Monday, May 17, 2010

The Cloth Diaper Breakdown

I've had several people ask me various questions about cloth diapers, what the differences are between types, how to use them etc. So I'm going to take the time to break it down here. I'm by no means any kind of expert, but I've used them, I've done research and I talk to people about them all of the time!

At first it can feel a little intimidating, but fear not! It's really pretty simple!

Lets start with the different types of cloth diapers and what they are.


Fitted: Fitted cloth diapers are shaped and contoured like a diaper and usually have a velcro or snap closure (SOME do however require a fastener like a pin or snappie). They do not have a waterproof or PUL (polyurethane laminate) outer layer so this type of diaper requires a cover in addition to the fitted portion.

Pre-fold: Pre-fold cloth diapers are an absorbent material folded and sewn with an absorbent center. This type of diaper requires some folding and fastening with a diaper pin or snappie. They also require a cover. This is a more inexpensive cloth diapering option and is what comes to mind when you think of cloth diapering many years ago.

(AIO) All-in-one: All-in-one cloth diapers are the most simple and easiest cloth diapering option. I always say that they are as easy as a disposable, you just wash it instead of throw it away. They are shaped and contoured like a diaper with a PUL (polyurethane laminate) outer layer and either a snap or aplix (velcro) closure. The absorbent inner layer or soaker/insert is attached inside, making the diaper exactly what it's called, All in one. They are a 1-step diaper. No folding, pinning, stuffing or covers. Some brands the soaker is sewn between the inner and outer layer and others it is sewn on top of the inner layer to improve drying time. That is one downfall of this type, longer drying times.

Pocket: Pocket cloth diapers are much like the all-in-one with 1 distinct difference, The absorbent inner layer/soaker slides into the "pocket" which is between the PUL (polyurethane laminate) outer layer and the inner layer. You pull the soaker out before washing the diaper for better cleaning and faster drying. Like the AIO, pockets do not require a cover and they have either snap or aplix (velcro) closures. These are sometimes known as AI2 as well.

Each type have their pros and cons. Fit, lifestyle, convenience, body shape etc. all play a factor is which type is the best option. You just have to look at all options and decide which fits your lifestyle best. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error to see what you prefer.

When you hear or see someone speak of "doublers" They are talking about extra inserts for added absorbency.

Microfiber and Bamboo are 2 common types of inserts/liners/soakers/pee soaker uppers (whichever term you want to use). Microfiber dries quickly. Bamboo is known to be more absorbent.

A quick description of the different closure options.
Snaps: They are just that, snaps or "buttons".
Aplix: Velcro
Diaper Pins: Again, self explanitory.
Snappies: T-shaped rubber that stretches to each side and down the center to fasten the diaper closed.

Now that we have the different types out of the way, lets talk about Sized and (OS) One Size diapers.

Sized is pretty straight forward. You get the size your child needs for their height and weight.

Many brands of all diapers types offer a One Size option. One Size are adjustable and depending on the brand, most can fit from newborn until potty training. Depending on the brand, they adjust in one of three different ways. Snaps, elastic or folding. Size range depends on the brand.

With snaps the adjustability is in the rise and it can be raised or lowered to whichever size your baby needs. Snap adjustable rise is the most common.

With elastic there are little buttons to loosen or tighten the elastic in the legs and waist (think adjustable waist pants for kids).

Aaaaaaand folding, it's pretty self explanitory. The rise is folded to the height it is needed at.

Both options have their pros and cons.

A pro of sized is they are more trim. A con is that they do not grow with your baby so you will need to buy additional diapers as your baby grows.

A pro of OS is they grow with your baby saving you from having to purchase additional diapers as your baby grows. A con is they are a little more bulky.

Diaper Covers

There are several options when it comes to covers (which you'll need with fitteds or pre-folds).

Plastic pants: They are exactly that, plastic. Inexpensive with elastic at the legs and waist.

Fleece Covers: Breathable, but not waterproof so they need to be washed almost as often as the diaper it's covering.

Wool Covers: Breathable and soft. Only need to be washed once a month give or take as long as they are not soiled. For the longest use, they can be lanolized. I am still learning about this process myself, so I'll put in a link for this :). These have a whole bunch of options.

Soakers: Pull on like underwear
Wraps: Snap or velcro closure
Longies: Pants. So they are the cover and clothing at the same time.
Shorties: Like capri's. These are also the cover and clothing at the same time.
Skirties: Skirts. They are like the soakers with a skirt attached and again, are the cover and clothing at the same time.

PUL (polyurethane laminate) Covers: Probably the most common cover available and come in snap or aplix (velcro) closures. They can also be found in (OS) One Size.

Washing and Detergents and Opinions... Oh My!

If you think picking what type of diaper is right for you and your baby is tough!? This is where things can get messy! Only if you let it though ;). You know the saying "Opinions are like A..." you know where I'm going with this.... Everyone has their own opinion about this subject. Some opinions are educated, some, not so much. I'd like to think mine falls somewhere in the middle. I've done enough research to say that I wont use free and clear detergents even though some other people say they are fine. I believe even some cloth diaper brands say they are, where as some other brands specifically state they are not. What it really comes down to is personal preference, but one thing to remember is regular detergents will cause build-up and build-up will result in diapers that don't absorb properly and stink. I don't know about you, but I don't really want leaky, smelly diapers. Many people I know as well as myself are partial to Rockin' Green (Not being compensated for this plug LOL). So far, of the brands I've used, our cloth diapers have come out the best with it.

As far as washing goes. I can just say at the very least you want to rinse before you wash, wash and rinse afterwards. Everyone finds a washing routine that works for them, from how often to which cycles they prefer. This very much varies depending on how often you wash, what type of diapers you have, what kind of water you have, what detergent you use and what kind of machine you have.

As far as MY routine goes... I rinse poop diapers with my diaper sprayer before placing it into the trash can that I keep all of the dirty diapers in. Just an inexpensive small - medium sized white trash can from Target. I do a diaper load about every other day (depends on how many poop diapers I have sitting there really). I do a double cold rinse before the wash. A hot/cold wash and an extra rinse and then another cold rinse afterwards. I typically dry the diapers in the dryer, but dry them outside in the sun when there are any stains or discoloration. You have NO IDEA how powerful putting them in the sun just for a couple hours is! It really takes the stains out. Really. I also use wool dryer balls to cut down on drying time.

Oh and something to keep in mind because some people don't even think about it. You should not use regular diaper rash cream or powder when cloth diapering. But along with that, with cloth diapers, for many people there is never or almost never a need for it since there are not chemicals against your baby all day from disposables. I keep some California Baby Rash Cream around just in case. It's fine when used sparingly.

Cloth Diapering Accessories

The accessories you may want to get is entirely personal preference. Off the top of my head here is a list of some accessories.

Diaper Sprayer: There are many different types and brands. I have a Sigma brand sprayer bought new on ebay for $23. Works great.

Cloth wipes: Wipes can be anything from wash cloths to scraps of fleece. You can buy actual "cloth diaper wipes", but they are usually more expensive. I have a variety of different things myself.

Cloth Wipe Solution: This can be bought or made yourself. I personally use Lil' Outlaws Rump Solutions stars. She has great scents. I use a little spray bottle and spray my cloth wipes :).

Liners: They are disposable liners you can buy to lay into the diapers to help with poop disposal. I do not personally use them.

Wet Bags: Bags that are usually lined with antimicrobial water proof material. They come in various sizes They are excellent to have when you go out to put the dirty diapers in and have it not leak onto anything.

I hope this has been helpful!


Dulcecupie said...

Very informative!

bidetsprayerman said...
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