The Great Wall of Diapers

Cloth diapers don't have to be daunting...

Credit: Desiree Daniel

Cloth diapers don’t have to be daunting—as long as you have a little know-how. Enter Hip Baby’s cloth diaper seminar for Vancouver parents-to-be

When I was little, I had a dolly that sported her very own disposable diaper. In the ’80s, this was cool because the padded nappy made her seem like a real baby. The problem was, I only had one diaper. So my mother handed me a pile of square cloths—which she informed me were “diapers”—and suggested I use these instead.

Oh mom. What was she thinking? It was so old school. The cloth seemed awkward. It had to be folded, pinned; it rarely stayed on the dolly, and it didn’t give that neat little diaper bum that came with the disposable. Nope, at the age of 5, I decided I was a modern girl… I was going disposable.



Hip Baby co-owner Michael

Ziff hosts a seminar on cloth

diapering at the store on

West 4th Ave, Vancouver.

Twenty-seven years later, my views have changed. As we prepare for our first child, the convenience of that single-use diaper may still seem glamorous (just wipe and toss!), but the fact that one diaper will take decades to decay and that the average package of disposables costs around $20 per 50 pack (note: that’s a week’s worth of changes), I knew my choice would be cloth.

But I was scared of the work—and, ahem, mess—that cloth diapers would entail. To conquer the fear, I attended Hip Baby’s Cloth Diaper Seminar facilitated by co-owner Michael Ziff. Michael walked us through the cloth diapering process, and to my delight I discovered there are tons of options available depending on your comfort and time level.


Cloth diaper options


clothe diaper

The traditional prefold cloth diaper is an absorbent rectangular cloth that folds to the shape of your baby. Although it may take a little more coordination, Michael suggests its one of the best methods because you can custom fit the fold to your child, and they are by far the most economical—a pack of six Bummis costs $20 or you could always make your own.

contoured diaper

Available at Hip Baby are fasteners called the Snappi, which have replaced safety pins and keep the cloth snug and conformed to your baby’s bum.

Alternatively, another choice is a contoured absorbent layer (cut similar to a disposable) that comes with snaps—so there’s no folding needed.

all in one diaper

Both of these styles require a waterproof cover to protect the child’s clothing.

For those who are dexterity challenged like me, the one-step diaper option is your friend. This is an all-in-one unit that has an absorbent inner layer attached to a waterproof outer later. They fasten by snap, hook or Velcro and come in lots of cute colours and patterns. They actually change similar to a disposable, but instead of throwing it in the garbage, they go into a dedicated laundry pail.

The diaper liner and pail liner 

Learning about diaper liners, was the most calming part. Made with a fabric—which you take off the nappy and dispose waste into the toilet, then wash—or degradable paper, which you just flush down the toilet, diaper liners really help in the cleaning process and leave little residue on the cloth diaper.

Another convenient accessory is the pail liner, created so that when you wash you simply pick up the bag, empty contents into your washer (don’t need to touch the soiled diapers) and toss the bag in with the load. And all cloth diaper options are machine and dryer friendly.

diaper linerpail liner


The “wet cue”

Most cloth diapers use natural fabrics that help the baby’s bottom breathe and with no synthetic chemicals to alter the “wet cues.” When a baby is wet, he knows he’s wet—and so will you. This helps the communication between you and your child, helps to prevent diaper rash and can also speed up the toilet training process.


Every baby is different, so experiment

Michael says, like a pair of jeans, not one diaper will fit the same on every child—every little body is different. So if you make the cloth diaper choice, get a range of styles and see what works best.

For tons of great information on cloth diapering, visit Hip Baby at West 4th and Arbutus, or



Desiree Daniel

Desiree Daniel is marketing/promotions manager at OP Publishing Ltd in North Vancouver. One of her favourite things to do is write about life’s quirky lessons (probably connected to her years as a life coach) and explore that through her freelancing.