Cloth Diapers for Beginners: Inserts, Liners, Sizing & More

That Hippie Family
by That Hippie Family

Now that we have a new baby, we are continuing to learn even more things about living a sustainable lifestyle, such as how to use cloth diapers. Cloth diapers for beginners can be tricky, especially for us as we live a minimalist life in a tiny house on wheels.

I’ll teach you from my experience what you need to get started with newborn cloth diapers–from inserts, liners, and the different sizes of cloth diapers.

Zero waste baby-changing station

The change station

This is our zero waste change station. We don’t have any disposable diapers or disposable baby wipes here. However, we do use disposables once in a while, mostly when we leave the house because it’s a lot easier. 

Reusable bamboo wipes for babies

Reusable wipes

I use little bamboo baby wipe squares. 

Spraying the cloth before use

In my spray bottle, I have a simple mix of water and vitamin E. I spray the cloth before using it.

How to wash cloth diapers

I put all of the dirty baby wipes and dirty diapers into a wet bag and then throw it in the washing machine. 

Flour sack inserts

Flour sack inserts

I have a ton of flour sack inserts and use them for everything. Cut them in half so they are thinner. Double them up to make them thicker. Or just leave some larger and uncut. 

Bamboo diaper liners

Bamboo liners

Bamboo is very absorbent, it feels good on the skin and does not irritate it. 

Hemp diaper liners

Hemp liners

Another good liner material would be hemp, it’s absorbent, and it’s a little thinner than bamboo which makes it sit nicely in the diaper. Hemp takes forever to dry, however.

Drying liners and inserts

Drying liners and inserts

All inserts and liners take a long time to dry. I hang them up on a line to dry in my washroom after I put them in the dryer for a little bit. I try not to use the dryer a lot. I also found flour sack towels dry faster than other types of liners.

Newborn diapers

Newborn diapers

When Floyd was a newborn, we just used disposable diapers because the cloth diapers were so big and bulky. We started using covers when he was four weeks.

Reusable diaper covers

Diaper covers

All the diaper covers I have were smaller, including newborn cloth diapers, and they have one row of snaps on the top. I love the double gusset. But then he grew out of them.

I didn’t know how many cloth diapers we would need so I have a variety of diapers because some fit better for different stages. Before Floyd was born, I bought a load of second-hand diapers. I paid $60 and I got 20 diaper covers.

Pocket diaper covers

Pocket diaper covers

I quickly realized I wanted to try pocket diapers. These are KaWaii Baby and they have Velcro on them. They were really good for a few months until Floyd learned how to undo the Velcro himself!

Snap diaper covers

Snap diaper covers

Now he wears Alva Baby with adjustable snaps. I found when I was using the Velcro ones, they don’t have the same type of adjustability as the ones with the double rows of snaps.

The bottom snaps are for the leg area and top are for the waistline. The size of your baby determines what snaps you will use.  

Using different inserts and liners


Floyd goes to the bathroom a lot more earlier in the day than he does later at night. Earlier in the day when he is a heavy wetter, I use two bamboo inserts.

In the beginning, I made a mistake thinking that I didn’t need to fill these diapers with as many inserts. But if you don’t want leaks, you have to fill them with more layers.


If he hasn’t gone number two yet, I also put biodegradable liners in the diaper. I will put one on top to catch the poo. That way I can pick up the liner and put it into our composting toilet.

We don’t have a flushable toilet so we don’t do the swish and dunk cleaning method. It can be a bit tricky but this method actually works well.

Double opening diaper covers

Double opening diaper covers

I love this diaper. It has an opening all the way through which makes loading it a lot easier. When he probably won’t go to the bathroom as much I will take one bamboo liner and one flour sack towel and put them together. This combination is not as bulky and it’s a little more absorbent. It’s easy to load when you can pull it all the way through.

Nighttime diaper covers

Nighttime diaper covers

This diaper is another KaWaii and it’s larger. They are not all created equally so you have to experiment with a few different ones. The liner on this one is attached to the cover and it’s a very absorbent fleece-like material. 

Cloth diapers with inserts

At night, I take two bamboo liners and a flour sack towel and fold them into the pocket of the diaper cover. It is bulky. It’s not bad, though, and he will not leak.

All-in-one diapers

All-in-one diaper

Though I prefer pocket diapers to customize the inserts, I have a microfiber semi-all-in-one diaper. It’s my least favorite because it’s not made of natural fibers. If your baby is going to react to any fabric, it will be the microfiber.

This has an attachable liner and snaps. An all-in-one would have the liner permanently attached. But you can also add more liners if you need to. All-in-ones are the easiest because you just put them on, take them off, and put them in the wash. You don’t need to add any inserts. 

Cloth diapers for beginners

Cloth diapers for beginners

To recap, you’ll probably need a few different types of cloth diapers with inserts. As your baby grows, not all diapers will fit equally.

I highly recommend looking for second-hand cloth diapers. There is nothing wrong with using second-hand cloth diaper covers.

If you have any tips or tricks on how to change a baby that’s moving around on the changing table and does not want to let you change the diaper, let me know!

Also, let us know where you get cloth diapers with inserts and what kind you use. If you have any other tips on how to use cloth diapers, drop a comment below!

Join the conversation
  • Carolyn Carolyn on Aug 22, 2022

    Do you think these would work on a dog? Our senior Jack Russell has started having accidents and leaks a little when she gets excited. The doggy disposable diapers are irritating her skin but the doggy cloth diapers are pretty expensive.

  • Ric11513213 Ric11513213 on May 09, 2023

    do something to make like easy train him when is about one year old, I did. Child’s potty every time some goes he goes with them. They learn quickly, my daughter was started earlier. She would sit on the little potty just like the boys, mom and dad. I use all cloth diapers back then. I is a shame we are filling landfills with disposable diaper. Old fashion mom