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How to Use and Care for Pocket Diapers

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Reusable pocket cloth diaper

Reusable pocket cloth diaper

Pocket Diapers Are the Right Choice

You want to use cloth diapers for your baby, but with all the available options, it wouldn't be surprising if you are unsure about what to do. Here is how you can start your cloth diaper journey with ease.

What Are Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers are a great way to minimize your ecological footprint while saving money at the same time. Use a green diaper routine that includes washing them contentiously. Make sure you have enough cloth diapers and pair them with reusable cloth wipes and you are set.

What are pocket diapers and how do you use them? How do you wash them, especially when they have poop on them? Find the answers to these questions and additional information in this article.

Now, What Is a Pocket Diaper?

There are five main cloth diaper types available on the market, all with pros and cons about use and care. After trying all of the existing types, I stuck with using reusable cloth pocket diapers because I had the most success with them.

A pocket diaper consists of a waterproof pocket cover and generally two inserts. The diaper inserts are made out of various materials, such as cotton, hemp, microfiber, and so on. If you have microfiber inserts, I would suggest using these inside the pocket of the diaper only, as this type of fabric is very scratchy and unpleasant for babies’ bottoms. To stay eco-friendly, buy hemp inserts because cotton production requires a massive amount of water.

How to Use Pocket Cloth Diapers

Reusable pocket diapers are easy to use and it does not take much practice to get the hang of them. A pocket diaper has, as the name suggests, a pocket in which you place a diaper insert. Some people leave it like that and snap the diaper on their baby but I like laying a second insert on top of the pocket, too (the part that directly touches the baby’s bottom).

After assembling the diaper, you pretty much put it on like any other diaper. Adjust the part between your baby’s thighs to prevent leakage and ensure an overall snug fit while still being able to easily put two fingers between the diaper and your baby’s skin. You might find yourself fiddling with the diaper for a while because your little one had a growth spurt and the snaps or when your baby is extra wriggly.

As usual with diapering, change your baby every two hours. Overnight, I personally use natural disposable diapers for my baby but lots of caregivers successfully cloth diapers (I would probably place a reusable pad under my sleeping child just to be sure the bedding does not get soaked.) Traveling with reusable diapers is definitely possible just make sure you take enough diapers with you and a wet bag for the dirty ones.

Pocket diapers are the best because:

  • the inserts do not shift around funny when the diaper is on the baby
  • you can buy pocket diapers almost everywhere
  • they are cheap
  • they come with everything you need
  • they are waterproof
  • they are easy to use

What Brand Should I Get?

What brand to buy does not matter as much as what type of cloth diaper you are using. But once you have decided on a type (e.g., pocket diapers) I recommend buying pocket diaper sets instead of getting individual diapers to save money. We use ALVABABY and Mama Koala pocket diapers and never had any major issues with leakage or problems with pilling, and they lasted for two babies.

One of Our Favorite Pocket Diaper Brands


How Many Diapers Do I Need?

How many cloth diapers you need greatly depends on what your washing routine looks like (I recommend washing every second day but we cover that later), but on the whole, you will need about twenty-five pocket diaper covers and fifty inserts. This amount allows you to change your baby every two hours and gives you some extra diapers for poop surprises.

What Size Cloth Diaper Should I Get?

Fortunately, most pocket diaper sets come in “one size fits all” and you just have to adjust the snaps to your baby’s size. The only thing I strongly recommend is buying newborn cloth diapers for the first couple of months because the all-in-ones are simply too big for a new baby that is under five kilograms no matter how you place the snaps.

Diaper insert with stain before sun exposure.

Diaper insert with stain before sun exposure.

Diaper insert without stain after sun exposure.

Diaper insert without stain after sun exposure.

How to Wash Pocket Diapers

After changing your baby take the inserts out of the diaper cover, remove any solid waste off them, and place them in a wet bag. Store dirty diapers for at most two days (I find they do not wash as well after that.) On washing day, empty the wet bag in the washer and turn on a rinse cycle to remove the first layer of dirt. When that cycle is finished wash the diapers on the whites cycle using a natural detergent. Add vinegar in the rinse cycle of the whites setting for extra smelly loads. Air dry covers, inserts and wet bag preferably in sun to remove stains. On cold or rainy days, you can place your diaper rack by a furnace vent to get them dry faster (but do not run your furnace just for that reason.) In a pinch, you can tumble dry cloth diapers, but keep in mind that this is not eco-friendly.

Cloth Diapers Are Eco-Friendly

When used contentiously, cloth diapers can be more eco-friendly than disposable diapers. Use hand-me-down cloth diapers or buy them second hand, air dry only, and wash full loads to lessen your impact. Cloth diapers use up precious resources just as disposable diapers, however “[…] 2.4 billion individual diapers [enter] Canadian landfills per year, amounting to more than 3.7 million tons of waste,” whereas cloth diapers can be uses for more than one child before entering the landfill (Source). This is another excellent resource about the impact of diapers on our environment.

Cloth Diapering Is Worth Your Effort

Say, you have twenty-five pocket diapers, and putting all of them together takes about six minutes, given that you wash them every second day. This means that you spend seventeen hours assembling diapers in a year! And while this sounds crazy, you have to consider that you save time on not having to run to the supermarket to buy new diapers because you never run out.


Cloth diapers,such as pocket diapers, are cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and easy to use. Sure, you have to wash them in the same washing machine as your favorite blouse and spend roughly an hour a week to assemble them but I think it’s worth it for our babies and planet earth.

Note: If you are tired of diapering altogether try out elimination-communication, maybe that the way to go for your baby (pun intended.)


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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