One of the most popular things that people looking into using cloth on their kids ask us is the pros and cons of sized diapers (sm ,med, lg) vs. a one-size/os variety (e.g. , Bumgenius, Baby Beehinds, Happy Heinys). The idea of only having to buy one set of diapers is not only ideal from a convenience standpoint but certainly from a financial standpoint. We have lots of parents that come to the store with the intention of buying 18-20 os diapers and then recycling them through 2-3 or more kids, which may not be realistic. This seems like a perfect plan before thinking about some of the factors that we want to point out below.
There are several factors that influence that life of a cloth diaper. The most important thing would be your washing routine. If you read the directions for washing on most of our diapers, they say something similar to – wash on hot with a mild, additive free detergent, follow up with a cold rinse and then either tumble dry low or hang to dry (some people like to do an initial cold rinse to help with stains as well). The detergent is very important and if you need recommendations, please ask. Also, depending on your lifestyle and the size of your diaper stash, it may not always be feasible to hang your diapers to dry each and every time. Even if you plan on line drying, also plan on having to use the dryer every once in awhile when you are in a rush! The last factor is the actual number of diapers you have which obviously directly influences the number of times you have to wash your diapers per week which in turn will influence how long they last. For example - a dozen os pocket diapers that are washed every 1.5-2 days for 2 yrs are going to wear out twice as fast than if you had 2 dozen diapers and washed just twice a week (on average that is the difference between 100 and 200 trips through the washer per year).
The next thing to consider is the actual diapering needs of infants v. toddlers. As seasoned parents can attest to, the older the child, generally, the less diaper changes needed. In those early infant weeks and months, when babe is likely needing changing all the time, you will certainly go through twice as many diapers as say a 10-12 month old child. The need to change so often starts spacing out substantially as the child gets older - especially when solids are introduced. We generally recommend 2-3 dozen diapers for a newborn (or more if you don’t like to wash as often), this would be way more than one would necessarily need for an older child – this certainly lends itself to thinking that it might make the most sense to have a separate nb/sm stash of 2-3 dozen diapers and then moving up to a smaller stash of meds when the babe grows out of the smaller collection. This also would allow families of multiple and different aged children to cycle through the sizes – especially if you plan on having several children and using cloth on all of them. The wear on one set of os diapers through 2 or more children is going to be quite substantial and you could be disappointed when they begin to wear out earlier than you had hoped. Although you will most likely get quite a bit of wear out of an os diaper, it may not be feasible to expect any piece of cloth to withstand being washed every other day for upwards of 2 years. Another thing to consider is the resale value. There is a good market for well taken care of, but used cloth diapers – so if you do end up with more in a particular size than you need or if they still have some life in them once your own kids are done with them, you quite possibly could recoup some of your investment.
If you do choose to have a stash consisting mainly of os diapers, you want to make sure that it is large enough that you only wash a couple times a week and really properly care for them to extend their life. Our recommendation is that if you know you want to have 2 or more children, sized diapers may be your better choice – 2-3 dozen nb/sm, 1-2 dozen meds and some kiddies don’t even need large as they potty train before they grow out of the meds. If you are having your children close together, having 6-12 os diapers added to the mix might be good for outings and to streamline a little bit and make the diaper bag easier to tote around! Its important to make sure your expectations for any wear product is realistic – we want to make sure that everyone finds the type of diaper that will suit their family. We welcome any questions - here on the blog, by email or stopping into our retail boutique. We also have several other helpful articles at the bottom of our home page http://www.maineclothdiapercompany.com/. Thanks for reading and happy diapering :)