We used disposable diapers with our first baby. I never even looked into cloth diapers. I just had no idea of the benefits and options available with cloth diapering.
It’s a different story now. For the past few months, I’ve been researching cloth diapers like nobody’s business.
At first, everything I learned just brought up more questions. It was like peeling an onion. I’d feel like I’d found the answers I needed, only to learn there are other things to consider.
My cloth diaper stash is finally assembled. Here’s what I’ve got:
5 newborn diapers with ties from India. My mother-in-law brought them with her when my first son was born, but I never really knew what they were for. Now I think I
get it. They’ll at least contain one newborn-sized pee. (Probably not too helpful with poo, though.)
5 newborn fitted cotton diapers from Green Mountain Diapers. These seem to be like basic prefolds with elastic and snaps added. Super useful for the first few months, I figure.
12 organic cotton prefolds in size small from Green Mountain Diapers. (These can be used as inserts with covers or in pocket diapers when he outgrows them.)
6 cotton flatfold diapers from Blueberry Diapers. I love that these have cute designs on them, though I’m sure the folding will keep them as mostly backups or burpcloths.
1 small wool cover from Babee Greens. Wool is a natural moisture barrier that seems great for nighttime, since it allows the skin to breathe but keeps in the moisture if I’m not able to get into the groove of nighttime pottying. (Scored this cover half price from the discount section, too!)
5 one-size organic cotton cloth fitted diapers from Babee Greens. These come with snap-in inserts that you use alone with a cover through the newborn stage. I got these diapers from the discount section on the site, and I couldn’t even tell they were not perfect. (I also asked a question through the Babee Greens site and received a reply with an hour—amazing!)
2 size small PUL waterproof diaper covers, both from Blueberry Diapers. One is a Weehugger, which has special slots to hold an insert, whether it’s the bamboo inserts
that came with it or a prefold. I figure we can set a prefold into the covers and then close them up for an easy, husband-friendly solution.
1 bag for holding dirty diapers, a Weehugger product from Blueberry Diapers. It has a patch inside that is supposed to prevent ammonia smells, and it can be thrown in the wash with all the dirty diapers each time. (I may need a second as a backup bag for when this one is in the wash/drying.)
1 mini pocket diaper from Blueberry Diapers. This is lined with organic cotton and has a waterproof outside. This, as well as the covers with a prefold inserted, will be a great option for when I’m out and not expecting a chance to get the baby to a bathroom.
6 one-size pocket diapers. 3 from Blueberry Diapers, 1 Happy Heineys and 2 FuzzyBunz (not pictured). These will be best for after the first few months and should last as long as we need diapers. (I can put them on my 3 year old now!) I found most of these on daily deal sites. Some I got before I realized they were lined with polyester. I am thinking these can be
used as diaper covers over a prefold when we go out and the baby has outgrown all the small covers.
12 organic cloth wipes from Green Mountain Diapers and 12 cute colored wipes from Blueberry Diapers. I intend to get a wipes warmer, which I can fill with diaper wipes solution and dip these in when called for.
1 diaper sprayer. I was surprised when this arrived packaged as a handheld bidet! I love the idea of being able to wash off my baby’s and toddler’s bottoms over the toilet, but this item had been billed specifically for its task of spraying poop off dirty diapers before throwing them in your dirty diaper holder. Bonus!
I also have a couple cheap plastic bowls from Target that I can keep by the changing station to hold a dirty diaper and any used wipes until I get the baby cleaned up. Then I can just dump it into the diaper bag or washer directly.
Another essential for us will be waterproof pads to lay the baby on, so any wetness on the diaper doesn’t seep through to the bedding. I found a very soft, small wool waterproof pad that I expect to get a lot of use from, and I am going to get some organic cotton ones that have a layer of waterproofing.
And finally, I’m planning to get diaper liners. These are thin disposable liners you can set inside your baby’s diaper to catch the poo. Just peel it off and flush it away.
Here is what I had to consider when putting together my cloth diaper stash
I think I’ve got the details worked out for our situation. What you need to start cloth diapering might differ, but these are the things I had to consider as I started selecting the products for my diaper stash.
- I hope to offer my baby the chance to pee or poop in a potty starting from birth. Diapers are going to be a backup, and they need to be easy off/easy on. We still expect to be changing them quite frequently.
- Since I’m looking to respond to my baby’s cues for when he has to go and prevent him from getting diaper trained, I need to: a) be able to see when he has already peed so I can change him right away, and b) let the baby feel that he has peed so he maintains his body awareness. (Fleece-lined cloth diapers and disposables both do too good a job of masking wetness.)
- I want to be confidently diaperless by the end of the first year. (Really, I’m hoping for 7 months. But it’s one of those things you have to roll with depending on how everything goes. Maybe 1 year is more doable.)
- I want to have natural fabrics next to my baby’s skin as much as possible. As you may know, we love organic items for babies at Beanie Designs.
- Breathability is also important, to avoid rashes and prevent the sweatiness my firstborn always seemed plagued with from disposables.
- I expect to wash pretty much every morning, and then hang the diapers outside to remove stains with sun drying.
- My husband is more comfortable with Velcro than snaps, though I’m game for trying any configuration myself.
- Since this is my first go with cloth diapers, I’m not really sure how all the different styles and options will pan out for us. I wanted to have a variety to work with, and then leave room to grow, depending on how our needs evolve.
- We’re not expecting to have another child, so we can use them til they fall apart.
- Since we expect to be out of diapers fairly early, we’re not really saving much money by cloth diapering. Given the amount I’ve already spent on diapers, covers, special detergent, waterproof pads, and other accessories like the diaper sprayer, our overall investment would probably be the same for 7-12 months of disposables. We could have gone hardcore with just prefolds, snappis, and a couple covers for $200, but I’m a sucker for cute baby things and wool/organics, which are a little more pricey.
Caring for cloth diapers
By far, washing and caring for cloth diapers seems to be the biggest challenge of cloth diapering, but not because of poop or smell, like you might think. The detergents you use, whether you have hard or soft water, a front or top loading machine, and the type of fabric of the diaper all can affect things like absorbency of the diapers and lingering ammonia smell over time (more of a problem with polyester and synthetics).
But overall, I don’t expect it to be a whole lot more washing than if we were using disposables, since I was constantly washing baby poop out of onesies the first time around anyway. (Cloth diapers appear to have better success at keeping the poop off the clothes and bedding.)
Cloth diapers also need to be prepped in order to reach ideal absorbency. If you have polyester diapers, you may need to strip them once a month or so, as detergent tends to build up on them and reduce their effectiveness.
So, that’s my primer on cloth diapering for the uninitiated. What do you think? Something you’d consider giving a go? Or not worth it for the convenience of disposables? I’ll weigh in on our experience sometime in November after I’ve had a chance to put all this into action!