How many diapers should I buy?
- Your child will go through 12 to 15 diapers a day for roughly the first 3 months of life. Additionally, it’s recommended that you wash your cloth diapers every 2 to 3 days.
- Most cloth diapers come in one-size and newborn-size. One-size diapers fit best around 12 pounds (or 3 months of age). Newborn diapers fit 6 to 12 lbs (newborn to 3 months of age).
- One-size diapers are typically too bulky for newborns. Yet, newborns outgrow newborn-size diapers very quickly. So to avoid spending too much money, most moms recommend buying cheap newborn diapers and covers and later investing in good quality one-size diapers to last through potty-training.
- When your child starts sleeping through the night (usually around 5 to 6 months), you’ll need to purchase diapers exclusively for nighttime use. These diapers are usually thicker to absorb more. There are different types of diapers you can purchase, but fitted style diapers are the most highly recommended. You’ll need to purchase a PUL, fleece or wool cover to go over them.
Newborn to 3 months
Buy 24 to 36 flat, prefold or contour diapers (these diapers are super cheap – i.e. less than $6 per diaper)
Buy 6 to 9 cloth diaper covers to go over the diapers
3 months to potty-training
15 to 20 one-size diapers
3 to 5 one-size diaper covers (only necessary for flat, prefold, contour and fitted diapers)
2 to 3 fitted diapers for nighttime (preferably made from hemp or bamboo)
2 to 3 generously sized diaper covers to fit over the nighttime fitted diaper (covers should be made from PUL, fleece or wool)
What else do I need to buy?
At least 1 small wet bags for storing dirty diapers when you’re away from home
1 13-gallon plastic trash pail (aka diaper pail) OR 1 large hanging wet bag for storing dirty diapers in your home
1 diaper pail liner (if you purchase a diaper pail)
1 jar of cloth-friendly diaper rash cream (note: there are some rash creams that will stain your cloth diapers and are difficult to wash out. Be sure to check out our list of recommended rash creams for cloth diapers).
Powdered detergent (Tide is highly recommended.)
Calgon water softener (if you have hard water)
What do I do with the Poop?
If your baby is breastfed, the poop is water soluble so you can simply toss your diapers in the washing machine and clean as usual. If your baby is on formula or solids, you’ll need to remove the poop from the diapers before washing. There are 4 common ways to do this:
1 – SCRAPE: Using a spatula (or something similar), scrape the poop off of the diaper into the toilet
2 – SPRAY: You can purchase a diaper sprayer. This is a small spray gun that attaches to the water line on your toilet. It’s easy to install and allows you to spray the poop off of the diaper into the toilet.
3 – DUNK & SWISH: You dunk the diaper into the toilet water and swish it around to loosen and remove the poop
4 – LINERS: You can purchase disposable liners to place inside of the diaper. These liners catch poop and allow you to flush it down the toilet or toss it in the trash. Some moms have reported that Viva paper towels also work well for this.
How do I wash my cloth diapers?
Online you’ll find many contradicting (and some very complicated) methods for washing cloth diapers. Below is a simple, tried and true method for getting your diapers clean every time.
Step 1: Do a short wash cycle (with hot or cold water) and ½ the recommended amount of detergent
Step 2: Do a full wash cycle with HOT water and the full recommended amount of detergent. Make sure this full wash cycle is designed for heavy duty washing. It may be labeled on your washer as ‘heavy duty’, ‘power wash’ or something similar.
Note: If you have hard water, you’ll need to add a capful of Calgon to each wash
Remember to wash your diapers every 2 to 3 days. Below is a quick chart to help you determine how much detergent you should use when washing.
-"Small" load, 8-12 diapers (1/3 scoop)
-"Medium" load, 12-18 diapers (1/2 scoop)
-"Large" load, 18-24 diapers. (1 scoop)
How should I dry my diapers?
You can dry your diapers in the dryer or on a clothes line outdoors. Line drying will help to improve the longevity of your diapers, however it can also make your diapers stiff and rough. To soften your diapers (in the dryer or on the line), be sure to add a plant-based fabric softener like Mrs. Meyers, 7th Generation or Ecover, to the fabric softener cup in your washer. Do NOT use other types of fabric softeners as these will ruin the absorbency of your cloth diapers.