Buying cloth diapers is an investment but it is a fun one because they are inarguably cute, money-saving, and there are lots of choices available.
I should start out by mentioning that many people have said to me, “why don’t you sew your own Jenny?” It is a good question. I sew well and often and I chose (and would choose, again and again) to buy my cloth diapers. Buying fabric, elastic or snaps, velcro, etc. would NOT have been worth it, especially when combined with the time it would have taken to sew the diapers. If you, dear reader, can and want to sew them I encourage you but I found that it would have taken a lot of time to source the correct elastic that would be next to baby’s sensitive skin and a lot of time to cut out and sew the diapers. I worked at Joann’s Fabrics while in college (for five years!) and while I am not currently in the fabric biz I feel pretty confident that a person wouldn’t end up saving that much money if any by sewing them.
First I would encourage a new mama to read up on the different types of cloth diapers. “Changing Diapers” by Kelly Wels was an excellent resource and well worth the Amazon purchase. I chose gdiapers, and I would encourage anyone else to also, but there are lots of great companies out there and it is likely that their products are great also. I think that if you’re in the cloth diaper business it isn’t for the glamour and fame- they probably care about their customer and product quite a bit. Choose a type of diaper with confidence, dear reader!
I chose to use gdiapers exclusively but I know a few moms who have used a mix of types and brands and it doesn’t seem to be a hassle at all for them. You likely have different types of socks to sort in the wash, right? Sorting diapers can easily be part of the new laundry system.
Quantity: I would say that you need about 12 gpants (cute, colored outside part of another brand) minimum of each size. Some cloth diapers are adjustable but I didn’t use them and thus can’t speak with confidence about how many you might use but I’d bet it is about the same. I used about 12 small, 18 medium, and about 18 large. My babies are off-the-charts-big so I spent a lot of calendar months in mediums and larges. I spent very few months in smalls and my smalls are in beautiful shape as a result. I ended up buying 6 XL because my babies have gigantic thighs and the larges just were too tight. I would suggest buying 18 minimum cloth (the absorbent part, doing the same job a maxi pad does) for each size. This might sound confusing but you need 18 cloth in small and 18 in the next size up, called M/L/XL. The smalls are really little, and the next size up fits in the medium, large, and extra large outside parts.
I bought 2 dozen cloth wipes and it is handy to have that many but I could have used 18 or fewer but I believe they came in a 24 pack. They are of course useful beyond diapering and will be useful as regular washcloths when I am done with the diapering part of parenting.
Cost: Between 2 children, I have spent about 550 dollars total on cloth diapers. My diapers are in good enough shape that they easily could be used through at least one more child, if not more. I didn’t thoroughly explore buying used cloth, nor do I live in a big enough area to have a used cloth shopping option but I encourage you to check it out.
Things to look for include :
elasticity remaining in elastic
velcro that isn’t very “sticky” anymore
Velcro is actually really easy to replace if you sew even at a beginning level. Gdiapers sent me FREE replacement velcro, cut to the exact size I needed for the few diapers that needed it.
I would NOT worry about faded cloth because washing it hot water makes cloth fade, period.
Consider buying gender neutral designs. This can be a money saver for you on subsequent babies and be a selling point if and when you sell them.
Of course, 500 bucks is a lot of money in any universe. If you considering using them, you could buy the sizes you need in small and try it out. I used up all the disposables given to me at my baby shower and then switched to exclusively cloth and haven’t looked back. Happy shopping!