So, you’ve chosen the style of cloth diapers you want to go with. Whether it be prefolds for their economic qualities, All In Ones (AIOs) for their convenience and ease, fitteds for their super absorbancy, or pockets for their diversity, you now need to figure out what to do. What brand do you get? How many do you need? What do you do once you get them?
As far as brands to choose from, there are hundreds! It can actually feel a little overwhelming (believe me, I know), but don’t worry – there are great ways to figure out which way to go. First of all, I would highly encourage you to check out Elegant Mommy’s Diapapallooza where you can purchase gently used diapers on consignment at a reasonable price. It is a fantastic way to check out different brands and styles and all at an affordable rate. I started out there when I began my cloth diaper journey at the beginning of the year. I got something like nine different diapers including several extra inserts for around $40. I was *ecstatic*! It didn’t take very long to figure out what I liked about some brands and didn’t like about others. Once I figured all that out it made it very easy for me to move on with cloth diapering and add more dipes to our collection. You could also look for used cloth diapers on Craigslist or Ebay…shoot, even your local paper might have some. Just take a look.
If you prefer to support work at home moms (WAHM’s), you can check out Etsy shops here. There are many amazing and wonderful products out there…it’s just a matter of taking the time to find them.
Maybe you prefer the “big dogs”…diapers like FuzziBunz, Rumparooz, gDiapers, etc. These products have been proven - many, many, many people love them, and they of course are backed with great customer service, warranties, and other perks that come with purchasing products from larger companies.
Ok. Now for the big question. How many do you need? Well, that kind of depends. First of all you need to think about how often you want to do laundry. Every day? Every other day? Or would you rather have a big enough stash that you don’t *have* to do laundry for 3-4 days? Your budget will have something to do with the answer to this question, but also you’ll want to take into consideration what stage of life your baby is in. Newborn babies pee and poop way more often than 9 month olds, who pee and poop way more often than toddlers who are pre-potty training/learning. If you decide to purchase one-size diapers that adjust with your baby as he or she grows, you will have plenty throughout the diaper cycle if you purchase them for your newborn who goes “oh-so-often”. You will find yourself having to do laundry less and less as time goes on, too – double bonus! So, if you figure you need to change your newborn approximately every 3 hours or so, that’s eight diapers a day. I would personally recommend having enough to get you through at least two days, or you will feel like you are *always* doing diaper laundry and don’t have time for your regular laundry. Remember, it takes some time to do a load of laundry, especially if you dry your covers on the line…you’ll need to be able to diaper your baby while you do that. Anyway, a simple math equation can answer this question, you just need to fill in the variables.
The last thing I’m going to cover in this brief “how to begin” post is what you need to do after you get them. The answer to this question depends on where you get them. If you are purchasing them used, I would recommend stripping them. This basically means washing them in a way that gets any potential buildup off of them and makes them as absorbent as possible. You never know where you are getting them from and how the previous owner took care of them, so this is a great first step. There are several ways to strip diapers, but I’m going to tell you about the way I used (and had success with). Basically, after I washed them, I rinsed, rinsed, and rinsed some more in the hottest water I could. During the rinse cycles, I stopped the washer and if there were bubbles (not agitation bubbles, but the kind of bubbles that stayed after sitting for a bit) I rinsed them again. I kept doing that until there were no more bubbles. It took many, many cycles because we have a front loading HE washer which doesn’t use as much water as top loaders, but it was definitely worth it. If you are interested in learning other methods of stripping, just do an Internet search for stripping cloth diapers – there are several really great blogs dedicated to cloth diapers and their care.
If you purchase brand new diapers, you will need to prep them. That basically means washing them and drying them at least once, but up to several times. This optimizes the absorbency, cleans them (after all, they will be next to your baby’s most sensitive parts), fluffs up the fabric’s fibers and makes them not “leaky”.
No matter what, just do your best not to get overwhelmed, jump in, and ask for help if you need it. There are tons of resources available to help you through it! Happy cloth diapering!