Get Started With Cloth Diapers

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For the past two years, we have cloth diapered our daughter.  Thanks to cloth diapering, we’ve saved a ton of money and I’ve learned a lot in the process.  I know that there are many reasons someone might decide to use cloth diapers on their baby (or babies), but I imagine that saving money would be at the top of their list.  It is a super frugal thing to do and worth looking into if you are expecting a baby or planning on having another one down the road.

Deciding what to buy and how to get started with cloth diapers can seem overwhelming.  There are numerous diapering options to pick from.  If you are considering using cloth diapers and don’t really know what to buy or where to begin, then maybe I can help you out.  I structured this blog post more like a Q&A post so I can answer typical questions someone might ask before jumping into cloth diapering.

What kind of diapers do I need to buy?

When I was expecting, I researched using cloth diapers like it was a part-time job.  I finally decided that pocket diapers with microfiber inserts looked like the easiest and best way to go.  That is what kind of diapers I bought and it turned out to be a good choice for us.

I have used three different brands of cloth diapers on our daughter.  We had both newborn diapers and one-size diapers.  Our newborn diapers were the KaWaii Baby Newborn Pure & Natural Pocket Cloth Diaper.  Our one-size diapers were Alva Baby pocket diapers.  I also had some pre-owned Bumgenius pocket diapers that I believe were their old style 4.0 which they don’t sell anymore.

How many diapers do I need?

We had sixteen newborn diapers and twenty of the Alva Baby one-size diapers.  I also had five of the Bumgenius one-size diapers that were pre-owned.   Our daughter used newborn diapers exclusively for six months until I had to size up to the one-size diapers.  But, she was a big baby who weighed nine pounds three ounces when she was born.  Your child might not need a one-size diaper at such an early age.

After I got comfortable with cloth diapering I wish I had bought more newborn diapers than I did.  I think having a stash of twenty-four newborn diapers would be ideal.  Since I had just sixteen, I was washing them pretty much every day.  Maybe I could go every other day if I was lucky.  If you are unsure and want to start with fewer diapers the good thing is, you can always buy more.

The more diapers you have in your rotation the less often each of them gets worn and washed.  This will extend the life of your diapers.  If you are cloth diapering with your first child and you plan to keep them and use them for your next child then you might want to build up a larger stash, to begin with.

How much does it cost to buy cloth diapers?

Not really as much as you would think it does.  Here is a breakdown of everything we spent getting set up to cloth diaper our daughter:

  1. Sixteen Kawaii Baby newborn diapers = $66.35
  2. Twenty one-size Alva Baby diapers = $121.45
  3. Two Planet Wise reusable diaper pail liners = $33.00
  4. Trash can from Target = about $15.00 (I can’t remember the exact price)
  5. Bumgenius Cloth diaper sprayer = $69.99 (This was a gift from my mom)
  6. Five Bumgenius one-size 4.0 pre-owned diapers = $50.00 (This was a gift from my mom)
  7. My total cost = $235.80 and my mom spent $119.99.  Keep in mind that I did not buy all of these diapers at once.  Before our daughter was born, I bought the newborn diapers, the trash can, and the pail liners. When she was around five months old, I bought half of the one-size diapers and then a month or so later I bought the rest of them.

Also, we buy a laundry powder each month that is specifically made for washing cloth diapers.  The laundry powder we purchase last about a month.

  1. Molly’s Suds Cloth Diaper Laundry Powder = about $13-$15 on Amazon.

How can I make it less expensive to cloth diaper?

