One of the biggest ways that parents can save money is to use cloth diapers. But if you’re like me, I bet you’ve seen some surprisingly large price tags for fancy new diapers. What if I told you that you could put several kids through cloth for just over $100 worth of flat diapers and covers?
That’s right, flat diapers. The very same old fashioned cloth diapers that your grandma used!
After a decade of using cloth diapers, I’m happy to announce my favorite workhorse diapers… flat diapers. Surprised to see such an “old fashioned” cloth diaper listed as my modern favorite? Here are some reasons why I LOVE these versatile diapers. Pssst– they’re even great for cleaning cloths after your diapering days are done!
Who should try flat diapers?
I’m all about families saving money, but even I’ll confess that this isn’t the time for working parents to experiment. I personally love flats, but I’m not advocating that you dive into this cloth diapering journey with me. Is a non-parent responsible for your baby’s daytime care? If so, it’s probably not appropriate to stick them with the task of learning to use flat diapers.
However, many daycare centers are fine with pre-stuffed pocket diapers. You’ll need to check with your own child care provider.
I highly recommend that stay-at-home parents give flat diapers a try. These diapers can be used as inserts in a pocket diaper or as cleaning cloths around the house, if you don’t end up loving them as I do.
Benefits and Use of Flat Diapers
Flat cloth diapers, or “flats” have stood the test of time in the cloth diapering world. These diapers are versatile and absorbent when folded correctly. Flats, combined with a modern diaper cover, are an economical choice for keeping babies dry and happy. flats are an economical choice for keeping babies dry and happy Click To Tweet
Flats are Inexpensive
Flat cloth diapers are easily the least expensive of all cloth diapering options. Starting at just over $1 each for bleached basic flats, they also come in unbleached and organic versions. A cover must be used with flat diapers. One-sized covers which will fit baby during their entire diapering years can be purchased for $10-$15 each.
A half-dozen of these diaper covers, plus two dozen flats will diaper one child from birth to potty training, for a total of around $125. Compare this $125 to nearly $1,000 for disposable diapers (eight diapers a day for two years at 17 cents each) and the cost savings is clear. The comparative cost decreases even further when factoring subsequent children utilizing the cloth diapers.
Want to save even more money? I’ve used muslin tea towels (at least that’s what I think they were) from Target for even less money, with the same great results. They’re nearly the same size too! I found them in the kitchen section of my local store.
Flats are Easy to Clean
After a few months of using diapers with a microfiber absorbent layer, I noticed that my diapers began to stink… even when they were supposedly clean. Ewwww! It turns out that microfiber traps soil and soap, making it difficult to truly get those diapers clean.
Flat diapers are sewn out of a single layer of cotton birdseye fabric. Because of this, they agitate fully in the wash. This results in a truly clean diaper, without any soap residues that can cause a residual stink. You know how towels can get stinky after a while, even when freshly washed? That smell comes from the same problem as stinky “clean” diapers: trapped soap residue.
When I switched to flat diapers my stink problem disappeared. I realized one of the greatest benefits of this single-layer fabric; true cleanliness!
Flats Dry Quickly
If you’ve ever tried to dry a jacket or other heavy object in the dryer you know how long it can take multi-layered fabrics to dry. Diapers are no exception. Flat diapers are the kings of quick drying. Flats dry incredibly quickly because of their single layer of birdseye cotton. They’re a great option for those wanting to dry on a clothesline. Flats are a great option for those wanting to dry on a clothesline Click To Tweet
I particularly loved my flats when I went through a phase of line drying all of our clothes inside one winter. The flats dried very quickly compared to the other diapers.
Flats are Customizable
Flat diapers can be easily customized. The thickest, most absorbent portion of the diaper can be placed toward the front for boys. For girls, the absorbency can be centered in the middle of the diaper.
Need even more absorbency? Just use two or more flats placed one on top of the other and then fold as desired. If you have a spare moment and patience, folding flats can be a relaxing, creative outlet. Diaper art at its finest!
Flat Diapers Must Be Folded Before Use
In order to use flat cloth diapers, these diapers must be folded. Without folding they won’t fit under a diaper cover, and they would be only a single layer of fabric, not absorbent enough to withstand leaking. Flats form a diaper shape when folded that encompasses several layers of thickness.
The easiest fold is the pad fold, in which the cloth is folded down in size until it can be laid into the cover. My favorite non-pad fold is called the origami fold. When folded, this diaper allows for a thick rectangle pad down the middle with triangular wings that can be used to fasten the diaper securely on the baby.
I primarily use the pad fold when flat diapering. When I use a pull-on style wool cover I typically utilize the origami fold with a snappi. Here are both of these favorite folds demonstrated:
Flats Require a Cover
Due to the 100% cotton content of flat diapers, they must be covered with a moisture-repellant outer fabric in order to keep baby’s clothing (and the flooring and bedding) dry. This outer layer of fabric is called a cover. Covers come in two main styles: a pull-on or a fasten-on style. Pull-on covers are typically wool, although less often they may be sewn out of fleece. Wool offers superior breathability and longevity.
The only negative to wool is that it loses its repellant nature over time and must be re-lanolized. Additionally, you must always use a snappi or diaper pins to secure the folded diaper to the child when using a pull-on style cover. Fasten-on covers are comprised of a knit fabric adhered with waterproof laminate (or possibly fleece) and may be either hook and loop or snap style.
Hook and loop covers are easiest to use for those parents new to cloth diapering. Unfortunately, the hook and loop of most diaper covers will eventually begin to lose its grippiness. For that reason, I prefer snap covers. If you do a simple pad fold and lay it in your fasten-on cover then there is no need to snappi or pin the diaper on the baby before securing the cover.
Putting a gaggle of babies through cloth diapers doesn’t have to be expensive. For less than $150 you can diaper a series of little loves in my absolute favorites: flat diapers! They’re not just for your grandma’s generation 🙂
What’s your favorite way to use cloth diapers? Want to give old fashioned flat diapers a try?
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