This is a guide for what you will want when using pocket cloth diapers.
How many diapers:
We recommend having at least 24 diaper changes, this means 24 inserts and the number of covers with vary depending on how you are using the inserts. In the beginning 24 changes will be laundry every two days and when baby stops pooping all the time laundry can be stretched to every three days (if you would like).
If pinning your insert on baby or using fitted inserts you will only need 8-10 covers for the newborn phase, 6-8 for when baby is older. If folding and placing your insert inside your diaper cover you will need more covers, closer to 10-12 for the newborn phase and about 8 for when baby is older.
The most common inserts used with diaper covers are prefolds, flats, and fitted diapers.
Prefolds are several layers of cotton fabric sewn together. They can be folded into a rectangle and placed inside the diaper cover or they can be pinned on baby. They are available in several different sizes. Basically, the bigger the prefold the more absorbent it will be. Although prefolds are available in newborn sizing many started with the infant size. The benefits of prefolds are they don't need much folding, they are durable and can be used for more than just diaper inserts (change pad, burp cloth, etc). A downside is they can take a little longer to dry because of their multiple layers and also that you will probably need to purchase more than one size while diapering your baby.
Flats are like your Grandma's diaper, they are one large piece of fabric you fold into the shape you need. They can be folded into a rectangle and laid inside the diaper cover or they can be folded and pinned on baby. The benefits of a flat are you can fold them in man different ways, making a large piece of fabric fit both a little baby and older baby and they also dry quickly. A downside is they require more folding than other inserts and can be intimidating when learning how to pin them on baby.
Fitted diapers are an absorbent diaper already in the shape of a diaper. They have elastic around the legs and hips, making it very good at keeping all the pee and poop in the fitted and off your cover. Fitteds are more expensive than other types of diaper inserts so many people will use them along with other inserts, using their fitteds for overnight, naps or other times when the diaper needs to be more absorbent. They also tend to take longer to dry because of the multiple layers of fabric (which is what makes them so absorbent).
As baby grows you might want some boosters. A booster is not enough to absorb a full diaper's amount on it's own but is good to give your existing diaper a little more. If the diapers you have work most of the time but you sometimes get leaks at nap time or during long car rides a booster would probably be all you need. If your diapers are very wet when changed and leaking the majority of the time you probably want to get more absorbent inserts.
To Pin or Not To Pin
Pinning an insert on baby is not as hard as it sounds, especially because you don't have to use diaper pins! Although we do sell diaper pins most customers prefer to use Snappis. They work similar to a tensor bandage clip, with little teeth that grip onto the diaper fabric but don't poke through to your baby's skin.
Pinning on the diaper insert does add an extra step but it will help keep your diaper covers clean, keeping more of the pee and poop on only the insert. It can also help make diapers not as bulky, because the fabric is spread around baby instead of folded down the middle.
There are size 1 and size 2 diapers available for diaper covers. Size 1 diapers will fit approximately The benefit of sized diapers is you will have a smaller diaper for a small baby which can give a better fit. Another benefit is they tend to last than one size diapers because you are using different covers as the baby grows, instead one set of covers the whole time. The downside of sized diapers is needing to purchase more covers (although most parents find they don't need as many size 2 covers as size 1 because baby's start going less often as they get bigger).
Size 3 diapers are also available and fit from 40-65+ lbs.
Storing dirty diapers:
There are two main options for storing dirty diapers: A diaper pail or hanging wet bag.
When using cloth diapers you do not need a fancy diaper pail. Your diapers will not be staying in the pail long enough to get smelly, unlike disposables which would usually be there for a week. Many people use a garbage can with a lid that opens with a foot petal and line it with a reusable pail liner. Another option is to use a hanging wet bag, attached to a towel rod, change table or wherever is convenient for you.
Both reusable pail liner and hanging wet bags can be washed along with your diapers. Many people like to have two, so one is in the laundry and one is being used.
Smaller wet bags are great for storing diapers while out and about. They are also very helpful for swimming lessons, storing soiled clothing, etc.
Wipes and creams
You may like using cloth wipes with your diapers. It can be easier to just put everything in the laundry together and it eliminates one more disposable item. You can wet the cloths with water or use a pre-mixed cloth wipes spray.
For creams you want to stick with ones that are cloth safe. All the ones we sell are made with natural oils, making them safe for cloth diapers. Creams that have zinc or vaseline will be absorbed into the fibres of your diaper and make them repel water, the opposite of what we want our diapers to do!
When choosing a detergent for washing your diapers you want to avoid fabric softeners and optical brighteners. These can both lead to your diaper repelling liquids, which is not what you want. All detergents we sell at the store are safe to use with cloth diapers.
We recommend washing every 2-3 days so your diapers aren't sitting too long. The longer dirty diapers sit around the harder it is to wash everything out.
Ideally when drying diapers the covers are hung to dry, this helps the elastics last longer. If needed they can go int he dryer but low heat is recommended. Diaper inserts, wet bags, pail liners, and cloth wipes can all be put in the dryer or hung to dry, whatever works best for you.
What about the poop?
The question everyone seems to have about cloth diapers!
If baby is breastfed you don't need to worry about their newborn poop because it is water soluble and will wash out completely in the machine. If you wish to give it a rinse off into the toilet first you can but it isn't necessary. If baby is eating formula you will want to rinse baby's poop into the toilet before washing.
When baby is bigger and eating solids their poop changes and will need to be removed from the diaper before washing. You can use a diaper sprayer attached to your toilet. You can also use disposable liners as the last layer between diaper and baby to catch the poop and remove it (we don't recommend flushing disposable liners). Another option is to use a reusable fleece liner as the last layer between baby and diaper. You wouldn't dispose of the fleece liner but it is easier to remove the poop with the use of the liner and means you don't need to rinse as much off before doing laundry.