After seven and a half years and five kids using cloth diapers we seem to have figured out what we like and don't like to use. It only took until the third kid to really find our groove but we went through several trial and error methods! Maybe you can learn from our mistakes?
If you have any interest in cloth diapering you have probably heard all about how what works for one family won't work for another. This is SO TRUE! We originally started with cotton prefolds and the pull on plastic pants. You know the ones. There is a good chance you wore them as a baby because in the 70's and 80's (and probably 90's) that's what was available! I was trying to do research on cloth when we first found out we were pregnant and was quickly overwhelmed by the choices. And there weren't even that many! But I didn't have anyone in real life to talk to so I defaulted to what my mom used and figured it was good enough.
WRONG. There is a reason so many new styles have emerged. After poking Parker with far too many diaper pins during middle of the night changes and so many poop-splosions it was absurd, I knew we needed a different method.
I found a friend from church was using cloth, saw the brand, and decided that's what we needed. She was using pockets. I had the brilliant idea to use the pockets as covers and use the inserts as doublers. I apparently didn't realize that they actually made snap on or velcro covers at that point in time.
That method worked through Jamison but by the end of him using diapers I had started to actually discover other styles of diaper (like actual covers) and really wanted to revamp our stash. Thankfully we eventually found ourselves expecting a third and I went a little crazy! But because of all of the testing out we found a way of cloth diapering that we really like, that has worked well with our budget, and has ensured we don't get cloth diaper burn out and give up.
These are the 8 supplies that I'm not sure I could cloth diaper without!
These are by far my favorite style of covers. They come in two sizes, size one and size two (aren't they clever? ha!) and both sizes last for a significant period of time. Size one says they fit from 6-18lbs. After using these on the twins about a month after they were born I can definitely confirm that they fit little bitty babies. Obviously it will depend on your baby's specific build but they did fit my chicken legged tiny little boys so I give the size my full approval.
We were able to use size one with Mercedes until about nine months old, with Cade until about a year, and with Anders until 15 months or so. Then we sized up to size two and are still using them for both boys.
My favorite part of these diapers is probably the double gusset. I hate poop-splosions and I'm not sure we've ever had one in these. It's because of the double gussets in these that made me seek out other diaper covers with double gussets to build our collection.
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Yes, even after all those terrible experiences with prefolds way back with new baby Parker we still use prefolds. The difference is that we don't pin them on anymore. We do a simple "tri fold" (fold each long side in to the middle so all three sections are on top of each other) and place it in the cover. Then we put it on the kid. So incredibly easy.
Some people are hardcore and don't use liners. They swish the diapers in the toilet. Some others are sprayers. They have a diaper sprayer that they connect to the toilet plumbing so they can hose off the diapers that are extra dirty. We are not those people. We like the convenience of picking up the nasty poo that is [usually] all contained on the liner and dropping it in the toilet. Sometimes we need to wipe off a little that is left behind. Occasionally we have a swisher (that's pretty darn rare). We've tried many liners over the years and these seem to hold up the best to extended wear and heavy wetting (like overnight) and are sized large enough to cover the whole prefold plus wrap around the sides a bit to stay in place. I panic a little every time I see they are out of stock.
We have used both the newborn and the one-size covers and enjoy both but I really loved the newborn diapers. These sized down enough to use with the twins nearly right away. They were 5lb9oz and 5lb7oz at birth and dropped a bit of that right away. These diapers still fit within a couple weeks. We also used these with Mercedes at a couple weeks old and she was able to wear them for about six months! And she wasn't a little baby by any means. The little boys made it to about nine or ten months with them! And again, double gussets. So helpful with all that breastfed poop!
When we were only diapering one baby we used this diaper pail and it held enough diapers to go about two or three days between washings. Long enough to not drive us nuts but close enough together that they didn't get overwhelmingly stinky. Now that we diaper two buts we switched to a medium sized trash can. We buy garbage bags that fit inside and they haul the load down to the washing machine perfectly.
These were introduced to us by a friend. Cloth diaper friendly and no mess on my hands? No brainer. It glides on easy and can be applied at every diaper change to help prevent or treat a rash. The only time it hasn't worked for us is when a rash got really bad due to being sick and we had to use something a little more heavy duty but this is perfect for protecting those sweet tushies. We actually have one for each boy in their room plus mini sticks in the diaper bag. Just don't mistake them for chapstick!
Many people use wet bags in their diaper pails but we only use ours on the go. I hate when we leave the house without one! We have two small bags that fit about four diapers and one large bag that holds probably 10-12 diapers. The small bags are perfect for a jaunt around town, going to church, visiting friends, etc., and the large bag is our go to when we are traveling. It also works so nicely for wet clothes/suits after swimming! These will be sticking around our house long after we are done with diapers.
For those heavy wetters or in overnight diapers an insert or doubler is a necessity. Most of ours are actually the inserts from our original pocket diapers but they do the job! The inserts we use are made of microfiber but I've heard amazing things about bamboo, hemp, and charcoal inserts.
And a bonus tip!
9. A good wash routine!
Okay, so you can't buy this at a store but this is so vital to successful cloth diapering. Without the proper wash routine your diapers will quickly start to smell, wick (not absorb liquid), and overall suck. Many people throw in the towel when they can't figure out how to wash their diapers. Manufacturers will have their suggested wash methods but what if you have multiple kinds that all have different instructions? There is a great Facebook group called Fluff Love & Cloth Diaper Science that are known for their helpful troubleshooting for washing diapers. Cloth Diaper Geek and All About Cloth Diapers are two other fantastic resources that I use for all my cloth diaper info.
There are usually some general guidelines of what to do and not do with cloth diapers and then, at least in my experience, you have to find what works for you and your diapers. If they feel clean, smell clean, absorb liquid, and aren't causing rashes then you are probably good to go! We've changed our routine a couple times because of getting new washing machines but its usually pretty similar - cold soak, hot or warm wash, cold rinse, cold rinse, dry. If we do notice some bad staining or stinking a few extra rinses plus some time in the sun is almost always the cure.
Do you use cloth diapers? What are your "must have" products for success?
Interested in learning more about cloth diapers? Check out Erin Odom's book Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert: A Cloth Diaper Guide to learn everything you'd need to know!