Cloth Diapering: Starter Stash

Friday, August 13, 2010

I think I've mentioned in passing how we're planning to cloth diaper our baby. But I know I haven't gone into much detail, and since there are at least a few of you who are curious about it, I figured I'd post about our choice and, eventually, our experience. So, this is just the first in what is sure to be a series of posts about cloth diapering.

The Decision
In the past, I never, ever would have thought that I would cloth diaper. But enter the internet, and well... you end up finding out and researching things that you never would have considered on your own. Even before we got pregnant, I saw cloth diapers discussed on numerous blogs and message boards. Once I learned about all of the different types of cloth diapers available these days, I was intrigued. However, I brushed it off as something that I would love to do if I were a stay-at-home mom, but not something I would be able to handle as a working mother.

Then, I kept reading about all these working mothers who were successfully cloth diapering--all of these "CDing" parents who swore that it's really not that much work. So when we found out we were pregnant, I started slowly doing some more research to see if it was something we should consider. The biggest thing, however, was approaching the subject with Michael. I was sure that he would immediately tell me how ridiculous I was being and I'd be knocked back into my sensible world where disposables were the only option.

But then I mentioned it. I told him about the pros and the cons, and my reasons for wanting to do it (money savings, less waste in the landfill, and more natural materials on baby's bum). And to my surprise, he was 100% behind the idea. That meant getting serious about my research and figuring out a plan that was going to work best for us.

The Plan and Our Starter Stash
Although I did a lot of research, I was still largely non-committal to any one method or style of cloth diapering. I figured that before we made any decisions and started buying anything, we needed to make sure that one more very important person would be on board with us--our daycare provider.

When we started meeting and interviewing potential daycares, we made sure to add the cloth diapering discussion to the list of questions. I knew that if these daycare providers knew how many of today's cloth diapers work, they'd probably say yes, but I feared that they would say no based on assumptions of complicated folding and pinning and rubber pants. Surprisingly, no one seemed to really bat an eye--even the daycare center that we interviewed. And thankfully, our perfect daycare provider was cool with it, too. It was a relief!

With baby in daycare, one thing was for sure: By the time the baby is in daycare, we need to be using an all-in-one or pocket diaper to make it as easy as possible on this woman. We don't want to burden her when she has other children to care for; we figured the easier we can make it, the more successful we'll be with cloth diapering. Although we know we're most likely going with a pocket diaper, and we definitely want to go with the "one-size" versions, we're not making any final decisions on brands until our baby is here and we can try out a few different ones. It seems like everyone has differing opinions on BumGenius, Happy Heinys, FuzziBunz and Blueberry, so we don't want to make an investment in anything until we know what works best on our particular baby.

The problem with the "one-size" versions of these diapers is that, although they claim to fit babies between 7-35 lbs. (so, yes... you can use the same diapers until they are potty-trained!), they don't actually fit well on teeny little skinny newborns. It seems that most parents aren't successful with getting them to fit properly until babies are about 2-3 months old.

Soooo... although the one-size, pocket diapers are our long-term solution, we needed to decide what to do for the newborn stage. At first, I thought maybe we'd use disposable diapers for the first 2-3 months. But then, I actually got some disposables at my first baby shower, and quite frankly, I was kind of grossed out by them. Don't get me wrong--I am in no way "against" disposable diapers. Literally everyone I know uses them, and I've changed many a disposable diaper in my day (have I ever told you guys how I was an all-star babysitter?). But after doing so much research on cloth diapers and making the decision to use them for our baby, it was like I just really didn't want to use disposables. Sure, we'll use them in the hospital while the baby is still passing his/her meconium, but after that, we plan to switch to cloth as soon as we can.

What's our system of choice for the newborn stage? Well, let me show you our "starter stash." These are the things that we have purchased to get us started:

Two dozen newborn-sized, unbleached pre-fold diapers from Green Mountain Diapers, along with a 3-pack of Snappis

4 Thirsties Duo Size 1 diaper covers, 1 Planet Wise medium wet bag, 1 Planet Wise pail liner

As you can see, we plan to use pre-folds and covers. This seemed like the best solution for the newborn days, and it appears that many parents are successful with this system. In fact, many parents end up preferring the pre-folds/covers over the all-in-one/pocket systems, even though the pre-folds seem like more work.

All of the newborn CDing supply lists I've seen for the pre-fold system include 24-36 pre-folds, 4-6 covers, Snappis, two wet bags, and two pail liners. So keep in mind that the above is our starter stash. We plan to add at least another pail liner and wet bag. Once the baby is here and we get a better idea of how long four covers and 24 pre-folds last us before we need to wash, we may decide to order another dozen pre-folds and 1-2 more covers.

