Cloth Diapering 101

New to cloth diapering? Use this guide to learn the basics.


What do I need to get started?

The number of diapers to purchase is based upon your budget, your diapering choice, and how often you will be laundering your diapers. The recommendations below are based on the assumption that you will be doing laundry every other day.

How many daily diaper changes should I expect?
Newborn: 10–12 diapers
6–12 months: 8-10 diapers
12–24 months: 6–8 diapers
24+ months: 4-6 diapers

How many diapers will I need in rotation?
Newborn: 20–24 diapers
6–12 months: 16-20 diapers
12–24 months: 12–16 diapers
24+ months: 8-12 diapers

How many covers do I need?
A wrap or cover can be wiped clean and reused several times before requiring a full washing. Thirsties recommends one wrap for every 3-4 diapers in rotation.

What accessories do I need?
We recommend purchasing 2 pail liners, a cloth diaper friendly diaper ointment, 1 wet bag, 3 dozen cloth wipes, 1 baby wipe solution mist, cloth diaper friendly detergent, 1 diaper sprayer (optional), and wool dryer balls if using the dryer. If line drying, you may want to purchase a clothes line or a drying rack.

Please visit our savings calculator to see the costs of recommended diaper packages or to build your own stash.

Do cloth diapers smell?

Naturally, soiled diapers, whether disposable or cloth, do smell. But, if you wash your cloth diapers every other day, keep the lid on your diaper pail closed, and use a deodorizer in your pail you can all but eliminate odors.

What to do with poop?

This sounds like it could be a terrifying process but the use of a diaper sprayer makes disposing of poop more than manageable. Diaper sprayers can be connected to your plumbing and used to spray the poop from the soiled diaper into the toilet. As an alternative, bio liners can be used to line the diaper making it simple to remove poop and flush it down the toilet.

The poop from breastfed newborns is water soluble so the soiled diapers can go right in the diaper pail with no need for rinsing. When your baby is introduced to solid foods his or her stool will become thicker. At this point it is now necessary to remove as much poop as possible before washing.

If you don’t have a diaper sprayer or liner simply shake poop into toilet and use toilet paper or a scraper to remove any remaining poop.

Will my cloth diaper keep my baby dry overnight?

Typically, yes, although the use of additional inserts is recommended to avoid leaks. Pairing an insert or doubler with your existing diaper will provide the additional absorbency needed to keep your baby comfortable and dry all night long.

Do I need to prep my new diapers before use?

At a minimum, all diapers should be washed and dryed at least once before use. Products with natural fibers such as cotton, hemp, and bamboo should be washed and dryed separately from other products at least 3 times before use. This will remove natural oils from the fibers, allow for shrinking, and help them reach maximum absorbency. Please use a cloth diaper safe detergent and wash on hot cycle.

Will my daycare allow me to cloth diaper my baby?

Not all daycare facilities will allow you to cloth diaper your baby while under their supervision. If you can educate your caretaker on the simplicity of cloth diapering, many will be receptive to the idea. To make it easy on them, we recommend using an AIO or a pre-stuffed pocket diaper with hook and loop closures. Don’t forget to leave them a few extra diapers and a small wet bag for dirty diapers.

How do I change a cloth diaper?

Before changing your baby’s diaper be sure your cloth wipes, baby wipe solution, clean diaper, cover and insert (if needed), and cloth diaper safe ointment are in an accessible location on or near your changing table. If your diapering system requires an insert or a cover have them pre-assembled.

Lay baby on changing table, unfasten closures of dirty diaper and fold half way down. If the diaper contains poop use the front half of the diaper to wipe a large portion of it off your baby’s bottom. Spray baby wipe solution on the wipe or directly on baby’s bottom and use the wipe to clean your baby’s diaper area. Once the diaper area is clean, use another wipe to pat area dry. Remove the soiled diaper from under your baby and put the diaper and wipes to the side.

Now place a clean diaper under the baby with the back edge even with the small of the back. Apply cloth diaper safe ointment if necessary. Pull the front of the diaper up to just below the baby’s belly button, then use the closures and adjustable rise to ensure a secure fit to prevent leaking. If your baby is a boy be sure to point his penis down to keep urine from leaking out the top of the diaper.

If the soiled diaper contained poop be sure to shake it into the toilet and then cleanse with a diaper sprayer. If a diaper sprayer is not availalbe use a scraper or toilet paper to remove any remaining poop. Note: This step is not necessary for breastfed newborns as their poop is water soluble. Toss soiled diapers and wipes in your diaper pail. If the diaper has hook and loop closures be sure they are attached to the laundry tab before tossing in your diaper pail. Remember to line your diaper pail with a pail liner to avoid cleaning your pail every laundry day.

To prevent diaper rash and leaking, change your baby’s diaper every time the diaper is soiled or every 2-3 hours.

Why choose Thirsties Modern Cloth Diapers?

The mission of Thirsties, Inc. is to make it easy and affordable for every family to choose cloth while simultaneously investing in our local economy and sustainable business practices.

Only the best USA-sourced components are chosen for our products in order to reduce our carbon footprint, to help support domestic textile mills and our local economy, and to ensure that Thirsties diapers will last wash after wash.

We are very proud of the fact that all Thirsties products are USA-made by a group of very talented group of individuals, many of whom are moms working in the comfort and convenience of their own homes.

To learn more about Thirsties please visit our website, www.thirstiesbaby.com. We are happy to help you with your cloth diapering journey, and welcome any questions you may have. You may contact us via email at support@thirstiesbaby.com, via chat at www.thirstiesbaby.com, or via telephone at 888-315-2330888-315-2330 FREE.