So, people have been asking about our cloth diapering system for a while now and though I have shared a few things about it online I’ve been promising I’d do a more thorough post on it at some point, so here it is! I waited until Lola was 2 months old before starting cloth diapers and we used these disposables in the meantime (they had really good reviews from natural Mama blogs that I read and we liked them a lot). I know there are lots of Mamas that start on cloth right away, but I knew there would be so much happening getting used to newborn life so I just wanted to make anything I could a little easier in those early days. You can read more about the differences between diaper types so you can decide which sound best for you, but here’s what we use!
Diapers: I first got started on my diaper stash by getting lots of different kinds of cloth diapers from baby resale shops (not all sell them but some do—try craigslist, sometimes you can find them there too) so I could test out different brands and systems. You’ll want to prep your pre-owned stash with one of these methods. I got some sleeve diaper covers (most of mine are this brand) and I bought some prefolds to fold and put into the covers but most of my stash are the pocket diapers that have inserts which are stuffed inside the diapers (my favorite brands of that style are this brand and this brand are my favorite). Overall, I will say that I do like the pocket style better and that was the kind that I ended up rounding out my stash with. I find that the prefolds can move a bit in the sleeve diaper covers so sometimes you get a leak that may not have happened with the sleeve cover but I still use the sleeve covers so they are still worth having if you can find a good deal. It seems to be that people suggest having somewhere around 24 diapers to keep you from having to do laundry everyday and I would agree with that.
Diaper Pail: I use this diaper pail and these liners to hold my diapers between washing. I would suggest having two liners so you can still use the pain when one liner is in the wash. I also keep this wet bag in her diaper bag so I can put dirty diapers in it when we are out and then I throw it in the wash with all her other diapers and liners. Size-wise I wish it was just a bit bigger as I really have to stuff in my diapers when I get close to wash day, but overall it works great, keeps the smell in, and looks pretty sleek in the nursery.
Wipes: We used only disposable wipes up until a month ago (these are my favorite by far as they only have 2 ingredients are are almost all water-based) but I finally took the plunge into reuseable wipes and they are great! We use these for the actual wipes and this for a plant-derived wipe solution (if you want to make your own just cut up 8″ x 8″ squares of t-shirt type material). I was surprised at how quickly I liked the new system and it didn’t really feel like much more work at all than using the disposable since you can just throw the wipes in the wash with the cloth diapers and spray a clean cloth with the wipe solution before using. Not much more work at all and you can fold the wipes to pop up out of a regular dispenser too which is nice (some people pour the solution into the container also so the wipes are already wet).
Liners: So this type of liner is different from the diaper pail liner, because this liner catches your baby’s poop! If your baby is exclusively breast-fed then you don’t have to worry about this yet as you can throw all your poop diapers right into the wash and it will be gone like magic—yay! If you formula feed or have started solids you’ll need to either use a liner on top of your diaper before you put in on your baby (I use these liners). The liner allows the pee to travel through to the absorbent diaper while catching the poop on top for easier removal (you can either flush the liner or throw it away). Alternatively, you can also get a spray system to spray the poop into the toilet before placing diaper into your diaper pail (and maybe a spray pal too!). I haven’t used the spray system myself yet but I know there are a lot of people who do it that way and I may switch over to that at some point.
Nighttime Diapering: This one has been a bit of a recent thing to try and figure out! I had been using disposables at night for a while after starting cloth diapers because I was scared to try a cloth for the whole night, but eventually I started just stuffing my pocket diapers with two liners instead of one and it seemed to work pretty well! Now that she’s a bit older, she keeps wetting through the double-stuffed ones so I decided to try a wool cover and a fitted diaper combo. I’ve heard such great things about wool covers and it seems to work well so far! Since you wash the covers so much less than traditional diaper covers, I only have one so far, but I may get another one so I can have one while the other is drying after being washed. I would suggest maybe 3 of the fitted diapers to last you 3 nights before washing, but you may need one more depending on how often you do a load of diapers.
Laundry Process: I would suggest starting to do laundry when you have about 4 diapers left, that way, you won’t run out before your laundry process is done. I do keep some disposables around for babysitters or when I don’t time the laundry cycles right, so I would suggest always having a few on hand for that reason. I found Fluff Love University to be so helpful for me and I looked at their detergent index to choose which detergent would be best (I use this one) and they even have a spot where you can look up your washing machine to see how to best set it for your laundry. Using their cycle suggestion I haven’t had to strip my diapers (“stripping” is when the diapers become extra stinky and you have to strip all that gross buildup away) since following their suggestions so I think it’s worked really well for us. Some people will tell you that you should pull all the inserts out of pocket diapers before tossing them in the wash, but I saw that not everyone does that so I elect to skip that gross step and 99% of the time the inserts fall out on their own during the wash cycle. And if they don’t fall out and stay in the diaper? Well, I’ve given those the “smell test” after the cycle is done and they smell just as clean as the rest of them so I say skip that step too if you can! After washing the dipes, I put the inserts and fitted nighttime diapers either into the dryer or I just dry them and the covers (covers shouldn’t go into the dryer or you’ll wear away the waterproof lining they have) on a drying rack. I like to dry them all outside in the summer and put any stained ones in the sun to bleach away stains (works really well!) but I’ve noticed that sun-dried liners and prefolds are not as soft as when you dry them in the dryer, so if your baby is really sensitive to texture, you may want to dry them in the dryer. The wool cover take a bit of extra care to prep and launder them, but it’s not hard and you don’t do it nearly as often, so it’s just a different process from the other diapers. Once everything is clean, it’s time to assemble them back together and start all over!
“But where should I start?” Good question! Overall I’m so glad that we decided to do cloth diapering. It does save money in the long run and I especially love the “less diapers in the landfill” thing so that’s the biggest plus for me personally. It is extra steps since we have to launder the diapers, but it’s really not nearly as hard as I thought it would be overall. There are a lot of different blog post and detailed opinions on cloth diapering and my biggest suggestion to anyone wanting to get into the process is to not get too bogged down in alllllllllll that you can read about cloth diapering. It’s a lot. It’s very overwhelming. I would just start out with a very small stash of pre-owned diapers of different types and just go from there! Use one trusted resource (like Fluff Love University) and just trouble shoot as you go. Sometimes a lot of research can help, but for me it just muddled the water until I didn’t know which route to go…if you have friends that do it, maybe just start doing exactly what they do so you have someone who can really help you with any issues because they know that particular system well.
I’m definitely not an expert on all things cloth diaper but if you have any questions I’ll try and answer them! Like I said, thankfully we haven’t had to do diaper stripping yet (knock on wood) so I really don’t know anything about that process at this point. And if you’re looking for the best baby items or trying to create a registry for a new baby, check out my favorites list for newborns and six month old babies. Happy diapering!!