Cloth diapering has become a buzz phrase of late but it’s interesting to think about how disposable diapers have been around way shorter than cloth. Ask your grandparents about how they were diapered and that should lead to a fascinating conversation. I come from a small town in Southern India where cloth diapering is still practiced widely so I knew I would want to do the same for my baby girl although we live in Singapore, where disposables rule.
I thought I was prepared way before my daughter Sameera was born, but it’s been seven months now and I have learned so much in this journey. Here are a few things I wish I knew or had thought more about when starting with cloth diapering.
1. Know your reason(s)
This is really the best place to start. Ask yourself why you want to cloth diaper. It could be because it’s better for the environment, economical reasons especially if you have multiple kids in diapers, your baby’s specific needs like allergies or skin types, or just because the prints are so cute.
For me personally, it was a combination of all the above but now I realize using natural fabrics is important to us along with creating less non-biodegradable waste. Knowing this earlier could’ve helped avoid a ton of purchases, which then went unused.
2. Just get started
I spent many weeks and months doing research. You know, Googling for brands, and types and designs and such. It was very overwhelming and I ended up spending way too much time on trying to learn and know it all rather than just get started with it. In retrospect, I could have easily cloth diapered Sameera right from day one rather than wait over 3 months to get started “in the perfect way”.
3. It’s okay to start slow
I get questions from many new and expecting moms who are unsure whether cloth is the right thing for them. They are not sure where to start, how to get started, etc. The best way to get all the answers is to start somewhere and figure it out as you go. I bought diapers from 9 different brands before I knew Smart Bottoms work great! I used to carry a backup ‘sposie in my diaper bag for weeks before I gained the confidence the go all cloth during long outings. I beat myself up about it but now know it’s okay to take my time with it since this journey is about trial and error.
4. Nights are different from daytime
Speaking of nighttime diapering, I was a naive first time mom who used to change her baby 3-4 times in the night even when she was 4 months old. I know, quite silly. She would wake up during these changes and start playing and I would then stress over getting her back to sleep. So it’s good to remember that for nighttime we need different solutions like boosters, stay dry liners, and maybe pocket diapers like the Dream Diaper to see what works. Some use covers with bamboo inserts which are meant to be more absorbent.
5. Each baby is different
Of course we know this but your cloth diapering routine will change a lot based on what type of “wetter” your baby is, how he or she sleeps during naps (tummy, sides, etc). Over time, I’ve come to know that Sameera is a normal wetter so I don’t need to change her every 2 hours as is commonly recommended. This is good news really. She is comfortable for up to 3 hours and there’s no need to panic over this. Point noted!
6. No one size fits all, literally
Going back to point 1, I spent the most amount of time trying to learn the different types of diapers there are and agonizing over what to buy. Maybe a better approach is to buy of easy design you want to try – say, an all-in-one design, a pocket, and a cover with inserts - to see what works better. I am an AIO (All-In-One cloth diaper) mom all the way but prefer pockets for night. It’s fine to stick with what works for you and you don’t need to try EVERYTHING. Also, what you love may not work at all for someone else and vice versa.
7. Choosing brands
The options are endless, but Smart Bottoms is an easy choice for us – organic cotton inner, super cute prints, very high quality with warranty to back it up, the fit, did I mention the prints? So adorable! I wish I hadn’t bought all those diapers that I ended up selling before I realized Smart Bottoms is the way forward.
The Smarty Pants community in Facebook is seriously one of my favourites. I have met so many amazing moms in there who are helpful, funny, inspirational, and just outright awesome. I actually wish I had joined the group when I was pregnant. You know, the same time I was madly Googling for cloth diapering info. I am pretty sure I’d have gotten into newborn cloth diapering like a pro but hey, better a bit late than never, right?
9. Support from those around you
Cloth diapering is now seen as an alternate, niche thing to do. Most people wonder why we would want to take on the extra work of washing and drying the diapers (they don’t realize how therapeutic it can be!) but also, the initial investment to build up a stash can seem like a lot. I did all of my research quietly and got my husband and mom involved only after buying a few and putting them on our daughter. They were both skeptical for many weeks before eventually coming around after seeing the diapers in action. I didn’t realize I would have to do so much education around them – phew!
So there you go. I would have done a few things differently if I were to start over but I am so grateful that I started cloth diapering Sameera when she was around 3.5 months and we are so much more confident and happy about it now.
Anything I missed? What did you learn in retrospect about cloth diapering? Leave a comment below!
Hi! I am Nags, a digital marketer, food blogger, and recent cloth diaper convert (ok fine, addict). I live in Sunny Singapore with my husband Amrith and baby girl Sameera who is 7 months old. She's been in cloth diapers from an early age and I couldn't be happier about my decision. We love Smart Bottoms and all the lovely products they make even beyond diapers. I am working towards creating more awareness and openness to cloth in Singapore and India, where I'm originally from and can't think of a better brand to get behind. If you want to say hi, please pop by my Instagram account or website.