH ANY DIAPERS until the plumber comes out later today? Blech.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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25 Responses to “Cloth Diaper Do-Over”

  1. Kate Apr 16 at 4:04 pm Reply Reply

    You will never, ever get consensus on a cloth diapering issue. Never. So me agreeing with Amy is probably as close as you’re going to get! I’ve cloth diapered two kids and 1 newborn (my second). I tried to go at the newborn thing a totally different way than Amy did — I wanted all pockets and All-in-Ones. It was a total fail — nothing fit and everthing leaked. So I ended up in the same place Amy did — fitteds rock, especially for the newborn stage. (Now that my baby is 8 months, I do use all pockets, and I have since he was about 10ish lbs. Right around when he started fitting into the one size stuff). Fitteds are absolutely the best way to go in terms of fit and leak-protection. There are 85 bajillion brands — from commercial brands to mom-made ones that you can find on Etsy and Hyenacart. Some are so insanely cute you might die. But for $5 each, I’d agree that plain white is cute enough!

  2. David Apr 16 at 4:08 pm Reply Reply

    As a stay at home dad (part time writer and blogger) I spend a good portion of my day changing cloth diapers.  The prefolds work decently but I personally am a fan of the all in ones.  Bumgenius, Fuzzibunz and Kawaii.  I love the Kawaiis, very breathable, hold in more liquid than their much more expensive counterparts and are unbelievably soft.  

    Have to say cloth is a great way to go.  It’s no burden, better for the environment and your baby’s bottom.  The ability to adjust is necesary and annoying at times but its nice to have a perfectly fitting diaper that makes your baby comfortable.  Just don’t make the desitin mistake otherwise you’ll be dealing with lake water smelling diapers.  

    @babymanni

  3. Debra Apr 16 at 4:12 pm Reply Reply

    I was so disappointed that my son is allergic to that GroVia Magic stick!  I was excited about he mess free application, and then the hives. Oh the hives!  
    Oh well. :)  At least the Earth Mama Angel Baby helped clear it back up.  

  4. Steve Apr 16 at 4:51 pm Reply Reply

    Hey Amy! Thanks so much for responding to my email. I am so happy that you found the GMD Workhorse fitteds to work great. We will definitely be investing in some GMD stuff soon along with a few PUL covers (maybe the bumgenius Flips). We had a heart to heart this weekend with my MIL regarding diapers and she said she will be making some fitteds among other types for us as well. But it never hurts to have a diverse arsenal! Hope the plumber gets there soon for you!

  5. Ang Apr 16 at 5:10 pm Reply Reply

    As first-timers, we decided to use disposables until the umbilical stump fell off and our one-size covers fit (about 1 month old). We’ve only ever used prefolds so I cannot attest to fitteds, pockets, etc., but the prefolds we use are OsoCozy brand (4x8x4). We have both Rumparooz one-size covers and Flip one-size covers. I go back and forth on which one I prefer, but both work pretty well. Congrats on your little one!

  6. Karen Apr 16 at 6:12 pm Reply Reply

    Just want to go on record as the only person in the world who prefers Thirsties sized covers to the Duos. I used sized ones with my first, loved them, and sold them. Then got Duos for my son and hated them. He was 8 lbs and I pretty much used them with all the snaps open from the start which sort of defeats the purpose of him growing into them. If I snapped them down to the middle fit, then the snaps would open up as I pulled the Duo up to make sure it covered the snappied prefold. I asked the people at Thirsties about this and they said that the sized “covers” are designed for prefolds while the Duos are meant for fitteds, they have a trimmer fit and that is why they are called “wraps.” Now I have him in medium covers and am much happier. 

  7. JCF Apr 16 at 6:25 pm Reply Reply

    I just wanted to chime in and say that I’ve used a lot of PUL covers over the course of cloth diapering three children, but Flips are my favorites once we pass the newborn stage (during which I have an undying devotion to Thirsties X-Smalls).  I use Flips over Snappiable fitteds mostly, but I also have a large stash of Little Lions flats that I pad fold and lay in (pretty much the same as using a tri-folded prefold).  Between the flats and Flip covers, it is a really cheap and effective CD strategy, though I do love my fitteds too!