But that's the plan! We'll use the pre-folds/covers for the first 2-3 months, until the baby can fit into the one-size pocket diaper options, and go from there. Also, we figure that this newborn system will allow us to really try out cloth diapering and get a feel for it. If we can do it with the pre-folds/covers, we figure it'll be even easier to do the pockets when it's time. And if, for some reason, we change our minds on cloth diapering as a whole, we only invested a little bit of money upfront for the newborn stash.

Other People
Let's get one thing on the record: Our friends and family think we're crazy. I actually try to avoid talking about cloth diapering with anyone at this point, because I feel like everyone is thinking, "They're so naive. Just wait until the baby is here; they'll realize cloth diapering is not realistic." Once the baby is here and we are (hopefully) successful with cloth diapering, I feel like I'll have some clout and be able to tell everyone about what we're doing and how we're doing it, so I'm sure I'll talk about it a lot more. But for now, I'm keeping quiet. When people ask, I'm generally very vague about my answers and I casually say, "We're just trying it. We'll see how it goes."

Oh, how I would love to prove them all wrong. I really hope cloth diapering works for us!

Anyway, I feel like my thoughts on the subject are a little bit disorganized and there's a lot to say, but I'll wrap this first post up and plan to post about different aspects of CDing when it occurs to me.

Questions? Interested in researching for yourself? Feel free to ask away in the comments, although I am most definitely not an expert, especially given that my baby is not here yet.

Some suggested websites to check out for cloth diaper information:
The Eco-Friendly Family Blog
Jillian's Drawers
Green Mountain Diapers

Abby's Lane
Cotton Babies

And a couple of cloth diapering moms who have posted about their experiences:
My Life in Transition
The Lewallens

(I'm sure I'm forgetting some helpful sites and blogs, so I'll add more if I think of them.)


Mrs B. August 13, 2010 at 4:55 PM  

Do you mind mentioning how much money your "Starter Stash" has cost so far? I think one of the big (possible) misconceptions about cloth diapering is that it is incredibly least that's one of the "negatives" on my list for when my little one arrives in December.

Gia August 13, 2010 at 4:58 PM  

Feel free to mail me your disposables :) We will not be going to CD-ing route, but I commend you for doing so!

Heather August 13, 2010 at 5:25 PM  

Mrs B.--How expensive or inexpensive your stash is totally depends on the method you choose and how often you plan to wash (if you want to wash less often, you obviously have to invest in more diapers).

The diaper covers ($12.99/ea), wet bag ($16.50), and pail liner ($16.50) cost a total of $80. I ordered from Abby's Lane with free shipping and used a 5% off coupon code. The pre-folds and Snappis cost a total of $56 shipped from Green Mountain Diapers. Obviously, the wet bag and pail liner will be used throughout our cloth diaper experience, well beyond the newborn stage. But anyway, a total of $136 so far.

When you're considering costs, keep in mind whether or not you plan to have multiple children. Most of the time, cloth diapers can be used for more than one child--especially the newborn stash, since it's not used for more than 2-3 months. So, for child #2 some day, our newborn stash would cost close to nothing.

Cost only plays part of the role in our decision; I'd actually be happy if, by the time our child is potty-trained, we break even with the cost of disposables.

Gia--Sorry, but we'll be keeping the disposables on hand. :) We're pretty sure our babysitters in the early days will be intimidated by the pre-folds! Haha

Heather August 13, 2010 at 5:31 PM  

Just wanted to add that when we switch to the one-size diapers, that will be a much bigger investment upfront. If we go with the BumGenius brand, for instance, the diapers are $17.95 each. From what I've heard, we should plan to have around 24 diapers in our stash. $17.95 x 24 = $430.80.

However, when you consider that our baby will probably be in those diapers for at least two years (24 months), you're talking about spending $17.95/month on diapers for your child's diapering days. Know what I mean? :)

Maggie August 13, 2010 at 5:48 PM  

I know we have never met, but I came across your wedding blog in looking for inspiration for my own wedding. And now I have been following this blog :) I am soooooo glad you are using cloth diapers!! I work at a diaper machine making plant. wow. crazy how much goes into the landfill from "testing" the machines. I have to say that when we have kids, we will be using cloth! so props to you for using cloth!! :D

A Long Far View August 13, 2010 at 6:27 PM  

I bet you guys will do great - I was talking to my mom about this and she used cloth diapers for my siblings and me 30 years ago when she didn't have nearly the options that exist now. B's mom also used cloth, so I'm pretty sure we'll end up going that route too (though I was sure I wasn't going to be a cloth diaper mom - apparently things change! And I'm not even pregnant - this is all just future research for me :) )

Christine August 13, 2010 at 7:29 PM  

Can't wait to hear about your experience Heather! I hope to CD as well - I just need to get pregnant first!!!
Did you read Young house Love's recent CD post - its a very popular topic!

