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How to Change a Modern Cloth Diaper

Changing diapers is one of those things that every new parent WILL do, guaranteed. It’s a rite of passage of sorts. Changing a disposable diaper is one thing, but changing a cloth diaper is another. That’s why we wanted to share some basic instructions with you so we can make you a cloth diapering changing champion!

Before Changes:

Find a Solid Surface: You’ll want to designate one spot in your baby’s room for diaper changes. A diaper changing table is great, but will require you to buy one and strap your baby in for every change. A cornered off area on the floor is free and doesn’t require you to strap your baby in for each diaper change.

Organize Your Space: You’ll want your stash of cloth diapers and wipes ready to go and near your designated changing spot.

Prepare Diapers and Wipes: If you have pocket diapers, you’ll want them stuffed, sized correctly (one-size diapers can be sized to fit your baby snugly as they grow) and ready for use. If you use reusable cloth wipes, you’ll want to make sure the wipes are pre-moistened.

Set up Diaper Sprayer: If you’re going to be changing cloth diapers a lot, we suggest you invest in a diaper sprayer toilet attachment. This way, if baby has soiled diapers, you can rinse them off over the toilet which ensures less staining and better washing results.

Invest in a Diaper Pail Liner or Hanging Diaper Bag: You’ll want to have a dry storage container to store diapers between washings. We recommend a washable, reusable diaper pail liner or hanging diaper pail versus plastic bags. This way you just throw the diapers and the pail liner into the wash together – no waste!

During Changes:

Talk to Your Baby: Tell her that you’re going to change her diaper. Make faces and smile at her. Believe it or not, diaper changes are a good time to bond with your baby since it’s just you and her in the room.

Remove Soiled Diaper: Gently take off your baby’s diaper. If it’s messy, you may want to fold over the diaper so you have a surface that you don’t mind getting dirty as you clean your baby’s bottom. Infant boys tend to pee when exposed to air, so you may want to cover him with a wash cloth so you don’t get splashed.

Clean Baby: You’ll want to wipe girls gently front to back. Make sure you wipe both boys and girls even if s/he only urinated. You want the baby’s bottom to be clean and smell fresh. If you use reusable cloth wipes, be sure the wipes are moistened before rubbing it on baby’s skin. If possible, use warm water and wipe softly to avoid irritation. If using disposables wipes, opt for natural or chemical-free wipes to avoid irritating baby’s bottom.

Put Soiled Diaper to the Side: You’ll want to focus on changing your baby, so simply set aside the soiled diaper and wipes until your baby is dressed.

Secure New Diaper: Slide the new diaper under baby and fasten on top. Most modern cloth diapers come with snaps or Velcro to make changing your baby easy to do. You want to make sure the diaper fits snugly in the waist and leg casings. If you have a one-size cloth diaper, make sure the diaper has been adjusted properly. If you have sized diapers, make sure you size up when the time is right.

Dress Baby: You’ll want to dress baby and put her in a safe spot so you can move on to disposing of the diaper. You’ll need both hands for this.


For wet diapers only…

Put Diaper in Pail: For wet diapers only, you can simply put the dirty diaper in the diaper pail. If you have a pocket-style diaper, you’ll want to remove the insert before washing both the insert and outer shell.

For soiled diapers only…

Rinse over Toilet: You’ll want to use your diaper sprayer to rinse solid soiled diapers over the toilet. Once they’re rinsed well, flush the toilet and store the dirty diaper in your diaper pail.

Congratulations! You’re officially a cloth diapering changing champion. It wasn’t so bad, was it?

Sure it takes a few extra steps to change a cloth diaper, but consider it the cloth diapering world’s gift to you. Think of it this way. Most of us are so busy that a few extra moments of alone time with our baby can only be a good thing. Plus, you’re saving money and doing what’s best for Mother Earth. A win-win for everyone!


  1. Megan said...

    I haven't started pre-moistening my cloth wipes yet. My baby is almost two, so I don't have to change him too often. Do you have to use a wipes warmer or is there another way?

  2. Lil Mouse said...

    I will definitely keep this around for my friends who I am trying to convince to cloth diaper, but are intimidated!

  3. Brena said...

    I'm going to save this link to refer it to other moms interested in cloth! What a great tutorial!

  4. Erin_A said...

    Thank you so much for posting this step-by-step! My little one is due to arrive any day now and even though I've researched the heck out of CDing I'm still a little nervous about doing it. Every little bit helps and encourages me to think that I'll be a top-rate cloth diapering mom in no time.

  5. Heather said...

    that's one of the things that people ask me all the time. "it takes so long to change him, doesn't that bother you?" sometimes it does but mostly i like it because it's a time for just me and him away from business and we can refocus for a minute too if we are out and about. it sounds weird, but you might miss changing his diaper one day!

  6. AEK said...

    This is a greatly helpful post for newbies. Great job!

  7. Sabrina said...

    I never would of thought CD would be so easy when I started 2 months ago. What a good out line.

  8. Alycia said...

    Out of all the millions of blog entries I've read, I've never seen a how-to about changing cloth. Great post 🙂

  9. Anna said...

    This is a fabulous post for people who are considering cloth. Thanks for posting it! I will definitely have to refer friends here. 🙂

  10. I like how simple you put everything but it sure is a good explanation. Thank you also for informing me about the reusable diaper pail liners…I never even thought of that!

  11. Crystal said...

    Does everyone else also unsnap the front of the diaper before putting it in the wet bag (like on a BG OS), or is that just me? I feel like it puts less strain on the snaps for me to unsnap them before washing. I completely dismantle the diaper – remove insert, unsnap insert (if it has snaps), unsnap front of diaper and fasten laundry tabs (when appropriate) – before putting in the wet bag. That way I don't have to touch the diaper again before putting it straight in the washer.

    And Megan, I simply put my dry wipes in a regular wipes box (one that disposable wipes come in) then mix up my wipes solution and pour it over them. They stay fresh smelling for 2-3 days before getting musty, but I've usually used them up by then anyway. I know it's nice to have them in a wipe warmer, but my DD doesn't seem to mind the cold wipes. I do warm one in my hand sometimes on a cold morning.
    aboverubies15 at yahoo dot com

  12. Laura W. said...

    I actually don't pre-moisten my wipes. I don't see the need to. I just wet them right before I wipe him.

  13. JAS said...

    This is really helpful. Will keep this post available for when baby arrives some day.

  14. Arizona Girl said...

    It must have taken a bit of thought to write this article. As I read it I kept thinking "I don't even think about half this stuff anymore its all so automatic."

  15. NDmomma said...

    I've been using the bathroom floor for changes since I'll need to rinse some diapers anyway, and I keep dry wipes in a wipes box by the sink so I can wet them when I need them. If needed, she gets a little spritz of california baby diaper area spray, which has lasted us forever! When #4 arrives in Oct., s/he will be changed on the bassinet changing table for a while, which is what I did for #3 when we started cloth. I don't use my prefolds for diapering anymore, but they make great changing pads (the stretchy terry cloth changing table pad covers never made it through a change for us without getting peed on! ) and are great for transporting drippy diapers to my diaper pail, which I keep in the basement.

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