If you’ve been following Southern Made Simple for a while, you probably know that I am a cloth diaper lover. I’ve made a few posts in the past reviewing different cloth diaper brands and inserts that I love. (You can view a few different posts here.) But if you’re new to this site, and especially if you’re new to cloth diapering all together, I want to wholeheartedly welcome you!
My goal with this post is to help parents who are interested in cloth diapering start out on the right foot. I understand that cloth diapering can be overwhelming to some. I believe it’s very true that cloth is not always as convenient (in a few areas) as disposable. I also believe that cloth is not for everyone. I am not an overzealous cloth diaper fanatic, but I have seen what cloth has done for my family, and I absolutely believe that cloth diapering deserves a chance. I would LOVE to see cloth become mainstream! That being said, this is not something to to jump off of the deep end with. Most people don’t buy a car without knowing stuff about it, right? Right. I feel that the same can be said with cloth.
Research is an important element of cloth diapering. Before I started cloth diapering, I put in ample time doing my research. To avoid an information overload, I made a goal of learning 3-4 new things about cloth a day. Unfortunately, I’ve seen MANY parents get excited about cloth SO fast. They buy tons of diapers and start right away without doing very much research at all. While it was exciting to see others get excited about cloth, it sort of felt like I was about to witness a terrible train wreck. They had no plan. They jumped straight off into the deep end and began to sink.
After witnessing this a few times, I started thinking about a more effective way to share my cloth love/obsession with other people. I genuinely want cloth to work for others. I believe in cloth diapering. I hear so many reasons why people say they can’t/won’t cloth diaper, and I’m saddened by many of the reasons. The truth is, cloth is not scary. It’s not “time consuming”. It’s not overwhelming, and it’s not confusing. Cloth diapering is simple, effective, and absolutely doable when you have a plan in place!
I’ve put together 6 main ideas that I believe deserve attention before jumping on the cloth diaper train. Each idea is broken down into smaller thoughts and ideas. This may seem like a lot to some, but please don’t skim this post and brush if off as being “too much,” “too confusing,” or “too hard”. When you read these things, I believe you’ll find just the opposite. Remember, cloth diapering is totally doable. It is so so so doable, y’all! You just have to know a little bit about the game before you step on the court. 🙂
Before we get started, I’d like to go ahead and point out that I reference Fluff Love University in a lot of my points. I have found Fluff Love U to be incredibly informative and helpful in my cloth diapering journey, but I absolutely encourage you to seek additional resources when doing your research. I am not partnered with Fluff Love University in any way, I just think their cloth diaper game is pretty darn strong. 😉
What diapers should you use?
- The question I get asked most often from others that are interested in cloth diapering is this: “So, what kind of cloth diapers do I need to buy?” Unfortunately, most people don’t love my answer. I really wish there was a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but there isn’t in my opinion. My advice to everyone who asks this questions is this: Do NOT buy all of one brand/style diaper in the beginning. The best thing to do is buy a variety of brands and styles. But what about those awesome bundle packs? I’ll save money that way! No. Just no. Don’t do it. I mean, yes, you’ll save money, but if you’ve never used that brand or style before, you have no idea if you’ll like it. Save yourself the head/heart ache. Every baby is different. Some diapers just fit babies differently. What works for me may not work for you at all. Spice up your life, y’all! I have many different brands in my cloth diaper stash, and I am SO glad that I do. I have some that I thought I would love that I am not crazy about. I have some that I was scared I wouldn’t like, but they wound up being one of my favorites. Once you’ve tried several and you know what works for your baby, THEN you can buy those bundle packs if you want. Until then, you really ought to try a few different flavors.
- Know the Lingo
- One of the first things you’ll realize when you begin your cloth research is that there are numerous styles, accessories, inserts and all sorts of odd and end things . You’ll probably start to see some words, phrases and abbreviations that you’re scratching your head over. Don’t let it overwhelm you! Here is a great reference when it comes to knowing the cloth diaper lingo.