Here are a few ideas you can try to save money on cloth diapers:

  1. Ask for cloth diapers for baby shower gifts.  They can easily be bought on Amazon and in many major baby department stores.  Instead of registering for disposable diapers, let people know that you want to cloth diaper.
  2. Purchase cloth diapers online when they go on sale.  Many major online cloth diaper stores have sales throughout the year. They even tend to go on sale on Black Friday.  When I bought our sixteen newborn diapers, they were having a buy one get one free sale.  So, I really only paid for eight diapers and shipping and ended up with sixteen.  Before you make a large diaper purchase, check and see if a sale is going on.  If you’re willing to wait and be patient before purchasing your diapers, you can probably get them on sale.
  3. Try spreading out the cost of your diaper purchases throughout your pregnancy.  Buy a few here and there as you can afford to.
  4. Buy pre-owned diapers.  Ew… I know this may sound gross, but it really isn’t!  My mom gave me five pre-owned Bumgenius diapers and I used them occasionally on my daughter.  Believe me, they were super clean and besides the elastic being loose you couldn’t even tell they were pre-owned.  You can check Facebook, Craigslist and consignment stores for pre-owned diapers.
  5. After you finish using your cloth diapers, resale them.  Once our daughter outgrew her newborn diapers I sold them and was amazed at how much I got from them.  I ended up selling them in two different batches.  I sold ten of them to a girl for $40 and then took the other six with me when I brought some baby clothes to sell at a consignment store.  So, I don’t really know exactly what the other six diapers brought, but I would image they brought at least $26.  It’s crazy because I basically cloth diapered my daughter for six months in her newborn diapers for free.  Not too bad.  I was amazed when I sold my newborn diapers at how in demand pre-owned diapers were.  The consignment store owner told me that she can’t keep them in stock.  Who knew…

What did you do about nighttime diapers?

When our daughter started sleeping longer at night we were unable to find a cloth diaper that would keep her dry all night long.  I purchased two of the KaWaii Baby Good Night Heavy Wetter Cloth Diapers.  (I bought them off of Amazon and paid $12.45 for each diaper, which totals $24.90 for both of them).  These diapers came with two microfiber inserts and I would put both of them in her diaper before bedtime.  What I didn’t like about them was the fact that it made her diaper really big and she always looked uncomfortable sleeping in it.  They would keep her dry at night but when she woke up her diaper would be really heavy and she didn’t look comfortable.

I also tried buying a set of Thirsties Hemp Inserts to use in her nighttime diapers.  (I bought them off of Amazon and paid $9.25 for a pack of two in the large size).  They were very absorbent but took literally forever to dry after I washed them, so I didn’t use them very long.

That’s when I made the choice to switch to buying disposable diapers (I always bought Luvs) and I used them just at nighttime.  This was a wonderful decision for us because our daughter woke up dry every morning and she didn’t look uncomfortable in her bed at night.  As she got older and she switched from a few naps a day to just one long nap, I also started putting her in a disposable diaper at naptime.

Do you have to exclusively use cloth diapers?

Definitely not!  You do not have to cloth diaper exclusively!  Before our daughter was born, we only received one small package of newborn diapers at a baby shower.  After we ran out of the diapers we took home from the hospital and the one package we had, we started exclusively cloth diapering.  We did so until we started using disposable diapers at nighttime and naptime.

Whenever we traveled out of town on a weekend trip to the lake or a vacation, I would use disposable diapers during that time also.  I did bring our cloth diapers to the lake with us a couple of weekends and used them.  But I finally made the decision to just use disposables when we traveled.

Can you use cloth diapers at daycare or with a sitter?

Since I work from home, our daughter does not attend daycare.  This made it much easier to use cloth diapers all day with her.  I have read many forums online about cloth diapering and it seems like some daycares allow the use of cloth diapers and some do not.  This is something you will need to find out from your child care center if cloth diapers can be used.

Every time I drop my daughter off with either my parents or my husband’s parents to stay for a little while, I bring both cloth diapers and disposable diapers.  I let them know that they can use whichever they want.  I have shown them in the past how her cloth diapers work and how to put them on her.  But, I didn’t want to force them to use the cloth diapers if they didn’t feel comfortable with them.  That is why I would pack both in her bag.

How do you wash them?

