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!)
- 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:
- Dirty Diaper Laundry - the owner, Kim Rosas, really knows her stuff and is super-passionate about spreading the word! Her Intro To Cloth Diaper series, in particular, is great for newbies, and she has reviewed just about every diaper under the sun, many via video. Check out her Cloth Diaper Finder as well which allows you to find diaper brands/styles based on factors such as sizing, diaper type, closure type, material(s), etc.
- Diaper Pin - contains cloth diapering tips, product ratings & reviews from real users and diaper talk, a forum for cloth diapering parents!
- 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....
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 change-diapers.com 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.)
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! :)