- Buying preloved diapers is a great and affordable way to generate a variety of brands and styles in your stash. Many people cannot wrap their heads around buying used diapers. They think it’s gross and unsanitary. I absolutely feel otherwise. I started out with preloved diapers. I then put the diapers through a vigorous wash cycle called “stripping”. By doing this, you’re basically taking them back to beauty base zero. You’re removing any build up that may be lying in the diapers, and essentially making them new again. Here’s a great tutorial on how to clean your preloved diapers. If you still can’t get down with the preloved, that’s fine. However, I encourage you to put a little more research into it. It is a great way to get started with cloth. You can search your local B/S/T page on facebook, or even check to see if there is a Facebook group in your area dedicated specifically to cloth diapering. You may be surprised to find one!
Have a Storage Solution
- Soiled Storage:
- Before you ever put the fluff on the bum, you need to know where you’ll put the diaper once it’s been soiled. (I’ve seriously seen people put cloth on their baby and have no plan as to where they were going to store it when it was soiled. It wasn’t pretty, y’all.) There are a few different options you can choose from. Most people use something called a wet bag. You can also use a tall hamper with a pail liner. When it comes time to wash the diapers, you throw the wet bag or liner in with the wash. However you choose to store the diapers, you want to make sure they have adequate air flow to cut down on any smell issues that may occur.
- Clean Storage:
- When storing your cloth diapers, you’ll want to put them in a well ventilated area where you can easily reach them. I recommend having your diapers already assembled with inserts in place (when necessary) so that you’re not trying to piece together a diaper with a squirmy baby. Cloth does take up more room that ‘sposies, so plan ahead where you’ll be keeping your stash.
- Soiled Storage:
What’s Your Poop Plan?
- Dealing with poo is typically a leading concern when parents are considering cloth. Since you’re not throwing the whole diaper away, what in the world are you supposed to do with the dirty stuff? If your baby is exclusively breast fed, then the poo is water soluble. This means that you can actually put this straight in the washing machine. It cleans out just as if you dumped spaghetti sauce or any other food on you. If your baby is formula fed or if they’ve begun solids, you’ll need to physically remove the poo. It’s not a fun job, but y’all… It’s really not bad. It’s not. There are a few different methods when it comes to getting rid of poop.
- Diaper Sprayers and Spray Shields:
- I personally use a diaper sprayer and a spray shield. The sprayer attaches to the side of your toilet. You simply clip the diaper into the spay shield and spray off the solids into the toilet and flush. Then you toss the diaper in the wet bag. I use a BumGenius brand sprayer, (but all of these are great options) and the Spray Pal, but this is something for you to do a little research on to see what meets your needs and your budget. I’ve seen people make their own makeshift sprayers and spray shields for very little money. Another common concern is making sure the soiled diapers truly come out clean in the wash, which is something I address in the next point. But I *will* say this: Trust your washing machine to do what its supposed to do. Diapers do not come out of the washing machine with poop still on them. When your kids play in the dirt, doesn’t the dirt come out in the wash? Yes. Did you have to scrape dirt residue out of the drum when the wash cycle was finished? No. Just like your washing machine cleans your clothing, it will also clean your diapers. Don’t let a little poo get in the way of choosing cloth.
Think About a Wash Routine
- This particular area is very very important. You need to establish a solid wash routine with your diapers to make sure they’re getting cleaned properly. Just like trying to figure out what diapers to buy, there is not a one-size-fits-all wash routine for everyone. There are a few factors that will play a part in your routine, such as what type of detergent you use, what type of washing machine you have, whether you have hard or soft water, etc. The members at Fluff Love University have figured out wash routines down to a science, and they’ve put together a ton of information to help you get started. I fully recommend giving their wash forum a browse and seeking help from them when it comes to determining a good wash routine for you. Establishing a wash routine is where a lot of people check out when cloth diapering. It can take a little bit of time to find what’s right for you, but once you find a good routine, it should be smooth sailing.
