As a part of their series "If I could cloth diaper all over again..." Padded Tush Stats has invited me to share with you my thoughts!
Given our situation and experience with all kinds of diapers over the years here's what I would do if I could cloth diaper all over again:
1. I would stick with disposables for the first 6 weeks to few months. I prefer one-size AI2's and AIO's (more on that later) and those didn't generally fit either baby until they were almost 10 lbs. Also, as a new mom (especially as a first time mom) I didn't need another new thing to put pressure on myself about. The points about needing to figure out something new or having laundry to wash are debatable (because disposable diapers were new to me, too, and my son generated plenty of laundry from blowouts in disposables).
What I really did: this. I wanted to do a cloth diaper trial, but more towards the end of my maternity leave when I was feeling settled (and recovered from stitches!) and ready to take on a little experiment. So in the meantime we used the diapers from the hospital and the diapers gifted to us from our baby shower. And then some more diapers :) We emptied that diaper genie 2-3 times a week!
2. I would do a diaper trial. I'd look around for a trial that appealed to me (like those from Modern Cloth, Jillian's Drawers, and Kissed By the Moon) while I was still pregnant, and contact them to set up a trial for when baby approached 10 lbs. but also (hopefully) I'd still be home on my maternity leave to get acquainted with the process. I would get enough diapers to really try this full time (24 or more diapers, to get me through two days before doing laundry).
What I really did: a mini cloth diaper trial. I was fortunate enough to live a short drive from the then-home-based Sweetbottoms Baby Boutique. Beth helped me choose a small sample of diapers to cover the basic types (prefold+cover, pocket, AIO) but I was only willing to fork out the cash for 4 diapers. Most diaper trial state up front that you get all or most of your money back at the end of the trial, so there is really no risk even in the event that you find you don't like cloth diapering at all. It's key to note that you really need a pretty full 'stash' of diapers to get a feel for the real diapering process. I only had 4, so that only got me through half a day, and then I felt like I was wasting water and energy(even with a small load) to wash those four diapers and get them dry to use again. And it seemed like I couldn't really fall in love with one type or another because of how infrequently I used them. Luckily I was still hooked on cloth and decided to move forward with it.
3. Stock up on your favorites. But not too much. After the diaper trial, I would look for upcoming sales or discount deals to get 20-24 diapers (many stores offer store credit and discounts from their trials). You'll need this many to keep on with the routine you developed from your trial. I stress favoriteS because you and your partner may like different types of diapers - get both if you don't want to have to change all the diapers. You may like one type for at home, another for out and about and still another for naps and nighttime. Get a small variety.
What I really did: added a few here and there when there were deals ands sales. At one point I did buy 10 of the same diaper through a website with a pretty good deal. They were our favorites for a while, but I am finding that with baby number two they aren't (or at least right now they aren't...).
4. Know ahead of time that you WILL want more. It just happens. Your second baby is a girl, so you need more pink and feminine prints! Baby is now walking or having solid poops, so a style you used to like now isn't the best choice. A new diaper or print comes out that you just HAVE to try or need for a special event or holiday. Figure out where to sell off or trade in or donate your least favorites.
What I really did: slowly add to my initial collection of 4 diapers. Painstakingly slow. It is hard to pony up that much money all at once, but retrospectively, I knew I was going to use cloth, and could do the math to justify it. I still add here or there, but have promised my husband I will only do so if they are free... from winning a contest or using store rewards points).
5. Get a few 'extras'. Get some CJ's butter in your favorite scent (Irish Tweed for a boy, and I am still deciding my favorite for a girl - probably lavender). Get a few wetbags (see below for my picks). Cut up a receiving blanket to make 16+ cloth wipes (we dont' send these to school, so this is plenty for evenings and weekends). Get at least one swim diaper for each size, but buy these as you go, since you won't know how big your baby will be each summer. My favorites are the bummis swimmi and the Little Bee Co Aqua Bee. But even a spare diaper cover works, too (just beware that chlorine may wear on the PUL, and ocean water may discolor anything white!)
What I really did: pretty much this. I went with only one medium wetbag and one pail liner until my second baby was born, but now I have a couple more. I still use one for water day at school for my toddler or to keep a spare set of clothes in the car for my mostly-potty-trained toddler.
Maybe you were expecting me to say, "I would buy x diaper" so then you could go buy it. OK, then. After having tried more than 13 different types of diapers, I feel like I do have some favorites. If it were up to just me, I would probably buy 10-12 Softbum Echo's or Grovia AI2's with 15-20 or so extra inserts (so 25-32 total inserts). And I would be done with diapers (unless I found I had a heavy wetter, in which case I'd add a few bamboo inserts for nighttime. Also I would get two Planetwise medium wet/dry bags, and one large hanging wet/dry bag (ours hangs just right off one of the bedposts on the crib, near the changing table). I'd also cut up a receiving blanket to make some cloth wipes (I did finally do this about 6 months ago - but I could have been saving tons of $$ if I'd done this sooner!)
If you are asking my husband, he would just as easily use disposable, but if he had to choose a cloth diaper, he likes the TotsBots EasyFits the best. He doesn't like to mess with matching pieces together, and likes that he knows how to easily add an insert to it for nighttime.
And if I was a SAHM (and/or only used cloth at home) I'd go with prefolds and covers. They were intimidating to me at first, but now I find them really simple (read about them here). And they are cheap! I recommend everyone keep at least three prefolds and one cover around... just to have.
If you want to more about what diapers I send to daycare see this post: Cloth Diapers for a Working Mom: What I send to Daycare.
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