How to build a cloth diaper stash. This is the number one question that gets asked all the time. On Facebook, on Twitter, by email, and in person. When you start looking into cloth diapers it can seem very overwhelming. AIO, AI2, pocket, one-size, prefold, flat, fitted… let alone diaper covers! Then there are the materials used to make cloth diapers: cotton, hemp, bamboo, microfiber, PUL, wool… the list goes on and on. It can be so confusing! To make it a bit easier we’re going to run through a few of the most popular diaper styles and what’s good for starting out your cloth diaper stash.
I’m a big fan of a little bit of everything. I initially started out with 24 of the exact same diaper. I still have quite a few of them. But I’ve found over time there are different diapers that work best for different situations. Plus, not every diaper is going to fit every baby perfectly. Until you know what body type your little one has, it can be very difficult to pick one specific type of diaper. I like to compare it to shopping for jeans. As a woman I can try on 10 pair of jeans and only find 1 pair that is the right length, fit in the hips, sits where I like jeans to sit. Diapers are like that too (but not nearly as difficult as finding the “perfect” pair of jeans — thankfully!). Do you need a wider leg opening to account for chubbier thighs, do you need something that works for skinny legs and a buddha baby belly, or do you need to find a diaper for your long and lean baby. This is where trying a few different types of diapers comes in handy.
Also, you will want to consider budget. It does not matter what your budget is, you can successfully cloth diaper your baby. Finally, something to keep in mind is how many children do you hope to use the same set of diapers for. So let’s get started.
The most economical diapering method is flats or prefolds and covers. Prefolds are rectangular shaped diapers that are sewn with extra absorbency in the middle. The are often made of cotton, but hemp and bamboo are slowly becoming available. Prefolds are great for the newborn stage. Newborns go through a ton of diapers and prefolds are very economical. Also, newborns get changed really really often, so the lack of “stay dry” features that synthetic materials have are not as important. When you’re done, you can use them for anything — burp cloths, cleaning rags, dusting cloths… you get the idea. With a prefold, you do need to use a cover. If you plan on just using them in the newborn stage, plan on one cover per 4 prefolds. Bummis Super Whisper Wraps are great inexpensive PUL covers that are perfect for using with prefolds. Plus, with this type of cover, you don’t need pins or a Snappi to keep the prefold in place. I always recommend getting a dozen prefolds and 3 – 4 covers.
diapering world. With pocket diapers you can stuff however much or little you need for absorbency. You can use them with microfiber inserts which is fabulous for a stay-dry feeling, you can use hemp or bamboo which is high absorbency, you can use them with microfiber and hemp or bamboo. The pocket cloth diaper allows you to adjust absorbency however you need to. With the pocket diaper, I always recommend you think about usage. If you’re planning on using them on more than one baby, you might want to think about a sized diaper over a one-size.
One-size diapers typically fit from 8-35 pounds. However, since a one-size diaper will get used for 2.5-3 years it will get a LOT of wear and tear. If you are planning on having more than one baby, sized diapers can be an option you might want to look at. Typically, babies only really use two sizes of diapers, small and medium. With sized you don’t need to have as large of a rotation (or stash) as the length of wear is greatly reduced. Plus, if your little one is stockier or taller than what is considered average, one size may not work for your little one right until 35 pounds. It’s much like the jeans analogy above, you can have two women who weigh the exact same amount but wear two very different sizes. This applies to the cloth diaper world too. If you decide to go with a one-size option, you will want to buy a few more than you think to spread out wear and tear. I usually recommend around 6 if you are mixing it up with other diaper types. If you are going with pocket diapers 100% (or close to 100%) you will want 20-24 one-size or 12-14 sized for each size. This will allow you to do laundry every other day once you get passed the newborn stage.
Fitted diapers. Fitted diapers are amazing for overnight, especially when your little one starts sleeping 8+ hours a night. Fitteds are similar to prefolds in the sense that they need a cover, but unlike prefolds, they already have snaps or velcro attached and they are in your typical diaper shape. There is no folding or pinning required. Fitteds are quite often made of a hemp and/or bamboo combination. This allows for super absorbency which is needed for when babies sleep through the night. Fitteds come either sized or one-size, such as the Nifty Nappy Fitted. You can use different covers: PUL, fleece or wool all work great over a fitted. For extra absorbency and breathability, a wool cover is the way to go. Since these are great for overnight, I recommend 3-4 fitteds and one wool cover (an extra is nice, but it’s not the end of the world if you only have one).
Another type of diaper is the All-in-Two style. An example of this is the Flip by Cotton Babies. With this diaper system, you have a cover and an insert you lay inside. These are great because they really cut down on the amount of laundry you have to do and are less expensive than a pocket diaper. You get the advantage of a stay dry insert, but the usability of the prefold/cover system. This type of diaper is best for day time use and/or travelling. Takes up minimal space in a diaper bag or suitcase and easy to wash. If you use them exclusively for day time use, I would recommend 1 – 2 day packs (2 covers, 6 inserts per day pack).
There are a lot of diaper types out there and it can be hard to choose. Looking for a selection of diapers is a great way to help you pick which type of cloth diaper system you prefer and what diaper fits your little one the best. To wrap it all up, here is our *ideal* list for a cloth diaper stash:
- prefolds: 1/2 to 1 dozen if you’re starting from newborn. Extremely economical.
- pockets: 6ish. These are great for overnight in the beginning or for when you need a little extra adjustability for absorbency.
- fitteds: 3-4 for overnight is perfect.
- covers: a mix of PUL (if using prefolds) or one wool or fleece per 2-3 fitteds works great.
- AI2: two day packs (4 covers, 12 inserts) is the perfect amount for daytime use. You can always buy extra inserts if you need or decide you love this diaper system.
I hope you’ve found this information helpful. If you have any questions or need help planning your own diaper stash, we are always available to help!