Not Your Grandma's Diapers! A Guide to Modern Cloth Diapers.
No pins or plastic pants!
If your like most people, like my former self in fact, the words "cloth diaper" brings to mind several images. Things like white cotton prefolds, big scary diaper pins, plastic pants that leak and cause rashes and make crinkly noises when toddlers walk! The words "cloth diapers" make most people cringe and if a modern mom today mentions that she is cloth diapering, anyone from HER mother's generation or older often asks "why"?
Whether you're considering making the switch, have a family member or friend who has & you are wondering why, or have made the decision but just need to get some basic info to get yourself started, sit back and take a read!
Different Kinds of Cloth Diapers
Modern cloth diapers offer lots of options. If you are just starting with cloth or looking into it, this can seem really confusing. I will offer some options at the end for helping to figure out what will work best for you. So, let's get started.
Prefolds & Covers
These are the closest to what to the common outdated visual. Yes, prefolds are still used but in a different manner. Generally, they are Chinese or Indian cotton prefolds which are much more aborbent & are sized for a growing infant. You can tell the sizes by the color of the edging. fastened by pins, a device called a snappi is now the go-to choice of prefold using parents. Plastic pants have vanished as well & are replaced by PUL (polyurethane laminated) covers which are fastened by snaps or velcro tabs. These covers are waterproof but breathable. They contain soaks & messes very well. And, I have even heard of parents using them to cover disposables at night! That is how WELL they work. The pros to using this method are it is still the least expensive diapering option, unless a baby has had a bm movement, you can simply wipe the cover & reuse it for another change. An entire stash can be made up of prefolds & only a handful of covers. Unlike some other options, the drying time, whether by line or by dryer, is very quick with a prefold & cover option, also they are great for the newborn stage so you don't have to spend a fortune on sized diapers they wear for short period of time. The cons, they are probably the bulkiest fit of all & don't offer as much in absorption department so layers become a must, thus the bulk. This becomes more of a factor as babies get older & bladders larger. And, if it matters... they just aren't as cute!
- Infant (newborn to 15 lbs) GREEN stitching
- Regular (15-30 lbs) WHITE stitching
- Premium (15-30 lbs) BLUE stitching
These are widely available now thanks to the popularity of G-Diapers. Most local BabiesRUS and places like Target and Walmart carry them. Two other popular brands are GroVia and Flip diapers but finding them may be harder and require shopping online. Basically, a hybrid diaper consists of some variation of an outer fabric shell which can be used with a lay-in insert made of either a biodegradable disposable material or a re-usable washable material insert. Depending on the brand of diaper, the waterproof component is either built into the outer fabric shell or as in the case of G-Diapers, there is an additional snap-in waterproof layer. Parents can then choose to buy packages of the disposable inserts or reusable inserts to utilize with their diapers. The option to switch the inserts from either disposable to reusable can be helpful in a variety of situations. Some parents choose a hybrid option is a) they would like to try cloth diapering but are unsure of it b) have your child in a daycare situation that requires disposables c) are travelling and not going to be able to wash diapers frequently. The opportunity to utilize full cloth OR partial can be a good fit for your family or can simply be a good “entry” point into cloth diapering. If I had to select one, I would go with the Flip system as it has less parts which means less confusion and it comes in a One-Size diapering option to give parents a good value for their purchase.
This is a very parent friendly option. It consists of diaper which looks very much like a standard disposable shape (except way cuter) but when you look at the back of the inside you will see a gap or a ruffle covering a pocket. This is stuffed with an absorbent insert. Inserts are commonly made out of microfiber but are also made out of hemp, bamboo, or a material called zorb. Each type of insert has its pros/cons but all work wonders at containing liquids. The shell of the diaper is a composed of an inner layer made of a soft material like micro-fleece or micro-suede and an outer layer of material called PUL which stands for polyurethane laminated fabric. PUL is waterproof yet breathable and great for baby tushies. Some pocket diapers have other fabrics on the outside and then they will have a hidden layer of PUL to keep them waterproof. They are held closed by snaps or velcro and many have extra rows of snaps allowing you to adjust the size as baby grows. These are called "One Size" diapers. The pros to pockets are that you can find very inexpensive one size diapers to start or add to a stash that will take you through to potty-training, they are dad and daycare friendly once they are stuffed, you just put them on baby like a disposable, the separation of the insert and shell allows for faster drying time. (Note: You change the WHOLE diaper, each and every time with a pocket diaper. There is some confusion about whether a pocket can be reused and the insert changed but this does not work. You must change the whole diaper with each change.) Cuteness abounds in pockets as you can find all the colors in the rainbow and adorable prints as well. They also provide a nice trim fit beneath clothing. Cons are that some pocket brands fit some babies better than others and the inserts do need to be stuffed into the shells which some parents dislike.
AIO / AI2
The All-in-One (AIO) diaper is the most similar to a disposable diaper in styling. The AIO has all the layers of the cloth diaper sewn together as one piece. So, the soft inner, absorbent insert, and waterproof outer shell are all pieced together then closed either with snaps or Velcro. These either come in sizes (again think similar to disposable sized diapers) or a few have one-size snap options. You simply put a clean diaper on the baby & remove when it is wet/soiled. The whole diaper is then washed. The pros to this diaper is that it is by far the simplest system to use, easy to hand over a baby to a sitter or daycare without them being confused even if they have never in their life seen a cloth diaper before. The cons are that they are the most costly per diaper and also that you will often need to buy at least 2 different sizes as your baby grows which adds to the expense. Also, because all the pieces are sewn together, they take the longest to dry so they are not a good match for those that need to pay to do laundry or who are pressed for time unless you can afford to buy a large number of diapers so you don’t run out while you are drying them. The All-in-Two (AI2) diapers are very similar to an AIO in their function except instead of having a built-in insert it usually just snaps inside or sometimes lays inside the middle of the diaper. This greatly reduces drying time & still makes for less hassle as an insert just snaps-in an instead of stuffing them in as is done with a pocket style diaper. They are still caregiver friendly for the most part but are likewise usually more expensive than a pocket. They might be the right option for though, for someone who wants less hassle but has limited time.
A Fitted diaper works much like an AI2 diaper except that there is no waterproof layer. They tend to have a bit more layers or more absorbent / natural materials used for their snap-in inserts. Some may wonder why a parent would choose a diaper without a waterproof layer? Well, there are babies that have sensitivities to synthetic materials and get a contact dermatitis rash from the chafing against skin. Disposables don’t work, the more “standard” cloth diapers don’t work, this is often when fitteds come in handy. Or, some parents just prefer the breathability that a fitted provides, along with the trim fit and ease of use which often evades the utilitarian prefold. They are usually one-size with snap or velcro closures, very absorbent and as long as you don’t goto long between changes you can usually get away without needing any type of cover. For those needing some sort of cover but want to avoid PUL – you can either use a wool cover or a fleece cover. The cons are pretty evident - they aren't leak proof!
Go Ahead – Rock Your Cloth Off!
Hopefully you have seen just how FAR cloth diapering has come, how many cool options exist and just how easy it really is to is to change a cloth diaper! I assure you, if you can change a disposable diaper, you can change cloth diaper! There are many reasons to switch to cloth but that is a topic for another hub page so I’ll skip that for today. I’m sure you have many other questions and I’d be happy to answer so please, ask away!!! I’ll collect some common ones into another hub page for FAQs on cloth diapering. In the mean time, thank you to my friends for supplying the cute pictures! And if you want to check out more of Kalypso Twist’s awesome diaper’s you can find them here:
or on hyenacart - look up her name Kalypso Twist.