The most common reasons for cloth diapering are 1) Economics, saving money 2) Health, preventing diaper rash and avoiding chemicals 3) Natural Lifestyle, preferring natural and safe products 4) Environmental, wishing to curb the massive waste problem of disposables in our landfills. 4) Some or all of the above.
If one can zero in on the reasons they're drawn to cloth diapering, the process of choosing products instantly becomes simpler. Rest assured, just about any cloth diapering system--even the most pricey will still save you tons of money over using disposable diapers. With most cloth diapering options, you'll spend less than half the cost of disposables. If using a diaper service too, you'll spend just over half the cost. That significant savings is extended even more if your cloth diapering supplies are used for more than one baby.
What will you need? Diapers: About 12 a day for infants, 8 for toddlers. Multiply those amounts by the number of days between washes, and that's the quantity you'll need. It's best to wash diapers at least every 2 to 3 days to prevent overcrowding the load, and this also means you'll need fewer diapers! Diaper Covers: About 4 to 6 per size. You can rotate and reuse these about 3 to 5 times before washing. Accessories: 6 to 12 Diaper Doublers for naps, nights, or toddlers, and other diapering accessories if needed.
Here are some cloth diapering suggestions based on the categories above:
1) Economics ~ If you're main cloth diapering goal is to save money, here's our most budget-friendly recommendations: Use basic Cotton 'Chinese' Prefolds (diaper service quality) inside inexpensive pull-on diaper covers like Waterproof Pants by Dappi or Bummis. For fastening the diaper, pick up some baby-lock Diaper Pins or Snappi diaper fasteners. Or if you like the idea of a pull-on pant but prefer to use a fitted diaper with closures, try affordable fitted Snugglebottom diapers with Closures instead of Prefolds. Any fitted diaper with closures will work, but we're highlighting the least expensive options here. If you prefer using a Velcro or Aplix diaper cover rather than a pull-on, try the Bummis Super Lite, a wonderful budget-priced diaper cover. For a tiny bit more, Bummis Super Whisper Wraps, Prints, and Super Brites are good buys with generous sizing once you get to Medium (15-30 lbs). If baby is already over 15 lbs, the Medium covers should fit all the way to potty training! Remember, when using a cover with Velcro or Aplix, closures on the diaper become optional since the cover provides a snug fit at the waist, helping hold the inner diaper in place. This makes it easy to use any cloth diapers-- prefolds, or fitteds like Snugglebottoms inside the cover without the need for pins or fasteners.
Note: Another budget-conscious choice in the long run but with a higher initial investment are the One Piece/One Size diapers such as bumGenius or Easy Fits. These 'pocket diaper' systems combine diaper and cover into a one-piece adjustable system, so only one size is needed for the whole span of diapering. They need to be laundered after each use, so one needs about 18 to 24 diapers if using this system exclusively. These are wonderful additions to a diapering stash, but since the initial cost is higher and it's a less breathable system, we think these are best used along with other items as part of a more diversified diapering system.
2) Health ~ Some babies remain rash-free wearing any type of diaper, yet most babies have sensitive skin that quickly reacts to irritations, like being in a wet diaper too long or to chemicals in disposables or detergents. The cause of a rash is often elusive, but by using cloth you can at least be sure your baby is not exposed to the chemicals and chemical gels found in disposables. Sometimes switching to cloth solves a rash problem. In other cases, some babies are just more prone to rash, even when wearing cloth. For babies with super sensitive skin, make sure your detergent is mild and additive-free without borax or bleaches. Change diapers frequently, and if wetness saturation is an issue, try a poly fleece diaper liner to help wick excess moisture away from the skin. Using a breathable diapering system is also helpful to increase air circulation around baby's bottom. Choose natural cloth diapers paired with breathable diaper covers like the Lambswool Felt, Cotton Waterproof, or Breathable Poly from Nikky. If you like knitted woolen covers, the Aristocrat Soaker is a good choice.
3) Natural Lifestyle ~ If cloth diapering is a lifestyle choice reflecting your preference for all things natural and safe for baby, then you'll prefer choosing diapering supplies that are more natural like covers made of breathable fabrics and diapers made of unbleached green cotton or organic fabrics.
4) Environmental ~ If lessening the environmental impact is your major reason for using cloth diapers, then all options are open when choosing diapering products. Make up your diapering stash with whatever you find most appealing, as all our diapering products are eco-friendly!
5) Some or all of the above ~ Chances are this one rings true for most starting out with cloth diapers. We hope the above recommendations help you create a custom system that works well for your needs. Trying a variety of products is always a good approach to see what works best in different situations.
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