The Top Five Hurdles to Beginning To Use Cloth Diapers
(And How To Overcome Them)
“I’ve been getting a little overwhelmed with all of it. Making sure I’m finding reliable research, deciding if this is the right choice for our family, etc.”
“I honestly just don't know where to start! I'm mostly worried about which kind would be best for my son before I invest in anything.”
“I am currently just researching. I am pregnant and trying to decide what would be best for my family. And I am completely lost on where cloth diapering even starts.”
These are just three of the comments I’ve gotten from cloth diaper beginners when I ask what challenges they are facing getting started, and I’ve gotten hundreds more just like them. Overwhelmed and lost are words that often pop up in the questions I get every day on the Cloth Diapers for Beginners Facebook group.
If I were to categorize the questions I get over and over again, it’s easy to see the five spots where newbies get tripped up. If you’re just starting out, and maybe feel a little like it’s all too confusing, I’d like not only to let you know that you’re not alone, but also help you jump over those five major hurdles and give you some resources to help you get started. Let’s take a look at each of the five challenges from the least difficult to the most difficult (in my opinion anyway):
5) Too Many Kinds to Choose from, with Strange Names
AIO, hybrid, prefold, what the what?
I get it, there are what can seem like a ton of different kinds of cloth diapers out there and a lot of them have some pretty mysterious names — hybrid? What, is it half electric? — but once you get to see the similarities and differences between them, I promise those weird names will all make a bit more sense and you’ll start to see that there are only a handful of types of diapers out there, even when diaper brands then put their unique spin on them.
A great place to start decoding it all is right here on the Cloth Diaper Kids blog, by reading through the list of Cloth Diaper Terms and Acronyms . I’d recommend bookmarking that list for later so you have a quick reference at the ready. It’s alphabetical, so whenever you come across a term you don’t know, you can find it quickly there.
Once you have that page bookmarked, you can check out the Cloth Diapers 101 page on Cloth Diapers for Beginners to get the broad strokes that help you decide on a cloth diaper type or two. Once you have the terms worked out, and a good idea of what you’re looking for, you’ll feel much more confident and ready to shop for those first few diapers.
4) Long Washing Instructions, and Conflicting Washing Advice
I recently read a post on Facebook written by a cloth diaperer about her chat with a friend in real life who was certain she was told natural fibers needed to be pre-washed 78 times before use. No matter what the poster said to correct her, she was emphatic that it was 78 washes.
While this is the extreme, it’s what happens when a relatively new community, the cloth diaper community, doesn’t reach a consensus and over-complicates things with caution and worry.
It’s just not that hard.
For some simple, everyday washing instructions, you can read the Washing & Care of Cloth Diapers post right here on this blog.
While washing anything 78 times before using it is crazy, 3 or 4 pre-washes (also called prepping) of new diapers are sometimes recommended depending on the type of diapers you choose. Information about that can be found in the post Do I Need To Pre-Wash New Diapers.
As you’ll see from reading those posts, you don’t need fancy detergents or to wear out your washing machine from overuse. Cleaning cloth diapers is pretty much as easy as regular laundry.
3) Family and Friends Not on Board
Disposable diapers have only been the norm for a handful of decades, but for some reason they are such a part of our disposable culture that even the mention of cloth diapers can get scowls and at times downright nasty comments.
If you need help getting your partner on board, check out the blog post The Reluctant Dad – 7 Tips To Get Daddy On Board With Cloth Diapering.
As for the other people in your life, while I can’t offer you a snarky comeback that will magically make the naysayers rethink their negativity, I can offer you the comfort that you’re not alone. Many many many parents and caregivers who were all new to cloth diapers at one time have cloth diapered millions of babies successfully.
You can do this. Cloth diapers are not difficult.
Of course you don’t have to take my word for it, you can stop by any of the many cloth diaper groups on social media and ask them if it’s really possible. Cloth diaper users are amazing and helpful people, who want you to succeed, know you can, and will help you along the way.
2) Sticker Shock
The upfront expense is a big hurdle for anyone shopping for cloth diapers for the first time. There are two important things to keep in mind when the subtotal on your shopping cart gives you the cold sweats:
You don’t have to buy it all at once. While cloth diaper packages can often give you a great deal on a full stash, if you’re diapering on a budget and/or want to try out a few styles to see which will fit your baby best, you can take your time. Diapers often go on sale (just check out the Cloth Diaper Kids sales page) and if you shop those sales over time, you can often save a ton of cash.
While the upfront cost is high, the long-term savings are huge. I’m talking thousands of dollars saved between birth and potty, and that’s just for one kid! Once that first kid uses those diapers you can use them for the next or sell them on the used market (yup, people buy and sell used cloth diapers every day).
If you want to look at the math to see just how much you can save, read the Is Cloth Diapering Really Cheaper? post for some insight. Once you see the long-term savings, it’s hard to not buy cloth diapers, especially when there’s a good sale!
1) Just Starting
Without a doubt, the most difficult challenge to cloth diapering for beginners is just starting.
I’ve actually been there myself, as a new mom I did all the research I could, bought a variety of diapers, had them all ready to go, then my daughter arrived and I panicked.
“I’ll just put her in a disposable until we’re out of the hospital.”
“I’ll just put her in a disposable until I use all the disposables we were given”
“I’ll just use disposable at night until she sleeps a little better.”
I said all of these things when cloth diapering my daughter, and every time I finally just dove in and put her in cloth full-time I regretted not doing it sooner. Every, single, time.
So do the research, read the resources mentioned in this post, check out the social media groups, buy a few different types of diapers on sale and see which you like better, but most of all, just start. Once you do, you’ll find those lost and overwhelmed feelings melt away, because the simple truth is that using cloth diapers is not rocket science and even beginners can master it.
Today's GUEST POST was written for Cloth Diaper Kids by the amazing April Duffy. She is the mastermind behind Cloth Diapers for Beginners, an online resource site for new parents looking into cloth diapering for the first time.
Check her out on her Website or Facebook Page.