What We’ve Learned from Cloth Diapering Our First Baby
I first became interested in cloth diapering long before I was even pregnant with my son. I think I saw someone on Instagram talking about it in their stories, and I filed it away for later. Early on in my pregnancy, I posed the idea of cloth diapering to my husband, and he was immediately on board! I did a deep dive into researching all the ins and outs of cloth diapers, learned a ton, and did a few things right and a few things wrong. You can learn so much online about cloth diapering, but the most important lessons come with your own firsthand experience as you discover how to make it work for your family. If you’re beginning to develop an interest in trying out cloth diapering, this post is for you! I’m sharing all the tips that have helped us the most as we’ve found what works for us.
1. Know WHY you’re cloth diapering.
I wanted to begin with this tip because it will help you set your frame of mind for cloth diapering and decide what matters most to you before you go too deep into preparation or making purchases. A few of the biggest reasons families choose to cloth diaper include saving money, being environmentally conscious, or finding a gentle diapering solution for a baby with sensitive skin. Your reason for cloth diapering may not be identical to another person’s reason for cloth diapering, and your motivation behind it will impact how you choose to cloth diaper, which products will suit your family best, how much you’re willing to spend on diapers, and so many other factors.
My husband and I have tried to be more conscious of how much trash we’re throwing away and aiming for less waste for a few years now, so that was a big part of our motivation to choose cloth diapering. Honestly though, the biggest reason was saving money! There are so many blog posts and charts floating around the internet comparing the costs of cloth diapering versus using disposable diapers, and that alone was enough to convince us. While cost-saving and the environment have been our biggest reasons for choosing to cloth diaper, we’ve enjoyed the added benefits of never having an issue with diaper rash and of course getting to dress our baby in super cute diapers!
Knowing why you cloth diaper and choosing what matters to you in the first place will set the tone for your whole approach to cloth diapering and will hopefully give you the motivation to keep going even if it gets tricky.
2. Aim for variety in your cloth diaper stash at first.
Thankfully I’d read this tip somewhere while I was pregnant with my son, so I didn’t go out and buy a huge stash of any one brand or type of diaper in the very beginning. I started out with two types of diapers in my stash when my son was born–some pocket diapers from an inexpensive brand I found on Amazon as well as some covers and flats. The pocket diapers didn’t end up fitting my baby very well, but the covers and flats turned out to be winners for us! Since then, we’ve also found another brand of covers that we’ve loved even more, as well as some pocket swim diapers that have also become favorites.
I’d wholeheartedly recommend doing some research prior to making any decisions or purchases to see what types of diapers and brands might be a good fit for your lifestyle, preferences, and of course your baby! Then I’d recommend getting a few diapers in each option that sounds like it would work well for you. As you try different cloth diapers out, you’ll learn what works for you and what doesn’t. If you go all in on one type of diaper that doesn’t end up working for you though, you might decide cloth diapering as a whole is the problem rather than just that one type of diaper being the problem.
I was able to sell some of those pocket diapers that didn’t work for us to another family via Facebook Marketplace. They didn’t work for us, but a lot of families really love that brand! I have some other diapers that didn’t fit my son well that we’re passing on to some friends so they can give them a chance. I’m so glad we kept our options open from the very beginning!
3. Find Facebook groups to answer your cloth diapering questions.
I just mentioned in the previous tip that I used Facebook Marketplace to sell some of our gently used cloth diapers, but Facebook also comes in handy in another way–Facebook groups! There are tons of cloth diapering groups to join there, and I’ve found them to be incredibly helpful when I have a question or an issue and I’d like to “crowd source” some answers.
These groups are filled with parents who have experience with cloth diapering and want to help others make it work for them too. I have found so many great suggestions and solutions from the mamas in Facebook groups, and it has been such a valuable (and free!) resource as we’ve learned the ropes.
If you just search for cloth diapering groups on Facebook, you’ll find some pretty large groups on the general topic, but I’ve had an even better experience with joining groups specific to the brands of diapers we use. Even if you haven’t started cloth diapering yet or haven’t even bought a single diaper, joining some of these groups–either the more general groups or groups associated with brands you might be considering–can provide you with so much information and a place to find a lot of answers to your questions.
