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9+ Reasons Cloth Diapers Are the Best + Cloth Diaper Pattern Roundup

Cloth diapers aren’t as scary as they seem! Discover why cloth diapers are the best and a roundup of cloth diaper patterns.

Welcome to another post about our Montessori-inspired parenting philosophy: 9+ reasons cloth diapers are the best and a cloth diaper pattern roundup!

9+ reasons cloth diapers are awesome

This post may include affiliate links, which means I may make a commission on purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you. 

I’d already researched cloth diapering and decided I wanted to give it a go when a friend offered me her cloth diaper stash just a few days after I “announced” to friends on FaceBook.

A few months later another friend who I know a completely different way and hadn’t mentioned cloth diapers to asked if I wanted a stash of cloth diapers she’d been given previously.

I guess I seem like the ‘type’ to use cloth diapers and I’m totally okay with that!

Reasons cloth diapers are better than disposables

1. Cloth diapers can save you major money.

Although there is an initial investment cost, cloth diapers save you lots of money in the long run. The longer you use them, the greater your savings become. If you want to see a lot of math on the topic, this price check from Squawkfox is pretty thorough.

There are ways to reduce your upfront costs, like making your own diapers and buying used. Both are covered in greater depth further down the post! 

Because you can buy used cloth diapers, that also means you can sell used cloth diapers! If you treat your diapers well, you can probably get about 50% of your investment back. Awesome!

13 month update: We’ve certainly saved a lot of money with cloth diapers. At this point we’ve spent about $70 on a few replacement diapers. Other than a few rolls of Viva paper towels to use as liners, that’s how much we’ve spent on cloth diapers so far! You could spend that much on disposables in a month if you bought small boxes of a premium brand!

2. Cloth diapers are more environmentally-friendly. 

Mainstream disposable are notoriously horrible for the environment. They’re believed to comprise 30% of non-biodegradable waste and account for an estimated 7.6 billion pounds of trash each year in the US alone. And then there’s the ridiculous quantity of oil used…the list goes on and on.

{{I suggest you check out this post from Small Footprint Family for a full accounting with a thorough list of sources at the end if you want to know more about why cloth diapers are more environmentally friendly.}}

Plus, did you know that you’re actually supposed to flush your baby’s poop? (Not exclusively breastfed poop because it’s water soluble, but other poop isn’t.) Landfills aren’t meant to accommodate human waste. Because many people use diaper sprayers with cloth diapers, there’s a far greater likelihood that poop will end up in the toilet. 

3. Cloth diapers don’t smell like chemicals!

Disposable diapers don’t just frequently smell like chemicals due to added scents – they can have potentially harmful chemical ingredients. Some studies have suggested a wide range of possible health implications from disposable diapers. [efn_note]Umachitra, G, and Bhaarathidhurai. “Disposable Baby Diaper–a Threat to the Health and Environment.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24749209.[/efn_note] 

I have a very sensitive nose. When I was first price shopping diapers at a local Target, standing in the middle of the aisle was completely overwhelming for me. If I could smell these products through their packaging from several feet away, how on Earth could I bring them into my home and place them on my newborn’s skin?

If economical, environmental, and health reasons are important to you, you might also want to consider using cloth wipes. Check out this post on why you should switch to cloth wipes from The Pistachio Project if you want to learn more!

4. Cloth diapers can reduce diaper rash.

Fewer chemicals, breathability, and more frequent diaper changes all add up to less diaper rash! Studies have observed that diaper rash was very rare before disposable diapers became popular. Today, about half of babies end up with diaper rash![efn_note]Taylor, Lori. Real Diaper News -“Diaper Rash: Comparing Diaper Choices” by Angelique Mullen, www.realdiaperassociation.org/real-diaper-news/quarterly_article_mullen_diaper-rash-comparing-diaper-choices.htm.[/efn_note]

Fewer chemicals + greater breathability = cloth diapers are healthier for your baby!

