I’ve learned a ton in the four years between now and when I decided to start cloth diapering. I never really am aware of how much I’ve come along until I start looking at my throwback posts… and then I kind of have to laugh. In a recent throwback, I had my theoretical “what I need to start cloth diapering” list.
Here’s the thing, though, the more I think about it. You really, really don’t need much to start cloth diapering. You can start small and build up as you go. I mean, really, I have a ridiculous amount of diapers now, but I most certainly didn’t start out that way.
You Can Start Cloth Diapering With…
A lot of the time, you see articles about how you need a minimum of 24 cloth diapers to start cloth diapering. You don’t. You can get by with far less. I would never, ever suggest that someone get by with far less for the entirety of her cloth diapering career, but if you are suffering from sticker shock, starting slowly is really the best course of action.
- 17 diaper changes. Those seventeen diaper changes will be sufficient for about a day and a half of newborn diapering. If you’ve got an older baby, you can get a full two days out of those seventeen diapers. If you’re cloth diapering part time, then you’ll really do just fine. You’ll have a back up of disposables if you run low anyway. I had no problems getting by with seventeen FuzziBunz diapers when I decided to start cloth diapering. In all honesty, though, it’s entirely possible to get by less if you’re truly diligent about keeping up with laundry.
- A five gallon bucket. Let’s be honest: the best way to store your dirty cloth diapers is in an open pail. You really don’t need anything fancy to hold your dirties to start cloth diapering. With a wide open pail, you’ll have less smell. Sure, you’ll need to rinse it out and maybe wash it after every load of laundry, but when you consider that those five gallon buckets are generally free, it’s very bare bones. (You can buy things like laundry detergent from Costco in a bucket that size. In fact, I use one of those buckets as the garbage can for lint and other nonsense in my laundry room.)
- A few dozen cloth wipes. You don’t have to go fancy and buy the really amazing ones from Thirsties. You can use cheap baby wash cloths from the dollar store. Or you can even make your own from receiving blankets.
- A small wet bag. If you decide to venture out in cloth diapers, you’ll need something to carry them back in. Yes, you can get by without one and just use plastic shopping bags, but that’s not particularly environmentally friendly, nor is it guaranteed to contain the mess. But you can get by without one if you need to at the start.
- A cloth diaper safe detergent. If you’re going to try to make a go with as small of a starting stash as possible, you’re going to want a detergent that will work. The last thing you’ll want to do is have to strip your diapers because they smell of ammonia. It was so awful for me that had I not wanted to hear “I told you so,” I probably would have quit. (Thank you, Rockin Green, for saving me!)
What Don’t You Need to Start Cloth Diapering?
I’ll be honest: I have these things and I love them. At this point in my cloth diapering life, I would not want to cloth diaper without them. However, that’s because I have them already and have become wickedly spoiled. Really.
- A diaper sprayer. I love mine. I would not want to clean up Eudora’s prune poopsplosion without one. But that being said… if you’re exclusively breastfeeding, there’s no need to worry about cleaning up that seedy mustardy yellow poo. It’s water soluble. Just throw it all in the pail and you’re done. You might want to consider a sprayer later, but you don’t have to have one right out of the gate.
- Flushable liners. At the end of the day, they’re nice to have but not necessary. If there’s no poop, you throw it away instead of flush it. But considering breastfed poo is water soluble anyway, it’s not necessary. (Theoretically, formula fed poo is water soluble, too… but I was too neurotic to give it a chance.)
- Microfleece liners. I love my microfleece liners. I wish that I’d started using them three years ago. But even still, though, they are not necessary. You can get by without them, no problem.
- Pail liner or hanging wet bag. Yes, having a pail liner or a hanging wet bag to throw your dirty diaper laundry in will make your life significantly easier. But it’s not something you have to have right then and there on the spot. You can make do with that
The Biggest Misconception
A lot of people think that to start cloth diapering, you have to have everything to build that perfect budget stash right then and there on the spot. You don’t. For a lot of people, the idea that you need all of these things from the get go is a huge stumbling block to the beginning of cloth diapering. Yes, a time will probably come when you’ll want all of those bells and whistles. Yes, they do make cloth diapering much more fun. However, they are not an immediate need.
What advice (or questions) do you have for someone who wants to start cloth diapering?