A week or so ago, I wrote about why I love to cloth diaper newborns. But that made me realize, some of you might be thinking about using cloth diapers for the very first time. Probably you, like me three years ago, don’t have any idea what a “good stash” looks like.
I’ve now cloth diapered one child from (almost) birth to potty training and a second one from birth until almost 21 months (potty training to be coming soon), so I’ve figured out what works best for me. Hopefully it will shed some light on some of your options, and help you to make decisions about what cloth diapers you would like to have!
Most people these days, it seems, use one-size diapers. If you haven’t seen them, they have snap-down sizes so they can fit (supposedly) from 7 – 35 lbs. Realistically they fit more like 10 – 35ish lbs. and then it still depends on your kid’s build. Most moms agree they just don’t fit that well on skinny newborns, even larger ones (my friend had a 9 lb. 2 oz. baby and still waited a few weeks before trying the one-size on her).
If you choose to use one-size diapers, know that you will probably need a separate system for the very early weeks, or you can use disposables until your baby is big enough. Both are common.
Now, I don’t like them. I have two or three of them, and I use them. But they’re not my favorite. They’re bigger and bulkier than other styles of diapers (like the “sized” ones) and they don’t fit as well under clothes. For me, absorbent + good fit + trim is very important. The reason most people use one-size is because they want to cut down on costs (and, if you have multiple kids, you don’t have to guess whose diaper is whose or carry tons of extras in a diaper bag). At $18 a pop, they’re not cheap…it’s a big up-front investment. So if you can save money by buying just one set, why wouldn’t you? (I’ll get to some more options on cost in a minute.)
I, however, just prefer to have the sized diapers. They’re naturally trimmer and I seem to get a better fit with them. So, here is what is actually in my stash:
*2 newborn/small covers
*36 newborn prefolds (used also to stuff size small pockets, so they’re in nearly constant use)
*25 newborn pocket diapers
*24 “nice” small pockets, and 12 or so “back up” smalls (that I sewed when I still didn’t know too much)
*36 medium pockets
*36 infant-sized prefolds (to stuff into the medium pockets)
*A few random doublers and fleece liners (which I almost never use)
That’s it! It’s a very simple system. I use a combination of pockets and prefolds + covers for newborns. Then I use the small pockets from 10 – 25ish lbs. I use mediums at night only from 15 or 18 lbs., and from 20 lbs. or so until potty training. Bekah didn’t fit the smalls I had by the time she was 18 – 20 lbs. so she was in mediums full time. Daniel fits them differently so is still easily in smalls at 25 lbs. (although these are new design which makes a difference too).
I do not “need” so many. Most moms have 12 – 24 diapers, which is sufficient (washing every 1 – 3 days, depending on the baby’s stage and how often they need changing). But since I occasionally forget to wash for a day, or I leave extra in the diaper bag, or my kids steal them for baby dolls…I like to have extra.
If you like the idea that I’ve set out but don’t like the idea of spending extra money to buy multiple diaper sets, there are other options.
*Some stores have “seconds,” which are diapers with some aesthetic flaw that doesn’t affect their use. These are often about $12 instead of $18.
*There are lots of second-hand diapers in great condition being sold (on various websites mostly), and these hold their value well at $10 – $12 per diaper. You can also sell your diapers for this same price, making any future purchases much cheaper. Some even trade diapers!
*Some stores offer “package deals” where, if you buy 6, 12, 18, etc. you will get discounts on your total purchase. Yes, that’s a lot at once, but it’s a good deal if you need to buy them anyway.
*You can buy the materials and sew your own. Honestly, a lot of moms who do this have never sewn before; they are not that hard to make (and very forgiving). It’s a big time investment, though, at 30 – 45 minutes per diaper. But, you have a lot of freedom to get the exact fit, style, color, etc. that you want. Plus, it costs only $2 – $3 per diaper!
*Stick to prefolds and covers all the way through. Lots of moms like this system, though it’s not as “dad and babysitter friendly.” Prefolds can be purchased for $2 – $3 each, and covers are around $15 (but you only need 3 – 4 in each size because you can reuse them a few times unless they get pooped on). Some moms have 4 – 6 pockets just for babysitters, but otherwise use prefolds.
There are lots of ways to make cloth diapering easy and affordable. And remember, all babies are different. They fit into diapers differently, they wet different amounts, etc. Cloth diapers are very adjustable in every way, but sometimes it takes a few tries to find out what system works best for your baby.
Do you cloth diaper? What is in your stash?