Guide to successful cloth diapering
Cloth diapering is not as difficult as you might think. I personally use cloth diapers to save money. Other moms do it for environmental reasons, or health reasons. Whatever your motivation, this post aims to make cloth diapering easy for you by offering sound and useful advice.
Why choose cloth diapering?
Did you know a newborn baby requires on average 8 to 10 diaper changes a day? That’s 900 diapers for the first 3 moths of their lives, 3 to 4 boxes of disposable in the landfill, 90 to 150 dollars plus the price of wipes.
I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a steep price to pay environmentally and financially. Don’t forget the fact that some kids don’t get fully potty trained until the age of 2 or 3 years old. It adds up quickly.
What if you take that original 150 to 200 dollars, invest them in quality cloth diapers instead? There are great cloth diapers with some great prices. You probably will still have some money for reusable wipes if you want to consider that route. You could also be qualified for free cloth diapers!
On the other hand, cloth diapering doesn’t involve all the chemicals and irritants you normally would get with disposable. It’s also Eco-friendly at some level. Lastly, it’s a smart way to save money if you use them for multiple children.
Types of diapers
Cloth diapering can involve different types of nappies and materials. Such as pre-fold or flats, fitted, pockets, all-in-one, and hybrids; PUL, fleece, bamboo, micro fleece, cotton, and wool are some of the most commonly used materials.
Pre-fold or Flats:
These are the old school type of diapers that some of us saw our parents using on our younger sibling growing up. They look like a big dish towel doubled over. The pre-fold or flat diapers need to be folded, clipped, and covered with waterproof covers. They are inexpensive( $1- $4 a piece), easy to take care of, and versatile( you can also use them as burp cloth, towels, mats in a pinch) There is almost no bad side about flats as they never leak, beginner friendly, will be useful long after baby outgrows diapers.
Fitted cloth diapers usually come with Velcro or snaps closures. They offer full coverage absorption but a diaper cover is very handy to render them waterproof. They also have elasticized openings for legs, and hips. Since they are very absorbent, you could use the diaper cover for more than one change.
Like the the name suggest, those cloth nappies have pockets inside to put inserts with a waterproof outer-shell. They provide the flexibility to add more than one insert to prevent big blow out especially when you are dealing with runny poops. You can also add the insert inside while having a biodegradable liner outside to facilitate quick cleanups. This method also requires less water.
The most straightforward one, the all-in-one cloth nappies require no folding, no stuffing, no clipping. In fact, It is very similar to a normal disposable. It’s waterproof and very absorbent. They also require more attention when cleaning as it’s all in one part. They easily get detergent build-ups if not careful.
Lastly, hybrids in the cloth diapering systems come with a waterproof shell and a removable inner cloth lining. They are similar to the all-in-ones with the difference that you have to remove the lining before cleaning.
What of materials are cloth diapers made of?
Once you figure out that you want to give cloth diapering a go, the next normal step is to find out what type materials they are made of. Cloth nappies usually comes micro-fleece, bamboo,hemp,modal, or cotton for the inner layer or inserts to facilitate absorbency.
Additionally, some are even infused with charcoal to minimize build up and odors. Bamboo or hemp are more gentle on the baby skin and don’t retain moisture that could later on lead to rash. It’s advisable to get organic cotton for the inserts as they are the closest to the baby skin to avoid irritation.
Bamboo: resistant to bacterial growth.
Hemp: Thin, slowly absorbent compared to cotton or bamboo. Bacterial growth resistant. It is best to get it in a blend with other fabric like cotton to boost absorbency.
Cotton: Generally not the most Eco choice. Always go for organic cotton to avoid harsh chemical treatments.
Modal: made of wood pulp is very soft to the skin. Modal is resistant to detergent and hard water buildup.
Micro-fleece: Not the most durable material. It very easy to catch odors.
However, The outer layer or shells usually require sturdier materials that are waterproof. PUL, fleece, and wool are the most commonly used ones.
PUL is a laminated type of fabric that is highly durable and flexible.
Wool: Breathable, absorbent but needs a treatment of lanolin to be waterproof. Obviously not vegan-friendly.
No matter which material you decide to go with, always ensure they were not sprayed with formaldehyde to become waterproof.
How many diapers do you need?
Assuming you will wash them 2 to 3 times a week, you will need about 24 to 30 cloth diapers. Having an extra half a dozen will give you more flexibility and prepare you for urgent situations. Imagine having to deal with diarrhea in the middle of the night!( Knock on wood!)
At the beginning, flats are more practical financially. Newborns go through 8 to 10 diapers a day, imagine doing laundry 2 to 3 times a day while you are trying to recover from labor. So, buying flats are not only cheaper but you can also also buy more of them and just add covers.
Furthermore, it is also advisable to get different types of diapers until you find your groove. Not all cloth diapers are created the same. Some of use also have the issue of hard water to deal with. Buy a few from different brands and types and see which ones work for you.
Lastly, don’t forget you can also pass them down to family members and friends when you are done with cloth diapers business, sell them on eBay, or even in some Facebook groups. Just make sure they are not in complete disarray! Reselling them is a good way to stay frugal!