Inside: Cloth diapering can be a little more complicated than disposables. We could give you twenty cloth diapering tips, but instead we condensed it to just five essentials. They’re really all you need.
When I was in the research phase of my cloth diapering journey, I spent a lot of time scouring the internet for cloth diapering tips in hopes of making the process as pain-free as possible.
Not surprisingly, there is a TON of advice out there.
Modern mamas are passionate about all things baby-related. Helping other moms get started with cloth diapering is a topic they are more than willing to give pointers on.
From the type of cloth diapers that are best, to laundry routines and laundry soap recommendations – it was all too much!
I felt like I was DROWNING in well-intentioned, yet often confusing advice.
If you’re thinking about cloth diapering, you might be facing this same dilemma. That’s why in this post we’re talking about the only cloth diapering tips you really need. No fluff (*pun intended), no angle – just the facts, ma’am.
Top 5 No-Fluff Cloth Diapering Tips (realistic + drama-free)
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The truth is, I’ve cloth diapered and used disposables and went back and forth with my four kids. So I’m not only full of grace for whichever option you choose, but I’m also a big proponent of making those choices as simple as possible.
There are so many hard decisions to make when you’re having a new baby. You don’t need one more stressful thing to add to that list!
So, here’s the no-nonsense advice I would have coveted when I was starting out as a cloth-diapering mama. You can get advice like how to wash cloth diapers almost anywhere, but I’ve never come across these tips anywhere else.
Related: The Pros and Cons of Cloth Diapering (From a Former Fanatic)
1. Don’t spend a small fortune on cloth diapers.
The prints. The endless styles and options. The adorable fluffy bums. The pregnancy hormones…oh my.
Cloth diaper retailers (just like every other baby product retailer) know how to pull your estrogen-laced heart strings. If you really want what’s best for your baby, you’ll buy them the best, right??
However, some cloth diapers can be really expensive and not at all worth what you pay for them, no matter how many kids you imagine you’ll use them for in the future. Or however else you might justify a $40 cloth diaper (we’re supposed to be saving money – hello!).
And friend, your child is NOT going to resell these poo-catchers and fund their college someday. It’s just not gonna happen.
For these reasons, I recommend maintaining a healthy skepticism when researching and buying your initial “stash”. Carefully balance quality versus cost.
So resist peer pressure and all the marketing gimmicks you see out there. I know! The pull is strong.
Consider starting with a very small rotation of about 15 diapers. This leaves you some room for adding more options later on. Then, set a budget and stick to it.
Related: Minimalist Baby Essentials – The Absolute Bare Minimum You Need for Baby
2. Understand the cloth diaper learning curve.
While it IS important to do your research, also know that it might take a while to find the best cloth diapering routine for you and your baby. There is A LOT of trial and error involved.
For us, it took some experience to learn how frequently I would need to change my son’s cloth diaper, as it was quite different from simply looking for a blue line or feeling the outside of the diaper for bulk.
Pro Tip: Cloth diapers need to be changed more often than with disposables – about every two hours.
Another issue was that even when I changed my baby’s diapers frequently, I would go through phases where it seemed he was constantly leaking through between changes.
I had to resist the urge to buy new diapers that promised to be the holy grail of all diapers — and do some trouble-shooting instead.
Let’s be honest: there is always another shiny new thing in the cloth diapering world to make us second-guess what we’ve already bought, and think that the next purchase will be “it”.
But if you take a step back, you’ll probably find you can make do with what you already have.
For instance, sometimes during a growth spurt I needed to do more adjustments to the rise snaps to get a better fit. I also learned that inexpensive bamboo doublers could be added to the cloth diaper liner to make it more absorbent – which was much more practical than buying a new diaper stash.
Some babies are simply heavy-wetters (like mine was), rash-prone, and the list goes on. But with minor tweaks and a little patience, you can make just about any type of cloth diaper work for you.
3. A few helpful tools can make cloth diapering life so much easier.
You know how I said to beware of buying too many diapers? Well, another reason for that is because there are cloth diapering accessories that are just as important as the diapers themselves.
Here are a few cloth diaper essentials that I couldn’t do without:
Technically, you could throw your wet/dirty diapers in a plastic grocery sack for those quick grocery trips. But I was surprised at how much a quality wet bag made a difference.
They are truly waterproof and do keep the stink at bay much longer than even a triple-Walmart-sacked job. You simply throw them in the wash when you wash your diapers. I recommend having two of these to rotate.
