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For The Cloth Diaper Newbies | 20 Tips From A Seasoned Cloth Parent

letter board reads: have you made the switch?

I’ve been in the cloth community for a while now - almost 7 years!

I started from scratch with my first baby and have sifted through massive amounts of Facebook posts, blogs, articles, manufacturer information, and let me tell you, it’s a lot!

Over the years, I’ve made a list of tips I keep on hand to share with people interested in cloth diapering so they don’t have to overwhelm themselves with all that information!

1. Breathe!

I’m just jumping right into it because my first tip is to take a deep breath and R E L A X. There is so much to learn, know, and sift through - it’s easy to want to give up before you even start.

I promise it isn’t as much work as you’ve convinced yourself it is!

baby with rainbow blocks

2. Join Cloth Diapering Groups on Facebook

Find a cloth community on Facebook (did you know Nicki’s has a fan chatter page? Check it out!) and take a peek around! 

official nicki's diapers cloth diaper chatter

There are so many helpful and fun posts shared by cloth parents every day, you may find the answers to your questions before asking. If you can’t find what you need - ask!

I have yet to find a diaper group that didn’t want to help new members get started with cloth!

3. Ask Around Your Own Circles

It might surprise you how many other parents you know that use cloth diapers or make sustainable choices for their family! Just put it out there and see what kind of response you get.

I wish I had reached out to my own friends and family sooner - my sister cloth diapered her kids and I didn’t know it until months after I had my first baby!

To be fair, she lives on the other side of the country and shared little about her kids on social media, but that’s why it’s important to reach out!

I have also reconnected with old classmates and coworkers who have taken to social media seeking help from other parents on cloth diapering.

matching leggins

4. Don’t Invest In One Brand or Style...At First!

You’ve done some research and have made the first step towards cloth diapering - buying.

Before you order a complete stash in only one brand or style, shop around. It would be awful to invest all the money you budgeted in a diaper stash that doesn’t work for you or your baby.

Diapers vary so much between manufacturers and types, there’s no way they can all work for every baby!

Best bottoms OS offer a very slim fit and you may find that an AI2 system isn’t your favorite. Nicki’s pockets are very roomy and might not work for your little peanut.

tummy time with baby in a nicki's diapers fitted cloth diaper

I started with covers and prefolds/flats, thinking it was going to be all we needed, but my first was very short and chunky and I quickly learned that the covers we had would not work for him.

My second was tall and slim and Best Bottoms were perfect for him until he got bigger and then pockets gave us the best fit. 

So try them all!

Pick a few diapers from the brands you’re most interested in, ask a local cloth diaper friend if you can borrow some, buy used if you need to... just don’t put all your eggs in one basket!

5. Do The Math

How many diapers will you need? Do you plan to start cloth diapering from birth?

Are you looking into cloth now that your baby is 4 months old and you’re sick of buying disposables? Part time? Full time? How often do you plan to do laundry?

You should figure out how you plan to use cloth diapers to determine how many you’ll need.

imagine baby product cloth diapers and baby blocks

Cloth diapers need to be changed more frequently, but changing times can vary by age.

The general rule is a diaper change at least every two hours, but in the toddler stage you won’t need to change nearly that often.

You can expect your newborn to go through at least 12 diapers a day and just as many at night. 

If you’re using cloth full time, you will need enough to get you through a laundry day, but if you’re washing daily, that means you only need enough diapers for one day + washing time.

If you only have time to wash every three days, you will need to determine how many diapers the baby goes through daily x3.

cloth diapers and wet bags

It’s always good to keep extra on hand as well because babies love to be unpredictable and you never know when they’ll decide to poop five times in one morning after being “regular” for weeks. 

6. Newborn on a Budget?

(I know I just said not to invest in one brand or type, but trust me on this one.) If you’re nervous about investing in newborn diapers because of the cost but want to start right away - Nicki's newborn covers.

These are the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants of diapers. I, personally, have not found a baby they don’t work well on AND they last so long beyond the newborn stage!

My youngest is 7 months and still fits in his NB covers! He is a bit on the smaller side, but we made it about this long in them with my middle baby as well.

Newborn diapers are typically all in ones that can be outgrown quickly in both fit and absorbency.

nicki's diapers cloth diaper all in one

If you want to diaper your newborn without using an OS diaper that looks like it will swallow them whole or spending half your budget on a stash that will be outgrown in weeks, try these magical covers (and your absorbent inner of choice - flats, prefolds, inserts). 

7. Change Often

Cloth diapers need to be changed at least every 2 hours. To avoid leaks and rashes, change that diaper often in the early days.

As you get closer to potty training, your baby may go longer between changes - check for wetness often by touching the gussets or your inner absorbent piece.

8. Find A Cloth-Safe Cream

Even if you change every diaper, the second they have dirtied it, rashes and irritation will happen.

