You get pregnant and there is a plethora of decisions to be made that you didn’t even know about before the world of pregnancy, babies, and children. One of the things that many expecting parents consider is whether or not to use cloth diapers
We all have our first visceral reaction to the idea of cloth diapers, and it’s often plagued by decades of marketing language: disgusting, time consuming, rashes, inconvenient, expensive, outdated, and more.
Don’t believe that narrative because cloth diapering is so much more than the stories of our grandmothers, the disappointment of that mama you once met, or the lack of availability at big box stores on the corner. There are so many parents around the world who have a positive experience cloth diapering. Read their stories on the Cloth Diaper Podcast, or listen to the podcast on your favourite podcast app
Cloth diapering is what you make it – and you can have a positive experience with cloth diapering with the right mindset, support, and encouragement.
What Do You Really Need to Know About Cloth Diapers
There are many fantastic resources to learn the basics of cloth diapering, but that's not this. This is what I would tell you about cloth diapers if we were two people sitting down for coffee. This is what five plus years of cloth diaper support and advocating has taught me that we really need know
Identify a reason to cloth diaper – there are many reasons to consider cloth diapering from the financial, to the health, to the environmental, to the convenience.
These reasons look different for every family and it might be easy to point it out right now but maybe it’s something that comes to you later during your journey.
Be open to learning new reasons and considering the great impacts of all the stories involved with why you want to cloth diaper. Just make sure that you are cloth diapering for you, and not because you feel the pressure of your mother-in-law.
No Right or Wrong
Everyone on the internet has their own opinion and perspective about cloth diapering – this is also true about almost everything parenting.
The first step is to recognize the diversity of the human experience and accept that there may not be an easy straightforward answer for every family. We can help point you in the right direction, suggest ideas and recommendations, but your experience is uniquely your own.
Don’t get caught up in the right and wrong of cloth diapering.
Trust in yourself
Trust in yourself, you know more than you think you do - it’s just another load of laundry and you can and will succeed at washing cloth diapers. If you can wash your partners work clothes, your gardening clothes, or the barn blankets, you can wash a load of cloth diapers.
The first few washes might not be perfect, and that’s okay. You can make changes, big or small, and keep trying again. Take it one day at a time. Or check out this simple wash routine.
Mistakes are okay
Be okay with mistakes and imperfections– finding the perfect diaper for your family might take some trial and error. Same with your wash routine. It’s okay if it’s not always perfect.
Disposable diapering isn’t always perfect either. Mistakes happen, extra laundry is done, we all diaper with a little touch of chaos.
And yes, you can take a break. Take breaks - cloth diaper part time, only on the weekends, sometimes use disposables - it's not always on and perfect.
You can spend almost anything on a stash of diapers – some families build cloth diaper stashes for a large amount of money and some build stashes for free by repurposing materials and sourcing free diapers.
The average stash of diapers is about 2-3 days before washing, and this will cost about $350-700 Canadian for new diapers depending on the style, brand, type that you choose. If you’re looking to shop for cloth diapers, check out these retailers and brands, which includes information about other Canadian retailers.
If cloth diapers are out of your budget, and you need some support, check out Cloth for a Cause – Northern BC. Pearl provides cloth diapers to families around Vanderhoof and Prince George at no cost. There are diaper banks around the country that support families in accessing both disposable and cloth. They may be hard to find but you will find them
Just start cloth diapering
Stop researching and just do it - as a cloth diaper blogger and author, I will tell you that you can spend years researching cloth diapering and still not feel like you have the most perfect best answer for your situation.
The best way to cloth diaper is to just start doing it. Stop reading blogs, pinning, picking up books, and scrolling the Facebook groups and just do it. You’ll get overwhelmed with all the different answers and ideas that contradict each other – the only way to know is to do.
Seriously, don’t even buy my book, just buy some diapers and do it. Okay, maybe you should buy my book, it’s a great starter guide to cloth diapering that’s simple and without judgement. I’m not about rules.
Find a support team
Find a support team - maybe it’s a best friend who knows how to listen and problem solve, or maybe it’s a cloth diaper retailer you bought your stash from, or maybe it’s a cloth diaper parent on Instagram, but have someone that you can go to and find support from. The world will feel like a lot of naysayers, but it doesn’t have to be. Surround yourself with people who love what you are doing and want you to continue. Don’t forget you can say no, unfollow, and block.
This isn’t a Cloth Diaper 101
I know, because I’m tired of writing cloth diaper 101. If you’re looking for one, check out this guest post I wrote for Northern BC Moms.
By the time I get through every type of diaper, every textile, it’s too much and people feel more confused than when they started. You can download this handy dictionary guide here if you need. I want you to know how to take every blog, YouTube video, and conversation and turn into the needed motivation to get going.
If you want to learn to cloth diaper check out my cloth diaper book with over 200 pages of diagrams, definitions, and simple to explain language. It’s currently available on Amazon, but hopefully it will come to more retailers and bookstores in the future.
I also encourage you to check and see if there is a cloth diaper retailer or service near you. Retailers often offer free online classes, have in person demo’s, and the patience to walk through the cloth diaper styles and brands with you. They want you to succeed at cloth diapering. They are few and far between.
Creator at the Cloth Diaper Podcast
My name is Bailey Bouwman, and I’m a mom of two living in Prince George, BC, and a Cloth Diaper specialist and educator. I even wrote a book on cloth diapering, which I regularly update, and host the Cloth Diaper Podcast to share stories and lived experiences of cloth diapering from around the world.