My mom used cloth diapers with me and I always assumed I would do the same. Seemed an easy way to save some money, while also giving my little one less exposure to harmful chemicals. Plus, it is a great way to help out the environment a bit, keeping (on average) 6,000 diapers out of the landfill.
When I was pregnant and started to research it, it was beyond overwhelming. There were so many different brands, types of diapers, opinions on how to wash, etc. I had some friends give great advice to get me started, did a lot less research and decided to keep things as simple as possible. If you have been considering trying cloth diapers but have been scared that it would be too difficult or complicated, I want to share the easy way to cloth diaper that’s worked for me.
Newborn Days: We did not start cloth diapering until my daughter was around 3 months old for a couple reasons:
- Newborns don’t fit in cloth diapers until they are a bit chunkier. You have to buy special newborn cloth diapers, which didn’t seem worth the investment to me. My daughter struggled to gain weight in the beginning, so it took her a few months for her skinny legs to fill them out.
- Life with a newborn can be hard. I did not have the emotional or physical energy or time to cloth diaper with the amount of diapers babies go through in the first weeks. Once the diaper count slowed, it felt much more feasible.
We got lots of disposable diapers as gifts from people, so we just used those. I will say that it is amazing how using cloth prevents blow outs SO much better; that reason alone may convince me to start earlier with another baby.
Saving Money: Cloth diapers can be a bit of an investment at the beginning, but overall it is much cheaper in the long-run. There are a several ways to save on costs:
- Register for them. When you create a gift registry for your baby shower, add cloth diapers to the list. The covers can be cute like clothes and people like to buy them. This saves you a ton in the up-front investment and was how I built my own stash.
- Choose a cheaper type and splurge on the brand. Cloth diapers come in all types, with all-in-one and pockets being much more expensive than the prefold + covers. Brand matters too- I suggest choosing a top quality brand that lasts many washes and wears to avoid future replacement costs.
- Buy gender-neutral. If you can use diapers for multiple kids, that helps save a lot on the investment. I have some super girly options, but most of my patterns and colors are more gender neutral for more flexibility in the future.
- Get them second-hand. I did not do this but wish I had known about the huge market for used cloth diapers. You can strip clean used diapers. Or, if that is unappealing, I am constantly seeing people selling their stashes that they’ve never even used because they bought and never actually tried it.
My Routine: I use prefolded cloth diapers in covers during the day. There are lots of ways to fold the prefolds and it really depends on your baby’s gender and habits. I have found that the angel fold has worked best so far for us.
Since they have wetness protection, I usually only change the covers when it is a poopy diaper. Wet diapers go straight into a wet bag. Before 6 months (starting solids), dirty diapers also went straight to the wet bag. Now, I use a diaper sprayer attached to my toilet to rinse out any solids before putting in the wet bag until laundry day.
I use cloth wipes so that I can keep everything together and not need both a trash can and wet bag. Cloth wipes are much better at wiping and more gentle on the skin anyway. I put the wipes in a diaper warmer with a homemade solution of coconut oil, lavender essential oil and water.
At night, I use pocket diapers with extra hemp inserts for additional absorbency.
Laundry Routine: I end up washing my cloth diapers every 3-4 days. I dump everything in the wet bag into the washer and throw the wet bag in too. Wash cycles vary greatly based on your type of washing machine and hardness/softness of water. I would recommend searching for your machine type on the Fluff Love University website for detailed instructions on the best way to clean your diapers thoroughly and keep them lasting.
For detergent, I prefer to use powder because I have to add Borax to my washes to prevent mineral build up with the hard water at our home. You can see a list of recommended options here, but I generally use either Seventh Generation or Tide Free & Clear. I have been able to get rid of all staining by laying the items in the sun; I have never used bleach on my diapers.
Using prefolds & covers helps reduce drying time. I always air dry my covers on a rack to preserve the elastics and my wet bags too. Inserts & prefolds can go in the dryer and it usually takes 2 cycles to dry them.
Traveling: I still use disposable diapers if we are traveling or will be out and about for a few hours. Generally if we are just going to the grocery store or somewhere short & nearby, I will keep her in a cloth diaper. I do keep a small wetbag in my diaper bag just in case.
Getting Started: People definitely have their preferences for what style and brands to buy. My goals were to save money and make things as simple as possible. And I had two main things I looked for in deciding on a brand of covers:
- Double gussets = two layers of elastic around the leg holes. Gives a great, flexible fit even for a kid with skinny legs and I have never had a problem with leaking.
- Snap closure. Velcro just doesn’t last and it sticks to everything.
Here’s what makes up my stash of cloth diapering supplies:
- Covers: I like my mix of one-size and size 1 & 2 options that come in two different brands to allow more flexibility with choosing colors and patterns.
- Thirsties Duo Wrap Cover – 5 of Size 1 (fit best when she was smaller) and 5 of Size 2
- Buttons Covers – 8 of these one-size diapers
- OsoCozy Unbleached Prefolds
- 18 of Size 1
- 24 of Size 2
- Pockets: Having 4 of these for nighttime has worked great. These are my two favorite brands. Both are one-size so you’ll only ever need to buy 4 of these.
- Lil Bums are SO soft and top quality.
- bumGenius Pocket 5.0
- Thirsties Hemp Inserts: 4 Large and 4 Small (to add to the inserts that come with pocket diapers for overnight absorbency)
- Buttons Flannel Baby Wipes: I probably have 20-30 of these
- Planet Wise Wet Diaper Bag: Go for the large size. I have two of these, one I keep in the bathroom and one for the nursery. They are easy to hang and have lots of colors/patterns to choose from. I also have a medium sized one for my diaper bag / swim bag.
- Prince Lionheart Wipes Warmer
- SmarterFresh Diaper Sprayer
- Whitmor Folding Drying Rack
- Wool Dryer Balls: Dryer sheets are filled with chemicals and will cause a build up on your diapers. Plus, dryer balls keep things separated for faster drying time.
Are cloth diapers something you would be willing to try? What other questions do you have? I would love to help you get started!