Before Summer Elizabeth was born, I spent hours researching cloth diapers. With so many shapes and sizes, forms and functions, not to mention the diaper jargon, the world of cloth diapering is pretty daunting to newbie mom.
Before buying cloth, Husband & I considered how often we’d be hip for doing laundry, line drying time in our humid Costa Rican weather, and how many spares we’d like to have around “just in case.” As you begin your cloth diapering (CD) journey, you’ll have loads of questions, so here are my bits of wisdom. You’ll find varying opinions about what number of diapers and which tools are necessary, but this is what works for us.
Where to Buy Cloth Diapers
We purchased nearly all of our diapers secondhand from kind mamas on diaperswappers.com. This website is a wonderful tool for parents looking to buy, sell, trade, and give away diapers. Consider it the Craigslist of cloth diapers, but with added benefits:
- Forums for diaper questions and answers
- Buying & selling of all kinds of new & used baby items, maternity & postpartum wares, NURSING TANKS, baby carriers…
Other great new diaper retailers:
Most parents opt to purchase a small stash of newborn diapers, since many cloth diapers are too big for the tiniest little bums. These diapers often fit up to 3 months of age, at which time parents may opt to store the diapers for future use, give them away, or re-sell them to fund the purchase of larger sized diapers. * I even made profit re-selling my secondhand newborn stash on diaperswappers.com.
When we purchased our first cloth diapers, I’d fully intended to get use of them to 3 months of age. I purchased 30 newborn-sized (nb) prefolds, 3 all-in-ones, 5 newborn or XS covers, and a 2 fitted diapers. (Diaper types deciphered here.)
We had a comfortable number of diapers to launder every other day, but had made one monumental mistake:
By 2 months, our small baby was quickly outgrowing the prefolds.
She was an average-sized baby, not at all big for her age, but the nb prefolds just weren’t fitting anymore, and the absorbency wasn’t making the grade. Through trial and error , my advice is to invest in nb prefolds for the first 3 months, but to purchase the small-sized prefolds (12.5×13.5”yellow edge) instead of the tiniest nb size. These will offer you better absorbency and can be folded small to cover from the teensiest bums up to 3(+) month bums. Later on, if you’re not keen to sell these diapers, they work well tri-folded as doublers for pocket diapers.
One of the perks of cloth diapering is the cost savings. The best way to save is to have cloth diapers that fit throughout the entire diapering stage of your baby’s life. Enter: one-sized (OS) pocket diapers. These lovely dipes are adjustable to fit from birth (or a few weeks later, in my experience) through potty training. Most one-sized pocket diapers have snap adjustments to alter the diaper’s rise on the tummy and the diameter of the leg openings. These diapers are gems! We have around 10 OS diapers in our rotation. I’m happy to say that the one-sized diapers are handy, easy to use, and definitely the CD I pull out when encouraging parents to consider cloth.
In addition to the OS diapers, we also have a stash of 20 medium red-edged prefolds (13 x 15.5”) that we use during most of the day. Since PFs are the most economical form of cloth diapering, we prefer to bulk up our stash with them rather than the more expensive pocket diapers and other varieties. Prefold stashes can be sold and purchased as your baby grows. Ideally, with 3 sizes (newborn, mid-sized, and toddler) you can CD your child until potty training occurs. PF diapers have an excellent resale value, since they have no waterproof barrier to leak, no velcro to get pilly, and no elastic to replace. Prefolds also make awesome inserts for pocket diapers, often drying faster than the microfiber inserts that come with the pockets. I’d recommend 3 covers to accompany your prefolds. My favorite are the Thirsties Duo Diaper Wrap covers. They have great inner gussets that really keep in the poo and can be wiped clean between uses. These covers come in 2 sizes to fit from newborn through potty training and they really do fit newborns well. The super cute colorful prints don’t hurt either.
Another diaper essential we purchased was doublers, which you can think of as pocket diaper assistants. If you plan to use pockets for overnight use, as we do, it’s wise to invest in a handful of extra doublers, essentially an extra piece of absorbant material inserted with the pocket diaper insert, to make sure your baby’s diaper is leakproof for the long overnight haul. Doublers come in various fabrics, but the most highly acclaimed are hemp and bamboo, which absorb a lot of moisture. If you keep an eye out, you can often come across lots of work-at-home-mom (WAHM) doublers at great prices. I purchased a dozen “imperfect” bamboo doublers made by a mother who wasn’t satisfied with her sewing skills, for a real deal.
In the meantime, you can research to your heart’s content here.
If you have questions or would like to share your wisdom in a related guest post, please email me!.
Thanks for the advice! When you say newborn “covers” do you just mean the old-fashioned waterproof pull-on diaper covers? Or do you mean something more like a pocket diaper that you use as a cover?
This is something I haven’t decided between yet for our newborn stash. I have prefolds ready to go…I plan on pinning them the old-fashioned way to fit those tiny newborn bums– but should I get waterproof pants as a cover or just use a pocket or AIO as a cover?
Kristen @ Trial & Error Homemaking
A Mama's Story says
This is super! I think you’ve pretty much covered all the basics of Cloth Diapering 101! 🙂 Great job! Thanks for sharing. 🙂