cloth diapers for beginners

Cloth diapers 101

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Not much says “baby” like diapers. No matter what, every parent needs diapers for their baby, and those ADD UP! Not only money but in your landfill. Because of this fact, so many moms are opting to cloth diaper. But, is cloth diapers for you?

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cloth diapers for beginners

Cloth diaper pros:

  • You dramatically reduce waste going to the dump every week. On average, your baby can use around 6-8 diapers a day. That’s 56 diapers a week. That’s 2,912 diapers A YEAR going to the garbage. Don’t forget the garbage bags or diaper genie bags to collect them and the wipes as well. That adds up fast!
  • If your child has sensitive skin, it can be easier on their little bums!
  • They usually are more absorbent than regular diapers.
  • They cost less over time.
  • You’re avoiding skin exposure to as many chemicals.

Cloth diaper cons

  • You do have a higher start-up cost. When you add the diapers, the inside shells, and detergent it seems like a lot all at once. However, over time, you make your money back because you aren’t constantly buying more and more diapers.
  • You may need a strong stomach to be able to wash the messy ones. Especially at first when your baby’s bowel movements are sooooooooo runny it’s not always fun needing to wash those.
  • Your washer gets more of a workout with cloth diapers.
  • You have to wait for them to dry, so you may have diapers constantly hanging.
  • Daycares and babysitters may not take the baby if they are wearing cloth diapers.

What do I need to begin cloth diapering?

  • A baby (preferably one that poops a lot)
  • Your cloth diaper of choice and inserts. (Wellness Mama does a great job of explaining the different types!)
  • A pail
  • Something to spray them down
  • Free and clear laundry detergent. I absolutely love Tide’s Free and Gentle mix! I have sensitive skin myself and that’s why I find it great!

My favorite kind of diapers comes from Looper’s Luffs! She handmakes every single diaper herself, and her pocket diapers are of awesome quality! Check them out here!

How do you decide what kind of pail to buy?

You can buy a wet pail, in which your diapers sit in water till laundry day, or dry, where they just sit in a bin. You can get cloth diaper specific pails now a days to contain the smell (especially for a formula-fed baby or after they start solids!) You need to consider things like:

  • Where will my pail be? A main bathroom? Nursery? Laundry room?
  • Is your pail at risk of getting knocked over by pets or kids?
  • Do you have a front loading or top loading washer?
  • Is your baby exclusively breastfed or formula-fed?
  • Can you get them out of the water without making a mess?
  • How often will you be washing your diapers?

How many diapers do I need?

At least 25. You always want more than you will probably need because you never want to be stuck.

How do I wash and dry them?

For exclusively breastfed babies:

  • Toss on a pre-rinse cycle with cold water
  • Turn on a regular cycle with your detergent of choice
  • Toss in the dryer or out on the clothesline.

For formula-fed, or babies that are started on solids:

  • Rinse the soiled diaper out (you can use something like this)
  • Repeat the steps from above.
  • If you have stubborn stains, try not to use bleach if possible! Try lemon juice, or baking soda and vinegar first. Putting them on the clothesline also helps because of the bleaching properties from the sun.

What are other people saying about their decision to cloth diaper?

” When I had my first son, I chose cloth diapers and wipes because I was concerned about the chemicals in disposables, because we try to keep what we put into landfills to an absolute minimum, and after running the numbers, they were more affordable.  We tried several brands, but in my opinion, you won’t find anything better than Best Bottoms!  At the time, I only worked part-time and family cared for my son, so using cloth was not an issue.  However, with my second son, I am working more and sending the kids to daycare part-time.  With daycare not willing to use cloth diapers, and issues washing in our new high-efficiency washing machine, we have taken a break from cloth for a while.  My biggest struggle was cleaning them with a newer washing machine.  So, if you still have an older non-high efficiency one, hang on to it until you’re done with diapers.  If not, the washing may just take a little more trial and error.  I still LOVE them, and if I could stay at home again, I would absolutely go back.

