Monday, October 29, 2012

Fluffy Stuff Monday: What do I need to get started with cloth diapering?



Now that you know what types of cloth diapers are out there, you're probably wondering what you need to get started. At least that's what I would be thinking if I was you, and that's exactly what I was thinking several months ago!

How many diapers do I need?

Before you answer this question, decide how often you want to do fluffy (i.e. cloth diaper) laundry. For several reasons, its best to do it a minimum of every other day. There's the smell issue of course, but your diapers will last longer if they're not left soiled for very long. Plus, you don't want to have an over-stuffed washing machine. Machines that are a little less full will clean your diapers better and they'll have less wear and tear.

Based on the every-other-day laundry routine, you'll want enough dipes to last three days. 

For an itty-bitty newborn, plan to change about 12 diapers a day; you'll need about 36 diapers to get you through. Trust me, you do not want to run out of diapers when you are busy adjusting to life with a baby (or two or three babies!) and recovering postpartum! 

The number of diapers per day will slowly decrease and around 3 months you'll want a minimum of 24 diapers. Its nice, of course, to have a few extra on hand in case you're not able to get to your laundry routine. 

Some One Size (OS) diapers state that they fit a newborn, but I have yet to see a OS diaper that really fits a newborn. You may do well to buy a separate stash of newborn size diapers and later size up into the OS, or go with a newborn diaper rental package

If you've decided to go for prefolds or All-In-Two (AI2), you'll want 2-3 dozen prefolds or inserts and a minimum 4-6 covers. The same goes for if you're just using fitteds: 2-3 dozen fitted diapers and 4-6 covers. Remember, you can reuse the cover or wrap over a clean diaper if its not soiled. 

Many people find that they like to have several types of diapers in their stash for different situations (All-In-One (AIO) for daddy or daycare, fitted for naps or nighttime, prefolds for travelling, pockets for everyday use, etc.), so you may want to have 20 or so diapers you prefer for everyday use, then 4-6 other types on hand.

How do I store dirty diapers?

It used to be that dirty cloth diapers were stored in a bucket containing water and bleach (known as a "wet pail"), but there's no need to do this. Its a little dangerous to keep a bucket full of water where your child could possibly get into it, not to mention gross! However, some people choose to do this so if you do, just make sure you find a pail with a lock on it so your little one can't access it. 

The only thing you need is some type of diaper pail with a lid and preferably a pedal to open the lid (I use a plastic trash can I got at Walmart for $14) and two cloth pail liners (one to use, one to wash). Throw the dirties into the lined diaper pail and on wash day simply empty your diapers into the washer, turn the pail liner inside out and wash with the diapers! It may be worth it to invest in one of those really nice, stainless steel trash cans to use without the plastic can inside because plastic holds odor. If you use a plastic trash can, over time you may find, as I have, that it may be hard to remove odor from the actual can itself! 

What about wipes?

Cloth wipes are easy to use since you're already washing dirty diapers. You can simply use wash clothes or buy ready-made cloth wipes. Either way, they're easy to wash with your diaper laundry. You can store them dry and when you're ready to use one, simply wet with a spray bottle or peri bottle and use. Or, you can soak them in a wipes container or warmer and wa-la, just like disposable wipes! 

How do I use cloth diapers on the go?

Oh you guys, its so easy! Here's what you need: a small wet bag! That's it! Simply put a few cloth diapers in your diaper bag, grab a few wipes, your wet bag and you're good to go! When you change a diaper when you're out and about, just put it straight into your wet bag and toss the diaper into your diaper pail when you get home. 

I like to use AIO or Pockets when I'm out, it just makes it much faster and easier. It does, however, take up more room in the diaper bag than disposables or prefolds do.

Traveling longer distances gets a little more tricky and takes some planning but its definitely doable. Will you have easy access to a washing machine? Are you flying or driving and how much room do you have to pack diapers? What are your plans during your travels; will you even have time to wash diapers? I've taken several road trips and air trips since having Roo and I have to say I much prefer to travel with my cloth rather than disposables. It does take up more room, but not much more than if I was traveling with a bunch of disposables. 

What else do I need?

There are many other accessories that you may find helpful. First of all, you may want to buy some extra doublers or inserts in order to increase absorbency, especially for overnight. There are also reusable micro-fleece liners that you can lay on top of the diaper in order to keep your baby feeling dry; this is especially helpful when using natural fabrics. When your baby starts solid foods, you may find it helpful to use a disposable liner to place on top of the diaper that catches any solid waste, and you can just toss the liner and waste straight into the toilet. You may also want a diaper sprayer, although its not necessary until after baby starts solids, if at all. If you're using prefolds, check out the diaper duck

Be sure to use a cloth diaper safe diaper cream, such as Earth Mama Angel Baby or CJs Butter.    

Here's what your basic stash can look like:

24-36 cloth diapers with appropriate inserts
4-6 Diaper covers (if using prefolds or fitteds)
2 diaper pail liners
1-2 small wetbags for the diaper bag
24-36 cloth wipes
Cloth wipe solution
Cloth diaper safe diaper cream

Easy Peasy!

If you have any experience with cloth already I'd love to hear what your stash looks like!

Here are some topics I'm hoping to cover in the next few weeks: cloth diaper laundry routine, cost analysis, closure comparison (snaps vs. aplix or hook and loop), detailed stash review, specific diaper reviews. What would you like to see first? 



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