Confessions of a cloth diaper drop out (and how I got back on the fluffy bottomed bandwagon)


Those of you who know me might be a little surprised by this post.  After all, for over a decade I’ve had at least one baby in cloth diapers and have spent many, many years with two in cloth diapers at a time.

I knit wool soakers, I peruse etsy for adorable handmade diaper covers, I have participated in online forums devoted to cloth diapering, and (okay, I’ll admit it) I take a tiny bit of pride in being “old school.”

However, (and this is an important point), as I often say, one person’s “simple” might be another person’s “complicated.”   It turns out that last year one of those things that used to be a cornerstone of my simple living parenting life was overwhelming me.

So, I became a cloth diaper drop-out.


Why I “dropped out” from cloth diapering.

Last year I was feeling overwhelmed.  I was having more and more tough days and found myself slipping into something a bit more serious than just the normal funk:  when you find yourself getting teary-eyed on a regular basis over the laundry and the dishes, something needs to change.

So, along with paper plates and some paper towels for the kitchen, I purchased a couple of packages of disposable diapers.

And the world kept turning.

No Cloth Diaper Police officer showed up at my door, no authority figure demanding I give back my Granola Mama card.  It was okay.

While there were a few raised eyebrows from those who know me and my normally “crunchy” granola mama ways, I didn’t feel guilty.  Less laundry was something I needed, so I gave myself a break.

It isn’t the first time I’ve given myself grace in the diaper department.  During the first few newborn days, we use disposables and when we’re on vacation we use disposables, too.

I’m a big believer in using cloth diapers, but I’m even more committed to moms and dads doing what they need to do to keep from being overwhelmed.

Parenting is hard enough.

babyprefoldPrefolds are a “must have” even if you don’t use them for diapering.

Why I decided to get back on the fluffy bottom bandwagon.

After life started returning to normal (well, what passes for “normal” around here) I found myself coping with day to day life a little better.  I was back on top of my game, mentally and emotionally, and the overwhelmed feeling I was getting from household and childcare duties was gone.

Plus, I missed those little fluffy cloth diapered buns.

With a refreshed attitude, a healthy nod “hello” to our 2013 budget (belt tightening, anyone?), and a renewed enthusiasm for cherishing the little things, I  was ready.

Our family happily hopped back onto the fluffy bottomed band wagon and we started cloth diapering again.

I’m glad we’re back to cloth diapers because:

  • I think cloth diapers are a greener alternative
  • I think cloth diapers are an economical choice
  • I think cloth diapers are more comfortable for baby
  • I think cloth diapers are adorable

Those are all important reasons, in my book, for using cloth diapers.

I just don’t happen to believe that any of them should come ahead of the mental health and well being of parents. 

You know the expression:  if mama ain’t happy, no one is.   And the truth is, sometimes mama needs a break.

LucyjeandiaperLucy, at 3 months, in a denim diaper cover my sister made for her.

How we eased back into cloth diapering.

When the time was right, we started using cloth diapers again.

This was fairly easy for me because we still had all of our cloth diapering supplies.  I simply tucked the last of the disposable diapers into the linen closet and pulled the cloth diapering supplies out, an easily accomplished swap with no additional expense.

I do plan to add a few more prefolds and cloth wipes to our stash because, after four kids, some of our supply is in pretty threadbare shape.  Amelia has grown a bit so I need to knit her more wool soakers. Still, I consider this a bargain.

I told myself I could use the disposables any time I found myself feeling overwhelmed, and we have used them a few times, with no guilt.

Don’t go cold-turkey.

If I were brand new to cloth diapering or I had already given away my previous cloth diaper supplies,  I probably would not go cold-turkey from disposables.

Instead, I would gradually make the change by using cloth part of the time and disposables part of the time, setting aside money each week to add to the cloth diaper supply.  In fact, when we first started using cloth diapers (when my oldest child was a year old) that slow and steady method was exactly what we did to begin.

It is easier  for me (and our family budget) to make a change if I take it in baby steps.  

Let go of any guilt.

