Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Getting started: The Necessities

So you've decided to Cloth Diaper (or at least your still seriously considering it)  YAY!!  Please don't let this post scare you away.  I'm covering a lot of stuff really fast.  We'll break it down over the next several weeks/months but I feel it's important to get all of this information out there now because I think it will save you a lot of time, stress and MONEY.  In this post i'll be going over everything you'll need to get prepared for the cloth diapering aspect of welcoming your new little one.  Please keep in mind that this is based on my experience alone (with a few helpful tips I gained talking to other moms).  That brings me to my first point.

Here's the thing, one persons "perfect system" will be another persons cloth diapering disaster.  Not everything will work for everybody.  You really have to ask yourself several questions.  The first few weeks of cloth diapering can be rough (as you will be sleep deprived, life altered, etc etc).  I have heard people that take to it like fish in water and then there's people like me.  I'd be lying if I said it was easy for me (or even that I stuck to it completely in the beginning).  If we have any more kids I can promise you a disposable will not touch his/her behind..i am THAT into CDing now. 

The biggest tip I can give you, spend that little bit of money and get some liners!  You can use the disposable biosoakers (GroVia makes some great ones), or you can buy a roll of them (looks similar to toilet paper and several companies make them).  Just rip off one, lay it in your diaper and be done OR you can buy some fleece material and make your own.
Why diaper liners?  Are you worried about meconium (the tarry black "pre poo" that you will experience in the hospital)?  Diaper Liner.  Are you thinking about circumcision and wondering how the ointment will affect your cloth?  Diaper Liner.  Are you worried about diaper rash creams (that you have to be particular about with CD's)?  Diaper Liner.  You get my point.  **side note:  I probably will not cover circumcision in my blog because it can be a hot topic but if you have questions/concerns please private message me and I would love to discuss my thoughts and experience. 

I've already rambled enough and haven't even gotten to the essentials yet.  Let me get down to it.  "THE CLOTH DIAPER LIST" (per Missy).

1.  Diapers

As you know by now, you have many options.  Here's where you really need to look at your personal needs and try and go for the diapers that will suit you.  So how many diapers do you need?  That depends on how often you want to do laundry.  The average baby needs a diaper change 10-12 times a day.  That is average.  Your child may use more or less.  The older they get, the less they will need a change but it will take a while to really get into a routine and establish an exact number of what works for you.
  • You can probably get by on 13-15 diapers.  You will be washing daily (most likely at night or early morning when your baby only has a couple clean ones left).  They will need to be quick drying diapers because chances are you won't even get them shelved before you use them again.
  • An easier option is to have 2 days worth, or 20-25 diapers.  That's one set to wash and one to wear.  You will probably still be doing a diaper load every day but you will be able to put them up instead of diapers going straight from basket to booty.
  • The best option is to have 3 days worth or 30-40 diapers.  That's 2 sets in the wash and one to wear.  This will allow you to wash every 2-3 days and it will also be less wear and tear on your diapers.
This is usually why you will find a variety of diaper types in an individuals stash.  40 AIO diapers at 12-30 dollars a pop doesn't sound as economical as a few covers and prefolds which are just a few dollars or less.  The more variety you try and the longer you CD the more comfortable you will get (especially when you find that perfect combination and everything clicks).  I suggest keeping an eye out on some deal sites and snagging a few here and there you may be interested in.  A few are:
ecobabybuys.com  ** my favorite
You can also check out Jillians Drawers, Kelly's Closet, Mothers Milk Boutique, Green Mountain Diapers and Cotton Babies (all of which offer sale, clearance and seconds sections).

