Flat diapers, also known as diaper flats, are the most basic and old school way to cloth diaper. They are “the way grandma did it” (or great grandma, depending on your age). They are loved for their simplicity, affordability, and versatility. Below you will find my complete guide to using diaper flats. I hope this post answers any questions you have about them. If you still have questions after reading this, please let me know in the comments so I can improve the post. 🙂
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What is a Flat Diaper?
Flat diapers are, in my opinion, one of the most fun ways to cloth diaper. With so many folds to choose from, prepping them can feel like more of an art (or a craft?) than a chore. That is, once you get a little practice. Of all the ways there are to cloth diaper, flats are likely the most intimidating. At first glance, these folding techniques may seem daunting and complicated. However, many moms (and dads) find this old fashioned method of cloth diapering to be extremely satisfying.
Benefits of Choosing Flat Diapers
Flats can be EXTREMELY affordable. If you are creative, you can flat diaper for pennies per flat. There are many ways to DIY flat diapers out of recycled items. Besides that, though, newly purchased flats can be found for as little as $1-2 a piece. Plus, most flats can be used from birth to potty training (for the most part). This means you won’t have to buy several different sizes.
Another pro to using flat diapers is they can be folded many, many different ways, resulting in them being a very customizable option. For example, you can put more absorbency in the front of the diaper (for a boy) or in the middle of the diaper (for a girl). You can try different folds until you find the one that best suits your baby’s size and body shape.
They’re easy to clean
The thing I like best about flats is how well they clean. Because there is just one thin layer of material, it is very easy for them to be well agitated in the wash. A diaper that has several layers sewn together, such as an all-in-one or a regular pocket insert, could develop buildup over time. More layers means a higher chance that everything won’t get completely clean when everything is rubbing together in the washing machine. Flat diapers also dry easily and quickly.
Cons to Using Flat Diapers
Like any diaper system, flat diapers have their downsides. For one, they need to be folded. While the fact that they can be folded so many different ways is one of the major benefits to using flats, this is an extra step that takes practice that some people may not have the patience or time for. Like origami, these folds take time and practice to master. Even once you become a pro, you need to take the time to fold the diaper either after washing, or right before putting it on your baby.
Another con to using flats is that they need a diaper cover in order to be waterproof. This is really only a con because it means they are less convenient than something like an all-in-one diaper.
Flats are typically made of material that is very good at absorbing liquid, but is not moisture wicking. This means that when baby is wet, baby will feel wet. While it is less common for baby to get a diaper rash while in cloth than it is in disposables, it is still something that can happen when baby’s skin is against wet fabric. To avoid this, you can use microfleece liners.
If you have a baby who is old enough that you need to rinse their poops before puting the diaper into the wash, you may find spraying a flat diaper to be a little bit of a challenge. Because the flat in so large, it can be somewhat combersome and awkward to spray. Because of this I highly reccomend using the dunk and swish method when rinsing flat diapers (this is when you “dunk” the diaper into the toilet and “swish” it around to loosen up and rinse all the poop. It sounds gross, but really you get used to it.).
Different Kinds of Flat Diapers
Is it one size fits all?
Yes and no. Flats do vary slightly in size and shape, depending on brand and material. Some materials shrink quite a bit after they’re washed a few times, so keep that in mind. One of the great things about flats is you can typically use them from birth to potty training. Of course, the same flat will be much bulkier on an 8 pound baby than it will on a 30 pound toddler, so that is something to keep in mind. Some brands make their flats in a size small and a size large.
What about bulk?
As mentioned above, if you’re planning on using a larger flat, or one that is not specifically designed for a small baby, you may find that, although it provides a lot of absorbency, it also can be very bulky on a small baby. If your flat is bulky, just make sure that the cover you are using is large enough to fit on top of it completely.
On the flip side, if you have a large toddler who is still in diapers, they may need some extra absorbency to go with their flat diaper. If they’ve outgrown the absorbency for the amount of material, you can simply add a doubler of your choice inside the diaper before you wrap the kiddo up.
Cost of a Flat Diaper
While normally relatively cheap, flats can vary in price depending on manufacturer and material. Price for each flat can range quite a bit. Here are some examples:
Utopia Kitchen Flour Sack Towels: $13.99 for 12, ($1.17 each)
28″ x 28″, 100% Cotton
OsoCozy Birdseye Flat Unbleached Diapers: $14.88 for 6, ($2.48 each)
27″ x 27″, 100% Cotton
Nicki’s Diapers Cotton Muslin Flats: $15.95 for 6, ($2.66 each)
28″ x 30″ (small), 100% Cotton
Nicki’s Diapers Flats: $16.95 for 6, ($2.83 each)
32″ x 32″ (large unbleached cotton), 100% Cotton
OsoCozy Bamboo Organic Cotton Flat Diapers: $20.98 for 6, ($3.50 each)
32″ x 35″, 70% Bamboo, 30% Organic Cotton
Geffen Baby Hemp Fleece Fladdle (Flat/Swaddle): $14.99 each
30″ x 30″, 60% Hemp, 40% Organic Cotton Fleece
You can also make your own flats at home if you know your way around a sewing machine, or you can find flats made my mom makers on Etsy. Flour sack towels can be used as flats, or flats can be made from old t shirts, bed sheets, receiving blankets, etc.. If you’re willing to be a little creative, there are many ways to cloth diaper for very, very cheap (or free!) using flats! How cool is that?
How do you use a Flat Diaper?
Oh. My. Goodness. There are so many ways to fold a flat diaper. I will have to write a whole separate post about how to fold them (COMING SOON!!). Seriously guys, there are a lot of flat folds. Here are what five of my favorites look like:
Diaper Bag Fold
Please stay tuned, because I’ll be making a separate post (SOON!) about how to do these, plus other folds. You don’t want to miss it!
While some of the flat diaper folds don’t require anything to secure the diaper into place, here are some securing options for the ones that do.
Diaper pins are classic!
Snappis are made of stretchy rubber and have little teeth to hold onto the diaper. They are very popular, and do a good job of keeping everything together.
Boingos are similar to Snappis in that they are made of a stretchy rubber and have little teeth to grip the diaper. They are also really cute.
What do you think? Do you use flat diapers? Can you see yourself being a flat diapering mama? Let me know below!