Whether you’re just starting to consider how you’re going to catch your baby’s poo, or if you’ve been cloth diapering for quite a while, we all have questions along the way. While these tips may be more useful for someone just starting out, fluff-bum veterans may find a pointer or two useful as well!
These Aren’t Your Grandma’s Cloth Diapers!
The first thing to know is that today’s cloth diapers are not what they used to be. Gone are the days of wads of fabric held in place by giant safety pins and covered with yellowed plastic pants. While there are many people who opt to use flats and will hand wash and hang to dry, you can also get cloth diapers that require no fancy folding, secure with a couple of snaps, and match any baby’s (or parent’s) personality. If washing isn’t your thing, many of the larger metropolitan areas also have diaper services that will pick up your dirty diapers and deliver clean ones on a regular basis. Advances have even been made in fabrics making for diapers that absorb more liquid more quickly or wick moisture away from baby’s skin so they feel dry. So leave any preconceived notion you may have behind and fall into the wonderful world of cloth diapering!
Every Little Bit Counts
You don’t have to cloth diaper your baby 100% of the time to make a difference. Cloth diapering isn’t an all or nothing endeavor. Even if you use cloth only on the weekends, or a couple of diapers per day, you can save money and make less waste. Let me try some quick math, say you use 3 cloth diapers per day, that’s 21 per week or 1092 per year. If your baby uses diapers for 2 ½ years, you will keep over 2700 disposable diapers out of the landfill. That’s around $500 in disposable diapers. If you multiply this over multiple kids, the savings and environmental impact is even greater!
Ignore the “Haters”
New parents are often overwhelmed with unsolicited advice. When I was pregnant with our first, a colleague was sharing all sorts of it. She was in the midst of telling me I should buy a box of diapers every time I went to the store, so as to never run out. I told her that we were planning to cloth diaper. Without missing a beat, she responded, “Oh, you’re going to hate it.” Ummm…ok.
Shortly after our first daughter was born, my husband was changing her when a family member, who was also a new dad, looked at him and said, “Wow, you’re really dedicated to that.” Aren’t most parents dedicated to keeping their kids clean and dry?!
My final anecdote is when I was talking to a neighbor whose daughter was having a baby. She noticed my daughter’s diaper and commented on how cute it was. I said thanks and couldn’t resist the urge to ask if her daughter had considered using cloth. My neighbor responded, “Oh no, my daughter works.” She knew very well that at that time I was working one full time and two part-time jobs!
Many people have their own idea of what cloth diapering is about. Don’t let these folks get you down or discouraged about cloth diapering!
Don’t Commit to a Certain Brand or Style
Many people are really loyal to certain brands or styles of diapers, but I urge you to stay uncommitted. I’ve found that different styles work in different situations and my husband and I prefer different brands for different reasons. For example, when someone unfamiliar to cloth is watching our baby, we use either AIOs or AI2s that have inserts already snapped in. At night, we use fitteds for the baby and hemp/cotton prefolds with a quick absorbing jersey insert for the preschooler. Our go-to daily diaper is a prefold with a cover. I like hook-and-loop, especially at night, but if you have a kid who removes their diaper, snaps may be a better option. Regardless of what you use, you may want other options available. So, while having 100 of the same brand AIO may work for some, my advice is to avoid building such a stash until you have figured out what works for you.
Chill Out on Detergent
There are a number of sites dedicated to wash routines. Many people have many tips on what exactly you need to do, but at the end of the day, a wash routine is really difficult for anyone to nail down for you. Wash routines will vary based on your machine, your water hardness, the type of detergent, the age and diet of your kid, and any number of other variables. The most common mistake I’ve noticed people make is using way too much detergent. If you’re having troubles with smell or absorbency, try first running your diapers through a rinse-only cycle or a full wash without detergent and then cut back on detergent in your regular wash routine.
Cloth diapering is like anything else in parenting. You’ll likely have some hiccups along the way, but it is totally rewarding and worthwhile! If something isn’t working well for you, change it up or ask for help. Most cloth diapering folks are MORE than happy to try to help!!!!!
Hey, I’m Meaghan. I live in Minnesota with my husband, our 2 daughters, and our 2 dogs. I describe myself as semi-crunchy. I have developed a passion for trying out different products, especially all things cloth diapering and breastfeeding. Check out my blog for product reviews, more of my sage advice, and also some recipes (seriously, try the banana bread!). You can also follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and my Facebook page.