Have you ever gone shopping without a grocery list? It’s not the most effective way to shop. Either you end up buying the whole store, or you forget some really vital items.
A lot of people have this issue when it comes to starting off in cloth diapering. What do I need to buy? On the one hand, you want to avoid overspending and succumbing to the latest gimmick products — cloth diapering is supposed to be simple, right? But on the other hand, you have no experience and the cloth diaper store is telling you that all these things are absolutely essential.
I’ll tell you one thing, they aren’t all essential. In this post, I’ll give you a list of what I really found to be the must-have items of cloth diapering. (Bear in mind that every family is different, and your mileage may vary.)
Let’s go cloth diaper shopping!
Where to shop
First things first: where exactly do you buy cloth diapers? This is one of the first questions I get asked, after the typical questions clearing up common misconceptions.
I buy almost all of my diapers online. They mostly come from two shops, both of which are fairly local to me in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area): Caterpillar Baby and Parenting By Nature. I love both of these stores for their great customer service and quick deliveries. ByNature even sends a hand-written thank you note with each purchase. I buy my prefolds (mostly Osocozy unbleached cotton) from Amazon.
Aside from online, I have also bought a few diapers off of Kijiji. My newborn sized GMD prefolds are technically “used” from Kijiji. I bought them when I was 37 weeks pregnant with Pippin. The woman who sold them to me was also expecting around the same time, and she had bought way too many diapers. She had already opened the package and prepped them (natural fibre cloth diapers need to be washed a few times before they reach maximum absorbency) so she couldn’t sell them as new. She sold me a dozen newborn GMD prefolds for $15. They’re $25/dozen new, which doesn’t even matter because they actually don’t ship to Canada. These are still my favourite prefolds and if I could get them more easily I would use GMD prefolds exclusively. I can’t, though, so I buy Osocozy prefolds from Amazon (which I love almost as much). You can find a lot of amazing deals on Kijiji or Facebook buy/sell/trade cloth diaper groups. If you’re buying diapers that have actually been used, follow the instructions on Fluff Love University for doing a bleach soak (don’t worry, the adorable diaper prints won’t fade) and possibly stripping the diapers (e.g. if the previous owner had washed them in not-so-great detergent).
Lastly, I have a lone diaper cover that I purchased in person at Snugglebugz. This is a great store for anyone in the GTA to check out cloth diapers in person. The selection isn’t as good as the online stores, but it’s good enough to get an idea of the different materials and diaper styles. If you have a store that sells cloth diapers in your area, they might even have a trial program: they allow you to get a variety of diapers and test them out to see which you like best before you buy your whole diaper stash.
A lot of cloth diapering supplies other than the actual diapers can be purchased pretty much anywhere. I’ll link to a product page for each item below to make it easier for you. In the interest of full disclosure, I use Amazon Associate links — if you buy a product through one of these links, I get a commission. There’s no extra cost to you and I never link to Amazon when I know there’s a better deal elsewhere.
The shopping list
Diapers and covers
If you decide to go with prefolds and covers, in the newborn stage, you’ll need about 12-18 prefolds per day (assuming you will want to change them as soon as they’re wet). In my experience, the number decreased to around 8-12 per day after two weeks. We decided that the newborn stage was too short to justify buying so many newborn prefolds, so we got 12 newborn and the rest infant sized (we folded the length down in order to fit a newborn). We have about 36 infant prefolds, mainly because we don’t want to do diaper laundry very often. We now do laundry about every 3-4 days and we never come close to running out of prefolds — which are also excellent burp cloths, cleaning rags, changing mats, bed mats, doll diapers, and so on. We have 5 newborn-sized covers
and 6 one-size covers, and we have very rarely run out of them before laundry day.
We also have 11 BumGenius 4.0 pocket diapers, which we use for going out. They’re convenient because they’re one step, as opposed to the two steps of wrapping the prefold then wrapping the cover. If we were using these full-time, we would need more than 11. I would estimate two dozen for washing every two days.
- 18 diapers per day — if you’re planning to wash every three days, then you will need 18*3 = 54 diapers
- 3 newborn-sized covers and 3 one-size covers (if you’re using diapers that require a cover)
- Newborn-sized prefolds are much easier and less bulky to put on a small baby.
- If you’re using prefolds or flats, sometimes it’s nice to have a few convenience options (pockets, all-in-twos, all-in-ones) for quick changes while out.
- Add an extra 2-3 covers to decrease the chances of running out of covers before laundry day.
- Snappi if you choose to use prefolds or flats (although you can get away with not fastening the diaper and just letting the cover hold everything in place)
- Diaper sprayer for spraying off the poop after starting solids or formula
- Cloth wipes — I’m not a fan of disposable wipes at all, and I made my own cloth wipes to use instead. If you feel that you will need wipes, I highly recommend making your own. Just go to the fabric store and buy some flannel, then cut it into 8×8″ squares and serge or hem the edges. But I found that most of the time, it was easier to just wash the baby’s bottom in the sink, and the number of times that I actually needed to use a wipe was so minimal that I use disposable wipes. I have probably used 4 or 5 disposable wipes on Merry in the last month. That’s why I’m putting this on the optional list. Again, if you feel that wipes will be a necessity for you, they’re really easy to make, or you can also buy them pre-made. You can also just use baby washcloths.
- Spray pal — Using a diaper sprayer has a bit of a learning curve. It will take a couple of attempts before you figure out the perfect angle and the sweet spot of how far to push on the button, in order to not have water splash all over the bathroom when you spray a diaper. If you want to avoid that, you can use a spray pal, which contains the spray nicely.
Wet bags and storage
- An extra large and small wet-bag to use while the first is hanging to dry
- A diaper pail (basically any large trash can with a lid) — you can line the pail using the large wet-bag, which makes it easier to toss diapers in, but it’s not necessary since you can just hang the bag on any hook
- Cloth-safe detergent — check the detergent list at Fluff Love University. You can likely use your regular detergent for your cloth diapers with no issues. Some detergents cause build-up and should be avoided. I use Tide Original liquid on my diapers.
- A clothes drying rack or clothesline
- RLR Laundry Treatment — this comes in handy if you ever need to strip your diapers (although, if you have a good wash routine, you should never need to strip your diapers)
And that’s it. There’s really not a whole lot, besides the diapers. You probably already have the detergent, drying rack, and a diaper pail, and maybe a few other things on this list.
Did I miss anything in the shopping list? Have you enjoyed this series on cloth diapers? Let me know in the comments!