When I decided to cloth diaper our first baby, Little Miss S, I literally started from ZERO knowledge. I had no clue where to even begin. I didn’t know a single person in real life who cloth diapered (still don’t), so I had no one to ask.
I hit the blogosphere for info. I spent countless hours reading all about cloth diapering. I was on bed rest for the last 4 weeks of my pregnancy, so I had LOTS of time to spare. And I’ll tell you what – there is SO MUCH great info out there.
I really felt like I knew what I was doing by the time Little Miss S had arrived.
But of course, there was a learning curve. It started with learning that all of the diapers I had acquired were too large for her tiny body. She was only 6 pounds 1 ounce when she was born. I had spent my diaper budget and couldn’t get smaller diapers, so I had to put the diapers up for a couple of months and use disposables.
Then once we started back up, there was the learning curve of getting into a diapering routine. Where to keep the diaper pail (nursery? bathroom?); how often to wash; method of washing. The perfect system I had in mind didn’t end up working for us, mostly because I had never used cloth diapers before and didn’t really know what it would be like to use them.
Here is a great post from View Along the Way that I’ve shared before that gives a really great description of a cloth diapering routine:
I learned a lot cloth diapering my first baby. By the time Little Miss K was born, I felt like a pro.
I’m sure you’ve predicted where I’m going with this: there was still more to learn.
With Little Miss K turning a year old last month, I’ve been looking back on everything I have learned about being a mom, and I’ve learned a few things about cloth diapering that I want to share with others.
The biggest thing I’ve learned is that it is so much easier than you might imagine.
Seriously. If you are having doubts or are anxious to start with cloth diapers, I hope you at least give it a try. It really isn’t as messy and complicated as you might be thinking.
Here are six lessons I’ve learned about cloth diapering that I hope help others with getting started.
It is good to have variety.
Refer back to my situation with my tiny newborn and too-big diapers. It might be a good idea to have a variety of sizes. However, many people choose to use disposables through the newborn stage (I didn’t know this until recently – I thought I had FAILED at cloth diapering when we went this route!!). Even still, different cloth diaper types have their pros and cons. Check out my post on comparing cloth diapers for a bit more on that.
The grossest part isn’t the poop…
It’s the pee. From my experience, the poop goes mostly in the toilet. The pee, on the other hand, can’t be gotten rid of before the diaper goes in the wash. It is what makes your diaper pail stinky and sometimes makes your diapers smell strongly like ammonia (in which case, this post by Kelly’s Closet will be VERY helpful).
Get TWO (at least) large wet bags.
This seems so obvious to me now, but I did not even think to do this until I was diapering baby number 2. My sister had planned to cloth diaper and decided later that it wasn’t for her, so she gave me a bunch of her supplies. So I just so happened to acquire a second large wet bag just before Little Miss K was born. I’ll tell you what, that makes Diaper Day (that is what I call the day I wash diapers) much easier!
It is sort of like a trash bag. You take the old one out and put the new one in. Before I had two, I was never quite sure what to do with dirty diapers on diaper day. Sometimes I’d try to get the load washed as quickly as I could and just stack wet diapers neatly in the bottom of the pail, dry side out, until the wet bag was dry (and they should really be line dried!). Other times I’d just go ahead and use disposables until everything was clean and dry. Now, diaper day is seamless. I just take the full bag out and put it all in the wash and put the backup clean bag in the pail to collect dirty diapers while the others are in the wash.
You really only need about a 3 or 4 day supply of diapers.
When I was starting out, I wanted a week’s worth of diapers so I only had to wash once per week. Two things make that unfeasible. Number one: the smell. You really don’t want diapers sitting around for more than 3 days. Number two: the diaper pail. They typically only hold about 3 days worth of dirty diapers. If you still have four days to go to Diaper Day because you only wash once per week, you’ll need another pail and another wet bag.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
I always keep some disposable diapers on hand because sometimes you just need to be able to throw the diapers away. One of the biggest sources of anxiety about getting started for me was figuring out what to do when we went to visit my in-laws. I just couldn’t see toting dirty diapers back home after a weekend at their house (2 hours away) and I didn’t want to have to wash diapers while we were visiting. Well guess what. It is OK to use disposables sometimes when you are a cloth diapering family.
Last but not least: Getting started is the hardest part.
It really is. I was gung-ho about cloth diapering, but once I got a taste for the convenience of disposables, it was really hard for me to start using cloth again. I just imagined all the poop I’d be dealing with instead of just tossing it out with the disposable diaper. And at first it was a bit awkward and it took some time to get into a routine and really figure things out. But after that, it is actually very easy to cloth diaper. I’m now into a year of cloth diapering baby number 2 and if we have any more babies, they will be cloth diapered as well. And I encourage every momma and momma-to-be that I meet who expresses any interest or curiosity to go for it!
If you are still hesitant about cloth diapering because of the initial cost, I recommend looking for secondhand diapers. Here are some tips on buying used diapers that may be helpful.
Do you use cloth diapers? What are your insider tips? New to cloth dipes and have questions? Comment below!