This post is geared towards those families who wish to take a simplistic and minimalist approach to cloth diapering, as I did. Retailers are going to hate me for this, but here goes….
After cloth diapering for two and a half years, I’ve seen my share of cloth diaper trends and accessories, and have amassed a great deal of simplistic cloth diapering experience. If you view cloth diapers as pee and poop catchers (that will save you money in the long run), and wish to take a minimalist approach to cloth diapering, this piece is for you.
I entered into cloth diapering with the primary goal of saving money. Having moved for my husband’s job, I found myself unemployed and pregnant; finances were incredibly tight on our single income, and I was determined to make it work. Having been cloth diapered myself, I chose prefolds and covers (one of the most inexpensive and easiest ways to cloth diaper) to begin our cloth diapering journey.
I avoided gimmicky cloth diapering non-essentials, and was able to create a cloth diaper setup for around two hundred dollars. Over time, after being an active member in the cloth diapering community, I added items here and there. Two and a half years of cloth diapering later, I still don’t have a lot of unnecessary items in our nursery and haven’t missed not having many of the accessories available on the market.
If you’ve found yourself asking, Do I really need this?, the short answer is [likely] no. Let’s take a look at a few cloth diapering accessories people commonly ask if they really need.
I have cloth diapered for two and a half years without a diaper sprayer, and I’ve never missed not having one. Diaper sprayers add an additional [unnecessary] step to what can [and should] be a simple routine. I have diapers that have been in rotation for over two years and they still look and smell as fresh as the day I purchased them. I’ve never sprayed, bleached, or soaked these diapers and they are stain and smell free. Apart from using a wet pail for my newborn prefolds, spraying and soaking diapers have not been a part of my cloth diapering routine; simplicity, remember?
If you are concerned with removing solids from your diapers, or avoiding stains (I HATE stained diapers myself), I suggest using fleece liners. Not only does this alleviate the need to keep purchasing disposable liners, but you can make them yourself very inexpensively. Solids typically don’t stick to fleece, allowing you to ‘plop’ them into the toilet after diaper changes, and those pesky, sticky messes are easily taken care of by removing the fleece liner and swishing in the toilet.
It stands to reason that if you don’t own a diaper sprayer, then you’ve no need for a spray shield or collar. If you do choose to get a diaper sprayer, you can clean your diapers just fine without adding another item to further complicate and clutter your cloth diapering routine.
A second item in this category are Diaper Dawgs; mitts for handling your cloth diapers.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: cloth diaper laundry isn’t terribly complicated, nor do you need ‘special’ detergents. This is a much debated topic, but I can tell you that I used homemade detergent without any issues, switching to mainstream detergent once my son’s pH changed [at around one year old]. Many manufacturers require you to use cloth specific detergent, so as not to void your diaper’s warranty; I’m not here to tell you that you should void your diaper warranties, but I will say that I’ve only ever had one ‘defective’ diaper, out of the 100+ I’ve owned in over two years, and the issue was due to a defective batch of PUL, not my washing routine. Again, if finances are an issue, or you are not interested in investing a lot of your hard earned money into cloth diapering, skip the expensive cloth diaper detergents.
My own experience with cloth diaper detergents has not been a positive. I have the hardest water I’ve ever come across (we’ve had lime and calcium streaks on our stainless steel fridge from our water and ice dispenser) and I found that I had stinky and funky smelling diapers after 3-5 weeks of cloth diaper detergent use. Many people have had positive experiences with cloth specific detergents, so weigh your options, test your water, and choose what works best for you.
If finances are tight, you do not have to purchase a wet bag to successfully cloth diaper. I’ve used grocery bags many times in a pinch and they worked just fine. If you do want to add wet bags to your cloth diapering routine, I would suggest purchasing two medium-sized bags, so that you have one readily available while the other is in the wash. If you have more than one child in diapers, have a baby in daycare, or are using a hanging wet bag in lieu of a diaper pail, I would recommend having more than two wet bags at your disposal. Check out these fun Smart Bottoms wet bag prints!
Wool is amazing to cloth diaper with, but so many people avoid wool because they think it’s complicated and involves a great deal of maintenance. Guess what? It doesn’t. Paired with an incredibly absorbent fitted diaper, wool covers can be an effective, natural nighttime cloth diapering solution. If you’re dedicated to using wool, I would suggest having two covers so that you can alternate when washing. When used in rotation, you need only hand wash your wool covers every 2-3 weeks.
Many cloth diaper retailers sell all manners of wool wash and lanolin products, but the truth is that you need only use a mild soap to hand wash your wool covers (whatever baby wash you use should work). Do you need to purchase expensive lanolin? Absolutely not! I had half a tube of lanolin left over from my early breastfeeding days (Lansinoh), and that tube got me through our wool diapering just fine! I’m all about resourcefulness and reducing waste.
I’ve used cloth wipes from the very start, as they seemed more economical and just, well, made sense to use with cloth diapers. I used a wipe solution in the beginning (one my midwife recommended), but ditched the solution for plain old water once my wipes began scorching in the wipes warmer. Unless you feel absolutely compelled to wash your little one with soap after each diaper change, ditch the expensive diaper sprays and stick to water (or a homemade solution). I’m including my midwife’s wipe solution below (this is GREAT for clearing up diaper rashes):
While most one-size diapers don’t fit babies until they hit the 8-10 pound mark, this doesn’t mean you need to invest in expensive newborn diapers (that you’ll be using for a grand total of 1-2months). Flats, prefolds, and fitteds are inexpensive options to get you through the first couple of months without breaking the bank. Sized covers are a fraction of the cost and can be reused for multiple diaper changes (excepting blowouts, of course). Save yourself the trouble [and the money] and skip newborn diapers.
For all of you seasoned cloth diapering folks, what accessories (if any) did you find you did not need once you began cloth diapering?
Wondering what cloth diaper accessories I find an absolute must? Check out this post HERE.
DISCLAIMER: The suggestions and advice I share in this piece are from my own diapering experience and are my opinion alone. What works for one person may not work for another, and ‘one size fits all’ is not always the best approach, especially when it comes to wash routines. This article is meant to help families, new to cloth diapering, develop a simplistic cloth diaper routine, and help them disseminate the plethora of accessories offered on the cloth diapering market.
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