When getting ready to stock your diaper stash, there are many things to consider. Are you diapering part time or full time? What is your budget? Will you be cloth diapering mostly in your home or with caregivers? Do you travel often? The answers to these questions will have an impact on the solution you ultimately choose.
How many diapers do I actually need?
This is probably everyone's first question when they make the decision to use cloth. Diapers can be expensive, so you want to make sure you're making the most of your investment.
Most other sources claim that 8-12 diapers a day is sufficient. I this is a gross underestimate. As a point of reference, my son uses 20-25 diapers a day. This is more than twice the figures most give for daily diaper usage. That means if I want his diapers to last without having to launder every day or two, I have to have at least 60 in my diaper stash for full time cloth diapering.
I have a small budget. Can I still cloth diaper full time?
Absolutely! If you start slowly building your diaper stash from early in your pregnancy, you can have a sizeable collection by the time your little one is born, especially if you start baby registries at your favorite cloth diaper stores or ask for cloth diaper gift certificates.
If you choose to go with prefolds, you can cloth diaper full-time for about $100. For a current price reference, I just built my ideal prefold starter kit (2 newborn Proraps covers, 3 small Proraps cover, 50 preemie size Indian prefolds, 1 infant Snappi fastener pack) for $105.50 at HeinyKing.com, and they offer free shipping for orders over $100. My son is 19 pounds and still wears preemie size prefolds. I have seen babies over 20 pounds who are still able to wear size small diaper covers, so don't worry about your infant outgrowing these too quickly. The weights given are general guidelines and every baby is different, so you may be surprised at how far you are able to go with a particular size.
For those who decide to move into the one-size or AIO diapers, starting with prefolds will give you more time to build your stash and allow you to use cloth while they grow into the other diapers.
If your budget is larger, I would still recommend starting with prefolds or contours since it can be difficult to get the right fit for a newborn in the AIOs and pocket diapers. Most one size diapers don't even start fitting until about 10 pounds. The prefolds and contours are also good to have around for those days when you put off laundry because your little one kept you awake all night.
Most covers do not come in a one size option, and some people choose not go with one size diapers since it can be hard to get the right fit. Honestly, there is no true "one size fits all" diaper because they do not fit very small or very large babies and there differences in body shape/type that affect a diaper's fit even when your little one is in the optimal weight range to use one size diapers. If this is where you find yourself and you're trying to decide what sizes should make up the bulk of your diaper stash, your baby will wear mostly smalls and mediums during the course of his or her diaper wearing days. Another option to consider if you're not a fan of the one size diapers is the Thirsties Duo line of diapers and covers. They have a nice selection of color options and are specially designed for maximum adjustability so that you only need two sizes from birth to potty training. I made a diaper cover that works similarly to the Thirsties Duo, and it is the cover that has fit best ever since my son was a newborn.
I would stay away from fitted diapers regardless of your budget because they are like AIOs but without the built in waterproof cover but not significantly less expensive. In fact, they can actually be more expensive than AIOs when you factor in the added cost of diaper covers and the fact that you can get such great bulk discounts on AIOs. With the bulk pricing of an AIO set, you might be able to get them for less than some fitted diapers. Spend the extra couple of dollars and get the AIO or save a lot with prefolds/contours and buy a good set of diaper pins or Snappis. If you're handy with a needle and thread or own a sewing machine, you can even add your own Aplix closures to your contour diaper collection if it's the convenience you're after.
I'll be covering how to choose your cloth diapers and decide which features and styles are best for you. If you haven't already subscribed, be sure to do it now so you don't miss any of this series!
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