If I want to be successful with a change, I’ve learned I need to let go of the guilt, too.

You do what you have to do to get through each season of life and I’m not going to be one of those who tells you that cloth diapers aren’t extra work because I think they are – they just happen to have many benefits that make them worth the extra effort.

If I can do it, you can do it.

Whether you are a cloth diaper newbie or need a refresher course, here are a few resources you might find helpful for cloth diapering babies and toddlers:

AJ_sixweeks_mediumAmelia, at 6 weeks, in newborn sized Looking Glass Longies

What we use for cloth diapering:

  • cotton prefolds – can be folded different ways to use as baby grows
  • diaper covers – I prefer the kind with snaps
  • snappis
  • wool soakers or longies – I knit my own.  I love this pattern for Looking Glass Longies from Knit So Quaint.
  • a wet bag – we have one for our diaper pail and a smaller one for the diaper bag.
  • supplies for laundry – you can read about how we wash our cloth diapers and do our laundry here (note:  your mileage may vary, of course)  We use soap nuts when the budget allows and also make our own laundry soap using this recipe I found from SouleMama years ago.  We also use baking soda, vinegar, a drying rack, and good old sunlight (to fade stains).
  • cloth diaper-friendly clothing – I have found it is easier to dress fluffy bottomed babies and toddlers in cloth diaper friendly clothing like overalls, rompers, and tee shirts or dresses and babylegs/legwarmers.


I’m happy we’re back on the cloth diaper band wagon, and I think my toddler is, too.  But, it is always nice to have the option of being a cloth diaper “drop out” if you need to be.

I’m sharing this with you today hoping to reassure those of you who, like me, have needed to become a cloth diapering drop out for a while.  Maybe this post will help you back on the track to using cloth diapers again.

Or, maybe not.  And that’s totally okay, too!

Do you use cloth diapers? Have you ever “dropped out” and, if so, why did you? What would you recommend to a new cloth diaper user, or someone wanting to get back into cloth diapering again?

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at

Online Knitting Class
Delightful kids' crafts delivered to your door!  See sample crates>>


  1. Love the pictures of your kids in this post! So cute! I did something similar with using my clothesline and gave myself permission to use the dryer many days last summer because mama needs her sanity!
    Pamela´s latest post: (Not) So Crazy About Hand-Knit Socks

    • Thanks! We’re finding ways to deal with cabin fever, as you can tell 😉
      By the way, I tried to comment on your blog but I had some issues – just wanted to say lovely socks and good for you for trying again! (this, from a knitter who loves socks but often falls ill to second sock syndrome)

      Best wishes!
      Kara´s latest post: Confessions of a cloth diaper drop out (and how I got back on the fluffy bottomed bandwagon)

    • cindredm says:

      I was just going to post the same thing about line drying. I also used cloth diapers (for all the reasons you mentioned) and continue to use cloth overnight diapers for my son. But line drying that was taking it’s toll. I was mentally blaming my husband for it b/c he works hard so I can stay home- meaning that with less money, I work harder to save money. I would see him flop on the couch at night and wonder “when do I get a break?”. I decided that I was going to stop line drying “to heck with saving him money on the hydro bill”. (Brat much?)
      Well, it was the best way to offer myself reprieve- I realized all the restrictions and limitations and choices are all self-imposed, I can pick and chose what works well and what threatens my sanity. I started using the dryer and nothing happened- the sky wasn’t falling and I wasn’t so overwhelmed. It also provided a valuable lesson in valuing myself and not projecting my frustration on my husband.
      Excellent post to remind moms to cut themselves some slack. Thank you.

  2. Yes! I used cloth diapers. I used them for my first, and then also for my second…for the first year. But, then I was also feeling overwhelmed having two toddlers, and I needed the break. I wasn’t entirely thrilled about switching to disposable diapers, but I needed to give myself the grace to do it, and have it help my day to day life. I don’t think any “green” change can be black and white. Most changes are so outside the norm, that you will have days that you are less green than others. It’s all about baby steps 🙂
    Heather´s latest post: Summer CSA no longer

  3. When my first baby was born I was very into cloth. I used a version of BumGenius and they worked great… until solid foods came along. Finding poo in the washer wasn’t cool and I wasn’t good at rinsing apparently. And then we moved… and I just never went back. I tried gDiapers but hated the velcro that always came undone.

