Well, often times, the first image we get in our minds when we here cloth diapering is conventional flats pinned on, diaper drooping, and worn photos of a young lady reminiscent of your grandmother in her hay day bent over a galvanized bucket with a washboard out near the crick. Yes, crick.
But the truth is, cloth diapering has been modernized so that, even utilizing the “old school” flats has evolved in both how they’re used and how they’re secured on the baby.
Now pins are still an option and, for the brave, a reliable, super cheap option. Having tried pins before, I know that FSTs (flour sack towels) and bamboo flats are particularly easy to pin. I know that you can store your pins in a bar of soap to make gliding them through the fabric much smoother. I know that Green Mountain Diapers sells slide-lock pins that pin easily and lock for peace of mind (pictured above). I know that storing them poked into some steel wool can help keep them sharp. I also know that poking yourself hurts like a (insert slurred expletive words here). I’m also all too familiar with the anxiety of using them, which is why they aren’t my first choice… in fact, they’re my absolute last choice, sooner going without than using them at all.
And this is the beauty of one-size snap-on covers! You don’t need pins at all. You can fold your flat into a long rectangle (padfold), and just lay it in the cover! No pins required, no fancy folds to learn, quicker diaper changes, it seems like an all-around win! Well, it is, if you have an older baby with more solid stools. But for those with runnier #2’s, it would be beneficial to fold the diaper onto the baby in such a way that it contains all that mess so that you’re not changing the cover with every change, especially since younger babies poop a whole lot more than older babies. This being said, you still do not need to use pins!
Thanks to inventions like the snappi (illustrated below) and boingos, which employs the use of plastic teeth to grip the diaper fabric to secure it, you don’t need to use pins!
Such an invention is the reason I was personally able to succeed with cloth diapering. And at just $9.99 for a 3 pack, you’ll be set for a long time! I used the same snappi on my son since he was born and calculated 6 months of continuous exclusive daily use before it broke, and even then it was only the bottom loop which snapped, meaning I was able to continue using it even to this day a year and a half later. I did find that the teeth began to dull a bit when he was a year old, which I sharpened the teeth with a nail file. It’s incredible to me to think just one of the 3 snappis has been able to last me this long.
Warning: do not get generic snappis. They are a huge waste of money, not made with the same quality materials that the Snappi brand is made of. They often break and dull quickly, as per many testimonies I’ve read and watched regarding them. They are worth the extra couple bucks to get one that lasts!
Boingos, unlike snappis, are two individual pieces as opposed to one. The benefits of these are the ability to have two tabs further apart and still be able to “pin” the diaper on. Some people also find just one is sufficient for keeping a diaper pinned on for younger babies. Personally, I find they work, but prefer Snappis because I have drooping issues if I don’t use both boingos… and in which case, the snappi is applied quicker and more easily. I also have this knack for losing one of any pair of anything I own, be it pins, socks, gloves, you name it, I lose the other piece. This is just my opinion and experience, though. Boingos are very functional and excellent if you prefer them, but they come at a heftier price. One pair of boingos fairs in price to that of a three pack of snappis.
But this is about diapering on a dime, right? What if you don’t have the 10 bucks to drop on fancy enclosures and pins still freak you out but you don’t have enough covers to make padfolding your flats work for your situation? You have other options.
If you utilize a folding method that yields long enough tabs, like the origami fold, then you can simply tie the tabs together or, regardless how long your tabs are, you could opt to tuck them into the waist. These aren’t the most secure options, but they work in a pinch and get the job done!
While I cannot personally advise it, I know of some people, too, who will dissect the gripping mechanism off of a pacifier clip (they are reminiscent of the clips to suspenders), and just clip the tabs together in the center with it. Another option is to use a ribbon or strip of material as a sort of “belt” you can tie on rather than tying the tabs.
To summarize, you can build a stash for very little down, but it really depends on what is available to you and how creatively inclined you are. Some people have resources and accesses that others lack, so I think it warrants mentioning that if you are really struggling and need that help to get started, there are options available to you! The Rebecca Foundation is a major one, although they are swarmed with applicants at the moment (in fact, as to date, they may not be accepting them currently). Then there are lending programs, like Grovia Gives which will send you an entire stash of their very high quality, easy to use diapers for a $40 borrowing fee, then you needn’t worry about trying to establish a large stash. If you’re only planning to diaper one child, this may be a great option to make things simple on yourself. Other programs exist if you dig enough. Plumbum Diapers Inc is my local cloth diaper drive serving York, PA and surrounding counties (occasionally helping people even further when resources allow).
With some creativity, you can make a stash for dirt cheap, but even buying all new, quality diapers, you can establish a stash of 8 covers, two dozen birdseye cotton flats, and a snappi for $82! This can be something gradually budgeted as well, and then cloth diapering can be done part time to supplement your disposables until you can have an adequate stash to switch. The more cloth diapers you use, the less you spend on disposables, the more you have to reinvest into building your stash until you find yourself spending nothing on diapers anymore because you now have all you need! For someone who just discovered they’re expecting, putting away just $10 a month can get you all you need for a full time cloth diapering stash when your little one is about ready to arrive! Every little bit you contribute now saves you exponentially more later.
I hope this series of posts helps turn some gears and get you started towards cloth diapering, be it full time, part time, or building an emergency stash for those unforeseen crises. Thanks for reading! Did I forget something important? Have an intuitive idea? Have an inspiring story? If you’d like to share, feel free to comment! We’d all love to hear your thoughts!