Read through these statistics from The Real Diaper Association:
- Disposable diapers are the third most common consumer product in landfills today.
- A disposable diaper may take up to 500 years to decompose.
- One baby in disposable diapers will contribute at least 1 ton of waste to your local landfill.
Crazy, right?! There are numerous other statistics that I could highlight and quote, but that would lead to an even longer post so I'll refer you instead to The Real Diaper Association Diaper Facts for more information.
I had thought about cloth diapering. I grew up in cloth diapers and was old enough to remember watching my mom put my youngest sister in cloth diapers. I can picture her using the big safety pins to fasten the sides and rinsing out the poopy diapers over the toilet. I didn't think much about it at the time since it was just our way of doing things to save money. I would later learn that my mom was not just using cloth for the cost savings, but also because she knew it was better for our bums and the environment. She was definitely ahead of her time when it came to health and fitness.
When our daughter decided to arrive 25 days early we were shocked, surprised and feeling unprepared for all of the decisions that would follow. I knew I wanted to consider cloth diapering for both money savings and environmental impact, but with a newborn underfoot, sleep deprivation underway and family flying in and out to visit baby I decided against adding any additional stress to the equation and chose to use disposables for the first few months. Once Olivia reached two months and I felt like I had my bearings I began to reach out to mommies in a breast feeding support group I was attending that I knew were using cloth diapers (by the way, I totally recommend the breast feeding support group for new mommies) . They would show me their stash, tell me pros and cons of the different diapers they had, how they used them, where they bought them, how they cared for them, etc. This and my online research had me feeling confident enough to get started. I purchased my stash and started using them on Olivia when she was four months and we've never looked back.
So what is in my stash?
- 7 BumGenius 4.0 One-Size (or pocket) diapers for using at night (the pocket helps keep the insert in place while baby shifts around in the crib)
- 4 Flip covers + 12 microfiber inserts
- 4 Thirsties Duo Wrap (snap) covers
- 12 Cloth-eez unbleached, organic cotton prefolds (for use with my Thirsties covers)
- GroVia BioLiners (lay on top of flat diaper to catch poo)
- GroVia reusable cloth diaper wipes (a must for newborns whose sensitive skin can't handle disposable wipes and a way to save money and be enviro-friendly beyond newborn stage)
- Planet Wise hanging wet/dry bag
- Thirsties smaller wet bag for diaper bag
- Rockin' Green Cloth Diaper laundry detergent
- Jar of coconut oil for baby's bottom (moisturizes, antibacterial to help with diaper rash, etc. and is safe for using with cloth diapers)*
- Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm or Mother Love Diaper Rash & Thrush Relief (I like to keep this smaller jar made with natural products in my diaper bag; also safe to use with cloth diapers)
- I haven't yet purchased a diaper sprayer, but I'm sure it is only a matter of time before I cave and get one
*Please note that you can't use normal diaper rash creams with your cloth diapers. It will ruin them. Coconut oil is better for baby anyways!
I don't have any recommendations for newborns since we started around 4 months of age. I'll be sure to update whenever the next baby is on the way!
With the amount of diapers I have above I only need to do laundry twice per week. I could go longer in between loads, but I don't care to let my diapers sit in the dirty bag that long. If you're wondering how many diapers you should buy consider how many diaper changes your baby currently has in a day. Then determine how often you want to do laundry. That will help you back into the amount of diapers (I'm talking inserts, prefolds, etc.) you need to buy. I prefer to use diaper covers like Flip and Thirsties that are waterproof and can be wiped clean should need be. This allows you to use a diaper cover 3+ changes (sometimes all day!) before you need a new one. If you can't stomach the thought of more laundry then consider a diapering service for a truly no hassle experience. They drop off clean diapers for you at the beginning of the week and pick up your dirty diapers at the end of the week replenishing your supply. There are a ton here in Los Angeles. Check out your local listings to see if you can find a similar service in your area.
A few websites I recommend for diapering information and supplies: Cotton Babies, Green Mountain Diapers, Kelly's Closet. Of course, there are many, many more, but these are the ones I typically tend to order from. If you have a local cloth diaper store I would encourage you to stop in so that you can see and feel the diapers in person. This will allow you to get a better handle on how they work. If you have friends that are cloth diapering be sure to ask what their favorite brands are and why along with any other advice for getting started and being successful. Learn from their mistakes!
In my experience, the biggest issue you'll encounter with cloth diapers is user error. It takes some time to get comfortable with them, finding the right fit, the right brand and style for your baby based on size and how heavy of a wetter your baby is, etc. Be patient! There is definitely a learning curve. Try out a few different brands and styles before making a big purchase. Most people end up preferring one brand and style over another for various reasons. For instance, I bought one GroVia hybrid diaper and while it is cute and the snap-in liners are nice, I hate how the shell isn't waterproof. I hardly ever get to use it beyond one diaper change. See if a friend will let you borrow a few of her diapers or if a local cloth diaper store has a program that allows you to try diapers for 30 days before buying. Also, see if you can buy gently used diapers. I was able to secure all of my Flip covers, microfiber inserts, GroVia BioLiners and 3 packs of Flip disposable inserts for only $25 from another mommy who decided she just wasn't up for cloth diapering. What a huge savings for me! Lastly, follow the instructions for laundering and caring for your diapers. This will help to extend the life of your cloth.
We will definitely be using cloth on any and all babies that follow and will be starting from day one in the hospital. Hopefully this post helps provide some insight into the cloth diapering world giving you the confidence and information to get started yourself. Your baby's bum will thank you!
If you have any additional questions about cloth diapering I would love to hear from you! Feel free to leave a comment with your question or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.