Cloth Diapers: What I’ve Learned in our First Year of Cloth Diapering
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Hello friends! I decided I wanted to start a zero waste baby series on the blog now that Vasco is nearly one year old. I want to share our real experiences trying to navigate the zero waste lifestyle with a little one. The question I get asked about the most is always about cloth diapers! How do I start using cloth diapers? How many do I need? What about the poo? Before you dive in to this post, be sure to take a peak at my post cloth diapering 101. I wrote that post last year just before Vasco was born with the help and advice of my Instagram friends. I compiled all the wisdom I received from the zero waste mama Instagram community and shared it on the blog. There’s some really great, useful information there, especially if you are just starting out with cloth diapers.
Now that we’ve been cloth diapering for nearly a year though, I want to tell you my honest thoughts and experiences on cloth diapering. I understand not everyone will agree with my post, but I really wish someone had told me these things before I started cloth diapers.
Cloth Diapering Saves You Money
If you’re considering cloth diapering your baby, do it for no other reason than to SAVE YOU MONEY! I initially wanted to cloth diaper Vasco, because I wanted to reduce our household waste. It wasn’t until we bought a box of disposables for nighttime diapering that we realized — holy cow, disposable diapers are NOT cheap! Some people think the price of cloth diapering basically evens out with disposables since you have to do extra laundry but I don’t agree. I think it’s much cheaper. Do your wallet a favor, and try out cloth!
Disposables at Nighttime
This one will probably be an unpopular opinion, but yes, we don’t use cloth diapers at nighttime. Vasco sleeps in our bed with us, and I have woken up one too many times in a puddle of baby pee. Some babies aren’t heavy wetters at night, and some parents find a magical heavy wetter solution that works for their baby. We tried a few different cloth diaper styles and to save myself the stress, we decided to go for disposables at night. It wasn’t sustainable for me to wash our sheets daily! (If you do have an overnight solution that works for your family, please share it in the comments. I know fellow zero waste parents would love to hear other experiences.)
Newborn Cloth Diapers
When Vasco was first born, I decided we would use disposable diapers until he could fit into the regular sized cloth diapers we had collected. In my mind, I thought I’d be so exhausted in those first few weeks that I wouldn’t have the energy to do extra laundry. I also was intimidated by the whole idea of cloth diapering and was nervous about investing in not just one stash of cloth diapers but a whole extra set of small reusable diapers for that early newborn stage. However, after having gone through the newborn stage, I wish we had gotten a secondhand stash of newborn cloth diapers from the start. The first weeks of diapering are the easiest honestly! Yes, we had to change Vasco’s diaper pretty often, but the baby poo was just not that big of a deal when he was so small. So, if you’re on the fence about newborn cloth diapering, try investing in a secondhand stash of diapers.
My Favorite Cloth Diapers
Another unpopular opinion here, but I want to be completely honest with you. We’ve tried lots of different brands and styles of diapers including BumGenius, Thirsties, Tidytots, FuzziBunz, etc, and my favorite cloth diaper is Alva. A lot of eco mamas cringe at that recommendation, because Alva cloth diapers are considered “Chinese cheapies.” But here’s the thing, I would have loved to have found a Made in USA, organic brand cloth diaper that I adore, but of the diapers I’ve tried, Alva is my diaper of choice. Alva diapers are extremely affordable but why I love them so much is the fit. They just fit Vasco way better than any of the other brands.
Although these are MY favorite diapers, what I’ve also learned is that everyone, and I mean everyone, has a different favorite cloth diaper. I remember before Vasco was born, I really wanted someone to just tell me what the best diaper was so I could buy 20 of them and we’d be set. No one could give me a solid answer. Here’s what I recommend. Start out with a small stash of diapers in a variety of styles and brands. Do some research and pick maybe 5-7 brands that you think you will like and buy just one of each (if you can get them secondhand, even better!) After a couple of weeks of diapering, you will have favorites and not so favorites. I really wish someone had told me that in the beginning. So that’s my two cents!
A Small Stash is A Good Stash
Before we started cloth diapering, I was really worried about the size of our cloth diaper stash. I asked so many moms, “how many diapers do I need?” I worried we wouldn’t have enough, and I imagined having to wrap baby Vasco in a towel while I waited for his diapers to dry, haha! We now have what would be considered a small stash of diapers, about 14 or so. However, now that we’ve cloth diapered for nearly a year, I think we have the perfect sized stash. You really don’t want to go more than a couple of days before washing the diapers in my opinion. We currently wash diapers every other day, and it’s the perfect routine for our family.
What To Do With The Poo
Another question I get asked all the time about cloth diapering is, “what about the poo?!” We are a year in and let me be the first to tell you it’s not that bad y’all! And actually for those first 7-8 months Vasco was exclusively breastfed, it was super duper easy. In those months, we seriously would just toss the soiled diapers into the wet bag without rinsing at all. Those poos in the beginning come out really easily in the wash.
When Vasco started eating solids, poo diapers got a little bit trickier, but again it’s not that bad, I promise! With solid foods comes substantial poos but most of these we are able to just knock off the diaper into the toilet if that makes sense. I’d say that’s about 80% of the time, knockable poos. In the other cases, what we do is just take some toilet paper and wipe the poo into the toilet. It doesn’t have to be perfectly clean just as much as we can get off with toilet paper. The rest comes off easily in the washing machine. We didn’t invest in a diaper sprayer, and we don’t dunk the diapers in the toilet. We just either knock or wipe off the diapers and they get clean in the wash.
Washing Cloth Diapers
For the first 7-8 months of cloth diapering, washing diapers was really simple. We used zero waste laundry soap and diapers came out perfectly clean. We threw the diapers in the washing machine as if they were any pile of dirty clothes. Our system included hot water and zero waste laundry soap, and then line drying them. However, once Vasco started eating solids the diapers did not get so clean with our regular laundry routine. I noticed more stains and some of the diapers even smelled funny. We decided to buy conventional laundry detergent that comes in a cardboard box from the grocery store one day. After a single wash, the diapers came out sparkly clean and stench and stain free. I don’t love that we use conventional laundry detergent to clean diapers, but I do love that our cloth diapers are in pristine condition and can easily be used for another baby.
Just Do It!
Ok, so now after a year of cloth diapering, I think my best advice for you is to “just do it!!” Jump in and experiment for yourself. You might have a completely different experience than I have had. What I know is that cloth diapering is not difficult or gross. It’s actually really fun and your baby will look so freaking adorable in all the cute cloth prints 😀 So give it a try and shoot me a message or email if you have any questions. I’m happy to help!
You might also enjoy these blog posts from Tiny Yellow Bungalow!
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