June 20, 2012

Long Term Cloth Diapering Tips

Great tips from a mom who has had two in cloth and is cloth diapering long term.

When I first started cloth diapering my son back in 2009, I only looked into using a one-size pocket diaper system. I bought 24 pocket diapers and never once did I stray from those 24 pocket diapers. Now as a mother of two I would have done it all differently. Yes, differently.

First off, if you’re planning on using the same set of cloth diapers for more than one child I highly recommend making most of your stash either sized diapers or fitteds with a few of covers that are both sized and one-size.

Here’s why: As the PUL (polyurethane laminated fabric – the part of the diaper or cover that makes it waterproof) is worn, washed and dried, it eventually begins to give out a little. I mean cloth diapers are long lasting; certainly more so than disposables! They aren’t meant to perform to the best of their ability forever; nothing does last forever. This doesn’t mean that the diaper isn’t good any more; it simply means that it will not function as it was originally intended. For example, we used bumGenius 3.0’s for our son and by the time our daughter was born the PUL on the diapers had already been re-waterproofed and was definitely showing its age. The elastic was also stretching out and while I could’ve replaced it, replacing the aplix and laundry tabs was drama enough for my limited sewing ability. No need to add undue stress as a new mother of two!

Because of that we purchased a new stash. I think (mind you, I’m not speaking from experience here) we might have had a different result if we had used more sized diapers or one-size fitted diapers. Why? With the sized diapers there’s less wear and tear on them. A friend of mine uses sized diapers and she’s able to use them with both of her children. When a diaper isn’t being worn from birth through potty training it has a better shot at getting through at least another kid. With a fitted diaper there isn’t the PUL that you need to worry about wearing out. Sure, if it’s a one-size diaper the chances of the elastic wearing out are pretty good; that’s to be expected though. You still have to use a cover so that would hopefully help to hold the fitted in its place.

If you make the choice to use a sized system how many diapers should you buy? Most diaper retailers will tell you that you should purchase at least 24 diapers for your stash. The reason this is suggested is because, again, the more wearing and washing your diaper goes through the more harm may be caused. The younger a baby is the more eliminating she will be doing. I’d err on the side of more diapers from birth to three or four months. Remember, a newborn eliminates between ten to 12 times each day and most cloth diaper experts suggest between 30 and 36 cloth diapers for a newborn. Then the closer your baby gets to a year the less they will poop and the bigger their bladders will be. I’ve counted and I change my 12 month old daughter’s diaper about eight times during the day. Because of that I’d probably purchase ten to 12 diapers for her age right now at this moment. The beauty, however, in using a sized diapering system is that you can wait a little while to see how many diapers your baby will need. Obviously use a little common sense and try to anticipate when your baby will need her next size so that a growth spurt doesn’t suddenly creep up on you leaving you with no cloth diapers to use.

During the nighttime, especially once your baby starts sleeping 12 hours at a time, you can use a fitted diaper with a cover. I’ve been using fitteds with my daughter now that she’s finally sleeping all night long. I like them because I’m not stuffing a pocket diaper full of inserts, prefolds or even microfiber cloths making it bulky. I’ve found that bulkiness leads to gaps and gaps lead to leaks. Fitteds tend to be more expensive and as most products go it varies from brand to brand but if you purchase four fitteds for nighttime use (which is what I use) you’ll have enough to get you through every other day or every two days washing with some to spare.

I’m not saying that sized diapers and fitteds are a guaranteed approach to cloth diapering more than once child (especially if they’re spaced out like mine are). What I am saying is that if you’re planning on cloth diapering more than one child you should look at all of the different kinds and styles of diapers. So what do you use? Have you successfully cloth diapered more than one child in a one-size system?

Elizabeth (aka Bert) is a stay-at-home-mom and contributing writer for She Thinks Media. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband, Ben, her son Buggie, and daughter Lady Bug.  When she's not trying to convince Buggie to expand his interests beyond Thomas the Train or put his pants back on she's writing about her experiences as a mom on her blog, First Time Mom (FTM). After all, Bert maintains there's a first time for everything, even if you  have more than one child! 


This was helpful. Right now I am finding Best Bottoms to be amazing diapers. They are covers with snap in inserts (no stuffing), and the inserts are sized. I'm on a size medium... the cover is re-useable throughout the day (so you don't need to buy many... 3-4 maybe more if you REALLY want to)... and the inserts have been the only thing, so far, that'll hold my heavy wetters stuff in. The cover even prevented a poop that should have exploded out the sides haha.

he's 8 weeks old...we're still experimenting, but I think we'll go with these.

I started with Newborn diapers that didn't fit him around his legs and he leaked way to much. Then OS pockets... which he leaks through the waterproof fabric (not the top or sides... it's weird).