If you have a toddler and are interested in cloth diapering them, this post is for you!
In this post, I will address common question about toddlers and cloth diapers, how to cloth diaper your toddler, and the two different ways I have cloth diapered my 18-month-old.
On to the first question!
Can toddlers wear cloth diapers?
Toddlers absolutely can wear cloth diapers!
Otherwise, I guess this post and its title would be kind of useless.
To cloth diaper a toddler, you’ll most likely have to get a larger cover/insert and probably some additional inserts for extra absorbency since toddlers tend to be in their diapers longer than newborns and can be heavier wetters as well.
Is it too late for cloth diapers?
It’s never too late to cloth diaper!
Well, unless your toddler is already potty-trained, then I guess it would be a bit late.
If you toddler is still wearing diapers, you can start cloth diapering.
Keep in mind, though, that unlike babies who have been cloth diapered since birth or a couple months old, toddlers may be a little more particular about how a diaper feels against their skin. They may take some time to get accustomed to the feel of cloth diapers if disposable if all they’ve ever known.
I personally would think that cloth would be more comfortable than disposable “paper” diapers, but if you have a toddler who is really picky about what goes against their skin, this may be something to think about.
We personally didn’t start cloth diapering our son until he was about 2 months old because that’s when he fit into the one-size diaper covers we had.
They make newborn-sized cloth diapers if you want to start from the beginning, and we’re planning on doing that this time around!
Do they make cloth diapers for toddlers?
Cloth diapers come in all different sizes, accommodating your child from newborn to potty-training.
For cloth diaper covers considered to be “one size”, which utilize rows of snaps so you can set them to different sizes, you can probably use those all the way from a couple months old until potty training, unless you have a chunkier toddler.
Some types of cloth diapers come in different sizes, so you’ll have to look at the sizing chart for the brand to see which size to order for your toddler.
Depending on the type of cloth diaper you go with, you might need separate inserts, which can be sized as well, as is the case with all-in-twos and prefolds (see the links below).
Here are some examples of each of the common types of cloth diapers you might see.
Note that the first three options on this list have covers included, while the prefolds and flats will need covers to keep them from leaking.
Really, the choice is up to you which kind you go with! I’ve used all-in-twos (when he was a baby), pocket diapers, and prefolds, and they all have their benefits!
Is cloth diapering cheaper than disposables?
While the price of both disposable diapers and cloth diapers can vary widely, cloth diapering can save you money overall.
To cloth diaper a child for 3 years (the average potty training age), it can cost around $2,445.
Even if you buy brand new, premium cloth diapers, especially if you get one of the all-in-one systems, you’ll probably only spend $300-$500, depending on which brand/style you buy.
That’s 1/5 of the price of disposables!
If you buy a cheaper system, such as prefolds, or you buy them used or make them yourself, the cost is even lower.
Looking to start cloth diapering on a budget? Check out my post on how to build your cloth diaper collection for cheap or free!
Depending on what style you buy and whether you get them new or used, your cloth diapers could pay themselves back within 6-12 months when compared to using disposables the whole time.
If your toddler is nearing potty training, you may want to consider if the cost of cloth diapers is worth it for a shorter period of time.
However, if you still have a ways to go until then, or you have (or want to have) more kids, then cloth diapering can save you money!
How do you use prefolds on toddlers?
1) Get a toddler-sized prefold
While most covers you use with prefolds are considered “one size fits all”, prefolds themselves are sized.
Most companies that sell prefolds will have the stitching on the prefolds color-coded so you can easily know which size you have in your hand. This is especially helpful if you’re cloth diapering multiple kids at once!
Prefold sizes are usually based off of your child’s weight, so check the company’s description to see which size(s) work with your toddler.
If your toddler is near the top of one size, I would recommend going to the next size up so they have room to grow. You can always fold the edges of the prefold down a little for a better fit.
2) Add extra absorbency if needed
If your toddler is a heavy wetter, or if you’re cloth diapering overnight, you may want to add an extra liner to help prevent leaks.
Most prefolds are really absorbent, but depending on how long your child is wearing them, they may need an extra layer or two down the middle.
Some companies sell doublers that are made specifically for this purpose.
Since I have a collection of random inserts lying around, I’ll usually just grab an insert to use as a doubler. You can also use another prefold (smaller sizes work best so they don’t get so bulky) and fold it in thirds to lay down the middle.
