starting out with cloth diapers

We have lived cloth diapering for a couple weeks now, and I wanted to update you on how it's going and how I got started.  Even before getting pregnant, I considered diving into the cloth diaper world.  However, I had no idea where to begin.  And let me be honest, I was overwhelmed.  My research started very slowly...occasionally reading about it on websites and blogs.  When we got pregnant, I started reading a lot more about it, saw how it worked for others, and realized the money-saving aspect of it, and I was set on trying it.  (Although I was even still a little skeptical of how well it would go.) 

Justin was very skeptical.  The inconvenience.  The poo in the washer.  He just wasn't hooked at all like I was.  However, he supported me in trying it and became more and more okay with the idea as I taught him everything I was learning.

I wanted to write this post, because we didn't enter the cloth diaper world full-force.  We started with the bare minimum and took it from there.  We've had success and I am so excited to be a cloth diapering momma and have a little one with a cloth diapered bottom.

Adeline in her only pink bumGenius (we went gender-neutral with most of our colors to be practical)
Cloth diapers have intrigued me from the very beginning for a few reasons:

1.  (Main reason) Savings!! I'm not going into all the nitty gritty money details here because you can find it all over the internet.

2.  My mom did it.  Now I know that shouldn't be a main reason.  But come on...if my parents did it when it was just the nice cotton diapers (basically what are now similar to our burp cloths) and safety pins....I think I can do it with the Cadillac of cloth diapers that are available these days.

3.  Somewhat to be "green".  This would not be reason enough for me to do it.  However, I believe in being good stewards of what God gave us--this earth.  I'd like to know I did what I could to help Adeline have an earth to live on that God intended.

4.  They are cuter and safer.  You can throw a top on your baby with a cloth diaper and have an outfit (in the warm months, of course).  And I like knowing that I'm limiting the toxins that are entering her body from the get-go that come from all those disposables.

Let me be real:

1.  I realize I put money into the cloth diapers and cloth diapering could have just ended up not working for us.  I'm was open to that and okay with that.  Also, I realize there are times that cloth diapering might not be as convenient...say, traveling.

2.  We didn't start right away.  We started around week 5.  This was perfect for us because as I was healing and learning how to take care of a newborn, the absolute last thing I wanted to think about was laundry.  I wouldn't change this one bit and will probably go the same route with the next baby.  Plus, the diapers we purchased (there are newborn options available that we just didn't try out) didn't fit her well until she was about 9 or so pounds.

3.  I'm going to be a full-time, working momma.  At least for a little while at the beginning of her life.  I don't expect caregivers to use cloth diapers.  We realize we will need to buy some disposables for when she's out of our care during the days.  However, we will use cloth in the evenings, on weekends, and on days off (and as a teacher, I get a lot of those).

4.  I don't believe it's for everyone.  I'm not going to be all "preachy" about it.  I just would much rather know we tried it and it didn't work, than to not try it and know it could have possibly been a good decision for our family.  I'm all about families doing what personally works for them in every area of raising a child.

Here's what we did to get started and try-out cloth diapers:

-We had 7 diapers. Cotton Babies and Kelly's Closet are my favorite cloth diaper websites so far.  We purchased our diapers from there and a few came from a local "green" store that carries cloth diapers.  Some diapers were purchased with our own money, some with gift cards, and some were given to us as gifts.

-Stuck with my staple detergent that I'm also using for all of Adeline's other clothes--All Free and Clear with Oxy-Clean.  I found a great site here that outlines all possible detergents that can be used with cloth diapers and how well they work.  I'm not about spending high dollar for special detergent if my normal detergent will work.  So far so good.

-Didn't go with a diaper sprayer.  At least not right now.  Adeline is solely breastfed and rinsing the diapers isn't necessary since BF poo is water soluble.  However, if there is a huge mess, I do sometimes use my bottle sprayer I got from the hospital to help with my healing and spray some of the mess off into the toilet.  Not necessary though.  We may purchase a sprayer for when we start solids.  (I have found it's much cheaper to purchase these on Amazon than from diaper sites or in stores.)