    This baby is 6 months old and has only used disposables. Coming from Cosco they’re cheap enough but still – it bugs me. However, she was born 2 weeks before the anniversary of the wildfire that destroyed our house the year before and it was an extremely emotionally tough time. Between the anniversary funk and postpartum insanity… Plus, we still don’t have my clothesline up or steps out the back door to take laundry to the line either. I really liked line drying my diapers with my first baby and would like to do so again but the line isn’t high up on the priority list for need to get done (though maybe for Mother’s Day?). Even 1 1/2 years out from the fire, we’re still in the midst of recovery and while things are generally fine we both still have days where it’s just really hard.

    Plus, I realized that I really didn’t like the Bum Genius and they were expensive to get started with. With this being our last baby, if I am to return to cloth, I need a system that is cheaper to start and easier to deal with… especially as we are just now entering the realm of solid foods.
    Hopefully, I’ll convert back again. Oh, and the prefold burp rags are the best especially for reflux babies! I also use them as changing pad covers over the fancy cover that goes on the pad. Much easier to wash and cheaper too!

    • Your home taken by wildfire? Oh, I can’t even imagine … yes, you are (more than!) entitled to some grace 🙁
      “Oh, and the prefold burp rags are the best especially for reflux babies! I also use them as changing pad covers over the fancy cover that goes on the pad. Much easier to wash and cheaper too!” <—- yes, we find prefolds kind of essential around here, even when we aren't using them for diapering. A great, handy thing to have on hand if you've got young kids and babies.
      Kara´s latest post: Confessions of a cloth diaper drop out (and how I got back on the fluffy bottomed bandwagon)

      • We were one of over 1600 homes lost in the Bastrop Comples Wildfire (near Austin TX) of Labor Day weekend, 2011. Our baby, 6 months old now, was concieved with the help of chlomid while we lived in the RV on our burned property. Shall we say that chlomid plus post disaster stress plus RV plus a 3 year old girl in the other end of the RV is um – a bit much? But, it was then or never as I am old and we didn’t want to wait any longer. (I turned 40 the weekend that we moved our RV back to our property.) Then, early pregnancy in the RV while in the process of rebuilding a house and all of the wonderful volunteers…. We moved into our house when I was 6 months pregnant. At least the c-section was easy (baby was transverse) but… and I know a few other fire people who also had babies post fire. Needless to say, it’s been rather interesting.
        But hey – we’re getting chickens! Everything is better with chickens, right? 🙂 Oh, and the baby is pretty cute too. 🙂 And, our now 4 year old is doing well as is the baby… other than nearly always working on the property on the weekends, and all of the dead trees… it’s pretty normal around here again!

        We have pictures on the rarely posted on blog if you’re interested… and, I am currently sewing clothespin bags to put in my etsy shop again. Coming soon!
        genie´s latest post: House in Pictures

  4. Thank you so much for posting this! I PT cloth diapered with my second due to daycare not wanting it, but now I work from home & keep the baby with me. Unfortunately, CD reduces her nap time drastically (which I need to get my work done) & I’ve only recently thought about trying again now that she’s older.

  5. Allison says:

    I have to ask what do u treat your wills s with? I knit 2 wool covers for my youngest but have been terrified to try them out since no one around me CDs so they have no advice.

  6. This resonates with me! We have gradually gone from full cloth (with my first) to full sposie (with my second, around toddlerhood) and are working a hybrid system now with the few good cloth diapers we have left and a steady supply of disposables. We aren’t planning more kids, so it doesn’t make sense to me to buy new diapers for what –a year? A summer? But letting go of the guilt and just doing what it takes to get through has been good for me.

