So, you have made the decision to use cloth diapers but are wondering where to begin. You may be asking yourself "How many do I need?", "What goes with what?", "How do I set-up my nursery?", "What should I carry in my diaper bag?", and many other questions that you may have not even thought of yet! Well, look no further because here are the answers to some of the most important cloth diapering questions.
What are the different types of cloth diapers?
Prefold: A rectangular piece of cloth that is thicker in the middle than on the sides. (Example: Chinese Prefold)
Fitted: Shaped to fit snug on a baby with elastic in the legs and sometimes on the back. Usually it is equipped with snaps or velcro but can easily be held together with diaper fasteners. These diapers require a waterproof cover.
All-In-One(AIO): This is a diaper and waterproof cover in one piece. The diaper has a soft absorbent material on the inside and a waterproof material on the outside. The tabs are held together with snaps or velcro.
Pocket Diapers: Similar to AIO's but have an insert that can be used to customize the amount of absorbancy.
Covers: These are used with prefolds or fitteds and fasten together with snaps or velcro. Often covers can be used multiple times before having to be laundered.
How many diapers do I need?
That really depends on the age of the child and how often you are washing your diapers. The younger your baby is the more you will be changing them; requiring you to have more diapers. Also, if you plan on washing every three days rather than every other day, you will need a few extra.
For newborns and infants plan on having 10 to 12 diaper changes per day; toddlers generally require 6 to 8 changes. It is best to plan on having 24 to 36 diapers for infants and a few less for toddlers. If you are using pre-folds or fitteds with covers, you should have about 6 covers which should last you through 2 days. It is also a good idea to have 1 to 2 dozen inserts or doublers for times when you might need extra absorbency, such as at night or during naps.
What do I need at the diaper changer?
You have your diapers and doublers, now there are a few other things to help you cloth diaper your baby. If you choose to use reusable wipes (which I highly recommend) you should keep 24 to 36 on hand. An easy way to have wipes ready for use is to store them in a box already pre-moistened with wipe solution.
Another cloth diapering essential to have is the diaper pail. A regular kitchen garbage pail with a hands-free lid works great. Just add a pail liner and your diaper pail is ready! It is a good idea to have 2 pail liners to accomodate for wash day. An alternative to the diaper pail is a hanging bag that zips shut.
How should I wash my diapers?
The best rule of thumb is to look at the tag on the diaper or consult with the manufacturer. Some diapers have specific instructions due to the waterproofing components. Most all diapers have similar wash instructions, but pay very close attention to the drying instructions. Line dry is usually recommended and sun drying is great to remove stains.
What should I carry in my diaper bag?
Well obviously there should be some diapers, extra inserts, and extra cover if using pre-folds or fitteds. Pre-moistened wipes are a good idea because they are quick to grab. Also, dry wipes with wipe solution in a spray bottle works well too. Last but not least, a definite must have in the diaper bag, the wet bag to hold all of those dirty diapers!
What happens if I go on vacation or a long weekend trip?
If you are planning a vacation or long weekend trip, think about taking the diaper changing essentials and shrinking them into a bag! A good way to do this is to take both of your pail liners and use one for dirty diapers and one for clean diapers. If you don't have enough diapers to last you through the trip, look for a place to wash your diapers. Many hotels have laundry service now, just don't forget to bring your soap! Another suggestion is to use a cloth system that can accomodate a disposable insert. Disposables can be flushed or thrown away and work well when you may not be able to get to a washer.