Saturday, June 4, 2011

Cloth Diapering 101: Part I - Choosing a System That Works for You

Is it just me or is there an overwhelming amount of information out here about cloth diapers? When I was trying to choose, it took 12 months of agonizing over "which would be best" questions... I didn't start until I had a box of hand-me-downs given to us to try out. I figured out the pros and cons the hard way, by trial and error. Hope you can learn a bit from my mistakes. 

My motto is to K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Sweetie), so I will only give you one brand example for each type of diaper. There are four basic types, and multiple variations on each: Flats, Prefolds, All-in-ones, and Hybrids. I will try to give you most of the pros and cons of each, but honestly the best way to see what works for you and your baby is to try each out for yourself with trial packs or by borrowing from a pal who uses cloth.


Kushies Washable Flat Diapers
Flat diapers are large thin rectangles of absorbent fabric that are folded in a variety of ways to fit your baby. They must be secured with a Snappi or diaper pins and covered with a waterproof cover. These are the diapers that people have been using for centuries to cover babies bums so they are tries and true.

  • easy to wash and dry (even without a washer and dryer, I just met someone who hand washes all of her diapers!)
  • fits well on small or premature babies
  • extremely adjustable
  • good for excessive amounts of newborn changes 
  • long lasting
  • least expensive option
  • not as convenient to use and therefore less dad and daycare friendly
  • time consuming on changing table (you try to get a wiggly toddler to hold still and not pee while you fold laundry)
  • depending on fold, can be bulky under clothing and cause sizing issues with onesies and pants (have to go up a size)
  • pins can hurt! (try a Snappi if the thought of pins make your fingers ache)

Bambino Mio Nappies
Prefold diapers are smaller rectangular layered sheets of absorbent fabric sewn into three panels with the center panel being the thickest. Can be folded in a variety of ways, but many people simply fold in three along the lines and lay into the waterproof fitted cover

  • ultra portable
  • covers can be used for multiple changes as long as it is not soaked or soiled
  • simple, only two pieces required and can be mixed and matched 
  • washes easily
  • less folding required for absorbency
  • good for newborns, preemies, and smaller babies
  • long lasting
  • still a bit time consuming on the changing table
  • can have leak issues if prefold is not properly placed or gets bunched up
  • can be bulky and cause size issues with clothes
  • can have "old fashioned" bias by some dads and daycare

bumGenius Cloth Diapers 4.0
All-In-Ones {link} are water proof covers with a "stay dry" liner sewn into it. The absorbent material is either sewn inside (a true All-in-One) or made into an insert that can go into a pocket opening (called Pocket Diapers) between the cover and the liner or snapped on top of the liner (Called and All-in-Two). These are a modern take on cloth diapering that mimic the ease of changing a disposable diaper. These diapers can be one size (with snaps to adjust the fit for smaller babies) or sized to fit.

  • grab and go
  • quick changing 
  • many options and styles to suit your specific needs
  • very easy to use, dad and daycare friendly (check with your daycare first)
  • have to be pre-prepped on laundry day
  • can be harder to clean (some fibers hold onto "stink" more than others)
  • can take a longer time to dry (especially true All-In-Ones)
  • can be bulky and cause size issues with clothing
  • tend to wear out more quickly than covers and flats/prefolds (elastic, waterproof lining), so buy from a company with a good warranty
  • take up a lot of space in the diaper bag
  • so many options, it is hard to know which one to choose!

gDiapers Little gPants
Hybrid Diapers are some of the newest on the market. They consist of a reusable waterproof cover with both reusable snap in liners and disposable biodegradable tape in liners that can be used interchangeably throughout the day. 

  •  still cuts down immensely on disposable diaper waste
  • has two options for liners
  • extremely portable and easy to use on the go
  • washes and dries easily
  • very day care and daddy friendly
  • a good balance between ease of use and "greenness" 
  • some disposable liners still contain chlorine and other "harsh for baby" chemicals, so read labels carefully
  • can have leak issues if not properly prepped, follow all prepping instructions carefully
  • not quite as quick as All-in-Ones on the changing table, but pretty close
Feel free to choose a couple of systems that work for you, I know we do! We use mostly prefolds and covers at home (money savers!) and hybrids on the go with a few all-in-one pocket types mixed in. If you are in it for the money saving aspect, be careful not to get "hooked" on the cute factor (like I am). There are just so many adorable colors and patterns to choose from! 

How many do I need?

Generally, the number of diapers you need decreases with the age of your baby. Decide if you intend to wash diapers daily or not and plan accordingly. Up to age six months you will be changing at least 10 to 12 diapers. From six to twelve months the changes decrease to 8 to 12 diapers. From twelve to twenty-four months you will change baby about 6 to 8 times a day. When they are potty learning (cloth diapered kiddos tend to train sooner) little ones are down to 2 to 4 changes a day in diapers (usually at nap time and overnight). It is a good idea to have three or four extras just in case. 

Other Items You'll Need:
Cloth diapering can be an initially expensive endeavor, but you will save a lot of money in the long run and you will prolong the life of your diapers if you treat them well.


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