If you’re new to the world of cloth diapering, it can often leave your head spinning. What items do you really need to buy and what items are gimmicks? Which cloth diapers are the best? How many do you need? I personally have over 5 years experience in the fluffy world of cloth diapering, so I’m going to give you my recommendations.
Now, before I dive into what I have found to be the essentials, and before you make any purchases, let me first recommend a book to you. It’s called Changing Diapers by Kelly Wels. This book gives you an overview of the different styles of cloth diapers, how to use them, and just overall gives you a great crash course on cloth diapering. It is probably my top recommended resource for newbie cloth diapering families.
Now, on to the essentials!
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you specifically which cloth diaper brand or style is the best for you or your baby as this will vary from family to family and baby to baby. I can tell you that the Thirsties brand is my favorite due to my personal experience, but that’s because they worked well for me and my wee ones. What I recommend you do is try several different brands. If there is a cloth diaper service in your area (and, yes, they do exist–most even wash the diapers for you), sign up and request several different brands (better yet–put this on your baby shower registry or wish list).
Likewise, I can’t tell you how many inserts or doublers to get as this, too, will vary from child to child. You’ll need to play it by ear and see how heavy a wetter your child is.
So, although I can’t tell you specifically which brand or style is best for you, I did put together the chart below to help you determine how many you’ll need for your fluffy journey. I can also give you these pointers:
- Get diapers or covers with snaps. I recommend that you only purchase diapers that have snap closures as the hook-and-loop (Velcro, Aplix, etc.) closures wear out faster than snaps do and make the diaper a bit of a hassle to wash (they often snag on other things in the washer).
- Consider not using cloth diapers for a newborn. For all three of my children, I didn’t start cloth diapers until they were about 3 months old. Why? Because they go through so many diapers in those first three months, plus they outgrow them so fast, that I wanted to wait until they were able to wear one-size diapers and covers. Thus saving ourselves money and space. If you are cloth diapering because it’s eco-friendly, there are plenty of eco-friendly disposable diapers (such as the Bambo Nature brand) that you can use during those first 3 months if you’d also like to take this route.
- Go for one-size diapers or covers. These have what are called rise snaps which make the diaper basically grow as the baby grows. You can save more money by using one-size diapers. Our one-size diapers have lasted our 3 children all the way from about 3 months to potty trained at age 3 (do note that we have kinda skinny kids, so this, too, may vary from kiddo to kiddo).
- Washcloths can duel as inserts. Short on inserts? No problem! Just stuff a folded washcloth inside the diaper. A word of wisdom–don’t let the washcloth directly touch baby’s bum or it may cause irritation; be sure it goes inside the diaper’s pocket, under a doubler, or underneath a flat diaper
2. Cloth wipes.
You’ll need approximately 2 cloth wipes per 2 cloth diapers. You can buy official cloth wipes, but I just stick to cheap, soft baby washcloths (sometimes cut in half–depends on their size). In addition to wipes, you might also want cloth wipe solution (which is basically soap in water), but I stick to just plain water in a spray bottle–if you catch the diaper shortly after the poo is complete, just plain water works great.
3. Diaper rash cream.
This will depend on your kiddo and whether or not they get a diaper rash. But a tube of rash cream is always handy to keep around just in case. You will want to make sure that it is cloth diaper safe. My favorite store-bought cream is Grandma El’s, but I usually make my own.
4. Diaper pail.
This really is kinda optional as you can hang the diaper liner on a nail, hook, or doorknob. But a diaper pail really is pretty handy. My favorite is the Dekor Plus Kolor because it provides just enough space, it has a foot petal to open it easily, keeps odors under control and it looks nice in baby’s nursery.
5. Cloth diaper pail liner.
Oh how I do love cloth diaper pail liners! I have a total of two so that one is in the pail when the other is in the wash. They make washing so much easier. All you do is pull the entire liner out and toss it in the wash. Easy peasy! My favorite brand of liner is this one by Planet Wise because the elastic opening makes it stay securely put in the diaper pail.
If you choose to do cloth diapering while doing errands or travelling, then a wet bag is a must. It’s basically a miniature diaper pail liner with a zipper to keep things intact until you can clean them later. My favorite wet bag is Planet Wise’s Wet/Dry Bag because it has a place for dirtied diapers and a dry place for clean ones (plus it has a bunch of other uses).
7. Diaper sprayer.
This one is a life saver! You NEVER have to come in touch with baby’s poop if you don’t want to. A diaper sprayer makes this possible. Spray off all the ickies directly into the toilet and flush.
8. Cloth diaper detergent.
This is an obvious must. My favorite purchased brand is Molly’s Suds, but I typically make my own cloth diaper detergent since it’s super easy to do and saves money (you can find the recipe here). Whatever detergent you select, you need to make sure it is cloth diaper safe. Regular detergent can cause the diapers repel (i.e. no long be absorbent), so you really want to avoid them.
9. Wool dryer balls.
Wool dryer balls are optional, but handy if you dry your diapers in the dryer. They speed up dry time and they also “beat up” the diapers a bit, making them more pliable and soft.
It is a definite must (at least in my opinion!) to keep your fluff organized and easily accessible. Does that mean neatly folding each diaper? Not necessarily. But I do recommend you have some sort of system to keep them organized. For me, this means a basket for daytime diapers (I pre-stuff them because my husband won’t change them unless I pre-stuff them), a basket for naptime/nighttime diapers (mainly fitted ones), and a basket for extra inserts and doublers.
Beyond these basics, here are some optional accessories you might like to have:
- Liners. Both cloth and disposable liners are available. Cloth ones are typically used to provide a barrier between the baby’s bum and the cloth diaper so that non-cloth-diaper safe rash creams can be used. Disposable ones are typically used so poo clean up is easier. Disposable ones are usually flushable, so you can pull off the liner, dump in the toilet, and flush, often avoiding the need to spray the diaper off (but there are occasions the poo misses the liner).
- Snappi. This clever invention is used instead of diaper pins when prefold or other flat diapers are used. They’re safer (less pokey), easier, and quicker to use than pins. My recommendation? Don’t even consider diaper pins, go with a Snappi or two!
- Spray Pal. I have never even tried a Spray Pal because it was an accessory that takes up space and wouldn’t serve me that much. The idea behind it is you clip your diaper inside then it prevents water from splattering when you’re spraying it off into the toilet. I’ve found that if you are careful, it won’t splatter anyway.
What other items would you recommend to a newbie cloth diapering family?
Other helpful cloth diapering and similar posts:
- How to Wash Cloth Diapers
- Cloth Diapering Lingo
- Homemade All-natural Cloth Diaper Detergent
- Homemade Diaper Rash Cream
- Homemade Nipple Butter
- How to Make Cloth Wipes Pop
- 20 Uses for Wet Bags (Beyond Cloth Diapers)
- Diaper Bag Essentials