Saturday, January 9, 2010

Overview of Cloth Diaper Options

Our stash is made up primarily of prefolds with Blueberry Coveralls one-size covers with snaps for wearing at home, and Swaddlebees/Blueberry pockets for when we go out. But there are a lot of different options and a lot simply depends on your personal preferences, and what works for you and your baby. Here are my thoughts on the basic varieties...

Prefolds / Covers - These take a little effort to put on, but they are super easy to clean, and can withstand boiling/bleaching/etc. when needed, plus they are fairly cheap. Also, most prefolds are 100% cotton, which is a big bonus for me, because I prefer natural fibers in general. (You can buy specialty prefolds made of bamboo or other fabrics, but I'm just talking about a typical prefold.) These are not the same quality as the Gerber prefolds they sell at baby and discount retailers - those make good burp cloths and dust rags, but not good diapers. Prefolds are easier to use now than in the past, because you can use Snappis or snug-fitting covers to hold the prefold in place instead of diaper pins. Read my post, A Primer on Prefolds, to learn more.

Pockets - A great concept to make cloth diapering easier for the masses. They consist of a waterproof outer layer and a soft moisture-wicking inner layer (most are microfleece or suedecloth), with an opening to stuff an absorbent insert between the two layers. Inserts can be made of microfiber, hemp, bamboo, cotton, or many other materials. The benefit of these is that they go on just like a disposable diaper, with either snaps or a velcro-like fasteners in front to hold them in place. As a result, these are pretty easy for other caregivers to figure out. Also, the inner layer means they have more of a stay-dry feeling, and you can customize the absorbency to meet your needs. These can be harder to wash though, because the inner layer can get detergent build-up and start repelling instead of wicking to the insert. They also don't last as long as prefolds, because the elastic and velcro tabs can wear out (which is repairable), or the PUL outer layer will eventually degrade and leak.

All-In-One (AIO) - The appeal of the AIO is obviously that there is nothing to do after washing/drying, they are just ready to go. They have a waterproof outer layer and an absorbent inner layer all made together. The problem is that all the layers make them hard to wash well, and even harder to dry thoroughly. This makes them more prone to stink issues, and it is what drove me nuts about them, and why I tried them but never went with them. Some AIO's have inner layers that are loose quick-dry flaps, such as the BumGenius Organic AIO, which are becoming more popular, but I've never tried those.

All-In-Two (AI2) - AI2's are more like pockets, in that most of the absorbency is a separate part, but unlike a pocket, it snaps in on top of the inside and it is usually not a stay-dry feeling fabric. The idea is that you can remove the absorbent snap-in insert after your baby wets, and replace it with a dry snap-in insert without washing the outer part, but I have never found this to work. The Little Missy always wets right through to the outer layer, and I feel like I need to wash them together. AI2s are often cute diapers, but otherwise I really don't understand the appeal of the AI2.

Fitted - Fitted diapers can be very plain-looking like prefolds, but with elastic around the legs, and usually snaps or velcro-like closures to help them fit better. But they are often the most adorable (and expensive) options, with cute prints on the outside. However, they are NOT waterproof and they are made of natural fibers, so they do not have a stay-dry inner. They must be used with some type of cover, or you have to watch your child carefully to prevent pee from soaking through. I have a few of the popular and expensive Goodmama fitteds, but I only used ours in the summer when I would let the Little Missy crawl around in just a diaper and I just kept a close eye on her. You can cover a fitted with a standard PUL cover, or you can buy a pricey wool cover (or knit them yourself), or you can use inexpensive polar fleece covers. I really don't get the concept of covering a cute fitted though. The one good application that I have heard of for fitteds is that they are great for newborns, to contain those explosive breastfed poos. I didn't cloth diaper until the Little Missy was 10 or 11 months though, so I have no personal experience with this.

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