Cloth diapering can be simple and straightforward. Or it can be really, really complicated and not worth the trouble! I think most of the potential difficulty comes from all the conflicting information on the web (so here I am adding to it, hehehe). Kept simple, cloth diapering is a fun and effective way to care for your baby with some great benefits (click here to read my post on why I love cloth diapering). Here a few suggestions based on my own experiences with cloth diapering to help keep it a simple, likeable experience.
1. You don’t need to try every cloth diaper out there. When I first got online and Googled “cloth diapers” I was expecting plastic pants, flats, and pins, like my mom was using 20+ years ago. What I found was an overwhelming barrage of cloth diaper lingo–prefolds, covers, pockets, AIOs, 2IOs, fitteds, wool, PUL, etc. I’ve often seen the advice “try one of everything to figure out what you like.” I disagree. Educate yourself on the basics of how each type of diaper works, the cost, and how to care for them, and then choose just one or two types that appeal the most to you. You don’t need the adventure of figuring out 5 different kinds of diapers while trying to take care of a newborn. If you are new to cloth diapering, I suggest trying a trial program from a cloth diaper retailer, such as Diaper Junction, Jillian’s Drawers, Kelly’s Closet, or Nicki’s Diapers . If you don’t like the system you choose, you can return the diapers and try a different kind.
2. Keep your wash routine simple. Your wash routine needs to be sustainable (you’ll be doing it often)! Having to walk to the washing machine 10 times and add 10 different chemicals is a good way to get burned out on cloth diapering. Don’t plan for washing problems, just start simply and adjust what you’re doing if issues arise. I’ll have a post up soon on my washing recommendations. It’s a good idea to start with your manufacturer’s recommendations and go from there. Here’s a hint: You’ll find lists and ratings for “cloth-diaper safe” detergents. Beware! These almost ended cloth diapering for me. Use whatever detergent gets your diapers CLEAN and doesn’t give your baby a rash. Tide, Tide, Tide…oh did I mention that I like Tide?
3. Buy enough diapers. If you have a big enough stash of diapers, you won’t stress about doing laundry to keep baby from running out. Having a generous supply will also prolong the life of the diapers because each diaper won’t be washed as frequently.
4. Don’t get bogged down in the quest for the “perfect” diaper (unless you find this truly entertaining and enjoyable). You can spend hours upon hours searching reviews and trying to determine what the very best diaper is. The reality is that every baby is built differently, and what some love others despise. I recommend choosing something that is generally liked (maybe through a trial program) and see how it works. If it doesn’t suit your fancy, try something else. You just can’t know for sure how a diaper will work for your baby by reading other people’s reviews. I picked prefolds and covers when I first started cloth diapering (prefolds and covers are still my favorite, by the way) and even though I chose some cheap covers that fit my son poorly, they still out-performed disposables 100 to 1.
5. Use disposables when necessary (or when it just makes your life less stressful). For us, this means putting the toddler in a disposable at night. Nighttime cloth diapering can be a different animal from daytime diapering, and it isn’t always worth the trouble to find a solution in cloth. For me, the hardest part is getting an overnight toddler diaper clean. It’s too hard to be worth it, so I fork out the 33 cents a night for disposables. If you are determined to find a cloth nighttime solution, here is one from Rainshine Designs that I love using on my younger baby (currently 9 months old). Other situations in which you might consider disposables would be for traveling or when baby has a yeast rash. Keep in mind that it is possible to CD in all of these situations, but if it makes life easier, you can use a disposable now and then and still enjoy the benefits of cloth diapering!