Many people approach cloth diapers as if they are a force to be reckoned with and believe a pointed strategy is required in order not to fail. The truth is that it does NOT take an iron will and stubborn nature to be successful with cloth diapers.
Many people believe that they are too busy to be successful with cloth diapers. The truth is that cloth diapers don’t really require a lot of time, either. Being time consuming is a myth (but I guess it’s all relative–5 minutes means different things to different people).
The NUMBER ONE Key To Success
What is the only thing you need to be successful with cloth diapering?
That’s it. You just need to be committed.
90% of people that start cloth diapers and fail only do so because they weren’t truly committed to it. I will allot 10% to those that really wanted to use cloth diapers, but gave up due to factors outside of their control, like not having a washing machine (though there are lots of people that do handwash diapers! But I don’t blame you if that’s not your thing). People that truly have factors outside of their control are the minority, though.
Let’s face it–anything that requires even an ounce less effort than something else (like disposable diapers) will be extremely tempting to us at some point unless we are committed to whatever it is that requires the greater effort.
For example, let’s say you’re tired after a long day of work and are supposed to go home and make a healthy dinner from scratch for your family. But you know you could order takeout and give yourself a break. Unless you are dedicated to healthy, scratch cooking, you are probably going to order takeout after a long and frustrating day of work.
Maybe you’re just starting to get into exercise again. You think being able to run a 5k sounds like a great goal, but you don’t make any firm plans for how you are going to get there. You end up giving up on running a week or two after your start date.
But if you are committed to getting fit and you have greater motivators, you will make a plan, you will stick to it (most of the time), and you will stick it out when the going gets tough. If you have a week or two where your runs don’t happen for whatever reason, you will pick it up when you can and continue. You don’t give it up forever.
Commitment is all it takes to separate someone who cloth diapers all of their children from birth to potty training and someone who doesn’t.
There is a difference between deciding cloth isn’t that important to you and saying something wasn’t right for your family. Many people that give up on cloth say, “It just wasn’t right for us” rather than just saying what it really was…which was that it just was not a high priority at the end of the day.
Please know I’m not trying to shame anyone who gave up on cloth diapers. We are all on our own journeys, and at the end of the day, we all do the best that we can to keep what is important to us afloat. Some of us might find that cloth diapers were just not that important to us at the end of the day. Again, that’s absolutely okay and is your prerogative!
I just want to make it clear for those of you that ARE committed, you don’t need to worry about giving up on cloth diapers. You won’t give up because they will be a priority. That’s all it takes.
So now that you are committed, here are some other things that can help you be successful with your cloth diapers.
It’s a good idea to wait to buy your full stash until you have tried out some different kinds of diapers, but if you do buy your whole stash in advance and decide to use a certain style or brand of cloth diaper and end up not liking it, be flexible enough to try a new kind. You can always sell your used diapers in buy/sell/trade groups on Facebook or in other places online to help recoup some of the costs.
Being flexible also means being willing to try new things if something isn’t clicking with you. If your wash routine doesn’t seem to be working, you’re skeptical about the efficacy of your detergent, or you are struggling to get a good fit on your baby, be flexible enough to seek input, make a change, and try something new.
If you have a strict idea of how you are going to do things or what you’re willing to do, and you aren’t very adaptable or willing to make changes to what your vision was, you might make this harder on yourself than you really need to make it.
Get in a Laundry Routine
Get yourself into a laundry routine. If you’re pregnant and expecting your first child soon, you might as well start building that habit now.
I’m a big advocate of doing one load of laundry a day. Here’s why:
- Your loads will be a more appropriate size. Overstuffing the washer can break your washer and not get your clothes as clean.
- Folding laundry and putting it away is a much easier chore when it’s limited to 5 minutes a day rather than a laundry marathon on a weekend day.
- Your bedrooms look nicer when dirty clothes aren’t thrown all over the place.
- It’s easier to get items like blankets, sheets, towels, etc. washed when you aren’t backlogged on clothes.
Put your load in the washer in the morning, and when you get home from work (or later in the afternoon) move it to the dryer or hang to dry. If you used the dryer, it will be dry later on in the evening. Put the laundry away before you go to bed.
Alternatively, you can put a load of laundry in the washer before bed, move it to the dryer (or hang) in the morning, and put it away after work. It doesn’t really matter how you do it, the important thing is that you get in a routine.
Cloth diaper laundry is not really that difficult. Sign up for my email list to receive a free downloadable wash routine.
All in all, I spent about 5 minutes actively doing cloth diaper laundry. I do not fold or pre-stuff diapers. Diapers are the easiest laundry that I do, and I do about 2 loads of diapers per week. That leaves 5 days a week for me to wash the never ending piles of clothes, bath towels, sheets, tablecloths, kitchen towels, etc.
Pick A Good Detergent
The best thing you can do to make cloth diapering easy on yourself is to use a tried and true detergent. Check out my detergent recommendations here.
There are so many myths floating around about cloth diapers and detergents. I don’t know how it ever got popular to tell people just to use two tablespoons of what is essentially water softeners to clean soiled laundry, but alas, that myth caught on (and caused a LOT of problems).
You need to use an actual detergent, and you need to use enough to clean soiled laundry. You need something strong enough to remove urine and human waste.
Have a Support System for Troubleshooting
Most likely you will have no issues with your cloth diapers, or just a little bit of trial and error when you’re first getting started. However, it’s possible you will run into bigger issues along the way. Having a go-to support system will get you through those bumps in the road quickly!
I’d LOVE to be your support here are Rocking the Cloth. Feel free to contact me with any questions.
If you have a Facebook account, I also recommend joining a couple groups on Facebook. They are a great resource to use when you’re having an issue and need quick replies. The only thing I want to warn you about with Facebook is to not let yourself get overwhelmed.
Remember that the primary purpose of most cloth diaper groups is help and troubleshooting. That means most of the posts will be about diaper issues. That is not an accurate representation of a day in the life of a cloth diapering parent. That is just the group being used for what it was designed to be used for!
Take Breaks When Needed
Using cloth diapers does NOT have to be all or nothing! Don’t feel like you can’t take a break and use disposables at times. If you are in a season or phase where you just want to simplify your life as much as possible, don’t feel bad about choosing disposables for a while.
But just because you choose to use disposables for a little while doesn’t mean you have to give up cloth forever. Return to using cloth diapers when you feel up for it again.
Last, but Not Least…
Last, but not least, remember your WHY behind cloth diapering.
Are you trying to save money?
Are you trying to reduce household waste?
Are you trying to avoid the chemicals in disposables?
Does your baby have sensitive skin?
If you know and stand behind your WHY, you will be that much more determined to keep using cloth diapers even on your busiest days.
For more info on fail-proofing your cloth diaper routine, check out these posts:
- Tips for Using Cloth Diapers- Getting Started with Cloth
- Cloth Diapers Made Easy – How To Make Cloth Diapering Easier On Your Family
- Why I Love Cloth Diapers – Finding The Joy In This Chore
- Cloth Diaper Washing Instructions -A How-To Video
If you are new to cloth diapering, what are you most worried about as a barrier to your success? If you have been cloth diapering for awhile, what tips do you have to help others be successful? Let me know in the comments.