  7. Ha! This really resonated with me because we’re in a drop-out phase at the moment and are gearing up to start again. We moved in May of last year, with a one-year-old in cloth. Our new daycare refused to allow cloth, my diapers got stubbornly stinky, and our un-airconditioned house smelled not so nice All The Time. So I gave up for a while.
    Now, we’re expecting the arrival of Baby3 any day and I dug out my newborn stash, ready to try again. I’m planning to keep the new one home with me for six months before we start daycare so even if we only do cloth for a while, it’ll be nice to do it again. I’m like you — they’re so darned cute, it makes me smile just to see a stack of diapers.
    Kate @ Green Around the Edges´s latest post: A Leafy Bower

  8. Whew!
    I am cloth diapering our 4th babe, after paper diapering the previous 3. I so wish I had done them all…but oh well. We recently mad a major move with lots of upheaval and have switched to paper diapers. We just got into our house and are trying to find that new normal. I was so happy to get out the cloth diapers, only to find they were giving my little guy a red bottom and smelled right off the bat….and I had just stripped them before we moved for the same reason 🙁 I am sort of at a loss, and the thought of pinpointing and trying a new method to strip them is sort of overwhelming. So back into the box they went. Any tips?

  9. I can relate! We were a “dedicated part time cloth diaper” family for about 3 years (two babies, disposables for daycare) and then I hit burn out. It turned out to be a good switch, as we suddenly embarked on a very hectic season for our family. I felt less guilty about using disposables for older toddlers/preschool age, as they use soooo many fewer diapers than those babies. If we have another baby, I would cloth diaper thorugh the newborn/infant stage again for sure!
    Alissa´s latest post: Where the time went

  10. I recently started using disposables on my 30-month-old. He is daytime-potty trained, takes naps without a diaper, but still needs a diaper for poop and for night. I was so tired of the WORST diapers needing to be washed. The poopies and the nights! Ugh. So for the last month, its been disposables and its easy. I think I might try going back to cloth for nights once he figures out how to poop on the potty. I bought one large package of disposables and hope its the only one I’ll be buying. 😀

    Yes, grace in diapering. I agree!

  11. I was super gung-ho from the time we decided to cloth-diaper my first child (girl) at 4 months. She almost NEVER wore a disposable, right up to being potty-trained.

    And then I had my darling son, who is now 26 months.

    He poops. SO VERY MUCH. And he has had dairy-allergy problems, so they are still not solid. He has to wear disposables for Mother’s Day Out. And I’ve never been able to find a cloth dipe, no matter how many layers I make it, that he doesn’t soak out of at night.

    We probably cloth diaper him about 50% of the time, if that. At first I felt really guilty, but you know what? He’s just not a great kid for cloth. I’m 37 weeks pregnant, and maybe this next one will be. Or not. We shall see. But I believe in trying to keep the stress factor as low as possible in this motherhood thing. As much as I want to keep diapers out of landfills and not have my kids sitting in chlorine … my health and sanity have to come first.

  12. We’ve been cloth diapering since my first was 6 months old. Now on daughter number 3, I needed a break last fall. I love cloth diapering infants, but I started using disposable pull ups on my middle daughter. She was almost 3 years old, and no where near ready to toilet train. (She still refuses… Which is beyond frustrating, but that’s a different story!) I needed to give her more independence so I could nurse the new baby and handle life with 3 kids under 5. I just put the 3 year old back in cloth a few days ago, because I was so tired of the expense of disposables. I just resigned my job to stay home with the kids, so money is a lot tighter now.

  13. Your kids are so cute!!! I just love the posts with them in them!
    I am cloth diapering #2. And, well, we’re exhausted right now and are planning on getting a big box of disposables. Life is getting busy because we’re moving… again… and traveling… again. I wasn’t feeling bad about going to disposables but this does make me feel even better. Thanks for sharing.
    Ashlee´s latest post: Etsy Sale

  14. We had to “drop out” for a while when we were moving, transition and dirty cloth diapers don’t go together very well. Our transition period lasted a bit longer than I wanted it too, and I, too, felt green mama guilt. But in the end I was very thankful that the diaper police didn’t show up and considered that the benefits of not overwhelming my already overwhelmed life outweighed a few months of being off the cloth diaper bandwagon. My best advice to a new user: try it, they’re not as hard as you might think & invest in some disposable liners. We ordered ours from Amazon & it saved a lot of hassle with cleaning the really messy ones.

