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Considering cloth diapering?

When I was pregnant, I was so gung-ho that I was going to cloth diaper my little one. I’d researched all the brands, picked out all the diaper colors and patterns I was going to get and was just waiting for the 20-week scan so I could find out if my baby was a boy or a girl.

I was so frustrated with the naysayers – ‘it’s too much work’, ‘you won’t keep it up’. Ugh! When we found out our little one was a boy, I didn’t go crazy and buy dozens and dozens of diapers (I was going to prove everyone wrong, but I was still hedging my bets). I bought a set of 10 cheapies, secondhand (I sterilised the heck out of them before we used them).

Even though I didn’t end up sticking with cloth diapering, I still think it’s a great thing to do. Why I didn’t stick with it? Well, I started a blog. And freelance writing. Something had to give, and since many of my cloth diapers were leaky it was an easy choice.

Are you planning to use cloth diapers? This is the first post in a series on cloth diapering, stay tuned for the next episodes:

10 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Before Choosing Cloth Diapers

The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Cloth Diapering

How to Choose the Right Cloth Diapers for You (coming soon)

Here are 10 things you might not know about cloth diapering:

1. There’s a whole world of options and… it’s incredibly confusing!

All-in-ones, all-in-twos, prefolds, pocket diapers, hybrids, shells, fitteds, inserts… bamboo, charcoal, fleece, micro-fleece, PUL… The number of options is confusing and it’s hard to know what exactly you need.

Here’s a quick run down of the main diaper types:

  • An All-in-one (AIO) is a diaper that is, as it says, all-in-one. This is the cloth version of a disposable. It’s easy to use and understand (often touted as ‘dad and childcare-friendly’) but it can take longer to dry because of the thickness of the absorbent layers. Check out these All-in-ones on Amazon.
  • An All-in-two (AI2) is very similar to an AIO, except that it has an absorbent layer that can be removed. This helps with drying times. Check out these All-in-twos on Amazon.
  • Prefolds are the old-school cloth diaper. A flat piece of absorbent material that requires a waterproof cover to avoid wicking. Check out these prefolds on Amazon.
  • Pocket diapers come in two parts, the waterproof shell and absorbent liners. Pocket diapers are so-called because they have a pocket in which you can stuff the absorbent layers. Check out these pocket diapers on Amazon.
  • Fitted diapers look very similar to AIO or pocket diapers in that they are the same shape and have clips, however they are NOT waterproof and require a cover over the top to prevent leaking and wicking. Check out these fitted diapers on Amazon.

2. You’ll need to change diapers more often

Disposable diapers are incredibly absorbent. Much more so than cloth. Because of this, you’ll need to change cloth diapers more frequently – every 2-3 hours.

3. One diaper brand might be a better fit for your baby than another

This happens sometimes with disposable diapers, but it also happens with cloth – sometimes one brand won’t fit your baby very well. Perhaps your baby has skinny legs, or, conversely, is seriously chunky in the thigh area. Some brands might just be shaped wrongly for your little one.

4. Buying cloth diapers in bulk will save you money but…

Ebay and Gumtree are full of listings from people who bought a full set (40+) of cloth diapers and then didn’t continue using them. The best way to start out with cloth? Start small! Get a set of 10 to 20 (maybe even second hand), and decide whether it’s going to work out for you.

Then, if you’ve got a brand that fits your baby well, buy a set.

Another option is to use a cloth diaper hire service – you can try different brands and someone else gets to clean them! Win!

5. You have to deal with poop (ok, this is probably not a huge surprise)

One major downside to cloth diapering that you can’t get around – you have to deal with poop. Apparently breastfed baby poop is actually washable, so you don’t need to clean it out of the diaper before putting it in the washing machine… That sounds a bit yucky.

Some ways to make dealing with poop easier:

6. You can buy them second hand

Ok, you might think this is gross. But, hear me out! I mentioned before that a lot of people buy full sets of diapers and then don’t use them. You can buy lots of diapers (good brands) for cheap, second hand and they’ve barely been used.

Even if they have been used, a thorough strip and clean will do the trick and leave them like new.

7. You need to know how to wash your diapers correctly

Do you know how to use your washing machine properly? (I sure didn’t! I was washing all our clothes on a pre-wash setting…) You can probably get away with it, like I did, if all you’re washing is clothes. But once you start washing diapers… hoo boy… you better be washing those suckers properly or you’ll know about it!

Incorrectly washed diapers can harbour yeast, thrush, and cause nasty diaper rash. Not to mention they’re really stinky.

You need to know what type of detergent to use (it’s not an ultra-mild one), what temperature to use, and how full your load should be. I joined this Facebook group to learn exactly how to wash my diapers correctly – they gave me a full wash routine and I never had stinky diapers.

8. Dry pailing is the way to go

You might remember old-school diapers sitting around in buckets of water waiting for wash day. These days it’s all about dry-pailing. Why dry? Well, with the modern cloth nappies in particular it’s not good for them to sit around sodden and full of water.

9. Cloth Diapers might make baby potty train earlier

The thought is that since cloth diapers are less perfectly dry than disposables, baby makes the connection between toileting and damp nappies sooner.

10. You can use cloth wipes too

The number of diaper changes you do in the first few weeks… having gentle, soft cloth wipes dampened with water is so much kinder on your baby’s bottom than chemically wipes.

Using cloth wipes help with diaper rash and also save money on the endless supply of wipes you’ll need otherwise.

You can either buy cloth wipes that are intended for that purpose, or do what I did and buy little baby face washers to use as wipes. They were the perfect size and super soft (also thoroughly inexpensive compared to the ‘official’ kind.)

That’s a Wrap

Ready to begin your cloth diapering journey? Stay tuned for the rest of this series!

Got any questions about cloth diapering? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer you.