Getting Started with Cloth Diapers

Getting started with cloth diapering doesn’t need to be overwhelming!

In fact it’s easy when you have choices that you like and a system to take care of everything. And babies with cloth nappies have such cute little bums! You get to pick what works for you and your baby 🙂

a newborn just getting started with cloth diapers

Getting Your Diaper Stash Together

If you’re still pregnant you can research and start to build up your diaper stash before your baby is born. If you buy several diapers every month, you can quickly gather a good supply of them without spending a large amount all at once.

You can purchase prefold diapers at a great price and have a basis for your diaper stash. This is especially helpful if you’re switching to cloth after your babe is born.

They come in handy in so many different ways: they make great burp cloths and are perfect for a clean place to put your baby when you go for a diaper change while out and about.

Have a Snappi or two (or diaper pins) on hand.

Buy several fitted diapers or pocket diapers every month until you have the supply you want.

Use the prefolds as you fill out your stash. You’ll probably like having the prefolds on hand even after you have all your fitted or pocket diapers.

You can look into diapering packages and bulk pricing which let you buy all of your diapering supplies at a good discount – many online stores offer these (or go straight the manufacturer of the diaper you’re interested in). Another option is to buy gently used diapers from other mamas – a forum like Diaper Swappers (opens in a new tab) or your local CraigsList is a good place to start.

Of course you can also make your own diapers. You can find many patterns online. They range from ultra-frugal diapers made from a recycled t-shirt to premium patterns worthy of a work-at-home-mom business.

How Many?

How many diapers are you going to need? It really depends on how often you want to do the laundry.

Most parents find that 2 dozen diapers lets them to do laundry every 2-3 days. Newborns tend to go through the most diapers every day, so you might want to have 3 dozen small prefolds on hand – or have a dozen prefolds to supplement your fitted/pocket diaper stash.

You need 4-6 diaper covers for your newborn. Once your baby is older and you move out of newborn sizes, 3-4 diaper covers should be plenty. If you’re using all-in-ones or pocket diapers you don’t need covers (though you may want a couple if you have prefolds as backup!)

Cloth Diapering Your Baby

If you’re using prefolds, you need your diapers and a way to fasten them. You can use pins just like our mothers and grandmothers did.

a stack of prefold diapers
Prefolds are versatile and I recommend you have a dozen for burp cloths, putting under baby, etc.

You can also use a Snappi to fasten your baby’s diaper. These nifty little fasteners work by “gripping” the cloth diapering fabric in three places and completely doing away with the need for pins.

Get diaper covers to go over your prefold and fitted diapers. Fitted diapers usually have snaps or hook and loop closures (Velcro or Aplix) and don’t need pins or a Snappi.

You can buy many different kinds of covers – try different covers before you decide which you like the best.

Put your baby in a diaper then put the cover over the diaper to use. Make sure that the diaper is completely tucked into the cover or else you may get leaks. Some covers have a pocket in the front to tuck your prefold into.

You don’t need to change the cover every time you change the diaper. Just put on a clean diaper and replace the cover. If the cover is wet on the inside just hang it up and get a fresh cover. Switch out covers again the next time you change your baby.

4-6 covers is a good number to have on hand for cloth diapering. It allows you to rotate a couple of covers while the others are waiting on the laundry.

If you’re using pocket diapers you’ll use a “stuffing” or liner. This can be anything from prefold diapers to bamboo or micro-fiber inserts – almost all pocket diapers come with one micro-fiber insert, which absorbs many times its own weight in liquid. Moms like micro-fiber because they get a lot of absorption in a trim diaper.  If you don’t want a synthetic, bamboo or hemp liners are a good choice.

Your pocket diaper has a “pocket” for you to place as much stuffing material as you need. Your baby will have the soft inner liner against her skin and a waterproof outer shell on the diaper. The inner liner is made to wick moisture into the stuffing of the diaper – meaning your baby’s skin stays dry.

Going Out with Baby

You can take your baby out in cloth as easily as you could with disposables.

Change your baby frequently – no matter what kind of diapers he’s wearing. If you know that you won’t be able to change your baby for several hours, your best bet is to put your baby in the most absorbent diaper you have with a doubler or mircro-fiber inserts inside. This lets the diaper absorb more.  I recommend you plan on changing your baby regularly, however.

Be sure that you have the diaper fastened on your baby correctly – and if you need a cover be sure that all of the diaper is tucked into the cover (any amount of diaper sticking out could leak onto clothes.)

The biggest causes of cloth diapering leaks are not putting all the diaper into the cover and using diapers in the wrong size. Be sure you check for both when you get your baby ready and pack her diaper bag! Put a plastic bag or a waterproof tote in your diaper bag to hold the wet diapers until you get home.

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