Modern Cloth Diapers for Baby – The Beginner’s Guide


Modern cloth diapers are an easy and eco-friendly alternative to disposable diapers.

In today’s post I present to you the basics of modern cloth diapers, experience of using it for my son, cloth diaper varieties available in the market and its PROS/ CONS.

modern cloth diapers for baby

Before my son was born, I had zero knowledge about almost anything related to baby. Diapers and nappies were no exceptions. I knew that in our place, it is traditional to use old cotton clothes as nappies for babies. These days, they are also available as ready-made nappies in shops. So I just went about shopping for nappies without much idea at all.

The nappies that I bought were soft and nice, but they would not even hold one full ‘chu-chu’, as we call the pee. The moment he pees, the cloth will be wet, so we have to change it immediately, and probably even change the sheets underneath the nappy. While I liked the simplicity of this model, I soon figured out this is not going to work for night times.

My son pees heavily at night. Being already sleep deprived with his endless cries and feedings, I didn’t want to add one additional problem to the routine. I was quick to change to disposable diapers at nights and continued to use it through his first year.

I came to know only later that the use of these disposable diapers is debatable for many reasons

  • It contains harmful chemicals that I did not want close to my baby’s skin
  • Babies using disposable diapers are more prone to diaper rash
  • It is even said that disposable diapers reduce fertility in boys due to the heat buildup
  • They are really bad for our environment, as one disposable diaper can take up to 500 years to decompose

Now, only imagine how many diapers we would have gone through before our lovely baby is toilet trained. It’s an indirect disservice we are doing to our kid, by leaving him in a more toxic and garbage filled world!

Modern cloth diapers for baby – How I got introduced to it?

In the meanwhile, I also learnt that there exists something called modern cloth diapers, which are much easier to use than our dhoti clothes or traditional nappies. With a little extra knowledge and effort, these could easily replace our disposable diapers. I would be doing my little one a favor, while also reducing his first carbon footprints on earth.

Modern cloth diapers are getting popular in India these days. They can easily be found online (probably in shops too).

There was one problem though- I was a little intimidated by the washing instructions available online. They all seemed to be targeted to the western way of doing laundry- they talked about prewash, hot wash, cold rinse…blah blah blah…

My maid washes my baby’s clothes by hand and even my washing machine had different kind of features. I was confused. After coming to know of another mother who used these diapers, I was more confident to try. So here is my experience for all of you to read.

I am here to tell you it is easy and can fit into our lives. I will keep the cloth diaper basics as simple and understandable as I can.

3 Layers of modern cloth diapers:

Cloth diapers have three basic layers.

Layer #1: A stay dry layer

This is usually a synthetic fabric like microfleece or seudecloth that will be touching your baby’s skin.

Natural materials don’t give a stay dry feeling. But remember, synthetic fabrics are way better than using disposables.

Layer #2: Absorbency layers

These are the layers that will be absorbing your baby’s urine. There are various natural fabric options available for this like- cotton, hemp or bamboo and synthetic fabrics like microfiber.

Natural fibers always give maximum absorbency for their weight, while synthetic fibers absorb more quickly when your baby pees. So, a combination of these works great, usually.

Layer #3: Outer cover

The outer cover is to avoid leakages if the diaper gets full. They are usually made of a waterproof layer like PUL. But a much more natural option that is gaining popularity these days is wool.

Now, given how many of us in India are used to change our baby’s nappy after every single pee, and how our tile floors can easily be wiped if there is a leakage, the first and third layers can be made optional in the daytime.

4 Types of modern cloth diapers available in the market:

The four types of modern cloth diapers available in the market are as follows.

  1. Prefolds:

Prefolds is the simplest and cheapest option out there. It’s just a very absorbent rectangular piece of cloth that you can fold to fit your baby, use snaps or diaper pins to keep them in place. This has only the absorbent layers and it is up to you to buy and use the stay dry layer and outer cover as needed.

May not be suitable for a busy toddler who has no time for diaper change!