  8. maya Apr 16 at 9:23 pm Reply Reply

    i cloth diapered my baby from about a week old. i tried everything, pockets, fitteds, aios, prefolds, flats. hands down am in love with my gmd workhorses. you cannot go wrong with natural fibers (in fact i replaced all microfiber from the pockets with gmd doublers). if you want to go the cutesy, high end route, orange diaper company makes newborn and one-size fitteds that work really well (bamboo and cotton). if your MIL wants to help and make fitteds, it would be easy and more economical to convert the GMD prefolds to fitteds. My favorite pul cover has actually been Econobum, and then I use wool at night. Stashes will never be identical, and it’s easy to dislike something someone else loves. There is also a GMD Buy Sell Trade group on Facebook if you’re not ready to invest in a full GMD stash.

  9. Erin S Apr 16 at 9:53 pm Reply Reply

    Karen, you are not the only person who loves the Thirsties sized covers! I don’t know how it’s possible but the size small cover fit longer and better than the Duo size 1. And the size medium cover? Fuggidaboudit. My 1 year old might still fit into it had we not switched over to Flip covers.

    Steve, the Flip covers are great, but they are WIDE. Like, wiiide wide. My son didn’t fit well in them until he was 6+ months (a big 6 months, too, 18+ lbs). But they are great with either the organic Flip inserts or the GMD prefolds (yellow edge for the lowest rise, red edge for middle/highest rise). Even snapped down all the way, the yellow edged prefolds swim in those things, though, to give you a sense of how wide they are. I think Flips over fitteds would be a great solution for that smaller stage.

  10. Jessica Apr 16 at 9:59 pm Reply Reply

    O know you are already getting way more information about brands people love so i will skip my recommendations.

    HOWEVER I will say this. We love our gro via magic stick, but I think it contributed to some of the stinks in our BG pockets (way too lazy to use a liner, I know my fault). So with number two (Same diapers ) I use breast milk. Seriously nothing has worked better. As soon as her bum gets red, I squirt a little in my hand, pat it on her and let it dry for a minute or so. Next diaper – gonzo. 

  11. Jenna Apr 17 at 1:00 am Reply Reply

    Cloth-diaperer of twins here….my first choice is a Flip cover with a Mother-Ease fitted.  The Thirsties x-small were great for the newborn stage, but I like my Flips more than the Duos.  I’ve tried a lot of different prefolds, and I agree with Amy–GMDs are the best.  We also actually used flats that we folded until the “airplane” fold didn’t fit anymore.  Don’t do that unless you really like spending your limited free time playing origami.

  12. Amy B Apr 17 at 8:28 am Reply Reply

    I live in St. Louis, where CottonBabies, the makers of BumGenius is headquartered, so most everyone around here uses BG diapers. I didn’t even really consider any others, I just bought a bunch of BGs and Flips….and I have had wonderful success with them. Not to discourage you from the other brands, just to let you know Flip and BG are indeed great. :o)

  13. Jennifer Apr 17 at 8:56 am Reply Reply

    The trick with prefolds, honestly, is not to buy the Gerber ones! (Unless you can get your hands on some antiques…) I’ve used Bummis, Imagines, CottonBabies, Econobums and some we swiped from the NICU (they use them for messes), and they’ve all worked just fine. As long as they’re prepped properly, they will work great.

  14. Elena Apr 17 at 9:06 am Reply Reply

    Canadian here, and a shoutout to APPLECHEEKS (applecheeks.com) which are AMAZING and worked great from the getgo (7lb 6oz baby to now 19lb-er 7mo) – super cute, super practical and no I don’t work for them. (just my 2 cents)

  15. April Apr 17 at 10:38 am Reply Reply

    Love my Bum Genius diapers! Have used them exclusively since my daughter was 3 weeks and about 8 lbs and still using them at 2 years and 26 lbs. Easy for dad/grandparents to use, no problems with leaks.

