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Knowing that we would most likely have more children, I saved the cloth diaper stash we established when my older son was younger. When I found out that we were pregnant with another son, I knew immediately that we would go – at least partially – the cloth diaper route. I cannot lie and say that cloth diapering is as easy as using disposables; but I will say that modern cloth is nothing like cloth diapering of our parents’ age.
As I said before, I’ve come across a ton of questions about cloth diapering. A lot of these questions are similar in nature, and I’ve narrowed them down to four major concerns that people have.
Does it really save money?
First and foremost, people want to know if cloth diapering will save them money. Of course there are eco and health reasons to use cloth diapers, but for many people, cost is the most important consideration when switching. When I first started I was unsure as well – so I did some digging. I’ve made an infographic to make it quick and easy to check out the numbers for yourself. This is just a shortened version of the data I gathered years ago. Prices have gone up a bit in the last four years or so, but the idea is still the same. And don’t forget that switching to re-usable cloth wipes is wonderful on the budget as well!
There are so many kinds – how do I choose?
This is probably the toughest question to answer, because every family and child is different. There are 2 major types of cloth diapers out there you could choose from: pocket diapers and prefolds. These two categories break into many different options. Pocket diapers are made out of an outer layer of waterproof material and an inner layer of stay-dry material which you can stuff with an absorbent insert. Prefolds generally come with a simple waterproof outer layer and a standard flat-fold cloth diaper (like you’d use for a burp cloth).
Personally, I prefer to use pocket diapers. They tend to fit a little better and absorb more. But, they do cost more money initially.
For more detailed descriptions of each type of cloth diaper option, check this out.
How many cloth diapers should I have?
Again, this question is somewhat personal. If you use cloth from birth (which I don’t necessarily recommend) you’ll need quite a few more diapers in your stash because newborns go so much. Also, the fewer diapers you own the more laundry you’ll have to do. So it’s sort of a give and take of initial costs and convenience. For the prices included in this post, I assumed a stash of between 24 and 30 diapers. This is a good estimate for anyone. If you have 10 diaper changes a day, you’ll need to wash about twice each week. My son is just over a year, and probably goes through an average of five diapers each day – though we don’t use cloth at night, so that saves us quite a few changes.
How do you clean them?
Contrary to popular belief, washing cloth diapers isn’t any more difficult than doing laundry; it can even be enjoyable (haha I’m such a jokester). When I was cloth diapering the first time around I’ll admit that I was a bit crazy about the diaper cleaning thing. I dabbled in both wet and dry diaper pails, a diaper sprayer, and diaper liners. This go-around I’ve made things much more simple.
In my opinion, a dry diaper pail is the way to go. With fancy scent seals and re-usable liners, they’re just like disposable diaper pails.
Many people use diaper sprayers that are like mini showers that attach to the toilet. When your child poos, you can take the diaper to the potty and spray it off to help keep down the smell and lingering residue. I still have my sprayer, but rarely use it these days. Honestly, I haven’t noticed a big difference in the diapers either way.
Another popular option is to use diaper liners to aid in clean up and help keep the diapers from staining. I always keep some on hand, but rarely use them. What I found most of the time was that they were wasted on wet diapers. All-in-all, they can be useful, and for the price it’s worth it to have some in your stash.
All of my diapers go through 3 wash cycles when they are dirty. The first cycle is a cold rinse with no soap just to clean off any residue. The second is a hot/cold wash/rinse with a special soap made for cloth diapers. The third and final cycle is a cold rinse just to ensure you’ve gotten everything. After that I throw the inserts into the dryer, and let the outers line dry. Simple!
For a lot more detailed information about prepping your diapers for use and washing, check out this post.
Since this is all about cloth diapering for the modern family, I will suggest something that has worked well for my family this go-around. We use cloth diapers during the day and disposables at night. It has been a good balance for us between being cost-conscious, environmentally friendly, and honest with ourselves. Also, if I know we’ll be out for long periods of time, I put my little guy in a disposable so I don’t have to deal with a wet bag while I’m out. As he gets older I’m sure I’ll be using cloth a lot more because it does get easier. But for now, this method has worked wonders for us. I think the key with cloth diapering is to be relaxed about it. Maybe that’s the key to parenting in general? Don’t take it too seriously and just do what works for you!