If you’ve talked to me for any length of time about babies, I’m likely to have brought up two things: EC and cloth diapers. It seems I have a preoccupation with baby poop, but if anything, it freaks me out and I like to avoid it as much as possible. This has precious little to do with cloth diapers.
I am an avid fan of cloth diapering. I’ve always found disposable diapers to be extremely wasteful and very good at stinking up an entire house. I’m also not keen on the idea of spending $20 a week for the next 2 – 3 years. Thankfully, cloth is a solution to all of these and, for our sakes, have become a lot more modern than the cloth diapers of the past that usually come to mind when they are mentioned.
I won’t go into breaking down the various types and their pros and cons since so many others have done it so thoroughly (check out this post here and try not to get lost in the site) and because everyone’s situation and baby are so different. I also won’t go into the whole “this is why cloth is so much better than disposables” thing because it’s been done to death (all the reasons are true, though – LOL). I will, however, do what I always do and
try to keep you from making the same mistakes I did give out my top tips for entering into the wonderful world of reusable diapers.
1. Allow yourself to not go FULL FORCE CLOTH DIAPERER. You don’t need to choose one or the other. How you diaper your baby has no bearing on your status as a good parent. It’s where your kid shits – it isn’t that serious.
2. Remember that guides and lists on cloth diaper sites are only recommendations. How things work for you may be drastically different than what you see on a site. You may not need 36 prefolds and 8 covers / 28 pockets for your baby, especially if you EC or use disposables along with cloth. Or if you do all three (we do!).
3. Try not to buy in anticipation of what you will need. I’m referring to sizing here, especially for prefolds. These tend to come in two or three sizes (or more), depending on the brand, but you don’t necessarily need to size up. Depending on the size of your baby, you may be able to extend the infant size beyond the weight “limit.” If you explore different ways to fold/use them (i.e. tri-folding instead of the wrap around and Snappi or using them as the inserts in pocket diapers), you might not need to buy a whole new size of diaper.
4. Newborn sized diapers will likely be a waste of money. I said likely. I don’t see much sense in investing in newborn diapers before your baby comes. Your baby might come out 9lbs, 3oz and won’t be able to fit in newborn anything (ahem…).
5. If you don’t want to commit, try out a diaper service. This is the main thing I tell to soon-to-be new moms. If you’re unsure if cloth will work for you, try out a month of a diaper service. The cost will likely be the same amount you would spend on disposable diapers for the same period and you won’t have to deal with the laundry. This is a godsend with a newborn (and if you live in an apartment). If you’re in Los Angeles, I HIGHLY recommend Luludew.
6. You can try before you buy. Several cloth diaper vendors offer trials where you pay for a set of diapers, keep the ones you like and return the ones you don’t. This is the next level of non-committal diapering. Google “cloth diaper trial” and peruse your options.
7. Do not be afraid to buy used. Cloth can cost quite a bit up front and it sometimes makes better sense to save money on a diaper you want to try instead of paying full price for something that sucks. Cloth is built to last and as such, retains a lot of useability after they’ve been through a baby (or sometimes used for only a few months). This also bodes well for you since you can reclaim a lot of money you spent on cloth diapers by selling them once you don’t need them anymore.
Best places for used diapers: cottonbabies.com (they aren’t always listed and they go FAST), the Cloth Diaper Swap board on BabyCenter (it’s invite only, so jump on the Cloth Diapering board first – this is also where to get the info on cottonbabies used diaper sales), or craigslist. I sold the bulk of my pre fold stash and some covers to a woman for $40. Pretty sure I made her day.
8. DO NOT BUY AN ENTIRE STASH OF ONE THING. It’s tempting to think you’ve found the perfect diaper in the universe. Everyone seems to love it, it works well for your baby and you want to buy all of them. A funny thing may happen. Your baby may suddenly change his distribution of chunkiness and that perfect diaper will start to leak. Or it just won’t fit. Or you’ll find out that the PUL (waterproof layer) is starting to come off way earlier than it should. DIVERSIFY YOUR PORTFOLIO. It’s good to have a few things on hand you know will work, but don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.
9. Remember this rule of thumb: the more basic the diaper, the less complicated the washing instructions. For some reason, diaper companies have come up with all manner of crazy ass washing routines. Buy only this detergent! Two rinses! Only use 1/4 of the amount recommended! Dry these, but not those! Umm… Nawl. To simplify things for yourself, either stick with prefolds or say screw it and skip down to my tip for washing instructions.
10. If a diaper doesn’t work for you now, hang on to it. It might work out later. This can also go in reverse – see item #8.
11. Velcro trumps snaps in the beginning. After your baby discovers that he likes ripping off his diapers, snaps will trump velcro. Some places convert velcro to snaps, so make use of the service if you can.
12. Keep the washing routine simple. For most diapers, you can get by fine with using a no-additive, non-enzyme detergent. Pre-wash cold. Hot wash, cold rinse using twice the water you thing is necessary for the load. Dry prefolds and pocket inserts in the dryer. Hang dry covers and pocket diapers. Where you put your all in ones is up to you (maybe dry for 30 minutes and hang dry to finish). If your diapers come out stiff, either use less detergent or more water. Also, NEVER USE DRYER SHEETS. They can cause some of your diapers to repel moisture. You don’t want diapers repelling moisture.
13. The sun is EVERYTHING when it comes to stain removal. If you have a tough stain that won’t wash out, leave your just washed diaper in the sun for a few hours. It works wonders.
Since some of you may be wondering, this is what I have in my current stash. Most of what I have has been in use since we opted out of our diaper service after two months. Before the service, we used disposables…mostly because no one wanted to bother his healing umbilical stump, his healing weenis, and meconium.
- 25 infant sized Indian unbleached prefolds (wrapped & Snappied when the boy was smaller, used tri-folded now)
- 15 medium Indian unbleached Diaper Rite prefolds (used for nights for a while…rarely used now)
- 3 Snappis (rarely used now)
- 6 Grovia covers (5 were once aplix closure that were converted to snaps)
- 1 Happy Heinys pocket diaper
- 2 Bum Genius Elemental all in one diapers
- 1 pair of wool longies I made from a sweater
- 1 diaper pail
- 1 diaper pail liner
- 2 wet bags (rarely used)
- 1 travel wet bag
There are a SLEW of other diapers that I bought, used, and HATED for various reasons. Chances are, you will have a similar experience. This is why it’s good to keep costs low while you’re finding out what works best for you and your family.
My (former) washing routine:
Since we EC’d and Dudeguy uses disposables, I wash about once a week with either whatever the Arm & Hammer free & clear detergent is or regular Gain. Everything goes in the machine. If he’s pooped in my precious cloth, I do a cold pre-wash. If not, everything gets washed in hot water on the next-to-highest water setting and a cold rinse after. Everything except the covers and pockets get thrown in the dryer with Nellie’s dryer balls and a wool dryer ball I made with scrap yarn. Easy peasy.
Questions? FIRE AWAY.