Cloth Diapering 101
You want to cloth diaper?
My first recommendation is: Research, research, research!!!
I know, I know. Doing a ton of research seems daunting…there are so many different options and so many different outcomes when it comes to cloth diapering. And let’s face it, that’s why you’re here – you want quick and dirty (pun intended) answers to your cloth diapering questions.
Ok, so where to start. Find a cloth diapering class. There are a lot of baby stores that offer them – some are free and some cost money. Find one that teaches couples so you can get the hubs on board. If you can’t find a class – find a store in your area that sells cloth and have a salesperson go over all the options. Having a place close by is good because they usually know about the diapers and can help you if yours don’t seem to give you what you need. Google and YouTube are your friends… You can usually find your problem and various solutions online. Just be wary of doing things that could void your diapers’ warranties. The manufacturer will always give you the best advice on washing and care.
Most people don’t cloth diaper the first month or so of a newborn’s life because – well – who is washing that first 3 weeks? I sure wasn’t. The first week you have to deal with meconium, which can stain your cloth…and if your baby is small (under 8-10lbs), most one-size diapers will be too big. Personally, I didn’t start cloth diapering until the baby was 6 weeks (I was off 8 weeks) and in the beginning I only did cloth at home. For trips away from home and when baby was with my mom – we used disposables. I chose Honest Company.
– but I’d use Seventh Generation because they are very similar and more readily available in stores like Target and grocery stores. Newborns also use 10-12 diapers a day – so to wash every other day you’d need a minimum of 24 diapers – which can be more costly.
Ok.. So you wanna cloth diaper. Where do you start? There are lots of online sites that sell diapers. Some are brick and mortars with online sales and some are purely online. There are also individuals that sew and sell diapers on etsy, eBay and Instagram. I personally like brick and mortars so I can view the diapers…and then I catch online sales. Cloth diapers can range from $1-$30+ for one diaper.
So why the wide range of prices? Some people prefer the old school prefolds, those are the cloth diapers our parents used to use. You can find them as cheap as $1 a piece. They usually require a cover to make them waterproof though. Covers can be as cheap as $5 but can also go up in price depending on style, brand, etc.
Things to consider when cloth diapering: the amount you want or can afford to spend, the amount of effort you want or have time to spend on diapering, what will work? In general, most cloth diapering systems are pretty good for most normal scenarios. What are some of the abnormal scenarios? Heavy wetters, side or tummy sleepers, chunky or skinny babies, allergies, traveling, babysitters/daycare/grandparents and other things that can make cloth diapering difficult.
Some people like prefolds and covers mainly because they are cheaper than all-in-ones (AIOs) and pockets.
People usually like AIOs because there is not stuffing like there is with pockets.
Pockets are nice because you can stuff with a variety of things depending on your needs.
So what did I choose?
I started out with 18 pocket diapers (Bumgenius 4.0s) – which is about 1.5-2 days worth of diapers. I also purchased 24 infant Indian prefolds, 20 larger sized Indian prefolds (unbleached) and 4 Flip covers which is another 2 days of diapers at each size. Note that you don’t need a lot of covers because you can easily wipe them out if it’s pee only or if no poop gets on them and reuse them all day. I spent about $300 after catching some serious sales (for example: buy 2 get 1 free, BOGO and $5 off). Since I started cloth at about 6 weeks, I used this combo of diapers for 2 months and it was perfect. I washed every other day and never ran out. However, when Black Friday hit – I bought 10 more pocket diapers and then decided to try 2 organic AIOs because I heard they were good overnight. So now I have 28 pockets and 2 AIOs. I could stretch my washes out by another day, but I still prefer to wash every other day because that cuts down on stink and stains.
What I like most about my stash (a stash is what cloth diapering fanatics call their collection of diapers) is the pockets.
They are easy to wash, dry quickly, offer a lot of options for stuffing and are easy for the hubs, grandmothers and babysitters to use.
I have both velcro and snaps. Velcro is just like using a disposable. You can get the perfect fit but the velcro tabs eventually wear out and sometimes savvy babies can take them off. Velcro tabs also need to be secured before washing every single time or they can damage other diapers in the wash and wear down more quickly. Snaps last longer, hard hard for itty bitty (and older) fingers to open…and I find that you can’t always get that perfect fit. When we had leak issues (we have a side sleeper) – I was able to buy some hemp inserts
to stuff for extra absorption at night.
I like the organic AIOs because they absorb a lot more than my pockets without the extra hemp inserts, so they are trimmer and I don’t have to stuff them… I just wash, dry and use.
They do take a really long time to dry though…like 2 days. (These are currently our go-to for overnight, road trips and long flights.)
The Flip covers were a great backup when I couldn’t I mmediately figure out why I was having leak issues with my pocket diapers. Using the covers in conjunction with the prefolds is an inexpensive way to use natural fibers because unbleached organic cotton prefolds can be found under $2 a piece.
I invested in some wool soakers (they run between $20-$40 a piece) because they are very breathable and naturally water proof at the same time. You can use them over anything (fitteds, prefolds and even covers, pockets and AIOs if you’re having leak issues).
There are so many options with cloth. While it can be intimidating, it can also be fun. Some people have all of one type of diaper in their stash, while others have almost every kind you can think of and like the variety. The cloth diapering experience is really what you make it. There really aren’t any bad decisions either – because the resale value is usually pretty good for most diapers – especially if there are no stains or other signs of wear.
Most of the cloth diapers I use can be found on Cottonbabies.com.