After 16 Months Of Using Disposable Diapers, I Switched To Cloth Diapers… Here’s Why & What I’ve Learned About Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers

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We’ve been practicing Elimination Communication (EC) with our baby since he was 13 weeks old.

You can read about my first experience with Elimination Communication, as well as my EC potty training update.

I have always used Pampers Swaddlers since the day we brought our baby home — because as far as disposables go, they are soft and absorb well. Plus, the Swaddlers have a moisture indicator strip, which really helped with my observations of baby’s ever changing potty signals.

My baby wearing his Pampers Swaddlers


Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers

My husband and I had discussed cloth diapering while we were pregnant, but decided to just stick with the disposables — because we believed cloth diapers would be:

  • Smelly
  • A huge mess
  • Just as costly as disposable diapers

Not to mention, cloth diapers were such a mystery to me when it came to how they worked and the laundering part of the equation.

However… after using disposables for 16 months and trying cloth diapers for the first time, I’m honestly wishing I made the switch to cloth diapers sooner!

I love the Alva cloth diapers with snaps to fit your baby as he grows.

I wish I took the time to give cloth diapering more thoughtful research before just relying solely on disposable diapers to do the job. I was naive in thinking that we would be out of diapers sooner because of practicing EC.

I am excited to have finally made the commitment to try cloth diapers and share my results. After 1 full week of cloth diapering, here is what I’ve discovered…


The Cost Of Cloth Diapers

Brand new cloth diapers can be dauntingly expensive upfront — especially ones of quality. For example, you can spend as much as $20 per diaper for BumGenius cloth diapers.

However… most modern cloth diapers are designed as “one size fits all” with snaps to fit throughout all the different baby stages of growth — so that’s a great money-saving feature.

Some of the 'like new' used cloth diapers I purchased online.

The number of diapers you will need to start depends on your daily diaper usage and making sure that you will have enough for the rotation.

TIP: Just remember the big picture and the money that you will actually save over the long haul after your initial investment to get started.

Also on the plus side… you can actually sell used cloth diapers when you are completely finished using them, or if you decide that cloth diapering just isn’t for you. As long as you’ve managed to keep them stain-free and smell-free, then you can sell them and recoup some of your money!


I Started By Buying Used Cloth Diapers

A perfect example of people who will buy used cloth diapers is someone like me.

I got started using cloth diapers by buying 20 used Alva Baby cloth diapers on Facebook Marketplace for $80.

Some of the Alva Baby used cloth diapers I bought online - see my tips for stripping cloth diapers.

I thought this was a great score, as the diapers were practically new and would give me a good running start to switch to cloth.

First, I did a quick strip with the used cloth diapers (a bleach soak to sanitize and remove any yeast or bacteria).

The quick strip is recommended when you buy used cloth diapers — because you don’t fully know the history of the diapers.

After stripping them, we immediately tried out cloth diapering!


Why I Like Modern Cloth Diapers

The Alva Baby cloth diaper has a pocket which holds the insert, and the insert is what holds the bulk of the moisture.

Alva Baby cloth diapers have a pocket for the diaper insert. These are all of the used cloth diaper inserts after washing and stripping them. You can see how the cloth diaper insert fits inside of the cloth diaper pocket - Alva Baby cloth diapers.

Modern cloth diapers are so adorable!

Alva Baby and other brands of cloth diapers have some really great prints and patterns to choose from.

I love how cute my baby looks in any of the awesome designs.

My 16-month-old toddler wearing his Alva Baby cloth diapers.  My baby loves wearing his Alva cloth diapers.


Washing Cloth Diapers

As far as how to clean cloth diapers… it’s just another load of laundry.

It’s amazing how much laundry I do already with my small household, so another load really isn’t a big deal for me since I’m a stay at home mom.

Fluff Love University has a Washing Machine Index that helps you figure out exactly how to clean cloth diapers — based on the brand (and model) of washing machine you have. They explain exactly which wash cycles to use. (For my washing machine, I do a pre-rinse on cold and then a normal wash/heavy soil on hot.)

They also have a Detergent Index that shows how much detergent to use when washing cloth diapers — based on the brand of detergent you prefer.

Cloth diapers can be dried in the dryer or hung to dry. It is recommended that you hang them in the sun often to dry — because the sun will keep them white and help eliminate any stains that didn’t come out in the wash.

Personally, I enjoy hanging them to dry on nice sunny days. Plus, air drying cloth diapers will also extend their life — since there is less wear & tear (and excessive heat) from the dryer.