3) Figure out which fold works best for your toddler
Here is a post with a good overview on some different folds you can use to get prefolds on your toddler. Depending on how your toddler is built, you may need to try some different folds to get a good fit!
I personally use the Newspaper Fold with my son, but with the thinner prefolds we used before, I did the Bikini Fold. I also love the Pad Fold to use as a doubler down the middle.
I’ve never tried a Jellyroll Fold, but I’ve heard they’re awesome for newborn babies because they keep the poop in so well! I’ll definitely be trying it this fall when we have our second child, and I’ll let you know how it goes!
Here are some pictures of the Newspaper Fold on a prefold in action!
4) Fasten with a Snappi
No longer do we have to be scared of sticking our babies with safety pins as we fasten their diapers.
While you can still get plastic-tipped safety pins if your brave enough to want to try them, there are multiple options available that let you fasten your baby’s diaper without using an actual pin.
My favorite way to fasten cloth diapers is to use a “Snappi”.
Here is what it looks like on a prefold!
I would recommend getting multiple Snappis in case you lose one, since they make cloth diapering a toddler with prefolds a whole lot easier.
5) Add a cover
While the prefolds do all the absorbing, they’re not actually waterproof/water-resistant. You will still need to add a cover to keep your child’s clothes (or the furniture) from getting soaked.
One time I was in a hurry and forgot to put the diaper cover on over the prefold.
I soon wondered why his diaper had leaked out so fast.
Turns out, just a thin piece of fabric (we were still using some really thin prefolds at this time) doesn’t hold all that much moisture before it starts to leak out…
6) Put used prefolds in wet bag/diaper pail with liner
If the prefold is just wet, you can throw it and any cloth wipes you use into your wet bag or diaper pail.
If the prefold has poop on it, you will need to get the solid parts of the poop off before putting it in the diaper pail. I have a diaper sprayer, and it makes this job so much easier.
The one I have does have some problems with leaking, but I’ve heard that people like this brand!
As for the covers, they may need to be sprayed off if they have poop on them. If they’re just wet, you can wipe them off with a wipe and let them dry in between diaper changes.
Since you should have multiple covers, you can just alternate which covers are in use or drying until wash day or one gets poop on it.
7) Wash your prefolds and covers
When it’s time to wash, I put my wet bag and all of its contents into the washer and run a cold cycle. Depending on your machine, this can be a “rinse and spin” cycle, or you can do what I do and just run a normal or “quick” cycle using cold water. This helps get some of the poop rinsed off.
I recommend using a fragrance- and dye-free detergent, and you’ll only need a small amount for this cycle..
Next, run a hot wash cycle with a regular amount of detergent. You’ll want your washer to be around 2/3 full for this cycle, so I like adding my toddler’s clothes for this cycle.
Having the washer full enough helps get the diapers clean since they can agitate against each other and the rest of the clothes.
Once you’ve washed the diapers, throw the inserts/prefolds, wipes, and clothes into the dryer.
Unless you use all-in-one diapers, anything with PUL/waterproof fabric should be hung to dry to preserve the fabric and the elastic.
How do I use cloth diapers overnight?
As I mentioned above, depending on how absorbent your prefolds are, you may need to add a doubler.
The prefolds we use currently (I bought them used and they have no label, so sadly I can’t tell you what brand they are) are really absorbent, so I might be able to make it all the way through the night without a doubler.
However, I add a doubler just in case because I don’t want to chance a middle-of-the-night sheet change.
I don’t have a specific formula to tell you how much absorbency you’ll need. I would recommend just playing around with it until you find a combination that works for you and your toddler.
How many diapers does a toddler need?
Currently, my 19-month-old goes through about 6-8 prefolds a day, and 1-2 covers if they happen to get poop on them.
If you want to wash twice/week, I think having 18-24 prefolds and 3-4 covers should be plenty.
We currently have 22 prefolds and 7 covers because that’s what came with them when I bought them used, and that‘s been more than enough for us.
Do cloth diapers help with potty training?
We haven’t quite reached the potty training stage yet, but I have heard that cloth diapers can encourage toddlers to potty train sooner since the cloth helps them feel when they are wetter sooner than a disposable with.
Some companies also make cloth training pants with elastic waists (like Pull-Ups) that can help children during potty training since they can pull them down and not have to deal with snaps or Velcro.
I hope this post was helpful and answered some the questions you might have had about using cloth diapers on your toddler!
I’m still learning as I go, but I hope this can help those who want to cloth diaper their toddler but who have no idea where to start.