Don't worry, see how things go!

We switched back and forth between cloth and disposable over time—you might also end up experimenting with what works for your baby & situation. For example, even during the height of our cloth phase, we often switched to disposable when traveling (when regular laundry was harder to come by).

Preventing Blowouts

The First Poopie Blowout is a wonderful rite of passage for all parents. Someday, you'll have stories to tell of the Epic Blowouts of your children, like the time that we forgot to bring an extra pair of clothes for Adam on a flight to Hawaii 🤦. Sometimes there's nothing you can do, but here are a few tips:

  • When in doubt, get the bigger size diaper. You can always cinch the diaper more snug around the waist (as long as it isn't ridiculously too big)...usually blowouts go up the back, so you want more material there.

  • Try cloth. We used cloth almost exclusively for Adam's first ~5 months, and had relatively few blowouts. Some moms claim that cloth diapers prevent blowouts more.

  • Remember that (almost) everything washes. After one particularly epic time Adam got both of us and our ErgoBaby covered in poo, everything was back to normal after a load of laundry and a baby-daddy shower.


  • Best Diapers: Bambo Nature - these are expensive and hard to find (the only place that sells them in SF is Natural Resources, although they're on Amazon and you can also buy them direct) but universally acclaimed online (e.g. by Baby Gear Lab and these various blogs) for both performance and healthiness for your baby

    • Note that we bought some of these for our newborn because we thought it would be easier than cloth diapers, but we found that they weren't as absorbent, etc. as the better cloth diapers (e.g. Blueberry)...and if you have a big enough cloth diaper stash, the laundry isn't too bad. We eventually switched back to Bambo after ~5 months.

    • Budget-Friendly Hippie Diapers: Earth’s Best TenderCare

    • Non-Hippy Diapers: Pampers Swaddlers - recommended by Lucie's List and a lot of other folks.

      • Lucie's list also recommends Pampers Baby Dry for overnight, and Pampers Cruisers for older babies during the day. Wirecutter also has Swaddlers and Cruisers as their "upgrade pick"

      • Cheaper: Target (Up & Up) or Walmart (Parent's Choice) brands - Wirecutter says they're both pretty good, with Walmart's usually being cheaper

    • European Diapers: Moltex - on a recent trip we found this German brand, and liked them even more than Bambo. They can be found at a variety of stores (e.g. in Italy they sell them at NaturaSì). Also note that outside of North America they call diapers "nappies" (this was helpful when talking with a Swiss grocery store clerk who spoke fluent—but British—English)

  • Best Wet Wipes: Water Wipes - these just have water and some essential oils—that's it. They are great for sensitive skin and wipe off the worst messes easily...but they do have 2 disadvantages: First, they are a bit tricky to get out of the container. Second, because they don't have any alcohol, etc. after you've wiped your baby off, it will take a little while for their butt to dry.

  • Composting (in SF Bay Area) - there are two Bay Area companies that will pick up your compostable diapers (they cannot go in the green bin municipal compost—they have to go in the black "trash" bin), but you have to buy all your diapers from them too

    • Tiny Tots - the advantage is that they carry Bambo Nature as well as Nature Babycare, and they have a cloth exchange service...but they're a bit more old-school (everything is done over the phone)

    • Earth Baby - our friends had a much better experience with them and found them to be efficient, although they only have Nature Babycare diapers (which are also supposed to be good, although not rated as high as Bambo)


There are a lot of options, which can be a bit bewildering...here's a quick summary:

  • Stuff that Requires a Diaper Cover - the following diapers require a separate "diaper cover", either made with plastic or lanolized wool

    • Old School Diapers - these require either safety pins or a Snappi or Boingo (Dirty Diaper Laundry YouTube likes the Snappi for most uses) to fasten

      • "Flats" - your grandmother's diaper, basically a piece of cloth that gets folded around the baby; you can even use flour sack towels

      • "Prefolds" - what you probably think of when you think of "cloth" diapers (I had these when I was a baby), basically a very thick piece of cloth

        • you can also "trifold" ("no-pins") this in the middle of some diaper covers, like a big "insert" (see below), thus avoiding having to fold/snappi around your baby

        • what most cloth diaper services (like Tiny Tots in the Bay Area) use

        • these are also super-useful as burp cloths / cleanup towels

    • "Fitted" - often made of the similar material to prefolds, but have elastic are cut to more easily fit a baby and often have built-in snaps or velcro

      • ["Contour" - similar shape, but usually lack elastic/snaps/velcro, basically halfway between a Prefold and a Fitted]

  • Stuff that Has Built-in Waterproofing - these are a bit easier than the above options, but a bit more expensive:

    • "All-in-Two" (AI2)/Pocket

      • AI2 and Pocket technically mean different things, but in both cases there's a separate piece of fabric that goes into the diaper, and in theory you can re-use the outer waterproof part (especially if it's just pee), while changing out the removable insert. Most sites online don't recommend AI2 for newborns (due to more poo/less pee) but say they makes sense for older babies/toddlers.