-We did not start with a wet bag, although it would be ideal.  I just put a bunch of old grocery bags in her changing table and threw the dirty diaper into the bag, tied up the bag, and threw the bag downstairs for the laundry.  Easy.  Cheap.  Worked for us.  (Honestly, you could do this system and completely forgo a wet bag.)

our little cloth-diapered cutie
 Our system starting out:

-As I said, we started out with 7 one-size diapers (they will fit her to potty training):  5 bumGenius 4.0 one-size stay-dry diapers--2 hook and loop (velcrow) and 3 snaps (comes with a large one-size insert and a newborn insert); 1 Flip diaper (comes with cover and stay-dry inserts); 1 FuzziBunz one-size cloth diaper (snaps)

-We use disposable wipes still (I'm still not ready to try reusable wipes). We have not had to purchase any yet due to all the gifts at showers!

-We started when she was about 5 weeks old and about 9.5 pounds.

-Because we only started with a day's worth of cloth diapers for her at 5 weeks, we also used disposables (mostly of which were gifts from showers) when I wash the cloth diapers.

-We put wet diapers into the grocery bag and toss them downstairs to our washer (no extra steps).  We lightly spray the poo diapers with biokleen bac-out enzyme-fighting spray to help break down the poo.  (This stuff is amazing and basically breaks down all the poo before you're even ready to wash it.  You can find it on Amazon, but I purchased it at our local "green" store.)

-On the hook and loop diapers...I make sure to hook the velcro down so that the diapers don't get stuck together (a.k.a. "diaper train") in the wash.

-I wash the diapers in the evening usually.  We have HE front-loaders.  When ready to wash, I pull out the inserts (you don't have to do this if you don't want b/c they come out in the wash), throw the inserts and covers into the wash.  I do a cold soak (about 20 mins.) with no detergent--the poo is basically gone after this first rinse, a cold/hot wash on my normal setting with a drop of the detergent (about 50 mins.), and then a final cold soak with extra spin (about 20 mins.).  I dry the inserts for about 30-45 mins. on the medium setting and line-dry the covers overnight (you need about 7 or 8 hours).  We don't have a drying rack, so I just hang the liners over our kitchen chairs--works like a charm.

-I stuff all the diapers when they are dry and put them ready-to-go into her changing table.

What we have on the way:

Now that we started cloth and it's working, I was ready to invest in more diapers and a wet bag.  Thankfully, we had gift cards left from our many baby showers to use!

I just recently purchased 8 more diapers so we will have 15 in all!
-6 more bumGenius 4.0 one-size (in both hook and loop and snaps)
-2 FuzziBunz diapers (one one-size and one size small (was free with my purchase!))

I also recently purchased a large Planet Wise wet bag from Kelly's Closet and a reusable swim diaper from the same place.  I got a small wet bag for the diaper bag (from Target) for a Christmas gift.

(I plan on just tossing the diapers into the wet bag instead of the grocery bags now.  I am just going to hang the wet bag in her room since it zips shut.  I will wash the wet bag with the diapers.)


I just recently read that the average baby in the US goes through approximately 5000 diapers before potty training.  I believe it! I have found my favorite diaper is Target brand's diaper.  If I find those on sale and use a coupon (rarely available), a good deal is about $0.14.  That would be $700 spent on disposables (and this figure is low compared to other costs I have found  in my research).

With 15 diapers, a large wet bag, a small wet bag, a reusable swim diaper, and a large pack of disposable inserts, we have a cloth diapering system "stash" worth about $300.

With being smart, looking for sales, using gift cards, and receiving some items as gifts, we have only paid about $50 out of our own pockets.

Basically, what it comes down to, is with our personal expenses on cloth diapers, we have saved ourselves about $650 just on diapering Adeline.  And Lord-willing, we would like to have other children...they will basically be diapered at little to no cost.

My other, random thoughts:

-I have found a "good deal" on a new cloth diaper is about $10-$14.

-You can find gently-used or new cloth diapers often on craigslist.  There are also places on Facebook where people want to swap diapers.  (Fluff Swappers is one.)