MrsH120807 August 13, 2010 at 7:56 PM  

I think it's great that you are going to CD. I've done the research after reading blogs of people that have gone this route. I'm not pregnant yet but I know this will be the way we go too. I can imagine that we will get a similar reaction from friends and family. I hope you can prove them wrong!

Kelsey,  August 13, 2010 at 7:56 PM  

Thank you for posting about your decision making process, and for all future posts about CDing. My husband and I plan on starting our family in the next few years, and CDing is an option a lot of my friends are going with. I'm intrigued but want to know more and I'm really looking forward to hearing about your experience. Thanks again!

Mrs B. August 13, 2010 at 8:43 PM  

Thank you for posting the cost info! Very informative!


Erin August 13, 2010 at 8:49 PM  

Yay! Love when mamas CD! You are very brave to do them from the start. I was much too afraid being a new mama and fumbling with middle of the night changings, but I think we would have survived. I put Freddie in CD about 6 or 7 weeks and am so happy I did. We spent total of about $450 on pocket diapers, "wipes" wet bag, sprayer for the toilet, and pail (lided trashcan). And that is it...never another diaper purchase.

However, I am in the process of changing those BG to snap. The velcro won't last through 2 kids. Check out FB since they have snaps.

Have you discussed CD with your child care provider? Curious about that because when we were exploring childcare options many places wouldn't take the CD.

By the way, we have 24 diapers and could do with less. Of course we used more when he was younger but I didn't mind tossing them in the wash every other day.

Looking forward to seeing how it goes...and all the other mama adventures and initiation moments you will have!

Erin August 13, 2010 at 8:56 PM  

Oh, and btw, changing diapers is never fun, and CDing isn't really any more work or gross. I can say I love never having to toss that big package of disposables into the cart, run out and find diapers because we are out, or clip coupons or seek out deals on disposables.

You can do it!!!

Catherine August 13, 2010 at 9:38 PM  

Yay! I am so happy for this post, as I mentioned previously I was anxiously awaiting what you have come up with. Actually, we are going through the exact same experience. I too came across the CD decision through all of my blog reading and am also experiencing the "You're crazy" and "That will never work" look. So, with that being said, let's prove them all wrong!!!

Mrs. B - If you are curious, here is a more detailed cost breakdown of disposables vs. cloth.

Catherine August 13, 2010 at 9:39 PM is the link:

basebell6 August 13, 2010 at 9:47 PM  

I'm not doing cloth diapers, but I think if you are, you might be into this idea also: elimination commmunication. Definitely look into buying a baby toilet at $12 and trying it. This is a link to a girl's blog who explains it well: I guess it works even better with cloth diapers even though I use disposables. Today my 4 week old baby boy only peed in his diaper once and peed in his potty almost everytime I sat him on it. It really is amazing and trust me I was very skeptic and I am more and more amazed every single day.

Shauna,  August 13, 2010 at 9:54 PM  

Great post! I have 100% confidence that you will prove all the naysayers wrong =)

Emily,  August 13, 2010 at 9:58 PM  

I was going to mention the Young House Love post on CDing as it seems very helpful but I see someone else already has!

Erin August 13, 2010 at 10:02 PM  

ok, reread and see you haven't run into issue with childcare and CD. Wonder if it is a regional know we in the south are slow to catch on sometimes.

Stephanie August 14, 2010 at 11:53 AM  

We're expecting our little girl in January and have been leaning towards CD-ing. Luckily we have some great resources for second hand BumGenius' (my sister-in-law) which should help us keep the costs down!

What are you planning to use for a diaper pail? From my research, I see that most people use a simple lidded trashcan.

Krystie August 14, 2010 at 1:39 PM  

I love the idea of cloth diapering. Just like you, my family thinks were crazy hippy parents ( when the time comes!) but I'm dead set on it.

The amount of money you save, and not having the chemicals on babys bum is every reason for me to use them.

The number 1 helpful blog was She goes into a lot of detail about what she bought and why she did it.

I actually know quite a bit about the subject, because when we found out we were expecting in January I researched the heck out of it for days and days. So if you have any questions, I might be able to help!

Alana August 14, 2010 at 9:08 PM  

You should definitely check out covers so much about CDing.

