Getting Started with a Cloth Diaper Stash

Yes, I’m going to be one of those cloth-diapering, breastfeeding, baby-food making moms. Not only are all three better for the baby and the environment, but they’re cheaper, too. Seriously, mash up a fresh banana instead of spending 79 cents on a single jar of baby food!

But that baby food will be another post, once my baby gets to solid food. First, come the diapers. If you plan to use cloth diapers, start building a stash before the baby comes.  There are several types of diapers you can try. If you want to test a variety, Jillian’s Drawers offers a $10 three-week cloth diaper trial program. The link goes to the regular program, but they also offer a newborn program if you want to cloth diaper (known as CD in the diapering world) from day one.

Types of Cloth Diapers
First, a quick rundown of the different types. Unlike disposables, there are an array of cloth diapers. Gone are the days of a cotton pre-fold with a huge safety pin and a pair of plastic pants (although you could still do that if you want.) Now there are options. Cute options in all sorts of colors and fabrics.

All-in-one: Like the name says, it’s a waterproof outer layer and several inner layers. You change it just like a disposable. The downside to AIOs is that they take longer to dry after washing, and have to be completely changed each time, so you need more diapers.

All-in-two: Also known as “pocket diapers”, AI2s go on like a disposable or AIO, but have a pocket in the interior where you can stuff a doubler or prefold. These are handy for nights and heavy-wetters. Like AIOs, they usually need to be changed entirely at each changing.

Diaper covers: The third option is more economical, but more work. You’ll need either prefolds, fitteds, or diaper inserts and diaper covers. You can either wrap a prefold around the baby and close it with a Snappi or pin, or trifold it so it’s shaped like an insert. You can also buy inserts or doublers in a variety of materials. Lay them inside the diaper cover, then wrap the cover around the baby. The advantage is that you can just swap in an insert or change the prefold at each changing, unless the cover is soiled, so it saves money and you have less laundry. The disadvantage is that you have to handle a bit more mess. Some brands also offer disposable or flushable inserts, which I’ll use when traveling to see my parents. Flip and gDiapers both offer this option.

Prefolds: There are prefolds and flats. Both are cotton squares that you fold around the baby to use as a first layer diaper, or fold inside a cover or AI2 as an insert. Prefolds are thicker in the middle.

Fitteds: Basically diaper-shaped cloth with snaps or velcro similar to disposables. You use a cover over them.

Snappi: a three-pronged clip you use to hold a prefold in place rather than the old-fashioned safety pins.

Doublers: multiple layers of fabric sewn together that can then be stuffed into a pocket, laid inside a cover, or laid inside a prefold to absorb extra wetness.

One-size: AIOs or AI2s that can be used from infancy to 35 pounds. Most don’t really fit well for babies under ten pounds, but may save money in the long-run.

My Diaper Plan
I’ll post an update once I settle into a routine in several months, but this is my current plan:

Covers with inserts/doublers/prefolds for day. A friend gave me six small gDiapers with 24 inserts. I bought seven other pocket diaper inserts for $15 at a consignment sale, which I can use with Flips. I’ve also purchased four Flip covers on sale for $9 each (slightly imperfect seconds) and two Bummis covers (seconds, buy one get one free) for $12.95. I registered for four Thirsties covers, too. I’ll try them all and see which I like best. Any that I don’t like I can sell on I also registered for Thirsties and Flip inserts and doublers, and OsoCozy prefolds. I’ll see whether I like actually folding the prefold around the baby or just laying a prefold and doubler inside. The gDiapers have special liners and inserts, so no folding is necessary. They’re a hybrid of AI2s and covers.

All-in-Twos for night. I registered for Fuzzibunz and Thirsties Duo Diapers to try both. To get a better fit, I registered for the sized versions. They can fit smaller babies and have a better fit.

Most parents wash diapers every 2-3 days. If you use AIOs or AI2s, you’ll need at least 26 diapers and inserts to get you through two days. If you use covers, you’ll need about four covers and 28 inserts, prefolds, or doublers to get through two days.  I expect my initial stash to include 4 AI2s, 14 covers, 43 inserts and doublers, and 18 prefolds. As my baby gets older and I size up, that will whittle down since I’ll likely find a system I like best and older babies need fewer changes.

The Newborn Question
Some people use cloth diapers on newborns from day one, but you do have to be cautious about the cord stump for the first couple of weeks. Cloth newborn diapers are available, but they’re expensive and only needed for a couple of weeks. If your baby is larger, you may not be able to use them at all. I didn’t opt for any of those. I will either fold my cloth diapers down below the stump, or use disposables until the stump falls off.

Many cloth diapering moms also choose cloth wipes, for a couple of reasons. The first is that you don’t have anywhere to dispose of disposable wipes if you cloth diaper. Most parents using disposables have a diaper genie for wipes and diapers. The genie isn’t cloth diaper friendly, so cloth diapering parents either use a pail or a zippable wet bag for cloth diapers and inserts. They would need another pail for the disposable wipes. The second reason many opt for cloth is that the disposable wipes are not environmentally-friendly. The third is that cloth wipes are gentler on baby’s delicate parts.

Cloth wipes are fairly easy to make and use. You’ll need baby washcloths or no-pill flannel cut into squares. You can make your own cloth wipes liquid. There are several recipes on the internet. Either place in a spray bottle, or put wipes in a warmer and pour the liquid over them. Most parents report needing only one wet wipe for each diaper. Some use a dry wipe to dry baby before putting on the next diaper.

Diaper Sprayers
Obviously, you don’t want to put poop in your washing machine, so the poop goes in the toilet. Unlike the old days, you don’t need to dunk and swish the diaper in the toilet. You can buy a diaper sprayer that attaches to the toilet. Spray the diaper to dislodge the poop, then drop the diaper in the wet bag. Technically, you’re supposed to also remove poop from disposables, too. It’s illegal to put human waste in the garbage. Everyone does it, but it’s still illegal.

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