  15. This post just made me feel better about choosing to do disposables while we are away on vacation for July. We will have a newborn, plus another in diapers, and another in an overnight diaper. We plan to cloth diaper for the third time, but it’s nice to be reminded that it’s ok to have limits.
    Emily @Random Recycling´s latest post: Monday Meal Plan March 4th

  16. Thank you for such an honest post. Sometimes I think the guilt we feel makes us feel more stressed. I wish that as moms we didn’t feel the need to give excuses (even when that feeling of guilt weighs so heavily on us) because I know if we could do it, we would be doing it. I know that I have felt guilty grabbing a disposable diaper for my baby, but deep down I know that it is helping my sanity right now. We used cloth diapers on my first, part-timed with our second for the first 6 months, and have been using disposables for our third and fourth. Part of the reason that I stopped using cloth, other than feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities and tasks, was that our cloth diapers were no longer water resistant and start leaking (I was stressed wondering if the diaper would start leaking when my mother-in-law was holding him). I want to move back to using cloth for the fourth (the third is ready to start potty-training) because I feel like I can handle doing it part-time and I know that it has worked for us before. Wondering if there is something that I need to do to prevent soaking through the diaper cover (we used fuzzi bunz).

  17. I totally get it! I’m there right now. I’m in that space where I’m half cloth half disposable because I don’t want to drive myself crazy. The important thing is to stop thinking that other people are judging you. I was totally self conscious about it. Now I’m guilt-free because it’s not about anyone but me and my family. You’re so right, parenting is hard enough already!
    Mel@TheDizzyMom´s latest post: sensory play with streamers

  18. I am a huge fan of cloth diapering, but now my 23 month old is pretty much potty-trained except for nap and bedtime. We use disposables because there was just too much liquid to hold it all in! Still, it’s not too bad for only 2 diapers a day! We’re expecting #2 next month and I am looking forward to putting her in cloth diapers!
    vera´s latest post: Digital Project Life 2013: Weeks 03-09

  19. Good for you for doing something to save your sanity! It took me a couple of months to get into cloth diapering because I was overwhelmed with having a newborn. And now we use disposables occasionally when the laundry threatens to take my house over! I confess that I use a dryer and I don’t ever line dry. Is that why the diapers smell so bad?! Any tips for getting rid of bad diaper smell other than hanging them outside in the middle of winter?

  20. Jody M. says:

    I, too, am a cloth diaper drop out! And I’m now diving back in to the cloth world. I started digging out my old diapers and covers out of necessity, but now I’m really excited to get back to using them because I truly miss them! With 7 kids, I definitely needed the ease of disposables for awhile, but I’m finally ready to make the switch back.

  21. I have “dropped” off the cloth diapering world with # 2 bc I couldn’t handle the poop. What do you do with poop that doesn’t just plop off or rinse off easily with a sprayer? I was having to soak them in the toilet for hours creating a huge mess and inconvenience several times per day. If I could get a handle on the poop mess, I would probably dive back in because I love cloth diapers! Any ideas? PS- I use refolds

    • Answer: real nappy flushable/disposable bamboo liners, so soft and reduces time spent with sticky poo clean up

  22. cindredm says:

    and how could I forget to comment how cute the kids are? I love that first photo- funny! and your wee babe, so cute in her longies- I wanna just scoop her up!

  23. I did something similar with my 3rd child. I wanted to try cloth diapering but was a bit worried with our schedules and so I ended up using cloth when at home, or not straying far and disposable for trips or w hen we’d be away from home for an extended time and at night. It worked for me =)
    amber whitehead´s latest post: Premier Information and Blu-Ray Giveaway #ReturnToNimsIsland

  24. we do cloth, but not at night. that was this mama’s limit. we co-sleep and i couldn’t find a way for my babe not to leak all over us!

