You made the decision to cloth diaper. You decided what brands and styles you would like to try. Now a big stash building question hovers: sized or one-size?
The decision between choosing sized or one-size cloth diapers is not as straightforward as you may think. Many manufacturers have stopped producing sized cloth diapers in favor of the popular one-size option, but both have pros and cons.
One-size cloth diapers are a one size fits most option. They generally claim to fit 8-35 pounds, but most people find they don’t fit quite right until closer to 12 pounds. Also, depending on your child’s build, they might not work all the way to the top weight. Many parents choose one-size because they seem more economical. This can be true depending on if you can find a particular brand of one-size that fits your child through most of his physical development. When you purchase one-size cloth diapers, you can get away with only 20 or so diapers once your child is out of the newborn phase. This means a small investment based on an average of around $18 per diaper. On the other hand, since your child will be wearing the same diapers over and over for possibly 2+ years, your one-size cloth diapers will suffer a lot of wear and tear. They likely will not last through multiple children or retain enough value for resale. So you can invest less money in your cloth diaper stash, but your stash might not last as long as you like or through all of your children.
Sized diapers generally cover four size ranges : x-small/newborn, small, medium, and large. Some brands have wide ranges between sizes. Depending on your child’s birth size and growth patterns, you may need all four general sizes over the course of her diaper wearing phase, or you may be able to get away with just sizes small and medium. Unfortunately, you likely won’t know what your child’s sizing needs will be until you are at the end of the diaper years. Each child is different.
Since each diaper size temporarily retires when it no longer fits, using sized cloth diapers requires more money up front. As you size up, you will find yourself with quite a sizable stash. Some people choose to sell off the previous size when their baby moves up a size. This reselling can recoup much of your investment since the diapers were only used a short time and retained most of their value. You can also choose to keep the diapers for later children. Since sized diapers get less use per child, they also suffer less wear and tear. This allows them to last through several children, whether your own or through selling them used.
So which type is more economical?
Well, it is basically a wash when you factor in resale value and multiple child use. Even if your one-size diapers last for another child, you have no guarantee that brand will work well for the next child’s body type. Same with sized cloth diapers. It really boils down to personal preference. Sized usually offer a more precise fit and less bulk. One size offers the convenience of a small and streamlined stash. Also with one-size you could potentially use the same diaper stash simultaneously on two children of different sizes/ages. For many cloth diapering parents, the diaper stash is ever evolving. Trying new items and selling, or trading diapers is part of the fun. I personally use both sized and one-size for different situations.