5. Cloth diapers can make potty training easier

There’s more on this below, but the basic premise is that a child can more easily tell that they’ve soiled their diaper when they’re wearing cloth. This helps them associate the act of peeing with feeling wet, which can be difficult to make when wearing a super absorbent, extra wicking disposable diaper. 

Although we’ll obviously have to see how this goes for us, I know my CDing friends had children using the toilet ages before many of my disposable-using friends.

6. You tend to have fewer blowouts with cloth diapers.

As long as the fit is adjusted properly and the diaper’s elastic is good, we’ve had virtually no leaks or blowouts with cloth.

We’ve had to use disposables and/or disposable inserts for the Grovias a couple of times while traveling (and we use them overnight sometimes) and, of course, until she grew into her reusables. Sometimes we’d get an instant poop leak on a correctly installed, fresh disposable diaper. Yikes!

The only time we’ve had leaks with cloth is when the diaper was experiencing some sort of technical difficulty or, once, was accidentally left on too long.

7. Cloth diapers are super cute!

The colors, prints, and patterns are too adorable! There’s no need to worry about diaper covers because they’re basically already built in.

8. You don’t have to worry about buying diapers all the time.

The thought of filling my shopping cart and car with diapers on a regular basis makes me cringe! 13 month update: We’ve used disposables a few times now on trips, most notably when we moved from Hawaii to the East Coast. I hate the bulk and expense! I’m also so glad to get back into cloth.

9. There are lots of work at home moms who sell handmade cloth diapers.

There are also plenty of large companies selling both domestic and imported diapers, but you have lots of options to pick from if you want to support small shops and mom-owned businesses! 

10. Cloth diapers are Montessori friendly!

They also fit well with other “alternative” parenting and education philosophies. You can see more on why they’re Montessori below!

Saving thousands of dollars, especially since we inherited so many reusables, and environmental reasons are also huge benefits. Once you add on things like less diaper rash and an easier potty training experience at an earlier than average age (for the US), a bit of extra laundry seems like a perfectly reasonable trade!

reasons to love cloth diapers and a huge cloth diaper pattern roundup!

Cloth diapering and Montessori-inspired parenting

Alright, now let’s get to the Montessori part of this post? In what ways are cloth diapers “Montessori?”

Conventional modern disposables are incredibly absorbent and can essentially remove the feeling of being wet when a child pees. From a Montessori perspective, this is not beneficial because it doesn’t help the child understand what is going on with their bodies.

Cloth diapers, while absorbent, do tend to feel wet, which helps a child make the connection between the act of ‘going’ and its results. With cloth diapers, you do end up changing a bit more frequently so the child becomes accustomed to recognizing the wet, just peed feeling and the clean, dry feeling. Purportedly, this helps children become toilet trained a bit earlier than the current average, which is a plus.

Montessori believed that the ‘sensitive period’ for toilet learning is typically between 12-18 months, so going with a system that promotes ‘earlier’ learning is an excellent choice. After this sensitive period has passed, the child loses their interest level in the activity, so toilet training/learning can become more difficult.

Additionally, with cloth diapers you are much more likely to have a natural fiber against your baby’s bottom than with disposables. For parents, Montessori-inspired and otherwise, who find this important, cloth diapering is a good choice.

In the coming months, we’re hoping to start moving our diaper changing into the bathroom to help LG realize that this is the place to ‘go.’ We also intend to start trying standing diaper changes once she can stand on her own.

13 month update: Standing diaper changes aren’t working so well for us, but we’ve been changing her in the bathroom for months now! She will walk to the bathroom when you tell her it’s time to change her diaper, and she’s starting to sit on her potty to just get used to the idea. She’s even peed in it twice so far. In the last few days she’s started going to sit on the potty completely unsolicited, which is pretty neat!

If you want to learn more about standing diaper changes and how they fit into the Montessori philosophy, there is a fantastic post on the why & how right here.

 

Benefits of cloth diapering and how to save money building your stash!Benefits of cloth diapering and how to save money building your stash!

