Now that I have cloth diapered one baby from birth to potty training, I wanted to revisit the subject and share what I’ve learned.
1. It is easy. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. They are either feeling defensive about their choice to use disposables (as if that is under attack) or are of an earlier generation when it was much more difficult and annoying than it is now. The extra laundry is not even that big a deal–we had two loads of diapers a week when Sam was a toddler, and maybe one more than that when he was an infant (they poop more and pee whenever they feel the need). We have coin-op machines. If I can do this, anyone can.
2. Different diapers fit different babies. Just like one parent will swear by Huggies while another says they leaked and only Pampers work, different babies are different shapes and therefore different diapers will work best. For anyone starting out with cloth, whether you have a newborn or an older baby or a toddler, I really recommend getting a selection. Use them all a few times, then purchase or make more of the kind that works best for you. Cloth diapers have tremendous resale value, and you’ll be able to earn back most of your initial investment. (Some diaper stores will also take returns.)
2A. Different cloth diapers fit the same baby at different stages. So your baby might have chubby thighs and do best in one type as an infant, then slim down when he starts to crawl and need another type. Or he may need a different type once he starts walking. But since he’ll need bigger diapers at that point anyway, you’ll be able to work with it.
3. It does not have to be all or nothing. We used disposables at night and for most travel for the first year of Sam’s life. Then we found the (more expensive) pocket diaper option and never looked back–literally, he has only been in one disposable diaper since then, and it was when family was watching him and used one of his cousin’s diapers. Using cloth exclusively worked for us, because I am home with Sam and don’t mind the laundry. For babies in daycare, you might want to use cloth at home and disposables during the day. (Ask, though, if you want to use cloth–many daycare providers are happy to use All-in-Ones or Pocket diapers, and some will even use prefolds.) There is also the option of G-Diapers, which have the flushable/disposable liner and reusable pants.
4. There are a lot of different reasons to use cloth diapers. You might do it for the environment. You might do it for your baby’s health. You might do it for economic reasons. We did it for all three. It saved us a ton of money, Sam almost never had diaper rashes, and we put almost zero plastics and gels (chemicals) into the landfill. Two extra loads of laundry a week is not so much water use that I feel any guilt, even living in the land of water shortages. (Besides, the amount of water used in making disposables is way more than I could ever manage to use.)
5. Cloth diapers really are cuter. Even if you use plain prefolds, you can put sweet wool pants over them, or adorable plastic wraps.
So. Any questions?