What to buy and how much of each largely depends on some decisions you make, e.g. your budget, your lifestyle and other circumstances. If you have a specific situation and you're still not sure after reading the below, please book a Cloth Diaper Consultation where we can answer questions relating to your exact circumstances.
The below is a general guide:
You want to use cloth diapers from birth?
Then you’ll most likely need new-born size diapers as well as One Size. New-born diapers often only last until baby is about 3 - 6 months old so this can be a big financial outlay
BUT new-borns and young babies also need the most diaper changes (about every 2 hours or more) so cloth diapering from birth has the biggest impact on the environment - it saves just over 1000 disposables from landfill in 3 months.
If you’re planning on more than 1 baby this is worth considering
Alternatively renting a kit from the library is a cost effective way to use cloth from birth without the financial impact of buying a big new-born stash
If you want to cloth from about 3 - 6 months you’ll be looking for “one size” or BTP (birth to potty - a bit of a misnomer for most diapers) or OSFM (one size fits most). Some diapers are a specific size, so be guided by the weight recommendations on those to see if they're worth buying or not.
Ideally you rent a kit from the library to figure out what types of diapers you like, what brands fit your baby best, etc….
If you don’t have the opportunity to rent a kit with the library for whatever reason, here is what to look out for when building a stash:
What and how much to buy?
Don’t buy 20 of the same type or brand of diaper!
Diapers are a bit like clothes, they don’t fit for all babies and they don’t work for all caregivers.
You may love hook & loop closure and your baby will learn very early on to take off their own diaper - eek - you’ll have to switch to diapers with snap closures which are harder to open for babies.
You may like the look of a specific brand but the fit just doesn’t work on your baby and leads to leaks.
So, to start, I would say get at least 2 of each type of diaper, ideally different brands, so
2 fitted diapers
2 pocket diapers
1 AI3 if you can find one (there’s only gDiapers in North America now and they’ve gone out of business…)
2 flat diapers (muslins, flour sack towels or stretchy flats)
4 -5 wraps from different brands - a few with double gussets, a few with single gussets
12 diapers can last you between a day to 3 days depending on the age of your baby. If you don’t like a particular style, sell or pass it on and buy more of what suits.
Don’t be discouraged by other people’s problems
Don’t get too sucked in to what you see on social media.
Sometimes the brand with the pretty prints leak because they just don’t fit your baby’s shape. Equally, flat diapers can be a massive learning curve and just might not work for babies and toddlers that resist changing and roll or walk away mid change.
And a lot of what you see on social media are problems - leaks, smells and stains. Don’t let it deter you from trying cloth. Very few people go on social media to announce “I have no issues, everything is going well” so it’s a skewed point of view.
Take it easy!
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Try one reusable diaper a day and up it if you feel comfortable. If you’re having a day at home, try as many as you feel comfortable with. If you get leaks, just change and try a different type or reach out for help!
If it doesn’t leak and your baby is happy, the fit is fine! If you want to read more about fit, check out our other blog post https://www.clothdiaperlibrary.ca/post/how-to-fit-cloth-diapers or watch this playlist on Youtube (https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFxKHajVgVOSrNsfNcqhwifrOkUT0w2c6) . But don’t get too hung up on “doing it right”. If it works for you and your baby there is no need to change it!
The easiest way to make another huge impact on plastic waste is reusable cloth wipes! Not only can you just throw them in the wash with your cloth diapers , they’re also more effective at cleaning so you need less per diaper change (1 to 2, in poonami situations maybe 3).
Some of the larger sized ones can also be used as inserts in your diapers.
Other useful accessories:
Snappis or Boingos - these are the modern diaper pin - safer and easier to use to fasten prefolds, flat diapers or fitted diapers
Natural fibre Inserts
You will see microfibre inserts everywhere once you start cloth diapering, they’re great at quickly absorbing liquids but they’re also prone to leaks as any pressure forces the liquid back out of the insert
Invest in a few cotton, bamboo or hemp inserts
Alternatively look into prefolds as inserts
A pail or a wetbag to store your dirty diapers in - wetbags are multifunctional too once out of diapers - you can use them for wet or dirty clothes when out and about
Liners - they go between baby’s skin and the diaper these are handy when you’re either
Using cream with zinc oxide that stains fabric (use single use ones here)
Want your baby to have a dry-ish feeling against their skin
When your baby is producing solid poos - this makes it easy to plop the poo in the toilet
And that's it - this is a basic start, chop and change what doesn't work for you and go from there!
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