Newborn Diapers 
Babies grow FAST but you have several options.  You can:
a)  Buy your own newborn stash.  If you purchase a whole set just to get you through those first few weeks or months the chances are you're going to spend a pretty large chunk of change, especially if you get AIO diapers.  Granted, since they're not used a lot they will be in excellent condition and you will be able to resell them if you put your mind to it (recovering 50-90% of the cost).  There are many buy, sell, trade boards just for this.  It allows you to get exactly what you want.
b)  Borrow a friends.  Chances are you know someone that CD's.  Just ask around.  Any parent that is into cloth diapering (and has kept their stash) will more than likely be thrilled to let you borrow some.  Like I mentioned before not everyone's individual system works for every family so you run the risk of not meshing well with the borrowed diapers you receive.  But hey, it's little to no cost. 
c)  A Newborn Trial pack.  Check out Jillians Drawers newborn Changing Diapers Changing Minds trial pack.  It's a 21 day trial.  You pay 160.00 and get a variety set of newborn diapers.  Try them out for 21 days and then send them back for a 140.00 refund (to your card, it's not a store credit).  Go here: http://www.jilliansdrawers.com/products/clothdiapers/tryclothfor10/newborntryclothdiapersfor10 and check out the details (includes a list of the diapers).  This DOES mean you will be washing diapers every day for 21 days unless you get a few more to supplement. 

Infant Diapers
If your baby is small or skinny the chances are they will only fit into designated "newborn" diapers or prefolds with covers.  There may be diapers (even if they are "one size") that will not fit until your baby is several weeks (or even months) old.  When your little one grows out of the newborn size you will be able to try different types of diapers to see what works for you.  I used prefolds/covers for Trace as a newborn but he HATED to be wet.  After the first couple weeks I changed diapers every hour.  That is why I got really discouraged and went through several packs of disposable diapers until I finally figured out what worked for us.  Don't give up.  There are so many options just keep trying them out until you find what works.  There's a few things you have to ask yourself.
a)  Who's watching your child?  Are you going back to work or staying home?  If you are leaving your child with a babysitter or day care you will want to discuss CDing with them.  AIO's are definitely the easiest (or you can stuff the pocket diapers).  You will want to make sure you have enough.
b)  Think about your night time situation.  As a baby gets older they sleep longer and therefore wet more.  I found (and still find) this to be the most challenging part.  There have been several nights that's I've had to change Trace entirely (several times).  If you have a heavy wetter you may need to add a handful of super absorbent diapers (or inserts) to your stash.
c)  How often do you leave the house?  If you are out and about a lot then the chances are bulky AIO systems (while having the least amount of parts) take up the most room.

There is also a 21 day trial at Jillians Drawers for older babies (after newborn up to 32 lbs).  It includes several different types of diapers and like the newborn trial you return it after 21 days for a full refund (minus 20 dollars).  Or you can keep it if you like it all and it's still a great deal.

2.  Wet Bags / Dry Bags / Pail Liners

Wet bags or pail liners are what you will use to store your dirty diapers in between washes.  Again, you have several options.

Wet Bags
These are lined with waterproof material.  You just toss your dirty diapers into them and dump the diapers into the wash when you're ready.  The wet bags goes right into the wash with them.  You can find a variety of different sizes, types and closures.  I have a hanging wet back from Fuzzibunz.  It hooks right onto my changing table.

It's helpful to have 2 large wetbags and 2 small ones (for your diaper bag).

Dry Bags
Just like wet bags only they have no waterproof material.  You can really use anything for a dry bag.  There are several companies that make a wet/dry bag.  It holds your clean diapers on one side and dirty diapers on the other.  Very helpful for a diaper bag.

Pail Liners
These can be dry bags or wet bags.  You usually place them in a trash can (or diaper pail system) to hold your dirty diapers.  Again they come in a variety of sizes.  The best part about Pail liners is that there are a lot of accessories you can purchase to combat the dirty diaper smell.  They are, typically, more expensive.

Planet Wise Diaper Pail System

3.  Diaper Accessories

Cloth Wipes
We covered this in a previous blog but if you are interested in cloth wipes you will need enough to get you through each wash.  I would suggest starting with 20-30 and add from there if you need to.

Wipe Solution
Again, you will only need it if you are planning on cloth wipes (though it is helpful for spraying on the tush for extra protection).

