The Case for Cloth


Why the latest reusable diapers deserve a chance in your diaper bag

By Anna Getty, Eco Editor

At a certain point in every pregnancy (usually toward the end), moms-to-be have to decide which diapers they’ll use on their baby: cloth or disposable? Yes, there are pros and cons to both. If you’re a staunch environmentalist you might say that cloth are best, although new information shows that biodegradable disposables may be the greenest option.

But I won’t go into that here. What I will do is make a case for cloth diapers: How they’ve evolved from simple pre-folds and safety pins to convenient systems you definitely want to consider.

When my first child was born almost six years ago, I decided to try a brand of organic cotton fleece diapers called Fuzzi Bunz ( Cloth diapers have been around for centuries (even primitive ones made of animal skin!), but the traditional pre-fold invented in the ’50s had been the standard up until the past decade, when a boom in washable diaper brands and styles began.

At first, I used these new cloth diapers because I wanted to keep disposables out of the landfill. But in the long run, I discovered I preferred cloth because I could tell so quickly when my daughter was wet. At night, when she’d squirm as she slept, I knew it was time for a change. I also found that there were fewer rashes and fewer blowouts with cloth.

One drawback: I wasn’t crazy about the bulky plastic cover the diapers came with. But these diapers have changed even since I started cloth diapering. Fuzzi Bunz and many other companies now make sleeker covers from wool and cotton fleece in adorable prints. They’ve also come up with “all-in-ones,” so the cover and the diaper are one piece, just like disposables. These systems are often one-size-fits-all, with adjustable snaps that allow you to make the diapers bigger as baby grows, so you can use the same set for months, even years.

With some systems, even having to do laundry isn’t a problem, because you can reuse the outer shell several times before washing. Hybrid diapers even feature washable cloth pants with biodegradable, disposable, or flushable inserts.

Now there are so many options that make it easier to be eco-friendly and do the best for your baby.

Today’s Cool Cloth

Flip One-Size Diaper Cover in Grasshopper and Stay-Dry Insert

 The Case for Cloth
The latest invention from BumGenius, makers of a popular all-in-one, does them proud. The one-size cover fits babies from 7 to 35 pounds; for most diaper changes, reuse the cover and replace only the insert.

Smartipants Single Diaper in Mellow Yellow

 The Case for Cloth
No soiled inserts to fuss over with this adjustable diaper. The inner-sleeve design means you can just drop the whole mess in the laundry. Easy!

GroVia Shell Set in Seaside Stripe

 The Case for Cloth
The quick-dry mesh lining and organic cotton pads make this adjustable diaper my current fave. The company sells biodegradable inserts that are helpful when you’re on the go.

Greener Baby Clean-up

The Bottoms-Up Baby Wipes All-In-One Kit

 The Case for Cloth
This innovative reusable baby-wipe kit is organized for convenience, and even comes with travel sacks for your diaper bag.

Natracare Organic Baby Wipes

 The Case for Cloth
Alcohol-free and made of organic cotton—throwaway wipes you can feel pretty good about!

California Baby Calming Diaper Rash Cream

 The Case for Cloth
Diaper creams can clog the absorbent microfiber in cloth diapers. This cream is cloth-diaper approved!

The Easy Way to Try Cloth
Jillian’s Drawers sells cloth diapers from the brands on these pages and more, and offers an amazing program to introduce you to cloth called “Changing Diapers, Changing Minds.” The kit comes with enough diapers for 12 changes and is fully refundable, no matter what condition the diapers are in, minus a $10 fee. Check it out at

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