-Cotton Babies is a website you'll want to check out and sign up to be on their mailing list.  They often have seconds sales where you can get bumGenius (normally about $18) for $10.  They are in perfectly fine working condition.  This site also offers buy 5 get one free deals or buy 2 get 1 free deals often.  We have gotten in on both of these deals and got great prices! 

-Your little one will have a bigger bottom with cloth diapers and possible go up a size in clothing.  This is no big deal at all to me.

-We have had no diaper blow-outs in cloth.  We had tons in disposables.  We also had some minor diaper rash in disposables...none with cloth.

-There are tons of options out there! You can research until you're blue in the face to find what you like.  I recommend getting a couple different kinds, live cloth-diapering for a bit, and then decide on what you want to buy more of.  I'm not crazy into researching, so I found a couple we like and just stuck with those brands.  I could research a lot more to find other kinds, but it's not worth the time to me.

-I like the brands we have equally.  I do feel like the bumGenius are better quality all-in-all.  I like hook and loop more than snap--easier to quickly put on a squirming little one--but I feel the snap diapers will hold up better in the long run.

-Ignore people when they are skeptical of your diapering plans.  I got many funny looks and semi-rude comments from people when they found out we were going to try cloth diapering.  It was a challenge to me...and I love challenges...so I just tried to ignore them.  I often like to prove people wrong...this is yet another place I'm doing that.  Just approach these people with a smile and go on your cloth-diapering way. 

-I was most scared of the laundry.  Not bad at all! Honestly, call me weird, but I enjoy the cloth diaper laundry because I love that we're using them.  (And believe me...I probably dread laundry more than the normal person.)  With 15 diapers, I will wash approximately every 2 days.  With more diapers, you an make it even easier on yourself. 

-About those hubbies...Justin has grown to be just fine with cloth diapering.  Would he be sad if we stopped? No.  Would he do cloth diapering if it wasn't for me? No way.  However, he's 100% on-board and I so appreciate his open mind! For the daddies out there...his favorite are the hook and loop (velcro) cloth diapers because they are the most similar to disposables.  He also prefers not so spray off the poo diapers, but just throw it into the bag.

Other resources/deal-finding:

Some of my blog and real-life friends that have recently posted about cloth:
-Natalie recently posted an awesome post here about her adventures into cloth.
-Ashleigh at Thankfully Thrifty has info on cloth diapering.
-Page posted a great post recently on her adventures into cloth with helpful, detailed reviews of many different kinds of cloth diapers.

(If you have recently posted a how-to on cloth diapers and would like me to add you to this list...just let me know! I apologize if I missed it--with a newborn, I'm out of the blog-reading loop quite a bit these days!)

-You can find gobs of reviews and how-tos on YouTube.

 There you have it! Don't hesitate to let me know if you have questions about something I didn't include in this post--I would be happy to share my thoughts and our experiences with you!

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  1. Great post! I'm so totally pro-cloth diapering, and have cloth diapered both of my kids. It truly does save money! Love the pics of your princess in her pink BG. Toooo cute!

  2. Cate,
    I am very proud of you. At your young age, this is something you just don't here about anymore. Most young mothers would never consider using the real thing. I did over thirty years ago with my children, and my mother did and my mothers mother did. Yea, CATE! You are a very smart mother!

  3. i loved reading this cait! i am sold on using cloth....but i CAN'T convince tim on them. i need to have him read all these wonderful posts on cloth. or i need to have all the husbands call tim and tell him! haha! i hope he comes around. i love her little pink one. so sweet!

  4. First off, thanks for the link! :)
    ALso I love hearing your take on all of this!! Glad it's going well thus far. I wish I had thought of this ahead of time, but I could have (or still could) sent you our small g diapers to use. Let me know if you want to borrow!
    I've been trying to figure out how much more our water bill is. That's hard to say though because I do lots more laundry also! Maybe $20 extra per month? What do you think?
    Btw way to go on the gift card usage!!

  5. this was so informative! i keep going back and forth on it (although we are a long ways from having to really decide!) but this makes me think it *is* possible and not as difficult as I think it might be...!

  6. I'm always glad to read another cloth diaper post. Are y'all still using cloth?


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