Kelly August 15, 2010 at 7:02 PM  

I just saw this title on my friends blog list and had to check it out. We are in a similar situation, but we are actually in the "trying it out" stage - my son is a month today! We have decided that realistically we are going to do a hybrid method - mostly cloth but some regulars as well. I had and still have the same reaction from friends and family - my mom actually gets a kick out of getting everyone attention and saying "Kelly, tell them what you are planning to do with Xander" - as if thats the only thing I plan to do. BUT we are making it work. We are using kissaluvs size 0 for the newborn stage with thirstys covers, I also bought a couple of bumGenius one size and though they are HUGE on him, they still work and make me laugh! So I say good for you and give it one or two tries and it will be a piece of cake.

tab890 August 16, 2010 at 12:35 AM  

Something else to consider :) ....

Have you heard of Luvaboo's in Rochester? They offer a "trial" CD program where you can try out all the different types of CD's and see which one works best for you and your baby. I think its $15 for two weeks - she gives you all new diapers to try out, and all the supplies you need (if there is anything you don't have) - that might be something to think about when baby turns 2 - 3 months old.

It helped us to decide what seemed to work best for us, and of course for our little girl.

Adela & Josh August 16, 2010 at 11:25 AM  

Heather, I swear, whenever I read your posts I think: this girl is exactly like me. Anyway....

I have a 3 month old son and have been cloth diapering for the last month and a half. We planned to CD from birth, but quickly realized it was not ideal because we would be washing diapers everyday (even with our stash of 24) on top of the laundry we were already doing every day because our son would spit up or I'd leak milk all over him. Once our son became more regular (and BMs were more controllled) we started to CD and it has been working out great. We use Rumparooz ( You should check them out. They are one size and really do fit newborns. I have both their microfiber and hemp inserts. The hemp ones are less bulky and more absorbent than the microfiber. Both work great though. We have 24 dipes and do laundry every 2 or 3 days. Our son is also in daycare and it's really not a big deal for them. We bring the diapers stuffed, they throw them in the wet bag, and we just unstuff them before we throw them in the wash.

We also do not use a pail. Just wet bags. We use Leslie's at Those wet bags are fantastic.

Three great things about CDing are: no blow outs, less waking up in the middle of the night bc of uncomfortably wet diapers, and no pee or poo smell! Also, if you breastfeed you don't have to spray off the poo. You can throw it in the washer and it dissolves. I've never had any problems with leftovers in the tub (We have a front loading LG).

Oh and another great site to check out is It's a great resource written by a mom who is like the queen of CDing.

Wishing on stars August 16, 2010 at 10:42 PM  

Heather I think I've mentioned to you before the blog Young House Love or YHL and I see others have suggested it to you too, but I wanted to tell you too that when I first saw your blog for CDing I immediately wanted to remind you of their blog. :-)

And good for you for trying it even though others around you are giving you grief. YHL had the same issues as well and they didn't let that stop them either.

Good luck! I can't wait for you to be able to tell all your doubting friends/family how well it's working lol

Jacqueline August 17, 2010 at 2:49 PM  

Is there any way you can post more info about CDing "basics", or where you got your information?
I haven't really thought about this at all (seeing as we're not planning on kids anytime soon) and now I'm intrigued!

Heather August 17, 2010 at 6:50 PM  

Sorry, all... been busy these last few days and haven't been able to jump on and answer questions until now.

First, I just want to say how awesome it is how many of you have commented about CDing. I love that it's a topic of discussion and to see so many of you planning to do it yourselves. :)

I have not seen the post on Young House Love but I will have to check it out.

Stephanie--We, too, are just using a lidded trash can with a Planet Wise pail liner. I've heard that's the way to go.

Tab--I did not know about Luvaboo's but I will definitely check it out. We were hoping to be able to do some kind of pocket diaper trial program when the time comes, but it would also be nice to check out some diapers in person before purchasing. Thanks for the tip!

Again, thanks so much to everyone for all of your comments--the support is nice, and the extra info is great, too! :)

Jacqueline--I've mostly used the links I provided. All of those websites (especially The Eco Friendly Family Blog) have TONS of information on cloth diapering. Check it out.

Baby Momma Andrea August 18, 2010 at 9:03 PM  

Heather, I stumbled on your blog when I googled "dinosaur birthday cake" images and I am bravely going to try to make the same cake you did for my son's first birthday next week... yay!!

We've been CDing our son since he was about 1 month old. We had them from day one, but he was just too tiny for most diapers (6lbs 8oz - actually poo'd out most disposables too with those skinny thighs.) So I'd recommend getting some disposables for those first few weeks of 12+ diaper changes a day.

We diape with the one size BG3.0 and Fuzzibunz. We've been using these for about 11 months now and have been very pleased.

A couple months ago we bravely stepped into the world of prefolds, but they're just not as convienent... so we use those as spares.

Kudos to you, you're going to be so happy with your decision.

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