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I write about about being a 40-something mum of six wonderfully exasperating children, attachment parenting, my adventures in the kitchen, and whatever else comes to mind. 


Cloth Diapering 101

Those of you who know where I work, know that the shop offers a great "how to cloth diaper" workshop every month. Susie, the owner, also has a blog with great tips, tricks and more about diapering, baby-wearing and parenting. Having cloth-diapered 3 boys, though, I feel compelled to write up my own "Cloth Diapering Basics" post and share my "(assuming cost isn't an issue) Imaginary Stash" for people starting out with cloth. I'm linking all the diapers I mention to the Extraordinary Baby Shoppe's website, but am not being compensated for it in any other way than having an awesome place to work where my baby is welcome and I get to talk about "fluff" all day long. ;) And, to be honest, that's pretty awesome compensation!

First off, if you are planning to wash every couple of days, you will need approximately 2 dozen diapers that fit at any given point. I personally think 30-36 is a nicer number as it increases the number of diapers in rotation and lessens the overall wear and tear on the diapers -- thus increasing their lifespan and retaining their resale value.

Prefolds are a great option for the backbone of a diaper stash. They are extremely affordable, easy to use, and very hard to screw up. You can bleach them, boil them, and could probably drive your car over them without doing them any lasting harm. They are absorbent, versatile, and will keep well for subsequent children. Prefolds require a moisture-proof cover. You can use prefolds with or without a Snappi -- I recommend using a Snappi with newborns, though, as it helps keep the covers clean longer. For a stash of 30 diapers, I like to suggest having 1.5 dozen (18) prefolds in the infant size and 0.5 dozen at the toddler size.

The next step up from prefolds are fitted diapers. These diapers have elastic at the leg and waist, are contoured into a more conventional diaper shape and close at the waist with velcro or snaps. The fit helps to contain messes a bit better, as well as making them a little easier to close. Fitted diapers also require a cover. My favorite at the moment is the Kiwi Pie bamboo fitted diaper. It is a one-size fitted, designed to fit from 8lbs-35lbs, and comes with two snap-together doublers for extra absorbency. When paired with a wool soaker overnight, these babies are bulletproof! At the newborn stage, I'm a huge fan of Kissaluvs (size 0), as it has a snug fit, texture that stops poo in its tracks, and a snap-down in front for the umbilical area. For a stash of 30 diapers, I would recommend 12 fitted diapers at the newborn stage, and 6 at the 15lbs mark.

I suggest having at least 1 cover for every half dozen diapers that require a cover, plus an "extra" cover. For 24 diapers, I would recommend keeping 5 covers on hand. The more covers you have in rotation, the less wear and tear and the better they will keep for resale or another child. We have some Bummis wraps that all three of our boys have worn -- they're now over 8.5 yrs old! There are many different styles of covers -- what you choose really comes down to personal preference. I like to suggest people have a few different styles, as babies change shape as they grow. Some covers will fit better over certain diapers than others, as well. Covers only need to be washed when they are stinky, poopy, or no longer resisting moisture. I like to make sure mine are washed about once a week.

The most expensive option in terms of cloth diapering are pocket diapers and all-in-ones (AIO). These diapers have built-in waterproofing on the outside and either have absorbency sewn in or have a pocket, into which absorbent inserts are stuffed. They're great for the diaper bag, reluctant babysitters and 3am. ;) They go on and off like a disposable and are probably the "least threatening" cloth diapering option. I'm a big fan of the Tots Bots Easy-Fit, an AIO pocket hybrid. Downsides to this option are that the entire diaper (pocket and insert) needs to be washed after each use. For the sake of variety, I'll add 6 of these to the "Imaginary Stash".

Storage of dirty diapers is simple. You need a waterproof bag -- either a hanging bag or a pail liner. Shake any solids off of the diaper into the toilet (or use a flushable liner, unnecessary if exclusively breastfeeding), deposit the soiled diaper into the bag, and keep it there until it is time to wash. When it is time to wash, dump the diapers into the washer and wash the bag along with them. I like to recommend having two "pails", so that you have one to use when the other is in the wash.

To wash the diapers, run a cold or warm rinse cycle, then a warm/warm or hot/cold cycle with an extra rinse using 1 full scoop of a diaper safe detergent and the highest water setting. If needed, run an extra rinse. Line-drying is best, as it cuts down on the wear and tear on the diapers and covers and sunshine is a fabulous natural stain remover!

So, the (cost irrelevant, birth to toilet training) "Imaginary Stash":

1.5 dozen infant prefolds ($49.50)
0.5 doz toddler prefolds ($25)
1 pkg Snappi (2pk) ($5)
12 Kissaluvs, size 0, fitteds (12 x $14.95)
6 Kiwi Pie bamboo fitteds (6 x $25)
3 Gen-Y side-snapping cover [x-sm, sm, lg] (3 x $18/ea)
3 Bummis Super Whisper Wrap [sm, m, lg] (3 x $12/ea)
2 Thirsties Duo Wraps, size 1 (2 x $15/ea)
2 Thirsties Duo Wraps, size 2 (2 x $15/ea)
3 wool covers [1/ea in sm, m, lg] (3 x $22/ea)
1 FuzziBunz one-size pocket diaper ($25.95)
1 bumGenius one-size pocket diaper ($23.85)
2 Tots Bots Easy Fit one-size All-In-One (2 x $24.75/ea)
2 GroVia one-size All-In-One (2 x $26/ea)
2 pail liners (2 x $15)

Total: $806.20

For cheaper, also "birth to toilet-training", you can go with just the prefolds:

2 doz (24) infant-size prefolds (2 x $33/ea)
1.5 doz (18) toddler-size prefolds (1.5 x $50/ea)
1 pkg Snappi (2pk) ($5)
3 Gen-Y side-snapping cover [x-sm, sm, lg] (3 x $18/ea)
3 Bummis Super Whisper Wrap [sm, m, lg] (3 x $12/ea)
2 Thirsties Duo Wraps, size 1 (2 x $15/ea)
2 Thirsties Duo Wraps, size 2 (2 x $15/ea)
3 wool covers [sm, m, lg] (3 x $22)
2 pail liners (2 x $15)

Total: $392.00 + tax ;)

The costs above are for a start-up stash. With subsequent children, you might do as I did and sell some of your stash, buy some gently-used diapers, or invest in some new stuff. With a good backbone to your diapering stash, though, the costs for even a pricey collection are pretty minimal in comparison to disposables!

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