4 Essential Tips for the Cloth Diaper Beginner

What is all this talk on the The Twitters and The Internets about going back to cloth diapers?  You thought the 1970’s were over, right?  Wrong!

Ok. Just kidding.  They are over.  Except I just bought a dress that is something my mom would have worn in ’79.  Also, I keep seeing the pants I wore to 8th grade graduation everywhere.  Anyways.

Back to the situation with cloth diapers.  The modern cloth diaper is eco-friendly, cute and economical!  They’re pretty much the hottest thing back in style since the melon chiffon bridesmaids dresses at my mom’s wedding.   I mean, honestly, who are we kidding.  There’s just not much cuter than chubby thighs and that fluffy bum.

Cloth has made a serious comeback in the last seven or so years.  The best part?   There are no pins, plastic pants or baby butt sag involved, ladies.  Nope!  Just a whole lot of cute.

DSC 0521

Right now, I am cloth diapering a five-month-old and a two-year-old.

KK Bum Genius

And guess what?

KK and Libby Bum Genius

They wear the same diaper!

Libby in Bum Genius

They absorb better than disposables.  And come in pretty colors too. (That’s the most important part, right?)

Bum Genius Elemental Bums 2

Yep, that’s the modern cloth diaper!

I am pleased to bring you a new series on the blog called “Simple Cloth.”  Every few weeks, we will be presenting helpful information about cloth diapers in simple, bite-size chunks.  The goal of Simple Cloth is to demystify all that jargon you have heard about cloth! I am here to help you find a cloth method and investment that you’ll be thrilled with in the long-term.

Simple Cloth four essential tips

Before we jump into all the details, first things first.  Here are four things I wish that I could tell every momma!


1.) Customize

So you’ve decided you want to jump on the cloth bandwagon.  Your first question (after “What do I do with the poop?”)  will probably be “What is the best diaper to get?”  It was mine too.

I’m sorry OCD people, but there is simply no right answer to this question.  It’s like asking the universe “What is the best bra to buy?”

Exactly.  It cannot tell you.  Only you can tell you.

The diaper you should buy is the diaper that fits your baby and your lifestyle.  Each type of cloth diaper has its pros and cons.  You will soon find that every mom has a strong opinion about what she likes best.  That is why you can search The Googles high and low with terms like “best cloth diaper,” only to return empty-handed.

So how can one go about effectively customizing one’s cloth diaper stash?


2.) Diversify

Diversification is the best piece of advice I received as a cloth newbie.  I also like to call it the “buy and try” approach.  I received this nugget of enlightenment from my friend Chrissy Helmer (aka the Eco Chic Mama.)  If she’s told me once, she’s told me a thousand times:  Diversify, you neurotic fool!  (I added the “you neurotic fool” part. Complimentary.)

I know, I know.   You really really want to register for a neat, matching set and check it off your list.   Forgeddaboudit, ya control freak.  It won’t work.

I suggest purchasing about three types of the most popular brands. Try them on your baby for a few weeks.  Then feel free to buy more of what you like.  My biggest rookie mistake was investing in a whole bunch of one diaper, only to find out that they did not work for us.  Later, the “buy and try” approach saved me a lot of money and disappointment.

(If you are expecting, you don’t need to have your whole stash right away!)


3.) Invest

Please, oh, pretty please, resist the urge to buy cheaply priced, obscure cloth brands.  Don’t ignore this advice.  You’ll end up losing your investment to either re-purchasing your cloth from a more reputable brand or going with disposables!  I have heard too many horror stories about leakiness and poor quality.  If you can’t find it on the first few pages of The Googles, don’t get it.  (I myself acquired a couple of bad pocket diapers once and it was no fun.)

Spending a few dollars more on a high-quality diaper still puts you way ahead on what you’d spend on disposables!  For my budget-conscious mamas, there are quality options out there for you too.

(Later I will give you a fantastic list of reputable brands to start with.  Will it be an extensive catalog of every diaper possibility known to womankind?  No.  It will be a brief list of quality, mainstream diaper brands that 85% of moms like.  I trust you adventuresome ones to branch out from there.)


