cloth diapering my now seventeen-month-old son, Sullivan, a litle over a year ago. What started out as an attempt to rid him of horrible diaper rash created by disposables has becoming an all-consuming obsession. As odd as it seems, cloth diapering is now a huge part of my life. I write about it. I dream about it. I stalk diapers on second-hand sites. I have become good friends with many cloth diaper company owners and fellow cloth diapering mamas. Choosing to use cloth on my son's bum has been one of the best parenting decisions I've made. It's also one big, endless learning experience. I've dealt with every stone cloth can put in my path: leaks, rashes, ammonia stinkies, empty PayPal accounts, and occassionally having to explain to my husband why I absolutely, positively, NEED that new diaper RIGHT. THIS. MINUTE. But through it all, I've been able to help other mamas on their paths to choosing cloth. Through my trials, I've developed a few rules that help guide me with my cloth journey.
1) Nothing is a rule is cloth.
I know, confusing, right? Here I am, laying out my rules, only to tell you there are no rules! But it's true. What works awesomely for one mama is going to be a disaster for you, and vice versa. Some things, you have to figure out as you go along. Read reviews, read blogger's opinions, and talk to other moms about what works for them. However, in the end, remember that cloth is a "to each their own," adventure.
2) Don't purchase an entire stash of one brand of diapers...unless you're 100% positive you will always love them no matter what.
A second half of this rule could be, "Don't sell off any of your diapers unless you're 100% positive you'll always hate them." I started with an entire stash of Grobaby diapers, only to find out they didn't work for us. I read reviews. I researched. I went with what I thought was the best brand for us, and I was wrong. So I had to sell off every one of those diapers in order to rebuild my stash. It was a pain in the heiny. On the other end of the spectrum, I can't tell you the number of times I've sold a diaper I just didn't think would work for us, only to find that a few months later, it would fit my son perfectly. Children grow and change, as do their diaper needs. What works for you in the beginning is probably not going to work at two years into cloth diapering. So keeping a variety of diapers in your stash is a great way to ensure you always have what you need to diaper. You don't have to spend a fortune. Having some prefolds, a handful of All-in-Ones or pockets, and a few fitteds and covers won't cost you a ton, especially if you look for good sales and second-hand diapers. But a bunch of different types of diapers will keep you from having to desperately search for a nighttime solution because your old stand-by suddenly fails.
3) Be careful with second hand purchases.
I love buying diapers second hand. I can give new life to a diaper someone else previously loved. More often than not, I end up with a high quality diaper at 50-70% the cost of retail. But sometimes, I get a real dud. The problem with second hand is that the seller determines the condition. "EUC" or "Excellent Used Condition" can mean a wide spectrum of diapers depending on who's deciding. Be sure to read the seller's feedback. Be sure they use tracking and delivery confirmation. Always pay with PayPal to keep your money safe. And have fun!
4) When you find a great wash routine, STICK WITH IT!
It's so easy to be lured into the world of cloth diaper detergents. Many work-at-home-mom detergents are proclaimed as the best for your diapers. To some people, Tide is the enemy and must be avoided at all costs. To others? Tide is the only thing that works. Enzymes must be used. NEVER use Enzymes! Everything you read is going to be conflicting. Ultimately, you have to figure out a routine that will work best for your diapers and your water. If you ever move, you'll have to figure out a whole new routine (possibly). You may end up with ammonia or stinkies at some point. Remember these basics; it's better to use too much detergent than too little. Build-up is not as bad as not removing nasties from diapers. Rinse, rinse, rinse. An occasional stripping does everyone some good, and sun is your best friend. After that, anything goes. Once you find what works for you, don't change your routine until you experience problems. Otherwise, you'll end up with diaper issues, and it can be too hard to pin point your problem.
5) Don't give up.
Even the most experienced cloth diaper mamas and dads run into issues here and there. It can be so frustrating when you just can't figure out what your problems are with cloth. Maybe night and naptime diapering is a struggle. Maybe your little one has gotten yeast or heat rashes. Maybe you're dealing with leak or repelling problems. Just remember, mamas that use disposables deal with problems, too. Every time your child grows, you'll going to have to make adjustments. Reach out to the cloth diapering community. There are thousands of moms and dads that would love to help you solve your problems. It may take a little while, but more often than not, the problem is a simple one with a simple solution. Once it's solved, you can enjoy a fluffy bum again!
Sally is a full-time SAHM of a seventeen-month-old son, Sullivan. She is married to an Army Officer, and they are currently expecting child number two due in August. You can check out Sally's writing and cloth diaper reviews and giveaways at Exploits of a Military Mama.