  16. MomSmoo Apr 17 at 11:02 am Reply Reply

    I stared CDing my second at 4 months and was a pockets girl all the way. Towards the end I went to fitteds with longies, so I was SURE I didn’t want prefolds for a newborn, even though everyone insisted. I, of course, we wrong. Imagine prefolds and thristies sized covers all the way! Easiest laundry in the world too. That is what my now 7m old is in on the weekends and evenings as well. Pockets are still a huge hit at daycare though.

  17. Steve Apr 17 at 1:30 pm Reply Reply

    Thanks everyone for your comments and advice! We just placed an order this morning for some GMD newborn pre-folds, fitteds, a few Thirsties x-small covers, and one BG Flip. We also picked up some doublers, terry/flanel wipes, and a GroVia stick! Hopefully she is able to fit into the newborn sizes for at least a little while. :-) Is it weird that I am looking forward to when she is born in July so that I can start changing diapers? lol

  18. Erica Douglas Apr 17 at 2:15 pm Reply Reply

    We got some Litewraps as hand-me-downs and wow, do those things leak. Not so much through the legs, I could deal with that, but straight THROUGH the diaper. I realize that they are used and that makes a difference, but those are our last-choice, must-do-laundry diaper covers.
    After reading Amalah’s praises for the woolies, my MiL has knitted some and I am totally convinced. The woolies are my favorites for overnights because I think it’s better for Baby’s skin to not be encased in plastic all night. Thank you SO much for the woolies info! They’re harder for me to peel off if it’s a dirty diaper, so we mostly just use them at night and save the plasticky covers for day.

  19. Heather Apr 17 at 2:45 pm Reply Reply

    I like the flip covers, and have used BG pockets for over 2 years, first with my 2.5 yr. old (now out of dipes) and my 7 month old. BG all the way for my older son, no problems with leaks, not a super heavy wetter I guess. Did not cloth diaper him as a newborn though. He is petite and never soaked out of one insert in the BG until he was almost 2 years old, even overnight. Now, for my 7 month old super soaker girly, she has been soaking out of the BGs since like 3 months old. She is a bigger, chunkier baby, and requires 2 full size inserts to not leak. We got the GMD workhorse fitteds in size medium, which I liked, but she has already outgrown them, and they just did not have enough absorbency for her, even with a doubler. I think if she was not such a soaker and so big, they would have been great. I have moved on to sustainablebabyish snapless diapers, and organic bamboo fitteds, with wool covers or longies for overnight for her, and when I am home with her. At daycare she still wears the double stuffed BGs, for ease of use, and so they won’t snag my wool haha. LOVE my wool and sbish bamboo diapers. So soft and squishy and cute. Keeps her dry overnight too. When she was a newborn I used GMD newborn prefolds and covers, some assorted microfiber fitteds, but didn’t really find the prefold love. She has always been such a chunk, so I think it really had more to do with her body shape and size than the diapers themselves. I think for a more slender baby, they would have been fine. SO what I guess I am getting at is, if something isn’t working for you, try something different. You can always resell diapers you don’t like, especially on groups on facebook. Don’t get discouraged, and good luck! Cloth diapers are so fun, cute, and addictive!

  20. Jen Apr 18 at 11:43 am Reply Reply

    I’m in love with Flip covers. Surprised at the poster who said they didn’t fit until their baby was 18+ pounds! I started with Flip covers at 4 months and my DD was about…oh…10 pounds? I don’t remember but she’s a 10th percentile weight baby (She’s a year old and is 18 pounds now). But she DOES have a big butt! :-)

    Otherwise, I’m a pockets gal, so that’s not going to help with newborn CDing probably. But a shoutout to Fuzzibunz sized diapers – I like them better than any other pocket I’ve tried (and much better than FB one sized despite the leg gusset advantage the one size has). I didn’t CD as a newborn but I have some FB smalls ready for baby #2, although I don’t anticipate them fitting right away because I make teeny babies. I’m only a part time CDer anyway, and we’ll have family help out, so it’ll be sposies during the first weeks for us to make it easier for everyone.

