What I Wish I Had Known Before We Started Using Cloth Diapers



As I have mentioned before, we started using cloth diapers relatively late in the game. We started using them with my second child when she was 20 months old. With my first, I didn’t know cloth diapers went beyond white tea towels and diaper pins. With my second, I hemmed and hawed for months, mulling over cost, functionality/practicality, change in routine, and things like that.

However, once I started, I quickly regretted taking so long to take the plunge. And in thinking about this, I realized I might have done so sooner had I known the following:

1) You don’t need diapers that cost $30 a pop. The expensive diapers might come in colorful, artistic prints, and maybe they were handmade by a work at home mother, and maybe they make a million and one promises regarding fit and absorbency, and maybe they ARE the best cloth diapers in the world, or of ALL diapers…


You DON’T need them to get what really matters. My favorite diapers were found on clearance for $8.00 a pop. They fit my daughter well, rarely leak, and they keep her comfortable. If you’re willing to focus on function over fashion, or practicality over being posh, you’ll save a LOT of money. Let the $30 diaper be a splurge once or twice a year, or, better yet, something to beg and plead for when the in laws ask what to buy their grandbaby.

2) Cloth diapering does not have to be “all or nothing.” We use cloth diapers 50-75% of the time because, quite frankly, my picky toddler isn’t comfortable in fluff at night. And that is just fine. Maybe you use them 100% of the time. Maybe you’re comfortable with using them a quarter of the time. Who cares? It’s about what works best for your family and your budget. Using disposables part of the time won’t make you less of a parent. The planet will not wither and die because you use a box of disposable diapers a month. Those sanctimommies on the sometimes helpful, and sometimes vicious, parenting boards aren’t the ones dealing with your child’s diarrhea blowouts at 3am or diaper rash for the 4th time this month.

They aren’t living your life.

3) Occasionally, “wrong” is better–try something new, even if it goes against the crowd. I had the writer of a cloth diaper blog swear up and down that plain powdered Tide was the greatest detergent for cloth diapers. Yet, many friends immediately threw up red flags to that advice, citing chemicals and additives, and they praised more expensive, eco-friendly options. Some companies and businesses may void a diaper’s warranty if you use something other than a recommended detergent. However, I tried a lot of “cloth diaper safe” detergents and was left with stinking diapers and a cranky, rash-ridden baby. In frustration, I bought a box of powdered Tide. I have never looked back. My diaper inserts are white, the diapers smell fresh, and the rash is a distant memory. For us, it worked miracles.

That being said, for some, it doesn’t. Some kids do much better with “cloth safe” laundry supplies, and some don’t want to take the risk regarding the warranties, and you know what–that’s totally cool. However, my main point in sharing this is that sometimes you might do well to go your own course–maybe everyone else swears by pocket diapers, but you like traditional cloth diapers and pins. Great. Do what is best for you, but don’t be afraid to go against the norm if it works the best for you.

4) There will be a blowout. It will be horrendous. It will suck. Accept this. The inevitable will happen. It will smell worse than you ever dreamed of, and it will take what seems like years to clean. You will have to learn coping strategies with the cloth messes that are different than those of disposable diapers.

Accept this. Once it happens the first time, it gets easier from there.

And then you can pass what you have learned to others so they are better prepared than you were.

Along those lines….

5) There is a thing called “disposable diaper liners.” They will hold poop. They can be tossed or flushed. Your diaper might leave totally unscathed. You will want to buy them. Do it. Like, now. Dude, I don’t even know what else to add. All I know is I won’t use a diaper without them. Like I’m gonna touch that poop more than I have to?

Do you use cloth dipes in your family? If so, what do you wish you had known when you started?



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