I actually enjoy stuffing the cloth diaper inserts into the pockets after they’re dry too — because I get to look at all the cute patterns again.

Initially, I thought that washing cloth diapers was going to be a huge chore - but it's not.


Dealing With Dirty Diapers

I keep my diaper pail in the laundry room (on top of the dryer, to keep it out of reach of my curious baby).

It’s a 10-gallon plastic trash can. I don’t use the lid — because dirty diapers need air.

TIP: I add some baking soda right in the pail with the diapers to help fight odors.

I used a tall plastic trash can as my diaper pail, and line it with a large mesh laundry bag.

I line my diaper pail with a mesh laundry bag — which also gets washed with the dirty diapers every time I do another diaper load.

  • For a wet diaper… I just remove the insert and toss the insert and the diaper separately into the diaper pail.
  • For a poopy diaper… I just plop the bulk of the poop into the toilet and flush. (Since my baby is still mostly breastfed, his poop is water soluble. But I still like to get the bulk of it off the diaper.) Then I pour some water on the diaper to keep it moist — which will keep any stain from setting in. Next, I remove the insert and toss the insert and the diaper separately into the diaper pail.

Dirty cloth diapers in the diaper pail - the pockets and the inserts are separated before placing them in the diaper pail.

I’m really stoked to have way less trash with cloth diapers than we had when using disposable diapers. I’ve found that I actually don’t mind the cloth diaper changes as much — because I feel better about not dumping them in the trash.

When we are out & about, I keep wet cloth diapers in a dog waste bag until I can get home, take it out of the bag, remove the insert, and toss them both into the diaper pail.

We will continue to use disposable diapers in certain situations — such as being away from home or out of our normal routine, especially if we don’t have easy access to laundry.

And I’m still not sold on using cloth diapers at night. I don’t think a cloth diaper compares to a disposable diaper in the ability absorb all the nighttime pee — because of how much my baby nurses throughout the night while co-sleeping. So we will continue to use a disposable diaper at night until my baby is night weaned.

We are not cloth diapering at night yet because I trust disposables to hold more nighttime pee while my son is still breastfeeding through the night.

Here is a handy cloth diaper cheat sheet from Fluff University.


Why I Switched To Cloth Diapers So Late

In case you’re wondering, here is a little more insight to why I am now making the switch to cloth diapers after 16 months of using disposables…

I am so over diapers and diaper changes — especially disposable ones!

I had a goal in mind to be diaper free by the time my baby was 18 months old, but I’m just not sure that we are going to be completely diaper free by then.

I know a lot of growth can happen in 2 months, but I am truthfully tired of being potty training obsessed, and I’m just willing at this point to go with the flow.

Taking advantage of a pottytunity - aka potty signal from my baby during our Elimination Communication practice  It's difficult to take advantage of potty signals when baby has other things on his mind.

At least the diapers my baby fills will no longer be going to the landfill, and instead it will be just another load of laundry.

My baby and I go through waves of awesome potty signaling (the EC process mentioned above) to shake my head, “confused as all get out”, no signaling at all. We go round and round in circles with the EC, and I finally decided that the disposable diapers have got to go. Here’s why…

I felt the disposables were holding back on our progress, since there is no real commitment or consequence for either of us when we miss a “pottytunity.”

Today’s disposable diapers are designed to keep baby almost completely dry — with all kinds of chemicals to make them super-absorbent and to wick the moisture away from baby’s skin. All of this technology keeps baby relatively comfortable, if he decides to just pee in his diaper and not bother to signal. For me, another diaper change meant tossing another diaper the trash, never to be seen again.

I decided it was time to switch to cloth diapers because I’m just not sure how much longer we will be using diapers. Plus, when baby goes potty in a cloth diaper, he definitely notices — so I’m hoping to accelerate to correlation and importance of signaling when he has to potty.

Truthfully, it’s hard to say at this point if we are progressing or regressing from EC — because each of my baby’s developmental milestone causes some sort of “potty strike” whenever I offer pottytunities. Like right now, we are at the brink of him learning to walk — so he has discovered way more things to distract him from signaling to go potty.

We will still continue our EC journey for as long as it takes — only now with a cloth diaper back-up instead of a disposable one.

Here’s a quick overview of my plans and the cloth diapers we are using:

My switch to cloth diapers

Hopefully, my experiences and some of the cloth diaper information that I’ve learned will inspire you to consider cloth diapers — whether you are making the switch from disposable diapers or starting with cloth diapers from the start.

I’ll be sure to post an update here after we’ve been cloth diapering for awhile.