I do, on average, two cloth diapering workshops per month in and around the Washington, DC Metropolitan area in an attempt to be more accessible to potential new clients who are interested in learning more about cloth diapers and are confused with the information overload online. Sometimes after I'm finished explaining about the different types of cloth diapers, and demonstrating how to fold a prefold, and displaying the different types of diapers I carry in my online store, I get this: "Ok Lee-Ann, just tell me what to get!" Alrighty, that's kinda hard because cloth diapering can be such a subjective thing. There are so many variables involved. Every baby is different, every parent has their separate likes and dislikes, every washing machine washes a little differently, so how can I really tell my clients "Get THIS"?
Well, here's what I've come up with. Besides the fact that there are literally dozens of cloth diaper manufacturers out there, and cloth diapering moms can be so fanatical about the brand that THEY like, which is usually what their friend recommended, or based on aggressive online marketing. This is what I think a new mommy needs to be officially ready to cloth diaper their baby:
- Prefolds: you know, as a business person I may appear foolish for recommending this because it is the cheapest diaper out there, so how can I be successful recommending this? The truth is, I'm more of a cloth diapering advocate than a business-woman. I want to make sure that my clients are satisfied, and reap the financial benefits of cloth diapering. So, prefolds are great for newborns because prefolds are more customizable, which is great for their skinny little legs. Prefolds are a cloth diapering staple that can be used as burp cloths or doublers once your baby outgrows the infant size by about months 4-6.
- Covers: if you're going with prefolds, you'll need some covers. 1 cover to every 4-6 prefolds or fitteds. There are a myriad of covers out there. How do you choose? For the first 4 to 6 months, velcro covers will suffice. Velcro does wear out faster than snaps, but, you won't be using the small sized covers for very long. And, you can get some cheap covers for the same reason - just as effective for less.
- Pockets: Pocket diapers are great for daytime, but especially for night-time, or if you have a heavy wetter, so, from 6 months onwards, add a few pocket diapers to your stash for night-time. One-Size pockets will work fine because by about 9 months or so they won't look as bulky on your baby as when they were newborns.
- AIOs: These are great for a day out, or if your baby is in daycare. So, depending on your situation, you may need just a few for the weekend outing with baby, or a ton if your baby is in a daycare facility that allows cloth diapers.
- Fitteds: If you're a stay-at-home mom, using fitteds with covers is a great alternative to the AIOs. Fitted diapers also cut down on your drying time.
Stay-At-Home Moms: If you're just starting out get about 16-20 infant-sized prefolds, 4 fitted diapers (try getting 4 different types to get an idea of what you may like) 4 small velcro covers, 3-4 small AIOs for a day out. As your baby gets older you can add about 4 one-size pocket diapers for night-time, and by then you would have figured out if you have a preference for AIOs, fitteds, or prefolds, and you can augment your stash accordingly for your growing child.
Working Mom: If your baby will be in a daycare that accepts cloth diapers get about 16-20 One-Size AIOs and about 4 one-size pocket diapers for night-time and your stash will be complete.
Don't be afraid you're not going to choose the right brand, they all work, and once you find a brand YOU like, you'll be the fanatical cloth diapering mom recommending your favorite brand to your friends :)
And let's not forget the accessories. Must haves include: Snappis, Rockin' Green detergent, hanging wet bag or diaper pail, wet bag for on-the-go & diaper ointment. As your baby gets older you'll want to a diaper sprayer and/or biodegradable liners to manage the poop.