It’s really not too difficult to wash cloth diapers.  Whenever you purchase cloth diapers they come with instructions on the best way to wash them.  I washed all of my cloth diapers and inserts together using the Mollys Suds detergent.  Mollys Suds worked great when I first tried it, so I never saw a need to switch to something else.

Here is the routine I follow for collecting my diapers.  If the diaper is wet, I will remove the microfiber insert and throw both the pocket diaper and the insert in my trash can (diaper pail) with the liner in it.  If the diaper is dirty, I will remove the insert.  Then, I wash both the insert and pocket diaper off into the toilet using my diaper sprayer.  After they are clean, I place the insert and the pocket diaper in my trash can.

I collect all of my diapers here until it is time to wash them.  In the beginning, I would wash diapers pretty much every day.  Sometimes I would go every other day.  As your baby gets older and if you have several diapers in your stash, you can wash every two days.  But, you don’t want to let it get too long between washes or your diapers can smell and get nasty.

Once it is time to wash the diapers I take the diaper pail liner out of my trash can and bring it to the laundry room.  Then I place a clean diaper pail liner in my trash can.  This is why I purchased two liners.  I always want to have a clean liner in the trash can while the dirty one is washing.

Here is the routine I use to wash my diapers:

  1. I first start with just a rinse cycle.  If you have the ability to adjust the temperature on this then rinse in warm water.  You do not use detergent for this step.
  2. Then, I set the water to the hot setting and switch the knob to include an extra rinse.  I run a full wash and rinse cycle using two scoops of Mollys Suds detergent.
  3. At the end of the rinse cycle, my washing machine will run the extra rinse cycle.
  4. My routine is this: rinse cycle, wash cycle with detergent, extra rinse cycle.  Pretty simple.

How do you dry them?

When it comes to drying your diapers you have two options.  You can place them in the dryer, or you can line dry them.  I started out by line drying ours because our daughter was born in May and the weather was fairly nice for line drying.  Then, I realized that drying them in the dryer was much quicker and didn’t cause any damage to my diapers.  That’s when I switched to drying them in the machine.

I dry ours on the dryer’s medium heat setting.  I first dry all of the microfiber inserts and the pockets together.  Then once the cycle is finished, I leave the inserts in there for an additional drying cycle again by themselves.  This makes sure that the inserts diapers are really absorbent.

What I did find was that if you have any stains and you place your diapers outside to dry, the sun will naturally bleach the stains away.  From time to time, I take the diapers outside and let them line dry in the sun to help keep them bright white.

Do you have any funny cloth diapering stories?

Yes.  A lot.  Here are just a couple of them.

  1. When I first got our newborn cloth diapers in the mail, I would sit with my son’s teddy bear and practice putting a diaper on and off of him so I could figure out how they worked.  My husband also did the same thing.  This is rather funny looking back on it.  But, the practice really helped.  When it came time to use them on our daughter, I knew exactly how to get them on and off of her.  I was comfortable enough using them that I didn’t second guess our decision to cloth diaper.  Our son also practiced diapering the bear for fun.
  2. I once picked my daughter up from a sitter’s house and found that the cloth diaper she was wearing had been placed backward on her.  Thankfully the backward diaper was still able to keep her dry!  That’s when I decided to start packing both cloth and disposable diapers whenever someone else would watch her.  Then, whoever watched her could use what they were most comfortable with.

What do you think about using cloth diapers?  Would you ever consider give them a try?  Have you already used them before?  Let me know about your experiences!

If you have any cloth diapering questions then leave a comment below and I will try to answer it for you.

Also, you are more than welcome to contact me if you have a really in-depth cloth diapering question you need help with.

2 comments On Get Started With Cloth Diapers

  • We went with grovia for our diapers. We were hesitant at first but after the first week we got in the hang of things. Really glad we have them now with baby 2 due soon!

    • That’s awesome that you can use the same diapers for your second child! That will be some major savings! I was also hesitant with the diapers at first but now I really like using them. I think more people would like cloth diapering if they gave it a try. Thanks for stopping by my blog. 🙂

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