Welcome back to day two of the cloth diaper series. In case you missed it be sure to check out part one of the series.
There is a lot of information here and it may seam overwhelming at first. I will admit that choosing which cloth diaper to buy is a little harder than picking up a package of disposables at the store. But I promise that once you get into the day to day of cloth diapering it really is not that hard.
Today I will be going over the various kinds of diapers available to you and what you need to think about when purchasing cloth diapers.
1. Choose a Style
- Prefold & Flat Diapers with Covers – Prefolds and flats are flat, rectangular pieces of absorbent fabric (can be cotton, bamboo or hemp) that you fold and wrap around the baby and close with a snappi (piece of plastic that grabs onto the fabric and has replaced the old fashion diaper pins). Flats are larger pieces of fabric that you have to fold down to fit your baby but prefolds come in a variety of different sizes. If you need more absorbency you simply add another prefold. People also use prefolds to add extra absorbency to other types of diapers. After putting on the prefold you need to put on an outer cover. The most popular option is to use a waterproof (PLU) cover. These can open up like a disposable diaper or can be one sewn up like a disposable pull up with elastic around the openings. You can also buy fleece or wool diaper covers but be prepared to hold a soggy baby and change their diapers more often.
- Pros: Cheapest option. Easy to customize your absorbency and can reuse the covers for more than one diaper change if it didn’t get wet or dirty (meaning you don’t have to buy as many covers).
- Cons: You have to buy prefolds and covers separately. Most challenging to put on. You would probably need something else to use when your baby is with a babysitter. And your baby’s skin is in direct contact with the absorbent layer leading to a wetter feel.
- Fitted & Contour Diapers with Covers – Fitted and contour diapers are pieces of absorbent fabric that have been sewn in the shape of a diaper. After putting on the fitted or contour diaper you need to put on an outer cover just like you would use with a prefold or flat diaper.
- Pros: May be trimmer (less bulky/less fabric folded up between the legs) than a prefold. Easier to put on than a prefold and you can reuse the covers for more than one diaper change if it didn’t get wet or dirty.
- Cons: You have to buy fitted or contour diapers and covers separately. Because you have to put on two separate pieces it is more challenging or time consuming than some of the other diaper styles. Your baby’s skin is in direct contact with the absorbent layer leading to a wetter feel.
- Pocket Diapers – Pocket diapers have a layer of waterproof (PLU) fabric sewn together with a layer of microfiber fabric. There is an opening by the back waistband and you slide your absorbent fabric insert between the two layers of the diaper. Most pocket diapers come with two microfiber inserts.
- Pros: Because of the microfiber, moisture is wicked away from the top layer and held in the insert leaving your baby with a drier feeling. You can easily customize the absorbency by adding more inserts (use the ones that come with the diaper or buy extra prefolds, doublers or boosters) in the pocket. The diapers dry faster than all-in-ones because you can pull out the inserts. Easier than prefolds and fitteds to put on.
- Cons: A little more time consuming than all-in-ones because you have to put the inserts back in after washing.
- All-in-Two (AI2) – AI2’s are similar to pocket diapers except instead of sliding your absorbent insert into a pocket it lays on top of the diaper. The insert may snap into place or the ends of the insert may tuck under folds of fabric in the diaper.
- Pros: You can easily customize the absorbency by adding more inserts. The diapers dry faster than all-in-ones because you can remove the inserts. Easier than prefolds and fitteds to put on.
- Cons: The inserts may shift around. Your baby’s skin is in direct contact with the absorbent layer leading to a wetter feel. A little more time consuming than all-in-ones because you have to put the inserts back in after washing.
- All-in-One (AI1) – AI1’s are the most like disposable diapers because the waterproof outer layer and the absorbent inner layer are all sown together.
- Pros: They are very easy to put on and are preferred by people who take their baby to daycare. Moisture is wicked away from the top layer and held inside leaving your baby with a drier feeling.
- Cons: You can’t customize your absorbency and they take the longest to dry.
2. Choose a Size
- One Size – One size diapers will last from newborn to potty training. Most have a couple of rows of snaps in the front that allow you to adjust the rise (total length of the diaper or how high it rises up in the front and back). One brand has adjustable elastic in the leg openings to adjust the size. They also have several snaps or a long piece of aplix (the non-name brand for Velcro) along the waistband so you can adjust the size of the waist.
- Multiple Sizes – You have to purchase diapers in different sizes as your baby grows. They usually come in newborn, small, medium and large.
- Pros: Because the diaper is not being used for as long you may be able to use them for more than one baby before they wear out. The cost of purchasing diapers is spread out over time.
- Cons: You have to buy more diapers.
3. Choose a Closure
- Pros: Snaps are harder for babies to undo so it reduces the chance of your baby taking it off and running around naked. Some brands will have an extra hip snap that helps you get a better fit around the legs.
- Cons: Not as easy as aplix for babysitters. They may be confused by multiple snaps and not get a perfect fit every time.
- Aplix (the non-name brand name for Velcro)
- Pros: Easy to get a perfect fit every time.
- Cons: May come undone as your baby scootches along the floor and is easier for your baby to take off themselves. They usually have laundry tabs that you stick the aplix to so it doesn’t stick to everything else in your laundry but some people (me included) say they don’t work well and you have to constantly clean lint out of the aplix so it will stick better.
4. Choose a Quantity
- It is recommended that you start out with 24 diapers in your stash. Some people buy less and wash their diapers more frequently. Other people like to buy more and rotate their stash. The less a diaper is used the longer it will last.
5. Choose a Brand
- There are TONS of brands out there. If you come across a brand there will probably be lots of review online. Every child is unique, every family’s needs and budget is unique and every Mom has a unique preference and opinion.
- As with most things, you get what you pay for. I have tried some cheap diapers and they were very leaky. I noticed a huge difference when I switched to nicer quality diapers.
- Here are some brands that I have tried and liked.
- Katie Kimball has done very extensive reviews of 23 brands of cloth diapers on her YouTube channel.
6. Buy Some Diapers!
- You really should try a few different kinds before you buy a bunch of one particular diaper. Some people like to have a variety of brands and styles. They like to be able to choose the best diapers for the situation (day, night, traveling, daycare, babysitter). I personally like to have all the same brand and style because I don’t want to have to sort everything out after washing them, it is easy to get the same fit every time and I like the uniform look.
- You may be able to find a local store that sells cloth diapers. It is nice to see and feel the diapers in person.
- Look for companies that not only sell diapers but also offer diaper trials. It’s nice to be able to try out various diapers and return them if you don’t like them.
- I have used Diaper Junction and loved them.
- Look for seconds. These diapers are perfectly fine, they just have cosmetic flaws and manufactures pulled them from the lot.
- You can try to snag some good deals on half off sites.
- Or you could try to buy some used diapers from other people.
- I have been able to find some good deals on Craigslist.
So what diaper do I use? Right now I am using the Bum Genius 4.0 one size pocket diapers with snaps. I love the width of these and I think the pocket is nice and big and easy to stuff. I love the inserts and feel like they are more absorbent than some others I tried. Henry is five months old and about 13.5 lbs and I use the newborn insert during the day (can go at least 4 hrs without leaking) and use the full size insert during the night (lasts 12 hrs without leaking). One nice feature about the full size insert is that it has snaps so you can fold over one end and snap it down to make it small, medium or large (matching the snaps on the outside for your rise). I put the folded over part in the front since he is a boy but you would put it in the back if it was a girl.
Join me again tomorrow to learn about cloth diaper accessories and on Thursday we will go over how it all works.