Making your own cloth diapers

One of the biggest concerns people have about cloth diapering is the potentially high cost to get started.

If you’re considering cloth diapers, or know someone who is, and haven’t received any hand me downs, you can also save money by sewing your own cloth diapers.

Sewing your own can make the per diaper cost anywhere from $3-$10, depending on the materials you use, what types of sales you can find, etc. Upcycled materials like t-shirts, old flannel sheets, and towels can help bring the cost down, too!

I did a lot of research on making my own cloth diapers when we were TTC. Even though I ultimately didn’t end up sewing any, I wanted to share my findings with y’all today in a this cloth diaper pattern roundup.

There are a zillion different cloth diaper patterns on the web, but I carefully selected a handful that have working links/images, actual instructions (instead of just pattern pieces), and positive reviews. I hope you enjoy!

Free cloth diaper patterns

The blog that hosts this free cloth diaper pattern doesn’t appear active anymore, but the pattern is still accessible! The pattern includes options or snap and hook & loop closures in a variety of styles and sizes.

This Grovia-style diaper pattern doesn’t have instructions, but if you’re already familiar with sewing diapers you could use it.

This prefold pattern from Diapersewing.com is basic and easy to follow.

This pattern from Backwoods Home Magazine is for a basic fitted diaper that looks perfect for the first-time diaper sewer.

The Rita’s Rump Cover pattern can be used to make a diaper cover, all-in-one (AIO), or pocket diaper.

For purchase cloth diaper pattern roundup

This cloth diaper pattern for a hybrid fitted diaper from HomespunAesthetic on Etsy has great reviews.

The Darling Diapers Unlimited pattern is a bargain at $10 because it contains options for all-in-one, all-in-two, fitted, and pocket diapers as well as diaper covers. It also covers three different sewing methods, instructions for using a sewing machine or serger, and both snap and hook & loop options.

If stuffing diapers or dealing with refolds isn’t your thing, stop by this AIO pattern from Mama Can Do It.

The Trimsies pattern from SewMeAGarden offers independently adjustable waist and leg openings and also has great Etsy reviews.

Cloth diaper sewing patterns & tips

If you’re worried about the amount of time sewing your own diaper stash could take, check out her totally awesome, streamlined method in this post on sewing cloth diapers in bulk. Her book The Complete Guide to Using, Laundering, and Sewing Reusable Cloth Diapers has instructions for sewing diapers as well as other ‘accessories’ like cloth wipes and reusable snack bags.

If all the different materials have you a bit confused, stop by Diaper Wrecker’s post on Getting started sewing your own cloth diapers.

 

Places to buy used cloth diapers

Checking local FB ‘mom’ and swap groups is a great place to start your search for cloth diapers. There are also several places to look online. Of course, you can also use these sites to sell off your stash and the end of your CDing experience.

Cloth Diaper Trader

Nicki’s Diapers

Kelly’s Closet

And, of course, there is always Ebay

There are so many posts on cloth diaper washing routines and care out there, so I’m not going to go into in this post. I’m just going to say that I haven’t found washing them to be at at all difficult.

We have the Ubbi diaper pail and use with with their washable bags made especially for cloth diapering.

I was afraid drying them would be difficult since Hawaii can be humid and we don’t have air conditioning, but even on several recent days with 90%+ humidity they dried fairly well. I put them on a flat sweater drying rack and turn the ceiling fan on high – it really does the trick!

I know not everyone loves cloth diapers and that’s okay – we’re lucky to live in a time and place where we have so many different options!

When my husband was a baby in Cuba, they only had access to the really old style “flats” secured with pins. When they came to the US, my MIL was so excited to have access to disposables and I can’t blame her.

If you’re on the fence about trying cloth diapers, I hope that you at least give them a go and are willing to experiment with a couple of different brands/styles if the first try doesn’t work for you.

They’ve been wonderful for us and I want to spread the word about a practice that’s eco-friendly, healthy, and a huge money saver!

Natasha of The Artisan Life logo

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