Mentioning you’re considering diapering your baby with cloth diapers to anyone over the age of 60, will likely have you greeted with laughter, strange looks, or muttering about how soon you’ll re-think the idea. That’s because back in the day, cloth diapering meant flat, single-layer gauze like diapers that you folded into the shape and thickness you wanted and attached to baby with pins. Then you’d cover this cloth diapered baby’s bum with rubber or plastic bloomers with elastic leg and waistlines. It was a lot of work, between the folding and the pinning and the rubber pants. The washing was a chore too. Washing machines weren’t as powerful as they are now, so almost everyone soaked their diapers in a “wet pail” full of water and Borax or some other kind of soaking detergent. So it’s completely understandable that these women think people our age are nuts for using cloth.
They have no idea how technological revolutions in textiles has made cloth diapering as easy as using disposables. Even the most complicated cloth diapering systems are a piece of cake compared to what our grandmothers had to do. Not only that, today’s cloth diaper is better for your baby’s health, your wallet, and of course, the environmentâ€¦.so its worth a closer look.
Cloth diapers fall into 3 basic categories:
1. Prefold or contoured: These are the least expensive way to diaper your child. It is a two part system which includes a diaper and a cover. The diaper is made of cotton gauze or twill, the flat diapers of yesteryear are sewn together (pre-folded) so that there are more layers for more absorption where its most needed. Contoured diapers are shaped like an hourglass and also have extra layers of fabric sewn to the center. Simply place the contour inside a wrap or cover, or make a rectangle out of the diaper and place it in the cover made of polyurethane laminate and fasten with Velcro or snaps just like a disposable.
I highly recommend a good prefold diaper like Baby’s Textiles brand. These are found at internet retailers like www.AngelBunz.com They are more absorbent and softer than those used by diaper services. Bummis makes some really cute soft covers that feel like cotton fabric and have adorable prints. Thirsties brand makes some great fitting solid color covers and even has a belly button cut out for your newborn. Both brands have Velcro fasteners with fold back tabs to protect your other laundered items in the machine. Bummis has a snap option (good for toddlers who like to streak or babies who wince at the sound of Velcro)
2. Fitted diapers: These expand on the contoured style of diapers by adding elastic to the leg and waist openings. The absorbent diaper itself fastens with Velcro or snaps. This virtually eliminates leaks and blowouts. No pinning is needed with this system either because the diaper is shaped and fitted to the child. A waterproof cover is still needed but you won’t need a cover for each diaper. You simply wrinse the cover in the sink between uses and rotate in a fresh one while that one dries. I wrinse my covers when I wash my hands after changing the diaper. Covers stay cleaner in this system because the diaper itself catches the mess instead of the cover. This is a bit more expensive than the prefold system but still extremely affordable.
Kissaluvs brand is an excellent choice for newborns because the nooks and crannies in the cotton fleece hold everything. These worked better than any disposable we’ve tried and were sooo much softer on a newborn than a paper diaper. The size is adjustable and will fit even skinny newborns until 15lbs.
One-size two-piece systems: Some companies sell fitted diapers that fold and snap in different ways to fit babies from around 8 pounds up to around 35 pounds, with covers to match. If you like fitted diapers, this can be a far more economical way to go, because you only have to buy one set. However, they have a larger entry cost (around $280 to start) and can be somewhat bulky. Mother-ease is a top-rated brand.
3. All in ones (AIOs) : These diapers combine the fitted diaper with the outer waterproof cover into one product. These are the most convenient to use because it makes diapering into a one step process.
All in ones are a great transition diaper for those used to disposables and those who want the ultimate in convenience. They come in cute prints and colors and can even be addictive because they make a great baby fashion accessory.
A couple of drawbacks to this system are that it may take a long time to dry and it can be costly to purchase an entire supply of this type of diaper. Additionally, some people are concerned that the diaper may be difficult to clean because there are so many layers sewn together.
A couple of brands are designed to help you reap all the benefits of the all in one without the flaws. Bumkins is one such brand. Bumkins has a waterproof exterior (with fun Dr. Seuss prints to boot) and a cotton flannel interior which is sewn in such a way that you can turn the diaper inside out for washing to insure that all the layers will allow the wash water to pass. Rumpster is a great option too. These diapers have a low rise (think bikini underwear/speedo) (great for fitting under tight clothes you want some extra mileage from) and the interior layer is sewn with wings to allow the wash water to pass. One of the wings is covered with a layer of microfleece (which repels poop!) and the entire interior of the diaper is made of an organic cotton, hemp (not just for smoking anymore) blend. Hemp has natural anti-bacterial properties.
One of the most popular cloth diapers today is called a pocket diaper. It is a two-part all in one consisting of a fitted waterproof shell (usually PUL) and the inner layer (that touches the baby) is fleece or suedecloth. There’s a pocket between the two layers. You stuff the pocket with a microfiber soaker pad or a cotton or hemp prefold (to serve as the absorbent part of the diaper). Urine goes through the fleece layer and gets absorbed by the soaker (called an insert), and the surface of the fleece stays mostly dry to the touch. This The benefits of this system are that it’s easy to use, quick-drying, and trimmer than most other cloth diapers. It is also a good nighttime option because stuffed with a two or more insterts, it will go a long time without a leak. Fuzzi Bunz brand is a good example of this style of diaper.
A discussion of cloth diapering wouldn’t be complete without mentioning how to handle the dirty diapers. A few modern accessories make cloth diapering easy. These include the minishower cloth diaper sprayer, and a dirty duds bag.
A laundry bag made of PUL can be fastened to any door handle or tucked inside a regular trash can to serve as a diaper pail. Dirty diapers go in the pail/bag (no soaking or wet pails needed) Simply turn the bag inside out and let the diapers fall into the washing machine. Throw in the pail too and wash and dry the whole load. No need to touch any dirty diapers.
Still, for really stuck on stains and messes you would have to give the diaper a swish in the toiletâ€¦or power wash it with a minishower. The minishower takes all the fuss out of cloth diapering. It’s a hose that attaches to the side of the toilet and is used like a dishwashing hose in a restaurant to powerwash the waste into the toiletâ€”where it belongs. Then wring out the diaper and place your now basically clean wet diaper in the wet bag and wait up to a week before washing.
There are a lot of cloth diapers out there. Good, bad, and ugly. We’ve tried crunchy squeaky diapers that don’t fit well under clothing and those that leak in a half hour. Then there are the angel diapers that are so good, we can’t understand why they’re not in every household in America because they beat disposables in every way- cost, comfort, and effectiveness. We assembled a collection of the best diapers in each category at our web site http://www.AngelBunz.com to save you the hassle of wasting money on diapers that don’t match their manufacturer’s claims. All of our diapers work and are superior in their class. Its just a matter of which style fits your baby and lifestyle best. We’re here to help you with your diapering decision and any washing questions you may have for the duration of your diapering experience. Contact us and we’ll be happy to help you find the best diapers for your little Angel.