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Call me old fashioned, but I love flat cloth diapers! Flats are the diapers our Grandma’s used back in the day. Nowadays there are much more modern cloth diapering options, but flats still have a place here and now!

Flats are a large, single layer square or rectangle of usually Birdseye or muslin fabric. They are folded to fit baby, secured with pins or a Snappi, and a waterproof cover over it. When I first read about them, I thought to myself, “Why the heck would I want to use a diaper that I had to fold to make fit? That sounds like a hassle! Why not get one that I could just slap on him?” Eventually I got curious enough to give flats a try…

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Flats are inexpensive!
Flats are ridiculously cheap. You can get a dozen for around $12.50 to $25 depending on the brand and type of fabric you choose. Throw in a few one-size covers, and you can cloth diaper your baby from birth to potty training for $100 or less! We used disposable diapers for my older three children, and money was pretty tight at times. I can only imagine how much we would’ve saved had I known about this diapering option!

Flats are versatile!
Flats can be used so many different ways! They’re the ultimate one-size diaper. You can fold them many ways to fit your baby and customize the absorbency. The three main folds are the Origami fold, the Jo fold, and the Pad fold.

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I think of folding flats as an art. I love folding them up and making something completely functional out of a simple square of fabric. But I am going to be honest…I am pretty terrible at it! I’m blaming my baby though, because he HATES getting his diaper changed! He is very active, so laying him down and getting him to stay put long enough for a diaper change is no easy task! He starts squirming around and trying to get away, ruining all my work!

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And forget pins! I talked to my mom, and she told me she used flat diapers on my oldest sister back in the 1970’s. There were no Snappis back then, so she had to use pins. She admitted to poking herself many times, but said, “I didn’t worry about poking myself, that meant I wasn’t sticking my baby.” I love the idea of pinning, but for a wiggly baby like mine, a Snappi is the way to go! You just hook a tab on one side, pull the other tab across to the other side, then pull down and hook the lower tab! Just be sure you have enough fabric between your baby and the tines. It truly makes using flats and prefolds so much easier!

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If you have a baby like mine, you may find the pad fold is the easiest. You fold the flat into a long rectangle and just lay it into the diaper like an insert. Simple as that! My son can actually go all night long, leak free, with a large pad folded flat and Flip cover!

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They’re not JUST diapers!
I always make sure to have at least a couple flats in my diaper bag. They not only make great diapers, the also are great to use for a
light blanket if baby gets chilly. If I have to change my son’s diaper when we are out and about, I lay him on a flat to keep the germs away. For moms who prefer to use a cover while breastfeeding, flats make a great lightweight nursing cover. When your baby’s diapering days are over, they can be repurposed as great dish towels. I love the idea of when I am old and grey, sitting around the dinner table with my children and saying, “Now that napkin right there was the same nappy we used on your little bottom when you were a baby!” I can only imagine their reactions! Hahaha!

Flats wash up easily and dry fast!
Synthetic fabrics can be a little tricky to launder, especially if you have hard water. If you haven’t figured out your wash routine, you may have some issues with stink from time to time. In my experience, natural fibers like those in flats and prefolds don’t hold onto stink or have as much trouble with build-up as microfiber does. You can take a break from microfiber and stuff your pockets with flats! I have found them to be just as (if not more) absorbent than microfiber inserts. Being that they are a single layer of fabric, they are so easy to wash! I used flats with Flip covers when we went on vacation this summer. I washed them by hand in the hotel sink and bathtub, and hung them to dry! I kept up on them, washing one or two at a time, as my baby used them. It was actually pretty simple! Hubby was happy we didn’t have to deal with a bunch of disposables in the trash can, and I was happy our baby boy was nice and comfy in his fluffy cloth bum.

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You also don’t have to worry about using a “cloth diaper safe” detergent with flats. Any detergent that’s gentle enough for your baby should be good enough for these diapers! They hold up very well and can be bleached as needed. Flats can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’!

I feel a bit nostalgic when I think of my mom and Grandma using flats on their babies and now using them on my son. A lot has changed since back in their day…we now have the luxury of diapers that are all-in-one, that require no covers or stuffing. We also have Snappis that make it so you can secure a diaper on your baby in a matter of seconds- no pins required, and diaper sprayers so we don’t have to dunk and swish in the toilet or hose ‘em off in the backyard! They didn’t have the options we do today, that make our lives easier. They had to make do with what they had, and make it work for them. I am so glad I have a nice little stash of these old-fashioned diapers. They are so easy to care for and can basically be anything you want them to be. As much as I love my modern cloth diapers, flats will always hold a special little place in my heart.

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*I have purchased all products mentioned in this post. Although I am compensated for my time writing, all opinions are 100% my own.

stephanie's family

Stephanie Beck is the mother of a dinosaur expert, a set of twins somehow born 13 months apart, and a wild baby boy. After losing her job as a doctor’s nurse (while on maternity leave) for standing up for her rights to pump at work, she went back to her previous job as a Labor and Delivery nurse. While she was so happy to be back in a job she loved, the newest member of her family could not tolerate being separated from her. He refused to take a bottle no matter what she and her husband tried, and screamed the entire time she was away. She realized as much as her family needed that extra money, her baby needed her more. Now Stephanie is learning to adjust to being a one income household and blogs about her adventures in attachment parenting at apronstringsattached.com. She is very excited to be blogging for TGN!