  1. Fitted diapers:

Fitted diapers are very absorbent diapers that have several snaps (a sturdy version of press buttons). They are already shaped to fit your baby.

You put it on your baby and put on the snaps in such a way that it will fit your baby snugly. Again, layer #1 and layer #3 need to be added separately.

  1. Pocket diapers:

The stay dry layer and the waterproof layers are all there. You just insert an absorbent pad (or even a pre-fold into it) and put it on your baby.

You can also read the review of Superbottoms pocket diapers.

  1. All in one cloth diapers:

Similar to pocket diapers, they have all the layers in them.

The difference is that the absorbent layers are simply sewn into them. So you need not buy anything extra to use this kind of diapers and the usage is very simple – you wash it, dry it and put it on just like a disposable diaper.

The disadvantage compared to pocket diapers is that they will take more time to dry because all layers are sewn in and that it will be more difficult to clean them as well.

I personally am a big fan of fitted diapers because they are very absorbent compared to other types and they work great for night time (which is when I mainly used disposable diapers earlier). I like to go one extra step, and want to avoid the PUL as layer#3.

Fitted gives me choice to choose my own diaper cover separately (wool). When my baby is not in bed, I don’t mind an accidental leak if at all. So I would simply not put on the outer cover.

You can also read about how to choose the right diaper for your baby.

Further reading:

Do you now want to try out these modern cloth diapers for your little one?  Share with me in comments.

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About Author

Vandana quit her software career because she found her mother brain lost capability to process anything beyond her child's needs. She lives in Chennai with her husband and two year old Vihaan Krishna. Becoming a parent has helped her understand life in a much better way. She wants to share her new found wisdom to the benefit of other judicious parents who are constantly wanting to give the best to their kids.


  1. Though am second time would be momma, I want to do a small little favour to my clan avoiding landfill with diapers e. So planning to switch to cloth diaper this time. I just hv a Lil confusion, I saw/ actually bought 1 single cloth diaper online ( just to see the new thing) it came with a 4 layer microfiber insert; before I start stocking up some more , can you please tell me how many diapers and inserts I may need to buy? And do we need to change both diaper and insert everytime baby pees!!! Of course I’ll change after poop but pee!!! Or I need to change only insert or I can wait for 2 or 3 pees??? Plz suggest…. HELP

    • Hi second time mama, congrats on ur decision to cloth diaper ur second one. U can find a link in this article for 11 FAQs on cloth diapers. Please read that to decide how many diapers to stock up. Don’t buy too many of one variety without trying out first.

    • Regarding ur second question, it depends on the type of cloth diaper u use. U can certainly leave any cloth diaper on for 2 hours even if peed. Other than that some types can just be wiped and reused, some need to be washed. If it is wool cover, u can simply hang dry and use again and wash it once a month. Please join this wonderful group on fb called ‘cloth diapering india’. U can get lots of info there

  2. Nandhini, it’s available in online shops. Divya Matthew, great first step. Suvarna, yes they have to be washed hygenically, but it is no big deal, esp with washing machines. All of your questions will be answered in the next articles I am writing on this topic….

  3. Nandhini, it’s available in online shops. Please await my next article for more details. Divya Matthew That’s a great step. Sure, u will find the washing instructions in the upcoming articles. Suvarna, yes ofcourse, they need to be washed hygenically. But with washing machines especially, it is no big deal. I will be writing more details in the next articles.

  4. Very informative article. Cloth diaper very new to me. I have a query, How hygenic it is? I mean washing part of diaper. how the abosrebed urine will be cleaned? The diaper should be cleaned properly with proper detergent, otherwise it can be source of infection. thanks and regrds, Suvarna

  5. This s such a timely post… I’ve bought a bum genius AIO diaper for my 2 month old boy in an urge to use cloth diapers. But as u said I don’t know how to wash it. So haven’t used it yet. I’m looking forward to ur next post regarding this. Pls guide me with using MCD

  6. Pingback: Modern Cloth Diapers for Baby – The Beginner’s Guide | KIDSBLOG.IN

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