If I could cloth diaper all over again…wow, what a question! I have a truly excessive cloth diaper stash, especially for just one baby (but there’s another one due in November…that makes it okay, right?). I have co-op diapers and name brand diapers and work-at-home-mom made diapers. I have prefolds and covers, fitteds (though mostly fleece fitteds, worn coverless, around the house), pockets, and all-in-ones. I’ve tried sized diapers and one-size diapers…and a huge newborn stash of all sorts of different things for our new little addition.
And I have to say that if I were to start all over again, I would do it much the same way. I would try out a few work-at-home moms with decent prices, decide which ones worked for us and which ones didn’t, and stick with the ones that did (and sell off the ones that didn’t). I would try the big name-brand diapers, figure out which ones were worth the price and which ones were more trouble than they were worth, and again, sell off the ones that I didn’t particularly like. I would try out the cheap China diapers, because there’s no cheaper or easier way to stretch your diaper stash when you’re first starting out. Some of that testing has to take place with every new baby, because different diapers fit differently for different kids. The diaper that is absolutely perfect for my son might not work for another child—even the daughter we have on the way. The diaper that barely works for him might be perfect for another child. I’ve seen this even as Little Man has grown and changed.
On the other hand, if I had to start over from scratch with his stash, since I already know what works for him and what doesn’t, my opinion would be a bit different.
The budget stash. If I were to start all over again from square one on a tight budget, I would design it like this:
Prefolds. Depending on your baby’s size, you’ll have to judge which size prefold to get—but if I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t buy anything bigger than a medium. They trifold beautifully into most standard covers, and they aren’t too bulky. I’d pick up two dozen of these to make up the bulk of my stash, because I’ve discovered that prefolds and covers are easier than pockets for just sheer pull-out-of-the-dryer-and-go value. (Around $50-$100 for two dozen, depending on your brand of preference)
Covers. Five or six would be more than sufficient. There are plenty of brands out there; again, this is a case of “choose what will work best for your baby.” (Around $12-$20 each, for a total of less than $120 for a half dozen)
Pockets. I’d pick up six Kawaii Goodnight Heavy Wetters for overnights and the diaper bag. You only need two for overnights, three if you’re being conservative (eventually, baby is going to poop in that overnight diaper!), but prefolds and covers are intimidating for a lot of caregivers, so having pockets on hand will make changes easier for them. ($11 each; $66 for half a dozen)
The not-so-budget stash.
Prefolds. Yep, I’d still have two dozen of them. I mean it when I say I would cheerfully and happily use prefolds over pockets a lot of days. Pockets come in more fun colors and patterns; covers are easier to use. Plus, in my experience, there are fewer wicking issues with a trifolded prefold in a cover, because all of the absorbent material is well-contained by the PUL…but that may be a personal thing. (Still around $50-$100 for all of the above.)
Covers. Prefolds are kind of useless without them, right? If I were on a semi-limitless budget, I’d have more like ten of these, just for variety/ease of use. ($12-$20 each, for a max of around $200).
Pockets. Pockets are for diaper bags, overnights, and ease of use—I’d have at least a dozen in my stash. ($10-$20 each, for the most part, so around $120-$240)
AIOs. This is the one that would really eat my budget. For sheer ease of use, AIOs can’t be beat. However, they’ll also eat the budget in a hurry, and you have to have more of them because of a longer drying time. If I had it to do over again, especially with what’s soon to be two in diapers, the bulk of my stash would be made up of all-in-ones just because they’re so much easier to deal with. No inserts to pull out; no stuffing to do; and you can always add absorbency as needed. Realistically speaking, my toddler goes through between six and eight diapers per day, and I wash every other day to every three days; Thirsties all-in-ones take at least two days to line dry, so I’d need a total of five days’ worth of diapers to make this my primary diapering method. An average of seven diapers a day times five days is thirty five all-in-ones (though diapers with separate inserts dry better and faster, and drying in the dryer would cut this time significantly). Mixing and matching with the other methods above would also cut this number. ($15-$26 per diaper; $525-$910 for 35)
Fitteds. Fitted diapers are great to have on hand for rash days (air baby out without having to clean up the floor!) and for overnights for heavy wetters. Some of my favorite fitted diapers come from work-at-home moms, but there are some great name brands out there, too. I’d have half a dozen of these in my stash for those days when baby just needs some air (or hot days, especially when we’re at home). ($10-$25 per diaper; $60-$150 for six)
Keep in mind that the “high” number is having the maximum number of all of these (including a more-than-generous stash of all-in-ones), and that even at these numbers, there are still some serious savings over using disposables. Cloth diapering (obviously) doesn’t have to be expensive; it can also be a lot of fun! (Or, it can become an addiction, and you can hunt down new prints, new patterns, new types of diapers, until you spend far over that budget….)