While parents who use disposables will most likely recommend a zinc based rash cream, know these aren’t safe for use with cloth diapers.

baby with cloth diaper and wet bag

Scroll the Nicki’s site for some safe options (we love CJs spritz!) and take your pick! Note - it’s always safest to use a liner when using creams/sprays/balms, even if they’re cloth safe.

9. Wash Often

You don’t want a pile of dirty diapers sitting around your house for a week for many reasons. To protect your diapers - and your nose - try to wash every 3 days at the most.

10. Exclusively Breastfeeding? Less Work For Now!

Did you know only breastfed baby poo is water soluble? It will dissolve in the wash so you don’t need to rinse it out beforehand!

Don’t make more work for yourself and enjoy this ~6 months of no rinse diaper laundry before you introduce solids or formula!

baby wearing a cloth diaper and crawling on a bed

11. Diaper Sprayers Are A Luxury, Not A Necessity

While the internet may convince you they’re a necessary cloth diapering accessory, you can make it without one.

They definitely help with the cleanup but a traditional dunk and swish will clean that poo off just fine! If it’s not in your budget, don’t stress!

12. Dirties Don’t Need Fancy Storage

You might think you need that fancy steel, lidded pail for storing dirtied diapers but you actually want to AVOID those!

Get a cheap (open) garbage can or a laundry hamper (with holes is best!) and a large planet wise pail linerso those babies can breathe. Absolutely avoid any kind of outdated wet-pails as well - those are hazardous and will destroy your diapers.

13. Don’t Let Detergent Intimidate You

Things seem to have changed now, but when I first started cloth diapering, it was so hard to find reliable information about detergent.

I almost gave up my plans of cloth diapering because I couldn’t afford the cloth specific detergents on the market, but guess what?

washing cloth diapers and inserts

You don’t need or want those! Most diaper manufacturers now recommend Tide, and most families prefer it.

There are plenty of mainstream detergents you can use to get your diapers clean - email Nicki’s for help to get your wash routine set up!

14. If You’re Doing It Right, They Shouldn’t Stink

I mean... diapers will stink. They’re meant to hold waste, duh!

But if you notice very strong ammonia smells coming from a freshly wet diaper, or extra bad poo smells without the poo, you might need to tweak your routine.

Again, email Nicki’s for help with stripping and correcting your wash routine so it doesn’t happen again!

15. Don’t Panic At First Leak

A leaky diaper doesn’t always mean it’s ruined!

Leaks can happen because of compression, poor absorbency or a lack of (possibly due to wash routine issues), a poor fit...don’t immediately jump to PUL issues when you notice your baby soaking through outfits.

baby bath time in the kitchen sink

16. It’s Ok To Take Breaks

You can use disposables if you need to! It’s ok if you don’t want to bring cloth diapers on vacation or you need to pack them up for a move.

Maybe you’re overwhelmed with household tasks and taking diaper laundry off your list for a couple of weeks is what you need. Don’t stress about it!

17. Cloth Diapering Isn’t All or Nothing

Along the same lines as #16, you don’t need to cloth diaper 100%. For my family, cloth diapers during the day and disposables at night work best.

There are many families in Nicki's Chatterwho have never used a disposable even once and others who use them a lot. Some families cannot use cloth in their daycare and others just don’t want to.

Even using one cloth diaper a day can make a difference! Don’t feel you need perfection to be a part of the community.

parent holding a baby in a cloth diaper

18. Know Your Clothing Brands

Cloth diapers are big. Much bigger than their mainstream counterparts. It makes sense that mainstream baby and kids’ clothing is made with disposables in mind, but some brands work better than others! 

Carters seem to offer the worst fit for pants - they’re very short and have tight waists. Cat & Jack is improving and offers quite a few styles that fit well over cloth diapers.

Old Navy runs a little small but still offers a few styles that can fit the fluff. Nicki’s leggings (in your favorite diaper prints!) have a long-lasting fit and plenty of stretch to get over those big bums.

If you’re registering for clothing or cannot afford an entire wardrobe from businesses specializing in cloth friendly clothing, keep this in mind!

19. Repurpose What You Can

Has your baby moved up a size in prefolds? You don’t reach for your flats anymore? Repurpose them around the house!

They’re both great for cleaning, flats work well for covering a rising dough, prefolds can become an emergency menstrual pad when you’re in a pinch, cloth wipes are great for wiping off dirty hands and faces at the table or in the bath.

Don’t toss or sell them just because you aren’t using them as diapers anymore!

20. Share That Fluff!

Show it off whenever you get the chance! You never know who you’ll meet that might be interested!

I’ve had quite a few people reach out to me over the years expressing an interest in cloth diapering.

Because of this, I’ve been able to share what I have learned with them and even convince a few to try it! I’ve had strangers make comments about how cute or cool modern cloth diapers are while out in public.

have you made the switch written on a letter board with cloth diapers and wet bags

Post pictures of your fluff mail on social media (don’t forget to add #ilovenickisdiapers!), show them off while going out, speak up when you see someone asking about them… Plus, you’ll have tons of cute photos as memories when your diaper days are done!




 

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