4.) Simplify

Ignore the cloth drama mamas that hang out on those online forums!   Stick around here instead.  I’ll tell you all you need to know. Cloth diapering does not have to be a soap opera!  It’s simple and fun.

Are you curious about cloth diapering your baby?  Maybe you are a beginner looking for some guidance.  If not, I bet you know a mama who is!  Send them over to From Faye!

Or better yet, get touch with the cloth experts at Eco Chic Baby, the cutest little baby boutique on the West Coast!  If you are local, call and set up a Cloth 101 consultation.  I highly recommend seeing cloth diapers in person!   It takes the mystery right out of it.  The ladies of Eco Chic Baby are the cloth professionals.  And don’t be intimidated by the word “boutique!”  The prices are competitive with what you find online. Frugal Faye buys her diapers and accessories here.  The service and one-on-one attention is second to none.  (They even do cloth diaper rental packages and cloth diaper consignment!)

So what do you think?  Are you a newbie?  A cloth diaper veteran?  Veterans, what tips do YOU wish you could give all the newbies?

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  • http://www.jennibailey.com/ Jenni Bailey

    I used cloth with both of my girls. It is a great thing to do and I cannot recommend it enough. So much easier than you think, once you get into a routine. My advice: buy a LOT of diapers, way more than you think you’ll need (or else you’ll just run up your electric and water bills by washing every single day, I speak from experience) and definitely STAY OFF THE FORUMS. When I started, seven years ago with my oldest, no one I knew in real life would have even attempted using cloth so I had no choice but to hang on the forums and it was crazy. I got sucked in and had to fight my way out! And, since more people are cloth diapering now, it is way way way worse. There’s enough information available now that you really don’t have to engage with anyone you don’t want to. Some forum-dwellers are super nice and helpful but many more are….otherwise. If there was a map of the internet, all mommy forums would be labeled “Here there be DRAGONS.”

    • frugalfaye

      Cloth diapering really has become more accessible in the past few years as the community has grown! I think having a community helps SO much!

  • Sarah H.

    I’m due with my first in early December and we’ve mostly decided to go with cloth diapers if we can. I really don’t know much about them though, and we live in an apartment with the washers & dryers downstairs for all the tenants to use, so I’m not sure how well that will really work out. I really look forward to this series & getting more info & tips on using them! This first post was great! Thank you so much!

    • frugalfaye

      Congratulations! You can cloth diaper in an apartment or even do or part-time cloth…there are so many options now!

  • Betsy

    I am on my 4th cloth diapered baby, which means that I’ve been washing diapers every other day for the last 7 years. I think the best idea is that it’s not all or none. If you have a rough first trimester, you use sposies for the toddler for a while. If you are going on a big road trip for vacation, you use sposies. If you can’t figure out a way to get the baby to sleep for waking up wet, you guessed it… use a sposie. Even with pretty liberal use of sposies with my 4th (much more than #1 or 2), I still save lots and lots of money, and I still have so many less diapers going to the landfill. But I’m sane. And that means a lot. :)

    • frugalfaye

      Hey this is a REALLY good tip! I do exactly that. First trimester included! We got sposies for a trip we went on and I have been using them all week after returning…while I recover! I too, have become very liberal with sposies now that I have a second baby! I need to do another post with tips I have gathered just from other CD moms!

  • Sarah McLain

    I need more posts!! 😉 Starting out here, asking around to find out what everyone thinks about cloth diapering. We have several friends here in Georgia that I have just discovered do cloth… and now I’m finding myself considering it! Seems like they are so much easier than what it first appears to be. All of my friends here are using pocket diapers, and I’m trying to figure out if we would prefer those as opposed to the AIO. So far, the only cons I can see for the AIOs are the cost, the fact that there isn’t customizable absorbency, and I’ve read that the washing wear and tear can be worse because they are thicker and require a longer drying time… thoughts?! I’m really thinking we will want to go with the AIOs, and then maybe do pockets for the night or sposies… just not sure yet!