What do I really need?
To cloth diaper full-time, you’ll need approximately 12-18 diapers a day, with either a built-in waterproof layer, or separate covers. Separate covers do not need to be changed unless soiled, so you can get by on about 3 per day. For newborn covers, you may want to have a few extra.
Gathering up enough diapers for full-time or part-time
If you’re looking to cloth diaper a newborn full-time from Day 1, the best advice is to begin purchasing in advance so that you’ll have everything ready. Keep in mind that you don’t have to go all or nothing. Start with a small variety before you purchase a larger amount of the ones you like best. Try cloth diapers at home during the day, and expand your usage to nights and outings over time as you gain confidence in your diapers. If you want to start out full-time but don’t have the funds to buy 2-3 days worth of your favorite style, consider temporarily bulking up your stash with cheaper alternatives and/or washing every day. Remember, every time you use a cloth diaper, you are saving money, saving environmental resources, lessening your child’s total chemical exposure, etc.
Helpful Accessories (and ways to get by without if necessary)
- Dry Pail
Just an empty container to hold used diapers. A lid is optional, if kept out of reach.
- Pail Liner
Made of the same material as diaper covers, these keep your pail clean and can be washed with the diapers. If you have two, you can alternate them in the pail, and use the full one to carry diapers to the washer, then just toss it in along with them.
- Wet Bags
Just like a pail liner, but small enough to travel with your wet diapers safely zipped inside. Usually has a decorative outer layer.
- Diaper Sprayer
This mini-shower hooks to your toilet’s water supply line and removes poop from diapers quickly and thoroughly.
This little invention holds a diaper in place with little plastic teeth instead of pins. Works great for getting a snug fit with a prefold.
All of the inventions above are well worth it in terms of convenience. However, you can get by using plastic grocery bags to hold your used diapers, using other methods to remove poop (see above), and using a wrap cover to hold your unpinned prefolds in place.
Specific Recommendations for diapers
The most economical: traditional simplicity
Cotton prefolds are one of the cheapest options for buying diapers by the dozen, and have the advantage of washing well. Pair these with inexpensive fleece or PUL covers. Add a snappi fastener or two to get a snug fit, and you’ll be all set.
The most similar to disposable diapers
All-In-One diapers are shaped like disposables, with hook and loop closures, elastic, and a waterproof layer. Most have a stay-dry lining, and sewn-in absorbency. Everything is right there in one diaper.
Pocket diapers are another option that resemble disposables. These have a stay-dry lining sewn to a waterproof shell, and a pocket opening which you stuff with absorbency. Stuffing your pocket diapers adds one extra step, but has the advantage of making these diapers wash and dry faster, as the layers separate in the wash. You can also customize the amount of absorbency by stuffing more or less, and you are not limited to the original inserts–you can substitute prefolds, microfiber towels, or even washcloths.
Top of the line earth-friendly comfort and style
Look for fitted diapers made of soft, stretchy bamboo fabric. Bamboo is a member of the grass family, and therefore grows far more quickly than other textile plants, without the use of pesticides. The silky texture can’t be beat, and the natural antibacterial properties of bamboo remain even after many washes. Fitted diapers have all the convenience of being shaped to fit your baby without an attached waterproof layer. Pair your fitted with a wool cover, and you’ll have a natural-fiber system that is truly breathable. Wool used in these applications is surprisingly soft, and feels cool compared to synthetic fabrics. Choose knitted longies if you want your wool cover to double as pants, or look for wrap-style covers made of felted wool interlock. Cotton velour is another luxuriously soft choice in diapers.