4. Order cloth diapering supplies from small shops when possible.
It’s so easy to order just about everything you could want from Amazon, but even with the free shipping I don’t typically find it to be the best option for shopping for cloth diapers. I love ordering our diapers and supplies from small shops for a handful of reasons.
As is the case with many small businesses, it adds a personal touch and customer service that you don’t get with Amazon. Most of the shops I’ve ordered from have a really low minimum order required to get you free shipping, so I don’t really miss out in that aspect either. You can earn points with purchases at some of the shops to get you a discount or freebies later on, which is always a win. And finally, Amazon doesn’t actually carry some of the best cloth diaper brands out there. If I’d limited myself to what I could buy there, I never would have found my favorite brand of diapers!
My absolute favorite shop to order from is The Green Tot Spot. The owner, Jessica, has been tremendously helpful on a number of occasions and so often goes above and beyond to give her customers great service. If there’s something I need, I always check her website for it first and order from her as often as possible. I’ve linked to several of my favorite diapers she carries throughout this post. If you subscribe to her email list, you can even get 10% off your first purchase! You’ll likely see suggestions for several incredible cloth diaper suppliers mentioned in Facebook groups. (And many of those shops have their own Facebook groups as well!)
5. Be flexible with how you cloth diaper as your baby grows.
Babies in disposable diapers don’t wear the same exact diaper size and absorbency from newborn to toddler, and neither do babies in cloth diapers in many cases. Many diapers come in one-size options that can grow with your baby all the way from around 8 to 35 pounds, but even with that huge range of flexibility, you’ll likely need to rethink your strategy every so often.
My son has always been on the smaller side, so we benefited from having some newborn-sized diapers in the beginning. That’s not a necessity for every baby, but in some cases it can be really helpful. Sometimes the smaller sizes of diapers will actually fit a baby well past the newborn stage, so they can really be worth it.
Another thing to consider as your baby grows is absorbency. Disposable diapers don’t just get larger with each step up in size–they also become more absorbent. In the same way, you’ll want to be mindful of keeping your options open to adding more absorbency to cloth diapers as your baby gets older. I’ve found that having several of these boosters has helped us to adjust and customize to the absorbency my son has needed as he’s grown.
6. Consider which clothes fit a baby in cloth diapers.
This was something I didn’t put much thought into before having my son, but a cloth-diapered bum is typically fluffier than a bum in a disposable diaper. The biggest issue is finding pants that fit over a cloth diaper, but there are plenty of options out there! Harem pants like these (our favorite!) are really great. Another good option is “grow with me pants” or “maxaloones,” which you can find via several shops on Etsy or even learn to make yourself if you’re a good seamstress. Pants are totally optional in the summer of course, but we have these shorts in all three colors because they fit over diapers so well.
We have always preferred t-shirts to onesies for multiple reasons. First of all, they show off the cute diapers more! Second, they don’t have extra snaps to deal with at diaper changes. And third, they fit over cloth diapers longer. My son always outgrew his onesies long before he outgrew his t-shirts in the same size.
7. Find the cloth diapering supplies that help YOUR family.
Lastly, I just want to mention that cloth diapering can vary so much from one family to another. There might not be a single one of our favorite products I linked in this post that will work for you. The “right way” for you to cloth diaper is the way that is most sustainable for you.
If you think it would be easiest on you to use disposable diapers during the night or when you’re out and about, you’re not “cheating.” If you’re trying to cloth diaper as inexpensively as possible, there are multiple ways to make that work. And if you’re in it for the cuteness factor and want to collect every single adorable new diaper print that your favorite brand releases, you do you.
Cloth diapering is not for every family, but many families can make it work and really benefit from it if they pay attention to their own needs and what’s important to them. There’s not a “one size fits all” perfect system out there. Choose what matters most to your family, be flexible and willing to learn, and have fun!
We use reusable swim diapers for our baby and toddlers and enjoy the benefits from those! Thanks for sharing your helpful tips! I can see why you guys like wnd use cloth diapers! Great post!
Thanks for reading, Marie! Yes, I’ve heard that even some families who don’t cloth diaper on a regular basis still love using cloth swim diapers!
Great tips! I was always afraid of using cloth diapers, thanks to you- not anymore. Thanks for sharing your experience!
I’m so glad this helped, Nina! They’re pretty simple once you find your rhythm!