  21. Corinne Apr 20 at 1:43 pm Reply Reply

    I would also like to share my love of Thirsties sized covers. My baby was 6lbs 12oz at birth, and xs fitteds and xs Thirsties covers (with velcro) were the only thing that fit him and didn’t leak. That’s totally what I’m doing all the time with the next one. I also love Applecheeks and those started fitting when he was about a month-ish old. I used Thirsties XS and Small covers and then moved onto Duos size 2 snapped all the way down for a tri-folded prefold, but on the second snap for a snappied prefold, and all the way unsnapped for a nighttime B4 fitted. Totally great! I have no love for Flip covers because they lack leg gussets and don’t cover a snappied prefold as well – they only work for trifolds. I was glad I only got 2 of those.

  22. Becca Apr 21 at 7:00 pm Reply Reply

    Hi, Been using Bum Genius and Pop’n’gro nappies since birth and just had to buy some new nappies as the pop’n’gro were size ones and my boy is now 11 months. 

    I’ve just got a few ‘Baba and Boo’ nappies…. super cute fuzzy on the outside pocket nappies. Seriously easy to use and also birth to potty efforts so should do the next baby(s).
     
    Also have just bought Itti Bitti Tutto – australian company and totally brilliant design – again birth to potty and these really do go down to tiny. Gorgeous colours and a choice of how to snap in the boosters depending on size, time of day, and sex. The boosters have colour coded snaps so even with the most sleep deprived, post birth baby brain, you’ll still manage. They have some fancy ones too – I caved to the Wo Bott. It’s got robots on and it’s just too cute.

    I love my cloth nappies. Bum genius nappies are still going strong and have done since the start. 

  23. Corinne Apr 23 at 10:56 am Reply Reply

    If you’re looking for fitteds, I really like Old School Cool on HyenaCart and she usually has stuff in stock and will do customs. I’ve heard good things about MamaMade too, but haven’t had a chance to try them. But yes, for daytime, GMD prefolds are the awesomest

  24. Ellen Apr 23 at 1:29 pm Reply Reply

    I love GMD Prefolds and Workhorse diapers as well!  My 10 month old (24 lb) is in a brown edge Workhorse with an Econobum cover right now.  For newborn fitteds, I am going to give a couple recommendations – Little Boppers on Hyenacart (http://hyenacart.com/stores/LittleBoppers/ ) makes a size called Big Newborn that has a snap-down for the umbilical cord, but it for bigger babies.  It worked great on my 8 1/2 pound chunker who gained a pound a week.  She stocks her store on Tuesdays so you have to be a bit of a stalker to snag one :)  My other newborn size fitted recommendation is Goodmama.  These are the cutest freaking newborn diapers I have ever seen and I took so many pictures of my baby in the two I had :)  http://shop.thegoodmama.com/category_s/222.htm  I also really liked Bumgenius Newborn All-in-ones for leaving the house, since they fit better in the carseat than a bulkier prefold/cover combo.  I loved diapering my newborn too and I swear I get baby fever just looking at newborn diapers!

  25. Camille May 08 at 6:46 pm Reply Reply

    Our plan before our little boy arrived was to do disposables until he put on some weight. Then we’d look into cloth diapers. And I’m so glad we did. He arrived 4 weeks early, taking us by surprise, and there was no way I was going to deal with snaps/velcro/snappies/prefolds. The nursery wasn’t even ready when he was born!

    A few weeks ago, I did as much research as I could online, and was completely overwhelmed by the choices, and all of my friends and family had their own suggestions. Ultimately, every diaper and every choice will work for the baby and their parents/caretakers. If you decide to go with some sort of AIO or pocket diaper, buy a few brads that you like, one of each. We narrowed our chocies down to three – BumGenius, FuzziBuns, and Rumparooz. Rumparooz was ridiculously big on him. BumGunius took too long to dry (it was an AIO) even though it fit really well. We just bought 2 dozen FuzziBuns Elite pocket diapers. They have adjustable and replaceable elastics. So if we have another one, he/she can wear them too. We’ll still buy dispsables for travel, but now that we’ll be saving money on diapers, I can afford to buy the biodegradable ones.

    I elected to not go with the prefolds and snappies for my own reasons, and that’s ok. We’ve all found something that works. Ultimately, we all are doing cloth diapers for the health of our children and our environment, and that’s what’s most important!

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