-Kristin Young, That Traveling Family

” I started to use cloth nappies when my first baby was a few months old. To be honest, it was mostly because they look pretty! I fell in love especially when we went away one time and used disposables and I saw just how much waste that added up to. 
My second child was born when she was 21 months old and still in nappies. I used cloth from day 1 and loved the excuse to get a lot more especially the cute newborn options. There are so many great options out there although it does take some effort to work out which ones fit your child well. If the first ones you buy don’t work very well, don’t write off cloth all together! Try a different type and see how you go. There is a market in second-hand nappies so you can sell when you are done.
The biggest con to me is that they don’t hold as much as disposable so you do need to change them more often. The next is the effort in cleaning. I didn’t find this the biggest deal and, if anything, it seemed more worthwhile when I had two because I would get a load more easily.
The pros are that they are gorgeous and much more fun than disposables and, of course, that they don’t create the terrible waste that comes from disposables. While you definitely can also save money, I doubt I did as I loved the pretty ones too much 

However, when I had my third child four years later, I stuck to disposables. At that point, I was working full time and it was just too much.

Digital nomad wannabe

“Cloth diapering was a decision practically made for me when my daughter was born. We live in an isolated community and the nearest town is a 10-hour drive away. As you can imagine, this makes shopping for baby essentials pretty difficult! We can get things delivered in the mail but it is expensive and takes some time.

I developed a love-hate relationship with cloth diapers. There were times I loved them and would rave to other people about how great they were. Other times though (like when no matter how hard you try that stain just WILL NOT come out) I would get stressed by them. A downside for us is we live in a tropical climate and the thick lining and pad inserts were just far too hot, during summer months, for my poor daughter.

All that said though, I’m about to give birth to our second and plan on giving them another go! I just cannot overlook the huge advantage of how much money we will save. Especially as we already have the same diapers used for our first, so this time there is zero upfront cost!

Once you have a good system for soaking and washing them in place it does become a lot easier but the first couple of weeks are difficult, so try to give it at least a month before you give up. My top tip would be to look for some biodegradable, flushable liners – the wee will still soak through but it keeps the poop stains off the nappy and makes washing far easier!

Sophie Marie at Lifestyle Queensland

Cloth diapers can be a little to think about! They may even seem daunting at first. However many moms swear by them for ton’s of different reasons. How do you like cloth diapers? Would you prefer cloth or disposable? Comment below!

Please share!

12 thoughts on “Cloth diapers 101”

  1. I considered using cloth diapers for my firstborn but I had to hold back because I realized I would be working 14 hours shifts for 5 days leaving me with no extra time to clean them. My sister decided to do it when her daughter was 3 months old she seems to be doing well with it 🙂

    1. I bought 2 dozen of cloth diapers for my son. It surely did save us a lot of money. I am planning to buy a lot of cloth diapers for my second and maybe keep disposable ones for travel and night time use only.
      Grear post! Thanks for sharing ☺

  2. We seriously considered using cloth diapers, but preparing for the baby was so overwhelming already, that I supposed I chickened out. Thanks for sharing all this useful info. May be handy to refer back to when preparing for the next baby!

  3. When I had my third baby, Penelope, I thought I was going to change stuff up. It had been like 8 years since my last child and I was going to do a home water birth, cloth diaper, the whole thing. I had practice contractions and gave up the home birth and knew I’d be doing an epidural for this one, too. But I held strong on the cloth diaper. I made it two days. Day one wasn’t so bad because she really didn’t poop a lot. Day two was nothing but blowouts. She had one that LITERALLY blew the diaper off her. I had my friend showing me how to do this and even she was like, “Girl- go get you some Pampers”. HAHA! It really was a sign of Penelope’s personality because she isn’t like any of the others. LOL!

  4. MY parents used cloth diapers for me and all my siblings. It is a wonderful way to reduce waste and is effective but it is messy to clean and washing the diapers, according to my parents, is not fun!

    It is about knowing all your options and deciding what works best for you, and I love that this post makes that known.

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