Cloth Diapering: Necessities vs Luxuries
Navigating the world of cloth diapers and all the various accessories can be overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. If you can separate what's truly necessary from what's just a 'nice to have' it makes things simpler. So let's delve into the must-haves, nice-to-haves, and optional items together!
1) Diapers of course! - You need enough diapers in your stash for how you've chosen to use cloth. Maybe you're part-time cloth diapering and you only need 6-10. Maybe you're washing every second day with a newborn and you need 24-30 or maybe you've got an older baby and can get by with 12-16. However you choose to cloth diaper, the cloth diapers are essential to this journey of reducing waste for future generations. Need help figuring out how many you might need. Look here.
2) A storage solution - You need a place to store your soiled cloth diapers until wash day. Many families find large hanging wet bags or pail liners to be a great solution here (get two so you have one ready to collect while the other is in the wash). But you can also use a Diaper Genie or similar with a washable pail liner, or drop a pail liner into any container like a laundry basket or garbage bin. When deciding, consider your washing frequency, available space, and personal preferences to choose between a diaper pail or a wet bag. You may be able to use smaller travel size wet bags if you change baby in multiple areas of the house (upstairs and downstairs) or if you wash every day. Whereas a hanging wet bag might make the most sense if you're short on floor space. If you plan to cloth diaper when you're on the go, a travel size wet bag or two will be a must for the diaper bag.
3) Quality detergent - When it comes to cloth diapers, we're talking about some really dirty laundry, so make sure your detergent is up to the task. Note I said detergent, not soap, not homemade combos, not soap nuts or the like. You want real detergent with surfactants and enzymes to clean properly. Plant-based detergents tend to not work the best or are more expensive and require more volume. So choose something like Tide, All, Arm & Hammer or whatever you normally use for your laundry as long as it has no added fabric softener (which would be listed on the front label).
4) A way to wash - Again this might seem obvious, but if you don't have a way to wash effectively, you won't be successful or it just won't make practical sense. For example if you don't have access to a washing machine and you use a paid laundromat or if you have shared washing facilities, washing cloth diapers might not be allowed or be too expensive to be worth it. If you are planning to hand-wash or use a manual washing machine make sure you have access to adequate water and drainage for multiple water changes during washing. And if you have a washer and dryer in your home that are in good repair, that's great, you're good to go.
MAKES DIAPER CHANGES EASIER
1) Change pad - While not entirely necessary for diaper changes, a good quality waterproof change pad does make cleanup easier. Yes you can definitely just use a towel or blanket too, but a change pad has a waterproof layer to keep your change table, couch or floor protected and usually some absorbency to it so pee during a diaper change won't phase you. It's also just the right size, washable and portable so it makes life easier.
2) Snappi or other fastener - If flats, pre-flats or prefolds are your diapers of choice you can certainly use them without any fastener, but a Snappi does hold things together nicely. So, while it's not a 100% necessary, it's way up there in my books.
3) Diaper Liners - While some might put disposable diaper liners in the luxury category, I'm going to put them here because sometimes they are highly recommended (like when using a sticky diaper rash cream for example) and really they make dealing with poop way easier especially when babies are just starting solids.
CLOTH DIAPERING LUXURIES
These are things that are just not required to reap the benefits of cloth diapering but that some families might find value in.
1) Diaper sprayer - For messy poops a diaper sprayer is the ultimate in convenience for removing solids from your diapers before washing. Many families find them totally worth the investment. Plus they are easy to install for anyone - no tools required. But you certainly don't need it to cloth diaper successfully.
2) Expensive diapers - While good quality diapers are well worth what you pay for them and you should definitely purchase the best quality your budget can reasonably afford, expensive handmade diapers, specialty embroidered custom made diapers or overpriced hard to find prints don't have to be part of your diaper stash - even if they are super cute.
3) A super huge stash - It is true that a larger stash means each diaper gets less use and therefore less wear and tear. However, we also can't forget that diapers should be washed at least every 3rd day no matter how many diapers you have in your collection. So more might be nice to have, but 50+ diapers isn't necessary.
4) Special cloth diaper clothing - I'll be the first to admit that clothing made specially with a roomier seat to accommodate a fluffier cloth bum is fantastic. But in no way is it required. Many parents worry about how clothing will fit over cloth diapers, and fortunately it's an easy fix. Just size up if you need to and you'll have no issues with clothing over cloth diapers.
Hopefully that list helps you sort out what you really need from what's optional when it comes to starting your cloth diaper journey and if you ever need help, remember we're here to assist with questions.
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