Sunday, March 25, 2012

How to Get Started with Cloth Diapering: 10 Tips

Since my husband and I started cloth diapering our daughter over a year ago, numerous other parents (and parents-to-be) keen on taking the plunge have asked me for tips on getting started. Naturally, since I'm such an avid believer in the practice, I'm super-eager to help out however I can! That said, after the 9th or 10th email and/or converation on the topic, I realized I was reiterating the same stuff each time, and thought "Why the heck aren't I blogging on this?"

Great idea, me! :)

So here you go - my top 10 tips for getting started with cloth diapering!

(Note that this list assumes you are sold on the "whys" of cloth diapering. If not, there's lots of research out there to help you decide which approach is right for you!)
  1. Do some reading. But don't get overwhelmed! A quick Google search will turn up hundreds, if not thousands, of websites, blogs, forums, retailers, etc. on cloth diapering. If you're hungry for knowledge, feel free to pour through anything you come across! But if you just want a few good, solid sources to focus on, here are my recommendations:
  2. Repeat this mantra: "Cloth diapering is simple!" At the basic level, you just need absorbent stuff, waterproof stuff and a way for the diaper to stay on. That's it. Sure there are many brands out there competing to win you over, not to mention all the different styles (all in one, all in two, pocket, etc.). But when it comes down to it, you'll end up doing alright with pretty much any system out there. That said....

  3. Try out different brands/styles before acquiring a full stash. First of all, you won't know what works best for you and your little one until you start cloth diapering in practice, and second (a bit of a personal opinion) trying different kinds is fun, fun, FUN! That said, I know a couple mamas who bought complete single-brand stashes upfront, and things worked out OK for them (though one mentioned she would've tried different types if she had the chance to do things over!) I also know that some folks want to avoid disposables entirely for their baby-to-be, which requires having a full stash upfront. One neat option for trying lots of types before buying (and likely ditching those 'sposies altogether) is a rental program such as Make the Switch from The Cloth Diaper Shop (Canada) and the Changing Diapers, Changing Minds program from Jillian's Drawers (US).

  4. And exactly how big is a "full stash"? This is generally considered to be 24+ changes (or 7-8 per day for three days). Of course, if you find yourself developing a fluff addiction (like many of us CDing mamas "suffer" from) you might end up with twice this many. Or more. Consider yourself warned! ;) Note that a "change" doesn't necessarily mean an entirely separate diaper, as with many systems you can reuse covers as long as they aren't soiled.

  5. Prepare to buy a few "special" diapers (or boosters) for night diapering. While some people find their regular daytime diapers work just fine overnight, many others encounter leakage issues. Makes sense - night diapers are often worn 10-12+ hours at time so they need to hold a lot of liquid, especially for heavy wetters! Some parents successfully contend with this by using boosters (which may also be called doublers, soakers or inserts) to increase the diaper's absorbency. Others purchase special diapers for overnight usage. A good option here is a fitted diaper with a cover. We generally use two types overnight with great success - our Kawaii Snazzy Minky one size pocket diapers with two microfibre inserts, or our Earth, Mom & Baby Bumboo fitteds with a cover.

  6. Concerned about initial costs? There are many options available for building a stash without breaking the bank.
    • Buy second-hand (try Kijiji, DiaperSwappers or Cloth Diaper Trader). Although at first this may seem weird or icky, most "previously loved" diapers being sold out there are in good to excellent condition, and washing them thoroughly (or even boiling) will ensure any previous nasties have been eliminated.
    • Try winning your stash. Online cloth diaper-related giveaways are abundant, hosted by the brands themselves, stores which carry them and "mama blogs" (such as my own! :) Not sure where to find them all? Two great places to start are the Cloth Diaper Giveaway Roundup at and Cloth Diaper Giveaway Linky at Baby Giveaways Galore. It's also helpful to follow giveaway tweeters (who can be found on Twitter by searching #clothdiapers and/or #giveaway hash tags.)
    • Purchase new diapers with a lower price tag. Prefolds or flats (plus covers) are inexpensive options, and there are many lesser known (yet high-quality) pocket diaper brands which sell for rockbottom prices when bought in bulk. (Kawaii and Giggle Life are a couple brands I've tried and would wholeheartedly recommend.)

  7. Looking for a specific recommendation on which brand/type to start out with? Then do what I did and purchase the Bummis Organic Cotton Diaper Kit! It contains everything you need to start cloth diapering full-time (perhaps with the exception of dedicated night diapering items), and is one of the more affordable options. No, I'm not being compensated in any way for this recommendation; we have just been super happy with this purchase ourselves.

  8. Go the whole nine yards and use cloth wipes! This is *totally* the way to go if you cloth diaper. Wipes can be laundered along with your diapers so they're super-convenient, plus they're a greener option and will save you even more money. You can buy (or make) dedicated wipes, or you can make do with small, folded washcloths or even old shirts. (Seriously!) As for what to wet them with, some parents just use water but we personally love a simple solution made from water, olive oil, natural baby wash and tea tree oil.

  9. Get a diaper sprayer. Super easy to install & use, this li'l device will save you time and really cut down on the "ick" factor of pre-cleaning poopy diapers once your kiddo's on solids. (No need to spray EBF poop as it's water soluble.) And, no, it does not cause “poo to be sprayed all over the walls" - an early fear my husband had. :)

  10. Don't be afraid of cloth diaper laundry! It's really not that tricky, nor time consuming. You may need to play around a bit to find a routine that works for you (based on factors such as washer type/size and water hardness), but you'll figure things out pretty quickly. As for dirty diaper storage, so many simple solutions are possible. Pail/liner and hanging wetbag are two popular options. And nope, you don't need to soak your diapers prior to washing - dry storage is just fine. Easy peasy!! As for folding - think of it as a good excuse to kick back with an episode or two of your favourite show and still feel productive! ;) 

And now, a couple questions for my readers! 

For those who are already seasoned at cloth diapering -  what other tips would you recommend for cloth diapering parents-to-be?

For those who are getting ready to start out - got any specific questions which this article didn't address? I'd be more than happy to take a crack at 'em! :)

    1 comment:

    1. I love disposable diaper liners. They lay in the diapers and make clean up super quick. I don't flush them because I have a septic system, I toss them in a little garbage can. Love my cloth wipes also, most are just squares of flannel that I sewed around the edges of.

      Thanks for adding my cloth linky in your post! I have increased my stash so much by entering & winning cloth diaper giveaways! :)