Wool cloth diapering 101: What is it? Why do it? What do you need to get started?

wool diaper cover

We recently were blessed with our fifth baby girl, Lara Penelope, and I wanted to use cloth diapers for her. We used cloth diapers with Lucy, our second daughter, but I did not really feel organized enough to get back into it with Lea or Lola (you guessed it, babies #3 and #4). But this time, I felt ready and inspired to do the work and commit to the process that is cloth diapering.

I fell in love with the idea of wool covered cloth diapers while researching diapers to buy for Lara. With Lucy, we used the waterproof diaper covers and inserts you often see on cloth-diapered kids. Those were great but I found that the waterproof covers often held onto unpleasant odors that were difficult to remove. The idea of not having a traditional waterproof cover seemed strange, and the washing process involved with the wool sounded intimidating, but then I read that that because wool is breathable and has the natural protection of lanolin in the fabric, baby’s skin can breathe and odors don’t get trapped. On top of that wool helps keep baby warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s warm. Oh, and they’re super cute!

Lara Penelope in her 100% Organic Wool Diaper Cover

We are only three weeks into using the diapers and I’m really liking the process. We used disposable diapers for the first month because we were given so many by friends and family at the baby shower. I think this worked out well because during the early weeks of adjusting to a new baby schedule and bonding together as a family, the last thing I wanted to add was more laundry. Once we were more settled into our routine, I was feeling physically stronger and rested and the disposable diapers were running low, I knew I was ready to start with the new diapers.

I chose to use pre-fold diapers and snappies as the absorbable insert that goes under the wool cover. I also purchased two of these fitted cloth diapers for nighttime wear but they were more expensive than the pre-folds, so I don’t use those regularly. Using the snappies was scary at first because they have sharp teeth and I dreaded making a mistake and getting baby’s skin with them. I have been careful with them, but we have had no mishaps. (I should note that the teeth are not sharp enough to puncture baby’s skin.) I was clumsy with the pre-fold diaper at first too. But with persistence, practice, and patience I am now using prefolds and diapers like a pro.

Lara Penelope in her pre-fold diaper and with snappy

So how does it all work? You simply put the pre-fold or fitted cloth diaper on baby, then put a wool diaper cover over the top. Change the cloth diaper when wet or soiled. The wool covers only need to be washed if they are soiled (with poop). If they are damp with pee at all they just need to be allowed to air dry. This works because of the lanolin which is a naturally occurring substance in wool that sheep produce in their fur. For whatever reasons, it repels the urine and allows the covers to dry without any smell. The covers should be washed using a wool wash like the one recommended below and lanolin needs to be reapplied occasionally which is a simple process using the wool “lanolizer” like the one listed below. Look for the details of wool diaper care in my follow up post coming soon.

What you need to get started:

  • 4-6 wool diaper covers like these found on Amazon. ($30 each)
  • 24 pre-fold diapers like these from Amazon. ($25 for 2 packs of 12)
  • 24 diaper doublers like these from Amazon. ($20 for 2 packs of 12)
  • 2-4 fitted cloth diapers for night time protection like these on Amazon. ($33 for 1 set of 2)
  • Snappies for closing your cloth diapers like these found on Amazon. ($10 for a pack of 3)
  • Wool wash for cleaning the covers like this one from Amazon. ($16 for 16.9 oz bottle)
  • Wool “lanolizer” like this one from Sloomb.com. ($6.50)

That’s really all you need to get started. It’s an upfront investment of about $300 depending on how many wool covers you buy and whether you would like to invest in the more expensive but convenient fitted cloth diapers. A baby uses on average about 2,700 diapers in the first year alone. At 30-50 cents per diaper that’s $800-$1,350. Cloth diapering is not as intimidating as it might look and it’s worth the effort it takes to learn a new system. It’s different, it’s unusual, it’s healthy, it’s adventurous! You can do it Mama!

Have a question? Let me know I’d love to hear from you!


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