A lot of parents-to-be walk into our store with trepidation, you can practically smell the fear. Choosing a cloth diapering system can be overwhelming -- honestly, the hardest part of it all is picking which diapers you want to go with. Once you've figured that out, it's smooth sailing! I think some parents have the attitude that they'll try cloth diapers, and hope they work out. Here are some tips to ensure your success:
Put junior in cloth diapers from day one. I really believe that disposable diapers, like infant formula, can be a slippery slope. Once you're used to the "convenience" (I'm doing air quotes here, picture it!) of wrapping up and tossing disposable diapers in the garbage, it's easy to put off using cloth diapers. You will have a baby. You will be doing laundry regardless of whether you use cloth or disposable diapers, I can promise you that. Washing cloth diapers is a simple load of laundry. You cannot avoid laundry! If you never use a disposable diaper, you won't know what you're missing. For the record, I have the same theory about twins. Hope for them on the first try, b/c if you've never had a singleton, it will be all you know! If you don't want to invest in newborn diapers, consider signing up for our newborn diaper rental kit, spots are filling up, but it's a pretty nifty idea.
Buy cloth diapers you know you will use. OK, I'll admit it, there's too much variety, but would you really want to walk into our store and see *one* type of diaper? Half the appeal of cloth diapers is the fashion! Vanity aside, we have simple diapers and more complicated diapers (insert disclaimer here: when I say "complicated", I'm referring to the simple act of trifolding a prefold and laying it in a cover. I can do that faster than you can put a disposable diaper on a baby, I guarantee it!). If one of your reasons for not wanting to use cloth diapers is that you find them too "fussy" (air quotes here, picture it!), then go with an easy diaper like a pocket diaper or an all-in-one. Yes, the cost of prefolds is attractive, but if you buy them and don't use them, you're no further ahead. No matter which way you slice it, even if you buy an entire stash of Fuzzibunz diapers, you will save money in the longrun.
Buy more than 12 cloth diapers. It's true, you could get by with a dozen cloth diapers in the first 4-6 weeks, however, it will be tight. You will be washing diapers every single day. Every. Single. Day. Yeah, I know I already said it's "just a load of laundry", but I have four kids already, it's also "just spit-up", and my husband's favourite, "just poop". Point is, I have a thick skin. Back in the day when I had just given birth to my first child, washing a load of cloth diapers every single day could possibly have left me a crumpled mess on the laundry room floor. If you're eyeing the super-fly Fuzzibunz sized pocket diapers, but you don't want to invest in 2 dozen of them (completely understandable, I am, afterall, as cheap as the day is long), pad your stash with a dozen prefolds and a couple of covers. You don't have to love them, but squeezing an extra day out of your diapers until junior stops pooping every 5 minutes will certainly help the perceived workload.
Get dad onboard. He's just as responsible for diaper changes as you are. Is he hesitant to use cloth diapers? Bring him to one of our handy-dandy cloth diaper workshops, held on the second Saturday of every month. It's a great way for you both to sit down and have the information handed to you (bring a non-perishable food donation in exchange for a $10 gift certificate). Once he sees how easy they are to use, and how much money you can save, you'll win him over. If you're both on the same page about cloth diapers, you'll be more successful!
Buy your diapers from a B&M store. When I started my business in 2002, such stores were virtually unheard of, but as the green movement picks up steam, and parents become more aware of the impact of their choices on their children, more and more natural parenting stores are popping up. Yes, shopping online is convenient (you can do it in your underwear, if you're so inclined), but nothing beats seeing and feeling the diapers. If you have inherited a stash of used diapers, most stores are willing to help you sift through them to determine what, if anything, is still needed. Videos that demonstrate how to use a prefold are nice, but having a chance to it in-person is better. Shop with a store that has knowledgeable staff, and you will be better-equipped to handle cloth diapering your little one.
Keep it simple. Like anything in life, using cloth diapers can be as easy or as hard as you make it. I use a simple washing routine: hot wash, cold rinse (now that I have a fancy-dancy frontloader, I add a sopping wet towel, and I do an extra rinse, more on that here). If you get caught up reading online forums about cloth diapers, you may see that some people have very elaborate wash routines that involve double-this and triple-that. Ignore those women. Worried about storing your diapers? The same women take 15 trillion pictures of their color-coordinated stashes folded and sorted neatly under the change table. Yes, you could do that, or you could do what I do, which is store your diapers and covers in a laundry hamper, digging through it when you need something. Not picture-worthy, but considering how quickly you will go through diapers in those early days, folding and sorting them is a big old waste of time. The laundry hamper gets the job done, trust me!
Good luck, and may the force be with you!