  25. I love our cloth! We’ve had a few issues such as yeast and stink, but overall it’s been great! 10 months strong!
    Nicole @ Amazing Frugal Mom´s latest post: Homemade hot pockets for $0.39/each

  26. I’ve totally been a drop-out! Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. 😉 I’m doing about 3/4 of the time in cloth right now and it’s working great.

  27. We have only used cloth diapers with our first two girls. Now, with our third, we’ve had extreme diaper rash issues. We had to go to disposable and then switched to prefolds ( from fitted) after and disposables at night. This was less traumatic than I thought but I think seeing her pain free and her being our third (I.e. this mama is a little more confident) makes things better.

  28. Cute photos!

  29. Cloth diapering baby number 7. Have tried repeatedly throughout the children to cloth diaper only to have diaper rash issues no matter how careful and diligent we were. Determined to give cloth diapering a go with this new baby when being a preemie, the cloth diapers were too large. Now, at almost 6 weeks, we are using cloth during the day and disposables at night and when away from home. (Papa’s idea – he even brought the disposables home from the store) It is working wonderfully for us. If at any time we needed to switch completely to one or the other I know that I could with little to no guilt.
    Thank you for the encouragement. We mamas need to be reminded that everyone benefits when mama is calm and relaxed.
    Becky´s latest post: Staying Fresh, Staying Real

  30. Candace Blanton says:

    I clicked on the link to find the pattern for the wool liner. It seems the blog has moved. Do you still have the pattern? Do you have a new link? Any ideas?
    Also, I have a comment to help deal with getting the pooh out. This may not fit your idea of green, but here is what I used and it worked great. After using the wipes to clean up a wet bottom, I would drop the wipe in the bucket with the diapers and wash them. They also did well through the dryer. Just treat them like the diapers. When you fold the diapers, insert the diaper “liner” and you are good to go. At clean up time, we flushed the liner with the poop. The wipe container says they are flushable.
    Maybe this is not green enough, but it is a heck of a lot better than a plastic diaper and degrades a lot faster. Hope this helps.

  31. What interesting post. I love how you said no “cloth diaper police” came knocking on your door. At the end of the day it is up to you and only you what goes on your babies bum. Yes cloth diapers are the better option however they aren’t the only option out there.
    Mod Bots´s latest post: Bubblebub BamBam Newborn Nappy

  32. This is a waaay late response to this post but I was just googling toddler cloth diapering so I can get back on the bandwagon! I cloth diapered my son for a little over a year and then started having all sorts of problems with diaper rash mostly, and some problems with him consistently peeing out of them. I bought hemp liner, made a feeble attempt to figure things out and then gave up and switched to disposables. Really I think I needed a little break too. Unfortunately it turned into a 5 month break but now I am REALLY hoping to use cloth diapers again. In fact, he is sleeping in one right now. Do you have any recommendations for pocket diapers that fit toddlers well as well as the best inserts to use for a really heavy wetter? I have used and loved BumGenius 4.0’s the most (I also tried their elementals and the nicki’s diaper brand,,,can’t think of the name of them at the moment) but they seem like they are on the cusp of being too small for him so I am looking for bigger options. He doesn’t seem ready yet for a trainer type diaper. Thanks for any advice you can give 🙂

  33. Thanks for sharing this helpful article..

  34. This is such great information, we don’t have kids yet but plan to cloth diaper when we do. I’ve always been so confused about the different types and this really clears it all up! Thanks for sharing


  1. […] Confessions of a cloth diaper dropout (and how I got back on the fluffy bottomed bandwagon) :: Simple Kids […]

  2. […] Hooray!  I’ve got a great giveaway today for those of you who are looking to start cloth diapering, or to get back onto the cloth diapering fluffy bottomed bandwagon. […]

  3. […] Confessions of a cloth diaper drop-out :: Simple Kids […]

  4. […] Confessions Of A Cloth Diaper Dropout […]

  5. […] We recently hopped back onto the cloth diapering bandwagon. […]

  6. […] We recently hopped back onto the cloth diapering bandwagon. […]