Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Getting Started with Cloth Diapering

There are lots of reasons to want to do cloth diapers. . .saving the earth, saving money, health reasons, or just how darn cute those little baby bums look in a cloth diaper!  I am personally in the saving money camp of cloth diapering (although the side benefits are great!), so if you are thinking about getting into cloth diapering for the same reason, this post is for you!

I started cloth diapering in April of 2009 when I had two little ones in diapers under the age of two, and no end in sight to the parade of diapers coming in and out of our house!  I really, really wanted to stay home with my little boys, so the spring of 2009 was the time when I really started crunching the numbers and trying to do just that.   Cutting down on regular monthly expenses seemed like a good way to start, and diapers were a big expense! We had two amazing families on our street at the time who were doing cloth diapers and helped us get started.  Because, let's face it, if you are getting started with cloth diapers it can seem really overwhelming if you just google it, so we were lucky to have some mentors along the way!  I am now cloth diapering my 5th baby (4 of my own and my neighbor who I watched from 6 months to 16 months), so here are the lessons that I have learned to get you started!!

1.  If you want to save money, invest in something you know the quality of.  Cloth diapers hold their value like a Honda, so don't hesitate to invest in something good, because chances are if you change your mind you can resell and make good money back!  Name brand is going to resell better than other cloth diapers, so keep that in mind when buying new.

2.  If you want to save money, decide what you want and try to find it used!  People who like to keep a variety of diapers to start often narrow it down and sell of their stash, some don't have time, etc. . .so their change in plans is your gain!  Don't hesitate to buy used even if they are stinky, stained, worn out fasteners, etc. . .you can save big bucks and always fix that later (I will have another post about washing)  Also, if you buy used you can typically turn around and resell with very little loss!  I have bought and sold diapers from craigslist, ebay, and facebook garage sale groups with great success!

3.  The cheapest way to go to get started is prefolds with a cover.  We started off with unbleached prefolds (which require some more prep, but worth it) and Bummis covers.  The covers can be used for more than one changing, so you can get by with less covers and a bunch of the less expensive prefolds. If you have a little more to invest up front, go for a pocket diaper or all in one like Bumgenius that will grow with your baby and take you all the way through your diaper years!

4.  Save yourself a world of trouble and go for snap diapers.  Those hook and loop fasteners are so tempting, but allow me to throw my two cents in after starting off with those. . .just go for snaps.  No matter how hard you try, at some point a big old stuck together string of diapers is going to come out of the washer every time, and at some point they will get so un-sticky that your one or two year old is going to calmly remove his diaper and poop on the floor while you aren't looking.   Not that that ever happened to me or anything. :) Snaps are easier to wash and just hold up longer.  If you buy used diapers with hook and loop fasteners, there are many WAHM's who specialize in converting them to snaps for you!

5.  Go on the low end of your estimate of what you need to start.  6 covers and 15-20 prefolds might do the trick for doing the laundry every few days.  It just depends on your strategy, which brings me to my next point. . .don't shoot me. . .

6.  If you are doing cloth diapers to save money, don't be afraid to use disposables every now and again.  Like overnight.  So, yeah, every day.  I love me some Target brand.  You can spend a fortune on different diapers and stuffers and liners and inserts and trying all different CD safe ointments for when your baby busts out in a rash from being in a wet diaper for 12 hours, take it from me.  After a few months of that business, I went straight to sposies for overnight and I haven't looked back!  In fact, after I felt confident that I had made my money back that I spent on my diapers, I got more laid back and just decided any time I used a cloth diaper it was a bonus, as opposed to the other way around.  My kids wore disposables on long outings, vacations, the ENTIRE time our house was on the market, etc.  We must have a balance that gives us sanity!  After two months battling a yeast diaper rash in one of my little guys because I was so determined to use the cloth all the time, I finally learned my lesson.  For me, the cloth diapers are a budget tool I can use strategically and I can't kill myself if they don't work all the time.

7.  Besides the diapers, you will need a wet bag.  We used a Bummis wet bag, hanging in our old white plastic kitchen trash can.  We throw it in the wash with every diaper load and this has been serving us well for 4 years now!!  You can buy another smaller wet bag for on the go, or just use empty plastic grocery bags for that job ( . . .or just use disposables when you go out!  Changing a poopy cloth diaper on the go is not exactly a fun time!)

8.  Get some wipes- to me, hemp seems to be the most efficient as far as needing only one wipe to do the job.  I have been using the same ones for 4 years, nonstop.  Now that's a good investment!  Or, just take an old flannel receiving blanket and cut it up into small flannel wipes.  I just get the wipes wet in the sink each time I need one for a diaper.

9.  A diaper sprayer might be nice, but not necessary.  Alternatively, just use rubber gloves and dunk it in the toilet when it has some poo to wash off.  The sprayer does make a fine mist of poopy particles that you have to watch out for!!  Plus, they have really gone up in cost since we bought ours.  You might decide you can get by without, particularly when your baby is breastfed.

10.  If you are diapering to save money, you might not want to cloth diaper your newborn.  Wait until they get to 8 pounds if you are doing a one size diaper like bumgenius, or 15 or so pounds and get the larger bummis super snap prefolds and covers.  Special newborn sized diapers will not typically pay for themselves, and usually you get sposie diapers as baby gifts anyways that will help defray the cost of the 10 diaper changes a day!!  Plus, when you have a newborn, you are KIND of busy, so learning another new skill of cloth diapering might not be first on your priority list.

11.  Get a good detergent to start, so you can save money on playing around with what to use.  My time tested go-to is Country Save, and I will go over how to use it in my next post about washing!  Stay tuned!

And read this AWESOME POST from one of my favorite laugh out loud blogs, Crappy Pictures.  Love.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section, I have been there and I am glad to help!!

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