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A quick start guide to cloth diapering for beginners

What is Cloth Diapering? Is Cloth Diapering right for me?

 

Cloth Diapering is now considered an alternative diapering solution. But cloth diapering wasn’t always the alternative; cloth diapering was the original way to diaper. Cloth Diapering is a reusable, and washable to diaper using synthetic and natural fibres to create a waterproof diaper for babies to toddlers (and beyond).

Modern cloth diapering looks very different than the diapers our parents and grandparents used in the twentieth century. 

Is Cloth Diapering Right For Me?

Cloth Diapering is enjoyed by parents around the world, but it might not be right for you. 

Take a pause, download this worksheet, and let’s work through if cloth diapering is the right choice for your family and what some of the unique situations are that we need to consider as we think about what type of diaper works best and how to build your stash. 

Why do you want to cloth diaper?

Knowing your why is the best place to start because this can help you, and others, understand your passion and commitment to cloth diapering.

Your why can also shape what type of cloth diaper you choose as you navigate the important features of a brand or product.

What is your budget?

Cloth diapering is a large up front cost, with long term savings. On average, we see stashes cost about $300-500 for new pocket diapers from established brands with natural fibres. The price point is very customizeable.

It might be helpful to think about how much you would be spending on disposables. Maybe you can save $75/month for the next 5 months of your pregnancy. Maybe you can spend this months Child Benefit on a stash.

If you can’t afford any of that, diaper banks around the world offer cloth diaper stashes. There might be one near you that does. Cloth Diaper Library’s and cloth diaper loan programs offer diapers at low-cost or free. 

Think About Your Lifestyle

Here’s where I want you to think out and write down all those weird quirks and lifestyle moments because they might influence the type of diaper that’s going to work best for your family.

  • Do you have a home washing machine, or will be using a laundry facility? 
  • Do you plan on cloth diapering future children?
  • Will you be a stay at home parent, or will you be returning to work? How will diapering work when the child is in care.
  • Is sustainability important in your home? Do you plan to only used plant-based detergents? Are you okay with synthetic detergents?
  • What’s your drying situation? Is it hang dry and humid?
  • Do you travel lots? Flying? Camping? RV lifestyle? You can cloth diaper in these situations, somet choices will be better.
  • Is there any disabilities that might impact cloth diapering?
  • Any other thought that might impact the choice you make from personal values and ethos to random characteristics about your life.

Keep Learning About Cloth Diapering 

Now that you’ve identified things that are important to you and shape your sphere of capability, you can begin to learn about cloth diapering.

It’s okay if things change as you learn, but you’ll begin to also feel a tug towards the things that are most important to you and your family.I want you to have a solid groundwork because it can shape how you learn about cloth diapers, and the questions you begin to ask to get the answers that really work for you.

PS. You won’t know everything until you start. We all start cloth diapering as beginners, and you’re journey is going to be your journey – start today, start tomorrow, but stop putting it off because you’re scared. We are here for you.

I did write a book on cloth diapering for beginners, but everything in my book you can get for free on the internet. Seriously.

 

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My Approach

I taken a compassionate approach to cloth diapering focused on listening and encouraging you to find answers that work for you. I believe in peer-based cloth diaper support because everything is antectodal and I’m not a scientist.

My Experience

I cloth diapered two babies over the course of 4 years. I continue to learn and support cloth diapering through 1:1 conversation with brands and parents around the world. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Cloth Diaper is the Best?

The best cloth diaper is the one that meets your needs as a family – it could be budget, aesthetetic, functionality, or ethos.

This is a question without an answer.

Better ways to ask this question.

  • What is the best cloth diaper for a parent on a budget with daycare?
  • What is the best cloth diaper for overnight, when we’ve soaked through ABC?
  • What is the best way to cloth diaper when I’m most concerned about sustainability and small business?
  • What is the most affordable way to cloth diaper when my budget is less than $XXX.
  • What is the best cloth diaper for starting at 18months?
  • What is the best cloth diaper for a family with mobilty changes?
  • I plan to go camping and traveling, what’s the best cloth diaper for me?
  • What’s the best cloth diaper for laundromats and external washing facilities?

