This is a guest post from Calley Pate of The Eco Chic, a cloth diaper and green living blog. If you’re new to cloth, you’ll love my individual reviews of 25 different cloth diapers at this massive cloth diaper review!
You’ve decided to give cloth diapers a try, congratulations for taking a leap and entering a brand new world of parenting.
You may notice that over the next few months you will become a little obsessed with all things diaper related. Poop and pee have now become topics you actually enjoy talking about. You’re learning a new language that includes words and phrases such as; fluffy mail, CD safe, hemp, suede cloth, and microfleece.
Welcome to the world of CLOTH DIAPERING!
Below are some tips that will get you on your way to mastering this new parenting skill while keeping your sanity and not becoming too overwhelmed with all of the new information.
Katie’s notes: Here’s my tell-all post on the first few months of cloth diapering, including laundry routines and learning the vocabulary.
How to Get Started with Cloth Diapers
1. Speak the language – the first few days you may be a little overwhelmed with all of the new terms and phrases but with a little practice and guidance you’ll grasp this new language quite quickly. To help you learn the language here are some of my favorite cloth diaper dictionaries: Cloth Diaper Terminology, (link no longer available) Cloth Diaper Terms and Definitions, and Cloth Diaper Slang. If in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask what an acronym or word means.
2. Start simple, start small – many parents start our their cloth diapering journey by trying to pick one brand and style that they feel will be perfect from birth to potty training. While there is no wrong or right way to start, it is less stressful to start with a sampling of different styles and types to find out which diaper is right for your baby and your lifestyle. What works for the mom who stays at home with their baby might not work for the mom who has to leave their baby with a caregiver.
Click HERE to get my favorite eBook on cloth diapering, Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert!
Try pockets, all-in-ones, flats, and even prefolds. Don’t be scared to try something that looks difficult, it might just become your favorite system. You can always continue to build your stash as you find out what you like.
3. Start at any age – that’s right, with cloth diapering you can start at any age. Most newborn parents are completely overwhelmed with all of the choices to be made that diapering choices might not even be considered until you experience your first diaper rash or until you meet your first cloth diapering parent.
Newborns go through a ton of diapers in the first few weeks and while it would be nice to save all of those disposables from the landfill new parents may just be too tired to manage one more load of laundry.
Don’t be afraid to give cloth diapering a try as you become more accustomed to your routine as a parent. I have friends who have openly accepted cloth diapering (and loved it) once their child turned one, two, and even three once they’ve entered potty training.
Katie’s notes: For us, it was third child, five months old. For real!
4. Embrace the poop – because all babies do it! Regardless of if your baby is in cloth diapers or disposable diapers your baby is going to poop. You’re going to have to grab a baby wipe and clean that babies bottom. How you handle the poop from there is what matters most.
Poop can take the form of a solid, liquid, and even a gas! Be thankful for those solid poops which will easily dump into the toilet and flush way. Liquid poops (especially those exclusively breast fed poops) aren’t as difficult to deal with as you think. Most breastfed poops will rinse right out in the wash and don’t even need a pre-rinse (although a pre-rinse is a good idea since stains can happen as your babies are introduced to solids). Parents find that investing in a diaper sprayer that attaches to your toilet helps handle any type of poop – especially the peanut butter sticky poop!
Katie’s notes: I admit similar in the post 7 Cloth Diaper Myths – That are Totally True!
5. Going out isn’t challenging – don’t be afraid to take cloth diapers on day trips or even on vacation. The only difference is that instead of leaving that diaper behind (no pun intended) in the changing room you now dump the poop and store the dirty diaper safely within a sealed wet bag. Wet bags will keep your diaper bag dry and keep the smells (yes – even those poop-plosions) hidden safely inside and no one will know what’s inside.
Katie’s notes: I posted some wet bag reviews as well – they make a difference!
And be honest…how many of us try NOT to change our babies until we’re ready to leave the mall (or destination of choice) so you’ll only be carrying the dirty diaper for a few minutes until you get back to your car. You may enjoy these Tips for Traveling with Cloth Diapers for longer trips and vacations.
6. Try cloth wipes – because traditional wipes are full of chemicals that can dry and irritate your babies skin. I know disposable wipes are nice to have for those extremely nasty messes and I admit that I keep a pack on hand for my husband when dealing with the poopy messes. Don’t rule out cloth wipes though because that rash that popped up on your babies bum might be caused from the alcohol and added ingredients in the package of wipes you just opened.
Cloth wipes are easy to use and can be thrown in with the load of cloth diaper laundry you already do. Grab a spray bottle of wipes solution (you can even make your own) and spray your babies bum before gently wiping away with a velour, cotton, hemp, or fleece wipe. With 8-12 diaper changes a day your baby will thank you for giving their bum some extra gentle love. Toss the wipe in your wet bag and wash just like you do your diapers.
Katie’s notes: I reviewed some purchased cloth wipes and made my own – totally for free! Guess which ones I like better... You might also want to make your own diaper cream and more – check out the My Buttered Life – Baby Edition eBook for how-to recipes and the DIY kit for all the ingredients you’ll need.
7. If at first you don’t succeed – try, try again! Accidents happen whether you choose disposable or cloth diapers. In your struggle to wrestle your wriggly little baby (usually while you are half asleep) you might not have put the diaper on incorrectly and the pee has found a place to escape. While that place is normally on your babies bed, car seat or your favorite outfit, don’t let it get you down.
Leaks can happen but you will quickly learn the tricks of the trade! Before long you will become a pro and you’ll know all the secrets. Don’t forget though that cloth diapers aren’t filled with those little gel crystals that absorb 10 times their weight in liquid – once cloth is full it will leak! To be safe remember to change your baby every 2-3 hours (or more frequent as needed) and remember that what goes in your baby eventually has to come out!
Bonus tip: Don’t be afraid to ask for help! There are forums, blogs, Facebook pages, manufacturers and retailers out there ready to help you with your cloth diaper questions and problems.
Katie’s notes: We’re still using cloth diapers one year later. Read 5 Cloth Diaper Problems that Haven’t Sent Me Running Back to Disposables (and One That Might), supporting the cause along with some laundry problems you’ll want to know about! Don’t forget to check out the full cloth diaper review to find the best cloth diaper for you!
Update 2015: Find out the best cloth diaper I bothered buying for baby #4!
Disclosure: Affiliate links to MadeOn are included in this post. I am also an affiliate of the eBook and will receive commission for purchases. See my full disclosure statement here.