      • "Hybrid" - disposable (or in gDiaper's case, flushable) inserts are called "Hybrid"—you throw away the inner lining but re-use the rest of the diaper. Since we mostly chose cloth so our baby would have natural fibers (not disposable plastic) next to his butt, we decided to avoid hybrid liners/inserts.

    • "All-in-One" (AIO) - the easiest kind of cloth diaper, where the absorbent liner is built into the waterproof outer shell as one unit, so they're just as easy as a disposable (apart from having to toss it in the laundry)...but they're also the most expensive, and they take the longest time to dry

  • Inserts/Doublers - you can put additional pieces of cotton/hemp/etc. inside any of these diapers to add additional absorbency

  • What We Bought

    • Green Mountain Diapers Prefolds - mostly used as burp cloths, etc.

    • Green Mountain Diapers Fitted - we got these for times when we need the most absorption, especially overnight...we were very impressed! Eventually this became our favorite diaper overall—from ~2 to ~4 months we used these exclusively. At first we thought the leg openings were too big for our (8 pound) newborn, although we later learned that we could have used the snaps differently and/or a Snappi. We bought the Green Moutain Diapers' Cloth-eez Workhorse, which are relatively cheap and made from organic cotton.

    • Disana and Etsy wool covers - to cover the fitted diapers...you also have to get lanolin & eucalan to waterproof it (you can also use plastic covers, but Adam loved the wool)

    • Blueberry Simplex All-in-Ones - highly rated online, particularly for newborns; well-made with fun designs, they are about $19 on most sites (including Green Mountain Diapers, see below) although you might be able to find used ones under their old brand (Swaddlebee) --> this was by far the easiest, best-performing diaper we used when our baby was a newborn; it's expensive but when you compare with compostable/disposable it's competitive in the long run

      • Wirecutter likes BumGenius for AIO (All-in-Ones) but they didn't compare it to Blueberry

    • Ragababe Liners - this company makes really nice—but expensive—diapers, but also luxurious liners that do a great job of absorbing pee. For overnight diapers (starting around ~2 months), we would use these inside a fitted diaper with a wool cover on top, which soaked up lots of pee, and kept our baby happy!

    • Biokleen Bac-Out - not a diaper but a spray that helps remove stains and keep your diaper pail from smelling

    • Cloth wipes - if you're doing laundry on the diaper, why not go all the way? (also this way you don't have to separate wipes from diapers) ...we got ours from www.familyclothwipes.com but there are many brands available online; you can also make them yourself (a family friend made some extras from some scrap fabric).

    • Dr. Bronner's unscented liquid soap - used (watered down along with a bit of olive oil, calendula, and lavender essential oil) to make our own hippie baby wipe spray

  • General advice

    • Snaps, not velcro - most blogs/websites seem to prefer snaps (they don't wear out as quickly, there's no fumbling with laundry tabs, and they're harder for older babies to remove), and that seems to be the way the industry is going too...all of our diapers were snaps, which worked great

    • Green Mountain Diapers is the bomb! - they have great selection (including their own line of prefold/fitted diapers), reasonable prices (including for other brands), and free 2-day shipping for orders over $75. They also have great information, such as the "new to cloth" first-time parent page

    • Stash size - we found that we needed about ~12 diapers a day for our newborn (so 12 diapers = minimum 1 load of laundry per day), but he was also very "productive" (he'd sometimes go through 3 diapers in one feeding) so your mileage may vary...over time we needed fewer diapers as he got bigger

Elimination Communication

Think that cloth is hippie? Us cloth people are squares compared to the "EC" crowd, who teach babies from a young age to pee and poo on command...it might seem like magic but it's common in many countries. It was a bridge too far for us (among other things, it makes day care more difficult), but look it up online if you want the ultimate in natural baby living.

Summary for SF Bay Area Folks

Little Lane Blog has a great summary of diaper options for folks living in the Bay Area