Be specific, and we can guide you to finding an answer that will help you succeed at cloth diapering. 

Why are cloth diapers so expensive?

Cloth diaper price points really varies around the world. 

The cheapest diapers are often second hand products. You can buy used cloth diapers on Facebook and many other platforms.

Other cheap diapers are known as Cheapies are often sold direct from wholesalers and co-ops. They don’t often have warranty, support services, and may not meet local regulations for children’s products. 

The price increases with customization, support services, quality textiles and fabrics, licensing and taxes, and the intrictate details of the diaper.

Cloth diaper profit margins are not crazy, and if you have concerns about the pricing of the diaper, feel free to reach out and touch base with others. 

What is the most sustainable cloth diaper?

Here’s a few things to consider when thinking about the sustainability of a product.

  • Lifespan of the product, repurposing and purchasing second hand is a great consideration. 
  • Manufacturing of the product
  • Textile orgins – is the bamboo manufactured closed loop?
  • Can it be easily laundered with plant-based detergents?
  • Longevity of the product?
Where do I even start?

You’ve already started. You can keep following the rabit hole of links and googling questions.

Here’s a few other places to start:

How many do I need?

The short answer? One.

The long answer, it really varies depending on your lifestyle, diaper style, and goals.

But a lot of people like to start off with enough changes for one day, and wash nightly.

Are Cloth Diapers Better than Disposable Diapers

Better is an opinion of the user. 

Cloth diapers can be much more functional for many families, but they also come with work and additional labour.

Cloth diapers solve many challenges for families including financial security of always having diapers and clean bums.

Cloth diapers can be a headache and learning to wash them is a privilege of skills and problem solving.

Cloth diapering is not for everyone, and it’s not better in every situation. 

Do I have to cloth diaper full time?

No.

This is a huge misconception.

Many families choose to cloth diaper only on the weekend, once a month, and take large breaks.

Cloth diapering is not all or nothing. Every diaper counts. 

But they take so much water to launder?

Your focused on the wrong issue.

Yes, cloth diapering takes water to launder, but just like washing our clothes, we can do it more efficiently than ever before.

I ask of you – why are you more concerned about the water used in laundry, than the accessibilty of landfills for generations?

The Cloth Diaper Group I'm in has all these rules and expectations

Ya, that’s a thing the cloth diaper community does.

If you dont’ feel safe, leave.

Seriously.

Here’s the thing? Anyone can start a Facebook group and they don’t have access to any more knowledge than what is currently available – and often they completly disregard the knowledge that is available like the thousands of dollars cloth diaper brands spend consulting with detergent specialists.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the Facebook group you’re in, you need to leave it, or change it.

You can cloth diaper without them. You know everything you need to know and it’s just another load of laundry. You go this.

Do I need your book?

No.

My book is merely a physical representation of everything I know.

You can find me on Instagram, read every blog, watch every YouTube video. And you will cloth diaper successfully.

My book is an opportunity to earn a small revenue stream (like tiny, don’t ask about profits on books, it’s dismal) from the hard work I’ve done over the past 5 years within the cloth diaper industry. It will go on sale for Earth Day 2021.

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    Email: bailey@clothdiaperpodcast.com
    Cloth Diaper Podcast is located in Northern BC, Canada on the traditional territories of the Lheidli T'enneh First Nations. 

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    About the Cloth Diaper Podcast

    The Cloth Diaper Podcast is a somewhat regular podcast sharing stories from cloth diaper parents, brands and retailers from around the world. 

    The Cloth Diaper Podcast is not affiliated with any school of thought of diaper laundry but instead focus on the power of peer-to-peer story telling to empower you to make your own cloth diaper journey. 

    Cloth Diapering is not this or that, but rather many different experiences.