Cloth Diapering: Getting Started

Cloth Diapering: Getting StartedI would love nothing more than for other moms to think about what’s best for their children.  I know we already do that as moms, but sometimes I tend to do things out of convenience.  For instance, why did I choose to use disposables on my son?  Convenience.  It had nothing to do with the fact that disposable diapers were good for him.  They were easy.  Yes, there are environmental impacts with using disposables, and yes there are some environmental arguments on both sides of diapering (cloth vs disposables).  But ultimately I decided to make the switch with my daughter because it’s what’s best for her.  Not me.  Not even the environment really (though I do care about it, and mostly try to be a good steward).  But when it really gets down to my true motives, it’s my kids.  Isn’t that what “mothering” is all about?

This summer’s “green” series is my feeble attempt to get moms to think outside the box a little bit.  Question current practices, perhaps, research them and possibly find better alternatives for your family.  Don’t just take my word for it.  Research it for yourself.  You might find that my research and opinions might not be what’s best for your family, but that’s for you to decide on an individual basis.  However, if you do decide that switching over to cloth diapering or better products and practices is for you, don’t get crazy (like I have done a few times) and start changing everything about your life or you’ll get overwhelmed.  Take baby steps.

[I know I personally have been mostly content in my state of ignorant bliss, but now that I’m “aware,” I am moderately uncomfortable with my “normal” routine.  Okay, I lied.  I am really uncomfortable and welcome the change wholeheartedly.]

Last time we talked about options in cloth diapers. Now I’ll address some questions I had when I was brand new to cloth.

How many do I need?

I was able to cloth diaper full time when I had less than ten diapers; however, I was chained to my washing machine, washing twice per day. This was worth it to me since it meant I didn’t have to buy any disposables and I could spend my budget on more cloth, instead of throwing my money in the trash.
Once I had about 15 diapers, I was able to wash daily and not have to rush to get them ready for the next day.
After my stash consisted of more than 20, I was able to go to every other day washing. Keep in mind that my son was 4 months old when I started cloth diapering, so we didn’t use more than 8-10 diaper per day. Younger babies often go through even more.
How many you buy really depends on your baby’s wetting habits (I was using 8-10 per day at 4 months and now only about 6 per day at around 12 months) and how often you want to wash.
If you are doing covers and prefolds, aim for 6-8 covers and 20-25 prefolds.

How often do you change them?

Cloth diaper soakers can be incredibly absorbent, though they don’t have the super absorbent gels that disposables do. My son can be a bit of a heaver wetter, so I aim to change him every two hours. If we’re going to be out and I know it might be a while before I can change him (or if we’re going to be in the car for a while) I will add a doubler to the diaper and choose one of my diapers that I know to be more absorbent and leak proof. We’re able to go 12 hours at night with no trouble.

Diapering a newborn

I’ve never cloth diapered a newborn, though boy do I want to! Hee hee. I let all the fear & confusion stop me from cloth diapering from the start. Many people do preemie or infant size prefolds with covers since they are very economical and newborns tend to soil a diaper as soon as it touches their tushie.
In a slight digression, cloth diapering is addictive, I’m not even TTC and I have a newborn diaper wish list, heh. If I get to cloth diaper a newborn, I would want to try some Bumgenius XS AIOsRumparooz Lil JoeysSwaddlebees Mini Nappis and some size 1 thirsties duo diapers. I would probably have to fill out the stash with prefolds and covers until most of the one size diapers I have fit. I think the Kissaluvs and Rumparooz would be the one size diapers to fit a small baby the best.

What about at night?

I had a little bit of trouble with this at first, it was trial and error. The biggest problem I had was sizing up the one size Bumgenius in order to stuff it full of doublers left me with a leaky leg gap. I figured out the best insert combination (two full size microfiber inserts and a hemp doubler or a single superdoinside a Bumgenius pocket or a Dypes by Dixon Sweet Slumber) and didn’t have much trouble after that.
When babies are tiny you get used to changing a diaper every time they wake to nurse/eat, but when they get older, it gets tougher. Neither of my kids has been a great sleeper, and when I could sneak in, nurse my son, slip him back in bed and tiptoe out, I did it, even though I probably should have been changing him too. However, I wasn’t about to wake him and have him scream and wake the whole house up while I changed him! I experimented with some super absorbent fittedsand wool soakers and that combo worked great too.

You really have to experiment until you find what works for your baby. Since I figured things out, I haven’t had a single night time leak. I had leaks and blowouts all the time with disposables.

What about when you go out?

I just bring along diapers and wipes in my Planet Wise wet/dry bag. Clean one on, dirty in the wet bag and deal with it when we get home. If I think it might be a little longer than usual before I can change him, I just slip a doubler into the diaper. Some people use a hybrid system with disposable inserts when they’re traveling to save space.

Next time we’ll take care of some more frequently asked questions. 


  1. 1
    My Wee View says:

    Thanks so much for participating in Fun Follow Fridays. I'd love for you to share it with your readers – the more the merrier.

    Thanks again and I am your newest follower.


  2. 2

    These have been very helpful posts. I feel that I know a lot more about cloth diapering than before!


  1. […] combined with a stay dry diaper inner can keep a baby dry for quite a while! Next, read Getting Started – some common questions like how many diapers you need, what to do at night and what to do […]

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