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Advice for Starting Out With Cloth Diapers

If you’re starting to research cloth diapers, we know how you feel:

  • Overwhelmed by the number of options and systems.
  • Confused by all the terminology and abbreviations.
  • Irritated at all the naysayers who think you’re crazy.

We’re here to help you make sense of it all! (And you’re not crazy. Just crazy smart for realizing that there’s a much better alternative to disposable diapers!)

Our best advice for cloth diaper newbies is…

There is no single perfect diaper, so diversify!

We’ve talked with many moms who seem to be on a quest to find the one hallowed, perfect, legendary cloth diaper that will work in every circumstance and for every caretaker. They intend to build their entire cloth diaper stash out of it.

In reality, most people have a stash of at least 4 or 5 different types of diapers. Having a variety ensures that you have some diapers that Mom prefers, some that Dad likes, some that work best for overnight, some that are nice and simple for the babysitter who’s never seen a cloth diaper before, and so on. 

Don’t stress about the laundry routine.

If you spend any amount of time browsing cloth diaper discussion forums or blogs, you might become paranoid about laundry. You’ll find people recommending all kinds of bizarre and complicated laundry routines and making it seem much more daunting than it is. 

The best approach to take to washing your cloth diapers is to keep it simple. Adding too many steps and products will make it more difficult to troubleshoot if you run into problems later. The simple routine we recommend is to:

  • Wash every other day.
  • Avoid any detergent with fabric softeners, fragrances, optical brighteners, or bleach.
  • Start with a rinse, then wash on hot with detergent, and finish with a rinse. Make sure no suds remain in the final rinse.

Slow down.

Don’t feel like you need to have a five-page, typewritten, three-year cloth diaper strategy in place when you hit your 25th week of pregnancy. Figuring out what type of cloth diapers work best for your family will be a hands-on process. 

Most people who use cloth diapers on a full-time basis have at least two dozen diaper changes, but you don’t have to have that many from the get-go. To get started, you can rent newborn diapers, try a variety of one-size cloth diapers for two weeks to see which brands and types you like, or even borrow cloth diapers from a friend. If you’re currently using disposable diapers and you’re ready to make the switch to cloth, you can supplement with your remaining disposables while you figure out what you like and build your stash. 

Be excited – it’s contagious!

We’ve noticed that our readers who receive the highest percentage of cloth diapers from their gift registries are the ones who share their excitement about cloth diapers with friends and family. Sure, if you tell people that you’re going to use cloth diapers, you’ll probably run into some who criticize or doubt your choice but don’t let them deter you. If you’re genuinely excited about using cloth diapers, let it show. Explain to your friends and family why it’s important to you – the cost savings, the waste reduction, and avoiding chemical exposure. Show them how adorable and easy modern cloth diapers are, reassuring them that you won’t be needing diaper pins or plastic pants. You may be pleasantly surprised at the support (and maybe cloth diaper-related baby shower gifts!) that you’ll receive after they’ve seen your genuine enthusiasm.