I did not participate last year. It is the week of my son’s birthday, and I was also pregnant/sick/exhausted. The idea of mastering flats & hand-washing diapers for a week made me feel nauseated (more so than usual, hee-hee.) When Kim announced that she’d be hosting the challenge again this year, I immediately thought I’d support it, but wouldn’t participate. No way, no how! After all, it is again my son’s birthday week, and I have two super-soaker boys in diapers now! My little guy is 4.5 months old right now and still wants to be held/worn all the time. I am honestly struggling with meeting his needs, while also meeting my older son’s needs (mostly constant feeding, LOL!) and getting my daughter to and from school and activities, getting her homework done etc. I am completely overwhelmed with keeping up with junk cleanup, dishes, cleaning and the constant laundry. Washing diapers for 2 is a lot, even with a washing machine. The other day my husband remarked that the laundry room looked empty without diapers hanging, LOL.
I also don’t have enough flats to use, and I assume I’d need to use my tub to wash, which would be an extra hassle to deal with the kids and running up & down the stairs. I don’t know if I even have enough places to hang up that many flats! Excuse after excuse, I know! It sounds crazy, but the idea of using & hand washing flats for a week ramped my anxiety up 10 notches and made me feel physically ill.
Then I started thinking about what it would be like if this was my reality and it made me want to try! I took a deep breath, hit the submit button on the sign up form, and ordered some flour sack towels to use as flats. Eek!
Since then, I found out that we are allowed to use a diaper sprayer this year (it wasn’t allowed last year) and we’re not limited to the # of covers we use (the limit was 5 last year.) I only have a couple of wipeable covers, since I sent what I wasn’t regularly using to my friend. I was concerned about keeping covers clean, and I was also concerned about my older son freaking out that he couldn’t have the diaper he wanted!
I’m going to try to limit the # I use, especially since I don’t need more to hand wash! I have a utility sink in my laundry room that also has a sink sprayer. So I figure I will just be washing flats constantly, all day every day that week. However many I can fit in the sink at a time.
You’re also allowed a night time diaper of your choice, but you’re encouraged to make flats work for you. So, I ordered two hemp babies flats to use inside a pocket diaper at night. Hopefully that will be enough absorbency!
I’ll be writing more about my thought process as I imagined doing this out of necessity, and I’ll also be posting about the hemp babies flats and flour sack towels I bought, as well as comparing them to the Diaper Rite flats I’ve already posted about.
This post contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I will receive a small portion of the sale. Thank you!
Although I enjoy pocket diapers and other modern diapers, I love knowing that I can cloth diaper really affordably, and even with things I have around the house. We have well water so a power outage means no well pump, no water and not even hand washing is possible. Things like receiving blankets and kitchen towels can be used as diapers in a pinch, and when you’re doing it by choice (rather than out of necessity) there can be something a little fun and relaxing about folding flats!
I picked up a dozen Diaper Rite unbleached Birdseye cotton flats in the large size (about 32″ x 32″ pre-washing) for $22. They are also available in a small size (27″ x 27″ pre-washing) which would be fine for pad folding or for smaller babies, priced at $17.50/dozen. Both sizes are also available in white.
Naturally, cotton shrinks quite a bit in the wash.
Even after shrinking, the large was large enough to snappi on my 2 yr 10 month old son, who is around 29ish pounds.
When you look at these next pictures, you will probably say “but Maria, you didn’t…and it isn’t…and it wasn’t…” You’re probably right. I didn’t and it isn’t and it wasn’t. But that’s the beauty of flats. You can fold them any way you want, totally customizing where you put the most layers, and they are very forgiving. I know some people have amazing flat folding demos where all the folds are crisp and the corners are sharp. Mine were done with an audience and were done very quickly, as they are in “real life!”
This is my sloppy version of the Diaper Bag Fold:
Fold the bottom up (this is a great time to adjust the “rise” of the completed diaper, and put the absorbency where you want it. Then you’ll trifold and fan the back out, then fold the “waist” down.
Then fold the front up and wrap around baby!
When I was doing this one, my husband said “what’s this wacky diaper origami?” I said “yeah, it’s pretty much diaper origami!”
Again, flats are very forgiving! Nothing terrible will happen if it’s not exactly square or even. Fold in half, then in half again, so the flat is folded into quarters.
Grab the bottom corner and pull it up to the top to form a triangle.
Then flip the whole thing over
And fold the rectangular portion to the middle.
Tuck the legs in and pull up over baby.
Wrap the wings around baby and cover. You can secure with pins or a snappi first!
Flats are just a single layer of fabric, but you can get 8-12 layers in the wet zone depending on how you fold. You can pad fold (basically just quartering and trifolding) another flat to use under for extra absorbency, fold two up together, or combine with an insert or whatever you like!
The large size fits just fine even on my not-quite-4-month-old.
Have you used flats? I know many of you participated in the flats challenge last year. What was your favorite fold? What brand did you like best?
FTC compliance: Although I paid normal retail prices for the pictured items, this post contains affiliate links. I was not compensated for this post, and all opinions are my own.
Do you have a cloth diaper question? Each Monday, I answer a reader question, and ask for my other readers’ input as well.
Questions don’t have to be cloth diaper related, just email maria at change-diapers.com with “Mailbox Mondays” in the subject, or fill out my contact form for readers, which you will always be able to find on my Contact Page.
Tell me all things flats! I don’t really understand how they are so simple when the folds seem so confusing…
And are there different kinds of flat? (What the HECK are flour sack towels, anyhow??) But do they come in different sizes and materials? (Like prefolds?) Or is a flat always a certain size and a specific kind of material?
Ok, you all know I’m a pocket diaper loving Mama, and I am very glad I don’t have to use flat cloth diapers & pins like our Grandmothers did. Even so, lots of people love flats. They can be very affordable, are easy to wash & dry (they are a single layer of material) and can be customized based on how you fold them. Hannah wrote a guest post about using flats while traveling to Italy.
You can get flats for as little as $1.46 each for birdseye cotton and as much as $7.50 each for hemp flats. You may hear people refer to flour sack towels used as flat diapers as well. They are simply lint-free, absorbent kitchen towels very similar is size and makeup to flat diapers. They are available in different sizes.
Flats are generally about 27″ x 27″ before washing (some you can get larger, like Diaper Rite’s) and can be folded into quarters and used pretty much like a prefold; trifolded, or folded & snappied, pinned or simply placed under a cover. Green Mountain Diapers has a page about flats that includes folding a flat to prefold size with another inside as a doubler, flats on a newborn and many other babies, and a photo tutorial of the origami fold. Diaper Pin’s Diaper Pin Corner has lots of flat diaper posts including a photo demo of the mini neat fold and how to pad fold a flat.
I didn’t participate in Dirty Diaper Laundry’s flats & hand washing challenge last year because I wasn’t able to commit to it the week it was being done. However, I believe 50 (or more?) moms participated & blogged about it.
If I had to choose between diapers or food, I would definitely use flats, t-shirts, towels or whatever I needed to. Especially if I didn’t have access to a washer & dryer. Fortunately I have a stash of modern cloth that I love and my own washer & dryer! I know I need to master all the flat folds so I can really be a cloth guru, but it may have to wait until my little one is a bit bigger and I have a little more time on my hands!
Have you used flats? What do you think of them? How did you fold them?
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking the link, I receive a small portion. Thank you!