You could use either a hanging wetbag, or a diaper pail liner to store your diapers until washing time. I went with a diaper pail liner (basically a large wetbag with an elastic opening), which I used in a medium-sized kitchen trash can beside the changing table.
These are also very easy to clean in the same load with your diapers.
It’s important to NOT use a lid and rather let the air circulate and keep bacteria from rapidly multiplying. By letting the diaper pail air out, there was actually no noticeable smell in our house. (Weird but true advice that I took, and it worked.)
Here’s an unfortunate cloth diapering truth: if your baby is formula fed OR once your breastfed baby starts solids, the poo situation becomes a little trickier.
Breastfed poo is completely water-soluble, meaning the dirty diapers can go right into the wash.
Otherwise, those dirty diapers need to be rinsed before going into the washing machine, and a diaper sprayer is the way to do it. You simply hold the diaper over the toilet and spray at a downward angle. It’s a much better alternative to dunking in the toilet, in my opinion.
Another great thing about these three “tools” is that you can continue to use them for years beyond cloth diapering. Wet bags are great for wet swimsuits at the beach…and, well, bidets are making a comeback so you’ll be on-trend.
4. Leave room for compromise.
Something the fluff-bum-cult won’t tell you is this: Once your baby arrives, you might change your mind about some of your deeply-held hippie convictions.
Yep, it happens to the best of us. And that’s ok.
Before my son was born, I was convinced that disposable diapers were not only expensive but evil. I was determined to not buy a single one until he was potty trained. (Plus, I had spent a small fortune on cloth diapers. Hence, the warnings above.)
While my intentions were good, they weren’t always realistic.
If I needed someone to watch the baby while I went to the dentist, I had to either make sure they were ok changing a cloth diaper, or rush back home so I could rescue the babysitter. That wasn’t always possible, or very considerate.
During the newborn phase when my son hardly slept a wink, I remember fumbling with prefolds and diaper covers at 4 a.m. and just wishing…just a teensy bit…that I had a disposable diaper to throw on him instead.
This is not to discourage anyone from choosing cloth diapers, or to say that it isn’t a great plan for a number of reasons.
It’s simple a reminder to think ahead and realize there are many scenarios that might warrant a disposable diaper here and there. Check out this great option for your emergency disposable stash.
Related: Overnight Diaper Leaks Driving You Crazy? Here’s 11 Ways to Stop Them
5. Learn to shrug off the naysayers.
Becoming a parent taught me how to handle criticism more than any other role in life.
We all harbor different perspectives and experiences, and have different information available to us throughout our parenting journeys.
Because of this, friends and relatives may turn their nose up at our decisions, and it can be disheartening to try to combat their negativity.
This is why I think it’s important to be gracious. And, to learn how to change the subject quickly! Don’t feel the need to be too defensive if your loved ones don’t “get” why you are using cloth diapers.
You might also encounter criticism from seasoned cloth diapering moms on why their choices are better or why their laundry routine is superior. (It’s kinda comical, really.) For whatever reason, diaper laundry is a hot button topic in Facebook groups and playdates.
As time goes on, you’ll hopefully learn to smile when changing the subject isn’t working – and to agree to disagree.
Related: Feeling Judged for Formula Feeding? Here’s How to Handle It
Cloth Diapering for Beginners: Closing Advice
Overall, my very best advice is to simply relax and not let all the options overwhelm you.
Before my baby was born, I had lofty ideas of how effortlessly cloth diapering would work into our lives. In reality it was difficult at times, especially when I started working part-time and had to lug diapers around everywhere.
In the end though, I honestly was proud that we stuck to our cloth diapering goals, and we really did save a lot of money over the 3.5 years that we used them.
As you start your own cloth diapering journey, you’ll make some mistakes, and will need to make some adjustments as you go. You might even decide to use a mix of disposables and cloth diapers at times when you simply need a break.
Just know that the effort is worth it for most moms, and the benefits really can outweigh the negatives. The key is creating a routine that fits your lifestyle and aligns with your personal goals.
Once you have a realistic plan and are as prepared as you can be- simply enjoy that adorable baby and his adorable fluffy bum. You’ve definitely earned it!
Read Next: Should I Put Diapers on My Baby Registry? What To Consider First
Brandi is a mom of four who can usually be found in the kitchen, the garden, or under a pile of laundry somewhere. She writes about faith, family and homemaking at Chicken Scratch Diaries. You can catch her most recent posts on Pinterest.