- Other moms are probably your best resource. Just like with almost anything else baby related, it is immensely helpful to be able to ask other moms about what has and hasn’t worked for them. While it’s still true that every baby is different, in an area that involves such a large initial investment, it’s helpful to know what other moms have found useful, functional, and also not worth it. There are many websites dedicated to cloth diapering (e.g. The Cloth Diaper Whisperer, I Love Cloth Diapers, etc.) that offer advice, such as this post, but there are also online communities, with other moms, discussing all things cloth (e.g. Diaper Swappers). Take advantage of all the information available to you.
- Get wet bags for your diaper bag. I was hesitant to get one because I didn’t want to invest to much in accessories before I had all the actual diapers I needed. While you can absolutely get away without them, unless you already have some sort of washable waterproof bag, you end up using plastic bags, which then have to be thrown away, which feels like it defeats the whole purpose. Plus, unless you are home most of the time, that’s a lot of plastic bags. I love the planet wise small Art Deco one I just purchased. It’s adorable, and incredibly functional. There was also a sort of wet bag included in the Econobum kit (which comes with 3 covers and 12 prefolds), and I know I will get a ton of use out of both of them. I plan on using the larger one to store the extra clothes we tote around in case of accidents or spills, and the smaller one for the diapers.
- Don’t stress too much about the detergent. There are websites with tons of information about the different kinds of detergent out there. I was admittedly freaked out when I started. Then, I discovered that Whole Foods sells Planet detergent, and it even occasionally goes on sale. I use that for my diapers, but know that if I run out, it’s probably not the end of the world to use my Tide Free & Clear. Authorities on the matter differ about whether enzymes are helpful or harmful to your CDs.
- It is invaluable being able to see products in person, before you buy. Manufacturers maintain a list of all of the store fronts that carry their products, and there are many across the country. My first time at a local retailer, I was able to ask questions about the different kinds of prefolds, which would fit a certain child better, which was more absorbent, and make cost comparisons based on the diapers I was holding in my hands. It’s quite different than the conjecture you are inevitably forced to do online. And of course it’s always nice to interact with other human beings face to face, rather than through a computer. Personally, I would not recommend bringing little ones (preschool age and younger), because they can get into things, and distract you from being able to take full advantage of the local store. If you don’t have a physical retailer nearby, you can still take advantage of all the aforementioned information online. I have found the staff at Diapershops.com (and their affiliates) to be incredibly helpful and diligent with response times.
- Major retailers are slowly catching on. Babies R Us and Target now carry Cotton Babies, Charlie Banana, and other Cloth Diapers. I was quite excited to see that I could register for detergent, diapers, and a diaper sprayer, along with clothes, bottles, and the like for my new little one. Be aware, however, that these retailers do not (at least here in California) carry them in store. This was quite a let down. Thus, when it comes to ordering online, unless you are getting a sweet shipping deal on your other baby stuff, I would still recommend ordering from an online diaper retailer. They usually have great incentives, and sometimes samples, to accompany your order, and diaper rewards are the best!
Most of all, have fun! Everything is a process, and you learn from your experiences.
Caitlyn is a stay at home mom/attorney. A newcomer to the cloth diapering world, she has two girls, Isabelle (3.5), and Maya (almost 2), and baby brother Adam (born 5/19/11 via VBA2C). Her website is http://www.obolskytaxlaw.com.