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June 18, 2012

Back to Basics - How to get Started With Cloth

If you're a veteran cloth diaperer, you might think this post is not for you - but, pros, we would LOVE for you to chime in! Getting started with cloth diapering is one of my favorite topics. I have had a lot of friends thinking about making the switch lately, and it is so fun to sit and discuss! So, what do I share when someone asks me "how" to get started with cloth?

First, I share a couple of tips -
  • Cloth diapering does not have to be an "all or nothing" thing. Using cloth diapers does NOT mean you can never use a disposable again (you probably won't WANT to, but, that's another story) ;-) I usually see a huge look of relief when friends hear this! Seriously though, it can be overwhelming, and while most people can take any cloth diaper, wash it however, and have no problems, you might have to troubleshoot a little. Don't stress over it!
  • I would not suggest investing in 2-3 dozen of the exact same diaper. What works for your best friend might not work at all for you! Your neighbor may love one system of diapering, like pockets, but you may love another, like the simplicity of prefolds.
How do you figure out what will work? 

First, figure out what type of diapering system you would like to use. The options may seem completely overwhelming to those starting out. Your options include the following:
  • Pockets - These are a two-piece (or more) system. Consisting of a cover with a pocket and an insert. Most Pockets require you to remove the insert from the pocket before washing.
  • All In One (AIO) - This style is most like a disposable (in terms of looks). It has all the absorbency sewn into the diaper. Nothing needs to be removed or inserted.
  • All In Two (AI2) - This style has removable absorbency. The layer(s) of absorbency is either sewn in, or snaps in and removes for a quicker dry time.
  • Fitted - These do not have a waterproof lining sewn in and require a cover of some sort (more on covers in a minute). Depending on where you purchase from, the absorbency is either in style of AIO or AI2.
  • Prefolds - These are most like your "parents" cloth diapers. They resemble a towel, and are folded in various ways to contain messes.
  • Covers - There are three types of covers: PUL (which ultimately means "waterproof", but it stands for the type of material used), Wool and Fleece.
Many cloth diaper retailers (that sell a variety of diapers), have "trial packages" - you can rent this and included will be a little bit of everything. That way you can figure out if learning "all" the different twists/folds for prefolds is just not for you, and using All-In-One's (AIOs), that resemble disposable diapers, is! You may think that you will love Pockets and find out that Fitteds and Covers is your dream come true!

If a trial package isn't an option for you, I would still avoid purchasing a lot of one style or brand. Get a couple different kinds, see what you like. Cloth diapers have great resell value, and you will earn back most of what you spend!

What ever you decide on is great! AND you don't have to decide on just one kind! It's your diaper stash - make it what you want! I have found that as my children grow, and their (getting gross here) poop and pee (textures and amounts...sorry!) change, as well as their body size and shape, my preferred diapering style has changed.

So, you know what you want (or are open to anything!) 

How do you go about acquiring diapers and building your stash? A quick google search of "cloth diaper retailers" will bring up oodles of stores, fanning their Facebook pages will probably also earn you a discount code (eventually, if not immediately!) Then, you're free to shop your heart out!

But what if finances are an issue?
  • If you have a local Freecycle, ask - the worst you'll hear is nothing. 
  • Check on Craigslist - many people buy a ton of diapers, and then their child outgrows them, or they decide not to use cloth anymore. Some people are selling a diaper they thought they'd like, but find out otherwise. You'll never know what you'll find! 
  • There are swap websites (like diaperswappers.com) and many (many) groups on Facebook that are Buy/Sell/Trade (including CDA's own swap group!)  
  • Ask your friends! True story: we were looking to build up our newborn stash with our 3rd (as we were told he would most likely be smaller than our first two due to a cord issue restricting his growth). We didn't have a lot of money to spend, but knew that we wanted our 3rd to be in cloth diapers from the start. We had about 4 newborn diapers at the time, and knew that I didn't really want to wash every couple of hours ;) I put a call out on Facebook and a friend was looking to sell her entire newborn stash for $100+shipping. For about $115, I received about 4 dozen prefolds (if not more), along with pockets/AIOs/fitteds/and covers, coming out my ears! It was a HUGE box. I actually tallied the amount and it came to nearly $600 worth of diapers - yes, used, but, she was done, and I needed them! We all won in that deal!  
  • Borrow! That huge box of diapers I bought for just $100? A dear friend across the state borrowed it for her newborn...and then she sent it back and another friend borrowed it...and she's done with most of them...and the ones she is done with...another friend is starting to borrow! So, I won, the selling friend won, and 3 other friends have won in this deal! 
  • Almost all cloth diaper retailers have sales, clearances, coupons, and more often than not, a Seconds and/or Gently Used section on their websites. Take advantage of these! You will find amazing deals! 
  • I've also noticed the past year or so that cloth diapers are becoming a hit at our local Consignment Sales. Again - rock bottom prices for something you NEED!
So, your diapers are in hand - now what?

Next come accessories! While these aren't required to cloth diapers, depending on who you talk to, you may hear (or find out from personal experience) that one or more of these items will help make your cloth diapering journey easier!

Cloth Wipes:
This can be as cheap or expensive as you'd like. Some families cut up receiving blankets and use that, while others prefer some thing more uniform and with nicer materials (like bamboo or velour!) You can find wipes through any online cloth diaper retailer, or support WAHM's through etsy and Hyena Cart shops. Many moms continue to use disposable wipes with their cloth diapers, so this isn't required (we at CDA would encourage you to give it a try though!) :-D

Wet Bags: 
A wet bag is simply a waterproof bag that holds dirty diapers. And to wash, you simply dump the contents of the bag and wash! Wet bags come in a variety of sizes (and usually really cute fabrics) and some have the option to hang. Having a smaller sized one is a great addition to a diaper bag for outings, as well.

Diaper Detergent:
A cloth diaper specific detergent is not required to successfully cloth diaper, but many moms find that the gentler, more natural ingredients help to get their diapers cleaner. And of course, these detergents are better for the environment, and your family, as well. 

Diaper Cream: 
Most diaper creams are not safe for cloth diapers, due to ingredients in the creams.  Just about every cloth diaper retailer carries cloth diaper safe diaper creams, or you may find that coconut or olive oil work just fine for your little one without causing damage to your diapers.

Other Accessories:
Other accessories you may find that you need include:
  • Liners  - to help keep diapers looking new on the inside, as well as make removing poops easier
  • Diaper Sprayer - to clean off dirty diapers before washing
  • Doublers/Boosters - To add more absorbency to your diapers - especially helpful for nap/night time and traveling
  • Snappi or Pins - If you choose to use prefolds, or snapless fitteds, you might find that you need something to help close the diapers
So, there is the very basics of cloth diapering in a nut shell. The rest of the week, our other contributors will be sharing other basic cloth diapering information!

Please feel free to leave a message here, or on the CDA Facebook page or on Twitter, if you have any questions!