- Aside from cloth diapers, there are a few other things you may want to consider. Some people choose to use cloth wipes and cloth wipe solution as opposed to disposable wipes. I happen to use both cloth and disposable wipes. There are lots of homemade wipe solutions you can make yourself, or you can purchase some fabulous and all natural wipe solutions on Etsy.
- Another thing to think about is diaper rash cream. While rashes tend to be less common with cloth diapers, they can certainly still happen. It’s good to have rash cream on hand, but proceed with caution! Most big name brands are not cloth diaper safe. You really need to look for the ones that are petroleum free. You can find a great index of cloth safe creams here.
Determine your Purpose with Cloth
- People gain interest in cloth for numerous different reasons. Perhaps you’re in it to save money. Maybe you love the fact that it reduces your carbon foot print. You might have a little one who has severe allergies and cannot wear disposables, OR maybe you’re just in it for the adorable prints and that fabulous little fluffy butt. Whatever your reasons are, OWN those reasons. Let those be a driving force in your journey with cloth. I like to think of it this way: If you’re on a mission to lose weight, you’ve likely got your eyes set on that prize of fitting into a certain pair of skinny jeans or what have you. You’re using those jeans as a driving force to help keep you on track. When troubles arise and you get a little side tracked with your diet, you look back at those pants and remember to get back on track because you’ve established a very clear goal. I think it’s important to do the same in your cloth journey. If you have a hiccup or two, don’t let it stop you. By choosing cloth, you will be saving money, you will be keeping disposables out of landfills, you will be putting something safe and natural against your baby’s skin, and your baby will have a fluffy butt that is cuter than any other. Remember why you started in the first place. Choosing cloth is worth it.
- Don’t beat yourself up
- If you want to cloth diaper full time but find that it’s hard to do with your work or life schedule, don’t think that cloth cannot fit into your family. Many people choose to cloth diaper part time. You can cloth just during the day and use disposables at night. You can use cloth on certain days of the week and disposables certain days of the week. However you want to use cloth, do it. Do not feel like if you choose cloth diapers you have to use them 24/7. If you just don’t feel like dealing with cloth today, put them in a disposable. Just do what you want to do! If you experience a leak or a fit issue, it’s okay! Carry on, cloth rockers! You can do it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Choosing cloth is doable, and choosing cloth is worth it. Make it work for you!
- Join a support group
- If you encounter problems, seek help and ask questions before you throw in the towel. I am a member of several different cloth diaper support groups on Facebook, and it feels so great to have other cloth diapering parents in my corner. I love seeing pictures of their babies fluffy butts, and I know if I ever have a question or issue, I can ask away! I certainly don’t know everything there is to know about cloth. Not by a long shot. I depend on other knowledgeable people to help me through. One forum I definitely recommend is the Buttons Diapers forum on Facebook. Fluff Love University also has several great resources and forums that you can become a member of. Browse around and find a group that you love. It truly makes a huge difference in creating a cloth diaper success story!
I truly hope that this (super long) post has been informative and has provided you with several things to think about before jumping on the cloth diaper train. I love cloth diapering and I genuinely get so excited with others are interested in cloth. Remember to take things step by step. Pin this on Pinterest and save it as a reference! Share it on your Facebook wall. Share it with your friends who may be interested in cloth. Help get the word out to people that cloth is doable, and that there’s so much to love about it. Let’s help cloth become more mainstream. The world needs more fluffy butts, y’all! 🙂
Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. I may not have all the answers, but I’m always more than happy to help!
Marti Tabora says
I really wish this type of information had been around when my son was born. I used cloth diapers for the first 8 months with him, but it was so difficult and I really struggled. Resources like this would have been nice to have. I am definitely going to share this with my son and daughter in law. They are expecting my first grandchild in June.
Erica Opperman says
I wish I read this before starting to cloth diaper this past August. I have all of one brand of diaper and I wonder if more variety would be better. I’m not really liking the way these Bumgenius Freetime AIOs fit my daughter anymore.