The Fluffy Butt: Cloth Diapers

Lovingly called the fluffy butt, cloth diapering families know their nappies are a bit on the bulky side.  This doesn’t work for everyone, which is okay because there is no wrong way to diaper a baby. In fact, some countries don’t even use diapers. The question most parents have is which diaper to use. It almost always comes down to cloth versus disposable. There is a lot of information to delve into before deciding if a fluffy butt fits your family.


The cloth diaper has always been used. It was the only diaper in production for over a century, but lost popularity in the 1960’s with the invention of the disposable diapers. In recent years, however, the cloth diaper evolved to appeal not only to environmentalists, but others due to fresh designs.


Even as late as the 1990’s, cloth diapers simply meant prefold. This is a thick multi-layer cotton that is absorbent. It has to be wrapped around the baby and pinned into place with a fleece or rubber pants around it. These are sized, so as your baby grows new prefolds need to be bought. This is still a popular choice, however, because they are efficient and fit most babies. Recently, snaps were introduced that allow you place the diaper without worrying about pricking your baby or finger.


Other styles of cloth that now exist include:

  • All – In – One: The All-In-One (AIO) is the closest cloth diaper to a disposable. It features a waterproof outer shell and layers inside that wick away and absorb the moisture. There is no stuffing or separating while washing.
  • Pocket: A pocket diaper has one or two holes in which an insert must be placed. It takes more effort to prep, but these diapers dry faster and last longer. The diaper has an absorbent lining and a waterproof shell. Some pockets have two openings so that you don’t have to pull the insert out while washing.
  • All – In – Two: The All-in-Two (AI2) is an AIO and a pocket diaper combined. It can be used as an AIO. If, though, you need to stuff an extra insert in for nighttime or heavy wetters, the pocket is there for that.
  • Fitted vs. One Size: A fitted diaper means that it is fitted for a specific weight. Once your baby grows, you will need to buy new diapers. A one-size diaper comes with three to four rows (generally) of snaps. These are utilized to change the size of the diaper so it grows with your child. It makes the leg hole and crotch areas either smaller or larger to meet your needs.


There are also a number of materials that can be used with cloth diapers. The most popular include:

  • Microfiber: A cheap, thin insert that quickly wicks moisture away from your baby. It cannot touch the skin (therefore must be in a pocket) and does not hold a large amount of fluid. No prepping necessary.
  • Bamboo: Bamboo is a natural material that can sit against your child’s skin. It is slow to absorb, however, can hold a lot of liquid. If not prepped properly, the natural oils will repel liquid.
  • Blends: These are a blend of bamboo and microfiber. It gives the diaper the quick absorption of microfiber with the holding capacity of bamboo.
  • Hemp & Zorp: Each of these is extremely lightweight, thin, and hold high amounts of fluid.
  • Charcoal: Charcoal can be added to other fabrics, though generally goes with bamboo. It gives the diaper a grey color that naturally fights bacteria while resisting stains and odors.


Caring for Your Cloth Diapers


Owning cloth diapers takes a lot more care than a typical disposable. This is where a lot of consumers loose interest. If you don’t buy used, the process starts immediately. It does not end until your child is completely done with diapers. The process includes


Prepping: If you choose any diapers that include natural fibers like bamboo, you need to prep the diapers before use. If this step is skipped, the fabrics actually repel fluids. This can be done through washing the diapers in hot water through many cycles (approximately eight). You can also boil them in water on your stove top for 30 minutes and then finish with a wash cycle. When ready, the material will absorb water and there should not any water drops piling on it.


Washing: Each person has a different wash cycle. There are two important steps to accomplish – cleaning off the waste and ensuring all the soap is gone. Cloth diapers take only one fourth of the detergent that a normal laundry load needs. A typical cycle includes a rinse cycle followed by a hot wash cycle. Complete the load by rinsing at least one more time or until no bubbles remain. Diapers should be washed minimally every 3-4 days.


Drying: You may put diapers in the dryer on low or let them air dry. It is highly recommended to dry the diapers on high approximately once a month to reseal any pinholes that may occur in the outer shell. This keeps it waterproof. If you dry your diapers in the sun, it will also help reduce staining.


Stripping: Cloth diapers should be stripped about once every month or two. This gets rid of any accumulation of grime, soap, or excess build-up on the diaper. There are two methods that do this well: RLR and Dawn dish soap. With RLR, you simply add the packet to a normal wash cycle; it will take an extra four or more rinses to complete the washing routine. Dawn is done the same way, however you only add a teaspoon to the wash cycle. It must be the original blue dawn to work correctly.


Storing Dirty Diapers: If you decide on cloth diapers, you will need travel size wet bags as well as a large garbage bag size. This is where the dirty diapers stay until you wash them. Some people do choose to fill a garbage can with water and store the dirty diapers in that believing that it makes cleaning easier. Once your child starts solid food, or if she uses formula, you will need to spray any solid matter into the toilet.


Pros and Cons


More than likely at this point, you are already overwhelmed with information. This is the reason many parents do not go on to use cloth diapers. Here is a quick recap and list of the pros and cons of cloth diapers:



  • Environmentally friendly
  • Chemical free
  • Many styles
  • Reusable
  • Less expensive overall
  • Fewer diaper rashes
  • Resell value



  • Washing diapers
  • Spraying poop diapers
  • Bulkier
  • More expensive upfront
  • Hard to find right fit
  • Addicting


Once you figure out a system of cloth diapers, it becomes a familiar and easy process. As an added benefit, you can always switch to disposable diapers when leaving the house, traveling, or anytime the cloth diapers feel overwhelming. Many parents opt for the cloth diaper simply because there are fewer alternatives that are chemical free and environmentally friendly. Once these options are mainstreamed, there will likely be less fluffy butts running around with more parents going for convenience and health.