Here is everything that I have learned (that I can think of) (so far) about cloth diapering.
1) There was no reason to wait until E was a couple months old before completely switching over. It was easy!
The first couple weeks, we just wanted to get used to having a baby. Then we had E circumcised, which had complications, (a whole other post…), and didn’t want to worry about sticking or irritation (poor guy!). Then we started doing cloth in the daytime, but stuck with disposables at night, thinking it was easier. Finally, when E was almost 3 months old, I did the complete switch over, day and night. And it was easy. Silly me!
2) What you think you want is not always what you need.
It’s true what they say: buy a variety before you commit to a single style. We thought we would want to do covers and prefolds, which turned out to be true. It’s so simple to just grab one of each and not have to worry about matching inserts with covers. And I didn’t have to buy as many covers as I would’ve had to buy with all-in-ones, because with wet diapers, you just take out the prefold and replace it, cover stays clean. Ta-da! We also thought we wanted covers with pockets at the ends to hold the prefolds in place, but the ones we bought with that feature get soaked through onto E’s clothes. Something about the diaper being up against the fabric. Oh well. So, my advice? Buy (or better yet, get hand-me-downs) a few different kinds to try out before committing to a whole set. Then get more of the ones you love!
3) Cloth wipes sounded disgusting and scary, but they’re really easier (when cloth diapering) than disposables!
Disposable wipes with disposable diapers, and cloth wipes with cloth diapers. It was kind of disgusting, (and a pain!) to use disposable wipes with the cloth diapers. There was no wrapping the wipe in the diaper during changing. I had to find a spot to put the dirty wipe while finishing dressing E and putting him in a safe spot, then trek it to the trash (the diaper goes in a bin right next to the changing pad). Yuck! The cloth wipes go straight into the bin with the diapers and are washed with them too. They also do a great job of cleaning up E’s bum. I soak them in a bit of solution (1/4 of a Baby Bum Drop with 1 cup hot water), and put them in the wipe warmer so they’re ready to go. Easy peasy!
4) For a two-story house, it is wonderful to have two of everything – two diaper pails, two liners (plus an extra for laundry day), two cloth wipe warmers, and (I wish) two diaper sprayers.
Acquiring these took some time, and we bought wipe warmers second-hand, but it has been so nice to not have to go up or down the stairs to clean or store dirty diapers. I only have one sprayer (upstairs), so I do have to leave E and trek up to use it, but it would be really nice to have two!
5) All-in-ones are less intimidating to a babysitter.
“It’s just like a disposable!” Put it on clean, take it off dirty, and put it in a (wet) bag. We invested in a couple all-in-ones just for this purpose.
6) Velcro is easy, snaps are secure.
Snaps are a little bit of a pain to do up, especially in the dark, but they don’t get worn down and loose! I can imagine E a little older, pulling the velcro open and running free!
7) Get them as tight as you possibly can!
I learned this one the hard way… I felt a little guilty that E was getting red marks on his tummy, so one night I did the diaper up a little looser than normal. And, when he was in bed with me, nursing side-lying, his pee just poured out the leg hole… all over me and the bed. Lesson learned!
8) Laundry tabs are necessary.
Without them the velcro on the diapers gets stuck to everything! Including parts of the diapers themselves, which wears them down.
9) Special detergent is worth the small additional cost.
We had been told that it would be just fine to use our regular detergent (a free and clear) on our diapers, so long as we washed them with only like 1/4 the amount of soap. Well, after a few months of this, we had a horrific ammonia smell problem, due to the build-up of detergent in the diapers, even with hot washes and extra rinses. So we’ve switched to Charlie’s soap, and voila! Much better.
10) Double gussets are a life saver!
If the first set doesn’t catch it, the second will! Single gussets haven’t been bad, but for those major poops, having backup is a huge relief.
11) My faves: Sweet Pea covers and prefolds.
They’re affordable (only like $10 a cover and we bought prefolds used), cute, secure, and will fit him forever (well, hopefully not forever; I hope E will be potty trained someday).
12) Who cares if it’s secondhand when it’s catching pee and poop.
I mean, they don’t stay new for long! Plus, getting them from someone you know means they work. And getting them from a secondhand store means they’re already prepped (they’ve gone through the pre-use washes for maximum absorbency).
13) It’s really not that much extra work
It’s an extra load or two of laundry each week, but no folding involved, so that’s a plus!
We are still learning, but all-in-all, it hasn’t been as scary as folks think!