Transitioning to Cloth, One Diaper at a Time
A friend of mine just had her third baby. She watched me cloth diaper my children and is entertaining the idea of using them on her third child. However, it can be pricey and their budget is already stretched pretty tight.
Another friend has a daughter who is already 18 months old. She just learned about modern cloth diapering but is wondering if it is even worth trying since her daughter will hopefully be potty trained in the next year.
Perhaps the idea of cloth diapers intrigues you, but you can’t fathom spending hundreds of dollars to buy a system that may or may not work for you. Cloth diapering doesn’t have to be an all or nothing commitment. You can dive right in with a stash of fluff all ready and set to go when the baby is born or you can ease into it one diaper at a time.
Some people ease into the cloth diaper world because they simply cannot afford to buy all the diapers and accessories at once. Others start cloth diapering slowly just to test it out and see how it works for their family.
What do you need to get started?
Most cloth diaper mommas have a stash of between 12-24 diapers. They might have a couple of hemp inserts for nighttime diapers, a pail liner to hold dirty diapers at home, a wetbag to travel with dirty diapers, a couple dozen cloth wipes and maybe a special detergent. However, all you need to get started is one cloth diaper.
How to build your stash
Every cloth diaper momma is at a different place in life with her children, family and finances. Here are some ideas for how to collect cloth diapers:
- Buy one diaper a month. You pick the time frame, maybe you can buy one every three weeks.
- Buy gently used cloth diapers. I recently found some extra diapers and inserts at our local children’s consignment shop! I have bought others from families on Craig’s List. Some great websites to check out are: the Cloth Diaper Trader, Diaper Swappers and Padded Tush Stats.
- Try inexpensive cloth diapers. Prefolds can always double as burp cloths or rags later. (Buy DSQ – Diaper Service Quality – prefolds for best absorbency). A dozen prefolds and a few covers can be had for less than $50.
- Be on the lookout for diaper giveaways from manufacturers or local stores. If it means I have a chance to win a free diaper, I’ll give my email address to anybody! (Well, maybe not anybody.)
- Watch for great sales incentives. I recently went online to buy another diaper and some detergent samples and found one site giving away a free diaper with a purchase of $29 or more. I was so excited to get a free diaper just for choosing to buy from them instead of another store!
- Look into receiving donations of cloth diapers from organizations such as the Cloth Cooperative. They provide cloth diapers to families in need to help start or supplement their diaper stash. (More organizations that do similar work are listed on the Diaper Aid Hub Facebook page.)
- Ask for cloth diapers for a birthday gift, shower gift or even for Christmas!
Laundering a Small Stash
Most companies recommend that you not wash more than 8-10 diapers at a time to ensure that the diapers come out clean. So, what do you do if you only have 1 diaper to wash?
Handwashing is always a great way to clean a small stash of cloth diapers. Amy, the owner of Zany Zebra Designs, posted a great article on handwashing cloth diapers and provided detailed instructions as well as helpful tips.
Does the idea of handwashing not sit well with you? Then wash them in the washing machine but on a smaller load setting. However – be careful with this – you want to be sure there is enough water to clean the diapers well (often triggered by the weight of the load) and enough material in there so the diapers have something to rub against to get them clean. You could add some towels to the load to fill it up.
Every Little Bit Helps
Regardless of whether you jump in with both feet or you just stick a toe in to test the water, using cloth diapers is worth it. Each disposable diaper not thrown into a landfill makes a difference. A quarter saved in your piggy bank for every time you use a cloth diaper adds up to a lot of money – - to buy more diapers or ??? (can you come up with a way to spend some extra money???).
Kate, RDA Volunteer, Cloth Diaper Momma