13 years ago, I was pregnant with my first son and wanted to use cloth diapers. People thought I was crazy! I found solace in an online community of “hippy” mamas who, like me, used cloth diapers, made baby clothes and did all things crunchy. While I found myself lonely in my day to day, I managed to build a community online that felt like home. It’s where all this started, really – where I learned about blogs and platforms for saving inspiration (ahem, Tumblr). Crazy to think that my internet journey started with an unpopular (at the time) desire to use cloth diapers on my babies.
As you can image, with quite a few years under my belt, I was able to narrow down exactly what worked for me and what didn’t. I really gravitated towards a simple, minimalist, cloth diaper stash. And all these years later, it is still what I love.
There are endless brands of diapers to try, but I always encourage friends to try a few before building a stash. The best diaper can vary a lot, baby to baby, depending on size and body composition. There are lots of options for obtaining used diapers to try before making a big investment. Everywhere from eBay, poshmark, Craigslist or your local kids sale. It might seem weird or gross, but it’s not hard to find diapers second-hand that have either not been used or were used so lightly that there’s no sign of wear. I started gathering parts of my stash as soon as I got the + sign, and by the time Zion got here, we were all set!
Before I dive into what I use, there are some things to consider before deciding to go with cloth. First, and I think most importantly, is your washer situation. We were in need of a washer so we (I mean, Zak) did a lot of research into best washers for cloth diapers. Basically, it comes down to a few things: Front loaders aren’t an option here – you’ll need a good agitator with a “deep fill” option. We were lucky to find a steeply discounted Speed Queen washer at a local scratch and dent retailer. With a 5-year warranty and a 20-year life expectancy, we feel confident we made a good choice for the duration of our parenting career. Now, the numbers of diapers I’m about to share is based on doing a load of diapers every other day. You certainly don’t have to do them that frequently, but I, for one, don’t appreciate diapers sitting longer than that – but the choice is yours. Less washing necessitates a bigger diaper stash…
To wash diapers, I run my washer on a pre-soak and extra rinse cycle, with water temperature set to hot. I only use unscented, free and clear soaps (the more natural, the better to avoid build up) and absolutely NO fabric softeners! By using scented soaps and/or fabric softener, you could run into a build up issue. You’ll know if this happens if, when baby soils a diaper, it smells like ammonia. If this happens, STOP with cloth until you get it sorted out. There are plenty of online tutorials on this: it’s called “stripping your diapers.” However, this shouldn’t ever be an issue if your washing routine is good. For drying diapers, I recommend sunning them whenever possible. Not only is this better for longevity of the diaper (and the planet), but the sun does an incredible job of bleaching out stains, which you’ll definitely want to do, because drying in a dryer will set your stains and make it harder (if not impossible) to get out. I love having a squeaky clean diaper without any stains. You should be able to bury your face into a clean load of diapers and not smell anything or see any stains.
To store dirty diapers until I have a full load to wash, I keep a 5 gallon bucket lined with a BumGenius pail liner that I bought second-hand. Our bathroom is small, so we keep the bucket in our bathtub. Another wise investment I recommend – once you’re really committed to the cloth diaper lifestyle – is a diaper sprayer. Again, I found a bumGenius brand new on eBay for a really great deal, and let me tell you – it is a lifesaver! I can’t imagine using cloth diapers without one.
Now on wet wipes. I have tried both cloth and disposable, but after three rounds of doing this, I strongly believe that if you are going to use cloth diapers, it is worth fully committing and using cloth wipes as well. Using disposable wet wipes, you will have to keep them separate and throw them away after changing a diaper. With cloth wipes, you can wrap them up with your cloth diaper and toss it all into your pail – pretty easy. I use a simple, homemade wipe solution in a spray bottle to dampen wipes as needed. You can also soak your wipes in a solution ahead of time, then store in a container for use. I’ve tried both ways, but wetting the cloth at time of use has worked best for me.
My wipe solution is simply a few squirts of Dr. Bronners castile soap and water in a spray bottle. A lot of recipes you’ll find online will call for oil of some kind and essential oils. A little scent might be nice, but I personally don’t use essential oils – especially on babies. If you enjoy a nice scent, I would recommend getting a scented soap over putting EO on your babies skin. As for using oil, I think it’s fine to do this as long as the solution doesn’t sit too long before being used as the solution could easily develop mold. For the wipe itself, there are so many cheap options: you can buy them (like these) or you can even cut up old receiving blankets, flannel sheets etc. Any soft, absorbent fabric will do. Simply cut up the fabric and serge the edges.
Another thing to consider is diaper cream. Cloth diapers make it a little more challenging to know when baby needs a change because the diapers don’t swell up like a disposable. You’ll have to find a rhythm that works for you, but as a rule of thumb, I usually change before and after each nap and this has kept us from ever needing any diaper cream. However, there are plenty of cloth-safe diaper creams on the market that you can purchase. I make my own diaper cream, and you can find tutorials online or buy a cream that doesn’t have zinc. My personal preference should baby get a rash, is to let baby go naked as much as possible until it clears up. I’ll strip him down and just let him play on a towel or put a prefold cloth diaper on, without a cover, so I can see exactly when he’s wet and change to keep the bottom dry until the rash is clear. The only exception to this is a yeast rash, also known as thrush. This is identified by a rash that looks like tiny, raised red dots. If this happens and you confirm it’s thrush, you should stop with the cloth diapers until it’s clear and make sure to thoroughly strip all your diapers! Trust me – I’ve been there and it’s not fun, especially if said thrush spreads to mama’s nipples… but that’s another story!
Okay, on to the good stuff: diapers! I’m a mix of old school and modern here. I’ve found the old school prefolds with a snappi and nylon pants are a winning combo. It’s simple, easy to use, easy to clean, and the cheapest you’ll find. The modern alternative is bumGenius all-in-one (AIO) diapers. I love these for when we’re on the go, for grandparents, babysitters, siblings, or dads who struggle with the old school prefolds. The AIO diapers, while more expensive, function like a disposable diaper and make it super easy to change baby. They’re also a good solution for overnight, as certain styles come in wicking fabrics that helps keep moisture away from baby’s skin. You can also get soakers for overnight to add to prefolds if you go the old school route. You can see in my diaper drawer, I still have a stash of disposable diapers on hand for night times. My sleep deprived self hasn’t been ready to tackle cloth at night. I currently have 12 prefolds, a pack of snappis, about 10 AIO bumGenius diapers, 4 nylon pants and 2 dozen wet wipes.
One last thing to consider is an on-the-go wet bag. I’ve always made these myself and you can find many tutorials online if you’re inclined. This is what you keep in your diaper bag when out and about to store soiled diapers until you make it back home.
Q&A? if you have any specific questions or comments drop them bellow and I’ll do my best to answer so others can see as well.
Good luck with the fluffy butts!