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My girlfriend and I just got pregnant, she is eight weeks in. I have been reading a lot about cloth diapering, and I was wondering if it is too early to start thinking about this. Here are my questions:

  1. Should I start with disposables at birth, then move to cloth when they get bigger?
  2. Should I start with cloth right from birth?
  3. How difficult is it to use at birth?

Really I am just looking for advice on this.

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In our experience, the cloth diapers (prefold + cover) simply work better (i.e., fewer blowouts). –  Reid Dec 26 '12 at 0:39
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5 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Having used both types of diapers with our kids, I found there are advantages and disadvantages to each.

Where cloth diapers have the advantage:

  • Cloth diapers are touted as more environmentally friendly
  • Cloth is often cheaper in the long run
  • Cloth is said to lead to easier eventual potty training (several cloth diaper delivery services such as Happy Nappy "guarantee" this by offering free service if your child isn't potty trained by 2 and a half years of using their diapers)
  • As per above point, services exist that will manage pickup/delivery/cleaning of cloth diapers

Where disposables have the advantage

  • Cloth diapers tend to be bulkier than disposables - this is mainly an issue for trips when you have to take several diapers (and bags to store soiled ones) with you. Disposable diapers can just be tossed in the garbage after they're soiled instead of taking them with you to clean later
  • Disposable diapers tend to have a universal "look and feel" that even non-parents pick up on quickly - depending on the type of cloth diaper, it may have several more snaps/clicks that confuse babysitters/etc (though again, this depends on the brand of cloth diapers)
  • Disposable diapers have an absorbent gel built in to help keep skin dry, so it's less of an issue to change a urine-soiled disposable diaper right away vs a cloth diaper which will stay wet against the baby's skin

Keep in mind that there's no "right" or "wrong" answer, but which advantages are most important to you (or which has the least disadvantages):

Should I start with disposables at birth, then move to cloth when they get bigger? Should I start with cloth right from birth?

For our first child, we used the disposables the hospital gave us, then used a cloth diaper delivery service for a while. Our main incentive was to reduce the cost, which they did (we kept track of how many diapers we went through, and what it would have cost in disposables). However, we switched to disposables when we started travelling a bit more and found taking the cloth diapers everywhere was too cumbersome.

We were also a bit less stressed after switching to disposables because the extra absorbency meant it wasn't a major issue to change a urine-soiled diaper as immediately.

How difficult is it to use at birth?

When we were new parents, we found cloth slightly more difficult at first, but that's mostly due to the newness of it all.

I guess overall it's not really a choice where one style is any "easier" or "harder" based on the child's age, but one where it has to fit in with your lifestyle.

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You must have found a good deal on the diaper service. We tried the local diaper service, and wound up paying at least as much as what we spent on disposables. The big savings for cloth diapers come in when you dispense with the diaper service altogether. –  Beofett Dec 20 '12 at 20:14
    
That was remarkably well put. Thank you. I figure that we will probably end up going with a hybrid plan. –  favilo Dec 21 '12 at 17:34
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We use cloth diapers for our son and mostly it's been a positive experience. Chris has outlined nicely the positives and negatives of cloth and disposable in his answer so I just want to add some advice if you do decide to use cloth.

We were given as a gift a sample of different cloth diapers from a many several manufacturers. I think there were about 10 all together each with a different style or feature. This allowed us to figure out what worked well for us and our son (and what didn't!). Some leaked more often, some were difficult to put on, some were easier to clean, etc. I think what works varies a lot between families (and maybe even within families between children!) so being able to see which diapers our son and us liked best by actually trying them out was really great.

I know it's tempting to go to the store and buy the diapers you think will be the ones you want, but until you've actually put it into practice, it will be difficult to know exactly what you want. I'd recommend trying at least a couple types of pocket diapers, a couple types of all-in-ones, a couple types of pre-folds, etc before committing to buying a whole set. As pilosodad mentions in his response, you still have a lot of time to think about it!

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It's a little early to worry about this, you have a long way to go... but there are a lot of questions to answer. One issue you might run into is whether you plan to put your child in daycare later. If you do, most won't use cloth diapers. There's a fairly large up front expense and a lot of different options for covers that you may want to look into. What's your washing machine situation like? Is there a diaper service in your area? Etc.

As far as the mechanics of diapering, they don't get easier to deal with as your baby grows! If you have the right size of diaper and cover you won't have a problem.

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I totally agree with Chris' answer: "It has to fit in with your lifestyle."

In my experience your lifestyle will probably change dramatically once the child is born. At least that's what happened to us. You sleep less and have a lot of things to think about.

So while we were getting used to the new lifestyle we simply used disposables. We weren't sure how much extra work the washing would be (and the washing service would have been more expensive than disposables...). So when we got used to our new lifestyle we started to use cloth diapers and have been using them since then except for vacation. ;)

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My wife and I used Kissaluvs (http://www.kissaluvs.com/fitted-diapers.php) Size 0 cloth diapers the day after we brought my daughter home after she had passed her meconium. I loved using them.

Since that time we've used almost every kind of cloth diaper because my wife is obsessed with them. We've got Apple Cheeks, AMP's, Bum Genius (Free Times), Flips, etc. I have a tough time with Apple Cheeks, because I have trouble with the snaps, but the AMP's, Bum Genius, and Flips are all ones that I liked.

They're a little difficult for our parents to figure out, and generally takes a few days for someone who's not familiar with cloth diapers to figure out. After a few days, I've never had any issues with them.

I would also agree that when you're travelling, it's probably a better idea to get some disposables, but for the majority of time, I would definitely recommend them.

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