Snappis or Diaper Pins
If you are using contours, flats or prefolds you will need a few sets of diaper pins or snappis.  Personally I have no experience with diaper pins and probably never will because I like the snappi so much.

Here's a quick youtube video.  You can easily get by with 2 snappis although if you are using mainly prefolds and covers you may want to get more.

I mentioned it already but liners are a great thing for cloth diapers.  Whether you make them yourself or buy them it can prevent stains, make cleanup easier and is the perfect solution if you have to use a cream on your baby that you're unsure about.

4.  Diaper Cream

Here's a very important thing to remember about cloth diapers. 


You must look for a diaper cream that says "safe for cloth diapers".  Most diaper creams have ingredients that will ruin your diapers.  Either they have chemicals that will break down the fabric or they will cause a buildup that will make your CD's repel any sort of liquid.  Thankfully if you are using cloth diapers your babes bottom will be free of chemicals and get more air (because of the fabric makeup of CD's) so you will probably not have to deal with diaper rash.  There are some kids, however, that are just prone to diaper rash and if your little one is allergic to a certain food(s) you will most likely have to reach for a tube of something.  So what works?

Like everything else in CDing you have several options. 
  • A cloth diaper safe store bought cream.  California Baby makes a calming diaper rash cream that is cloth diaper safe (although the website says to spot test).  This is easily accessible but pretty pricey at almost 12 dollars for just under 3 oz.  There may be some other options out there.
  • A diaper cream made specifically for cloth diapers.  CJ's has a line of products.  I have tried CJ's BUTTer which is made just for cloth diaper bottoms.  The downside is that you probably won't find these products in a store (unless you have a local cloth diaper store).  There are many online cloth diaper sites that you can order from and Amazon has almost everything.  Almost every diaper brand will have their own diaper cream.
  • Make your own cream.  There are so many (natural) things that are great for baby.  Just like a wipe solution you can try your hand at cloth diaper cream.  Again, it will probably be a little pricey but you get the benefit of making your own and it also doubles as a skin cream for adults and toddlers.  If you want to go simple there are several other things that work:
  • Coconut Oil.  If you live by a health food store, Whole foods or farmers market, or even in a bigger grocery store you can find coconut oil.  Coconut oil is anti-fungal, anti-viral and antibacterial.  You can use it in solid form or liquid (it will liquify around 72-76 degrees).  It also doubles as moisturizer, sunburn tamer and is great for eczema.
  • Lanolin.  Make sure you get pure lanolin.  The easiest place to find it is in Lansinoh cream.  That is the same cream you will be using if you breastfeed.  It's 100% safe for babies and for cloth diapers.  I am currently using Lansinoh for Trace and it's amazing!
I think that will be enough information today =)  I was going to post my CD stash and accessories but I'm already getting long winded.  Maybe in another blog.  If there's anything you'd like me to cover specifically let me know.  I think I'll do prepping and washing diapers next!


  1. I'm glad you mentioned using the liners if you have a diaper cream that isn't CD safe...I was actually already thinking of doing that & was going to check with you. We use Butt Paste, and I'm really pleased with how fast it clears up any redness, and it has more natural ingredients than other creams. =]

  2. Thank you so much for all this great info! My head is spinning from all the different systems out there (I even had cd nightmares last night) but I think I am geting the hang of it. I have an idea for a system that we may try (incorporating 3 different kinds of diapers) using AI2'S, fitteds, and gdiapers biodigradable for when we leave the house. I do want to chat with you more about all this sometime so be expecting a phone call!

  3. This is really great information. Thanks for putting it all in one place! What a great resource. Don't forget your local diaper service or store! Cloth diapers are pretty well-regulated when it comes to price, which means that if a particular website is having a sale that's too good to be true, they are probably doing it without the permission of the wholesaler. If you see a great deal on a particular brand, ask a local store to match it. They usually will, and you'll be supporting your local economy. They will also be able to give you hands-on advice if you have any questions or problems with your diapers.