Learn why flat cloth diapers are better for your budget, better for the planet, and most importantly, better for baby.
When I was pregnant with Little Bear, the man of the place and I took a cloth diapering class at a local baby boutique. It was helpful and informative; however, I felt perplexed by all the talk of jelly roll and origami folds that could be done with flats. I was convinced that the convenience of an all-in-one cloth diaper must make it the best choice.
After seeing the high price tags on those all-in-ones, I decided prefolds and fitted diapers would be a better fit for our budget. I used those styles for the first few months of cloth diapering, and although they were easy to put on Little Bear, cleaning them was a different story. I struggled with buildup after only a few weeks, and our hard water and high efficiency front-load washing machine weren’t helping.
More than a year later, we sold that washer and bought a top-loader capable of deep water washes. I only recently found a wash routine that is non-toxic and actually works well with our well water. Thankfully, it didn’t take that long for me to try flats — otherwise, I might have thrown in the towel (or the cloth diaper, in this case).
Cloth Diapering Lessons
Throughout my cloth diapering journey, I’ve learned a lot. I learned how to make diaper rash cream. I learned about the benefits of line drying cloth diapers in the sunshine. And I learned the benefits of flat cloth diapers, which are the best fit for our family.
In case you’re wondering, I learned that flats are even more convenient than those pricey all-in-ones that I eventually bought. I also learned to do those fancy artful folds, but after the newborn stage, my go-to is the simple pad fold.
Flats simplified our entire cloth diapering system, and I encourage all new cloth diapering mamas to give them a try. Honestly, I think all diapering mamas should try them, if they wouldn’t mind the extra laundry. I promise, they are not just for crunchy moms, and they’re not as intimidating as they may seem.
What is a flat cloth diaper?
A flat diaper is a large, single-layer piece of fabric that is rectangular or square in shape and can be folded to fit baby.
What materials are used to make flat diapers?
Flat cloth nappies are usually made from natural, baby-friendly fibers such as cotton and hemp. The unbleached organic cotton birdseye and muslin flats, which make up the majority of my stash, are my favorites.
Do flat diapers require a cover?
Yes, a waterproof or wool cover is required if you’re trying to avoid leaks; however, only a few are necessary to have on hand, since they can usually be re-used multiple times before washing them.
How do you secure a flat cloth diaper? Do you need pins?
Flat cloth diapers can be secured with traditional pins or modern snappi and boingo fasteners, but for some folds, like the pad fold, these are not needed.
Are flat diapers bulky?
Compared to disposable diapers, they could be considered bulky. Nevertheless, they are the trimmest reusable diaper option I’ve found.
Flat Cloth Diaper Benefits
These simple, classic cloth diapers are easy to use, and they can be used for years. They’re the most economical, eco-conscious diaper choice.
Easier to Clean
Whether you’re using a washing machine or hand-washing, flats are easy to wash, since they are a single layer of fabric. In my experience, they do not hold on to odors and grime (like layered prefolds), which can lead to irritation and rashes. Additionally, the natural fibers make them easier to clean than cloth diapers made from synthetic materials.
Less Drying Time
Because there’s only one layer of fabric, flat diapers dry quickly in the sunshine and in the dryer.
One Size Fits All
Unlike those one-size covers that may not fit a newborn, or prefolds and fitted diapers that come in different sizes, flat diapers are a fit from birth through potty training. The same diaper can be tailored to fit an infant and a toddler.
Flat diapers can be folded numerous ways, which makes them incredibly versatile. They can also be used with a multitude of covers, from pocket diapers to wool pull-ons. Not to mention, they’re multi-purpose; they make great burp cloths and bassinet mattress protectors, for example.
The variety of folding options also makes flat diapers the most customizable, no matter if your baby is skinny, chubby, small, or tall. In addition to creating a custom fit, the absorbency is adjustable as well. You can fold a flat so that there is more absorbency in the front for boys and in the middle for girls. Plus, it’s easy to add extra layers with doublers and inserts for heavy wetters or overnight.
Flat cloth diapers can be purchased for about $2 to $3, making them one of the most inexpensive, cost-effective options. Many people sew their own DIY flats, which can save even more money.
Flats and covers make up a minimalist diaper stash. As long as you’re washing frequently, you won’t need many of either.
Flat diapers are the OGs of the cloth diapering world. These are the type our grandmothers and great-grandmothers might have used, so they are tried and tested. Even though they are old-fashioned, they are certainly not outdated.
Reusable diapers are eco-friendly, compared to the disposable alternatives. Moreover, the natural fibers of flats are biodegradable, making them a more sustainable choice.
Bonus Reason: Flats Last Longer
My flat cloth diapers have held up beautifully after countless cycles of washing and drying. They are still going strong after years of continuous use — unlike my tattered prefolds, which are hanging on by a few threads.
I hope this post on the benefits of flat cloth diapers has been helpful to you. If you know how to use a flat diaper, you’ll know that you can use a tea towel or a t-shirt to diaper your baby, if you’re in a pinch. Once you’re comfortable using flats, I’m positive you’ll feel more confident in your cloth diapering skills overall.
Let me know if you have any questions about flats in the comments.