Cloth Diapering: Getting started

Are you interested in saving money and switching to cloth but scared about how it all works?  Here’s a summary so you can get started.  I have a lot of my mom friends ask me about cloth diapers and after a quick explanation they always say “Wow that doesn’t sound too bad”.  Plus you can save your family thousands of dollars.  Check out my other posts on diapering.


You can purchase cloth diapers from a variety of sources on the web but I get mine from Tiny Tots.  They are a diaper service in the San Francisco area that we used, really liked and trusted.  You can find everything you need from them, definitely check them out.  They sell used diapers (from their service) and new diapers.  We have bought both but suggest the new for the sizes you will be using for longer.  For example, the newborn size we used for about a month so they are a good used option, the toddler size we have used for the last 10 months so it makes sense to get these new.  The diapers come in many different sizes and they are usually color coded with contrast stitching on the edge so you can keep them all separate.

Our baby went through 3 different diaper sizes, infant, regular and toddler.  We used Tiny Tots diaper service for the newborn diapers (thank heavens since we were in a fog that first month).  Then we purchased 36 used, regular diapers and they fit our son from about 6 weeks until 8 months.   After he outgrew those, we purchased 20 new toddler diapers and he is still using that size with no end in sight.  They are huge.

Keep in mind when ordering diapers that you will use slightly more cloth diapers than paper diapers cause those paper ones just keep expanding and expanding.  As the baby gets older it will seem to average out.  On days where I am forced to use paper I use about the same number as cloth.  You will know when you need to change diaper sizes or cover sizes when the baby starts leaking through.  I always call Tiny Tots and they help me figure out which is the problem.  They are great.


Diaper covers will also need to be purchased or borrowed.  Try to find a friend who has used cloth diapers and see if you can use the sizes she isn’t using.  Covers are easier to come by than diapers because it seems more people use a diaper service so they never have any diapers to loan out.   With a service you own and launder your own covers.  I borrowed them from a friend or bought used covers, we never bought a single new one.  It sounds kinda gross but just think in a diaper service the same diaper is used over and over for different children.  Try looking for a mother’s group in your area or even some websites have used diaper exchanges.  To give you an idea I bought a giant bag with dozens of covers for $20, they sell new for about $13 a piece.   I don’t have any experience with these though.  If you do purchase new check out the Tiny Tots website for more choices and sizes.  You can also set up a registry through the store.  In the end we have used a bunch of different brands and liked them all.  The ones we have the most are polar fleece.  Apparently polar fleece is water proof and the baby doesn’t seem to mind the added bulk or heat.  On hot, hot summer days I would try and use paper diapers (disposable diapers we call paper) to keep him more comfortable.

You will need about6 of each size, depending on how often you wash.  Try buying a few at a time to see how they fit and then add more as needed.  If the baby doesn’t get them dirty I reuse them for each changing.  I go through maybe one a day.

Other equipment you will need:

A trash can with a lid, doesn’t have to be fancy ours cost like $15 at Wal mart.  The diapers really don’t smell that much, and I have a sensitive nose.  Another really great set up I have read about it to set up the changing table near the laundry room and just toss the diapers right into the machine tub, shut the lid and wait until you have enough to wash.

Snappi Diaper Clips:  These Y-clips to keep the diaper closed.  No one uses diaper pins anymore.  I think you would need nerves of steel to put that pointy pin near a wiggly baby.  We have about 8 and that seems like too many.  I thought I would lose them but haven’t lost a one.

A pail for next to the toilet, preferably one with a lid.

Wipes: I use disposable but you can buy or make your own.

Plastic bags:  Throw some supermarket bags in your diaper bag if you don’t have one of those waterproof sections on your diaperbag.  These will be necessary because unlike everyone else you have to take your dirty diaper home with you.  They do sell some cute little waterproof reusable bags that work well.

Now check out how to clean those dirty diapers.


One response to “Cloth Diapering: Getting started

  1. Thanks for the suggestion. Diaper services are not popular in my area but there are a few and I never considered contacting them for used diapers. Cloth is gaining popularity here so even used stuff on Craigslist is very expensive. I did get lucky with a lot from eBay with 2 dozen each new born and regular Indian cotton prefolds with 4 PUL covers for $15. I do use diapers pins even on wigglers I just keep my finger under the diaper so if anyone gets stuck it me not the baby. I also do diaper changes on my lap which decreases wiggles significantly. I like polar fleece for my covers and I pin those too. I bought a couple throw blankets from the thrift store for about $2 each and cut them into covers and have been using them for years (I have 4 kids). These have outlasted the PUL covers and I was able to make ins of them in whatever size I needed. Just make sure the stretch is width ways (think around the baby) not in the length of the cover because it just doesn’t work otherwise lol. I use 1 cover per diaper but after I wash them I fold them together so its ready to go on baby. I bought 2 waterproof bags with a mesh outside pocket an a tap that snaps to attach it to the diaper bag or what ever from Walmart I think they were munchkin brand. I have one to use and one to wash. I have enough now for 2 full days but I wash daily so that the next days is good to go and the past days is soaking in my washer when I go to bed. I make my own detergent ( borax, washing soda & fels naptha) and it is phenomenal on my diapers and all of our clothes. Once I put the kids to bed I put all the diapers in the wash. If they sink real bad I run them through a quick rinse cycle. Then I fill the washer with hot water and 2 scoops (oxy clean scoop) of my detergent and let it soak til morning. Then I run the longest cycle and then put into the dryer. If needed for any mild odor left I keep wash clothes soaked in vinegar and air dried in an old wipe box for dryer sheets they are great for deoderizing when I forget a load. We aren’t permitted to hang laundry outside because we rent and our landlord is a goober.

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