Getting Started With Cloth Diapers
Cloth diapers aren't just pins and rubber pants anymore, there is a huge selection of modern cloth diapers that are simple to use! With so many options and accessories now, you may be wondering where to start. Here are some first tips on getting started.
HOW MANY DIAPERS:
How many diapers you need will depend on baby's age and how often you plan to wash. If you're starting right from birth, newborn babies will need more diaper changes than older babies.
- Newborn babies will need about 24 diapers if you're washing every other day. This will give you about 12 diaper changes per day.
- Older babies (around 6 months and older) will need about 12-16 diapers if you're washing every other day. This will give you about 6 diaper changes per day.
These are good numbers to start with, but you may find you'd like a few backups for days when you're not able to wash right away. Likewise, if you don't mind washing everyday you may be able to get away with less!
WHAT YOU WILL NEED FOR DIRTY DIAPERS:
Another accessory you will need is a place to store dirty diapers before wash day. Two options are pail liners and wet bags, both are water resistant to keep wet diapers in. Pail liners go right into your diaper pail similar to a trash bag. Wet bags zip close and come in many sizes. They can either be a large hanging wet bag to hang on your changing table or door knob, or can be smaller to fit into your diaper bag and bring in the car for diaper changes on the go. Whichever you decide on, you will need at least 2-3 to rotate on wash days.
Wet diapers can go directly into your wet bag or pail liner after diaper changes! For poop diapers you can simply plop solids into the toilet before putting into your wet bag. For messier diapers, you may decide to get a diaper sprayer which hooks to your toilet for easily spraying diapers before washing. Make sure you wring out your diapers after spraying before putting into the wet bag. Breastfed baby poops are water soluble and do not need any spraying before washing!
When using diaper cream, find one that is considered "safe" for cloth diapers. Some diaper creams may build up on diapers and become hard to wash off, while others may stain. CJ's Butter and Earth Mama diaper balms are both great options safe for cloth diapers. If you're unsure, use a liner between your baby's bottom and the diaper (cut up flannel, fleece, or receiving blankets make easy liners! Disposable liners are also an option).
New diapers will need to be washed before the first use. Any diapers or inserts with natural fibers (bamboo, organic cotton, hemp) will need to be "prepped", which means they will need a few washes to gain absorbency. Wash at least 3-5 times before first use. They will continue to gain more absorbency the more you use and wash them! Make sure you are using a detergent with no fabric softeners or bleach. Diaper covers with no inserts attached only need to be washed once before first use.
CLOTH DIAPER SIZES:
Most cloth diaper brands have one-size (OS) diapers, which usually means they will fit your baby from approx 8-35 lbs. This is because of the rise snaps on the front of the diaper. Each level of snaps will make the diaper grow with your baby! Snap your rise snaps to the proper size before putting the diaper on your baby. Once snapped, there is no need to unsnap between washes!
A OS diaper that fits up to 35lbs may look extra bulky on an 8-12 lbs baby. For this reason, or if your baby is under 8 lbs, many parents decide to invest in newborn diapers as well. Newborn diapers are made for smaller babies, and sometimes have rise snaps as well to last those first few months! Since newborns go through so many diaper changes, newborn covers and prefolds are a great way to have a large enough collection that is very budget friendly.
AM I REALLY SAVING MONEY WITH CLOTH DIAPERS?:
Absolutely! The difference is that cloth diapers are more of an upfront cost than disposables. If the upfront cost doesn't work for your family, you can always start small and use cloth part time until you have a full collection. If you're pregnant, consider making a registry for cloth diapers for your baby shower! At an average of $26 per All-In-One cloth diaper, it makes sense to question how much money you're really saving. Once you compare prices, you'll see how much it really is!
- The average cost of cloth diapering is around $500, but can range depending on the cloth diapers you decide to use. Using prefolds and covers are a very inexpensive way to cloth diaper, even for as little as $150!
- The average cost of disposable diapers is about $1000 PER YEAR. If the average age to potty train is 2.5 years, that is $2,500 in diapers.
- Cloth diapers can also be used again for your next child! So that $500 investment can continue being used, where disposables will need to be purchased again for each child.
- Once you're finished cloth diapering, you may even be able to sell your diapers to another family! Especially for diapers with "limited edition" prints in good condition.
I often see families intimidated by the cost of diapers, and turn to cute $5 cloth diapers listed on amazon. While that cost seems really reasonable, the honest answer is that you get what you pay for. Cheap cloth diapers are often made with synthetic materials and not ethically made. I see many parents giving up early on cloth diapers because the cheap ones start to leak, smell, or fall apart within a few months.
Buying diapers that are built to last will save you more money and hassle in the end! The diapers we stock are often made with organic materials, made in the USA (or Canada or the UK), mom-owned businesses, and will have a resale value once you're finished.