Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cloth Diapering in the 21st century

Ok. Many of you would probably cringe at the mention of cloth diapering. I find that many people don't quite understand how far cloth diapering has come since your Momma or Grandma diapered their children. So let me see if I can spell out how cloth diapering works for our family.

Types of Diapers
There are many types of diapers out there now-a-days. For me, I started with a pocket diaper to see if I could even handle cloth diapering. Once I knew I could handle the idea, I switched to prefolds...which for me is the way to go. I will write another post about how I go about cloth diapering. For now...I need to give you a history lesson.
Many of you probably think about cloth diapering with the idea of prefolds. This old school diaper is usually made of cotton.  It has a thick layer in the middle and 2 thinner side layers. Sometimes you'll see things like 4X8X4. This tells you that there are 4 layers on the sides and 8 in the middle. There are many different types of prefolds. First there are bleached and unbleached, which is exactly what it sounds like...the bleached ones have been bleached white where the unbleached ones are a little creamy looking. There are also Chinese prefolds or Indian prefolds. I have half and half of each. The Chinese prefolds seem to come in larger sizes. I like the GMD (Green Mountain Diaper) called Cloth-eez.  They come in great sizes and are trimmed in a color to easily tell which size you are using. A word of caution too...if you are looking at Gerber cloth diapers in Wal-Mart or Target, these are NOT prefolds.  These are meant to be used as burp cloths, not as prefold diapers. They are made of birdseye or gauze and are not absorbent enough. They will leak in 5 sec. The key is to find a diaper that are 4X8X4 (unless it is a preemie size).

Prefolds require covers.  This is where the idea of your Momma or Grandma cloth diapering totally changes! There are MANY types of cloth diaper covers out there. Green Mountain Diaper has a great page discussing all kinds of covers here. I am only going to touch on what I know. Many covers are made of a material called PUL. It stands for polyurethane laminate. This is the layer that makes the diaper cover waterproof.  It is not like those plastic pants that have been used in the past that leak all over. Many of the covers have the PUL layer inside so they can we wiped clean and used again. This is my preference. Any cover that does not have this slick layer inside has to be washed after 1 use, meaning 1 cover per prefold.  My go-to covers are the Bummis Super Brite, and Thirsties diaper covers . These covers have a gusset around the leg that prevents any leaking. Some of the Thirsties come in snap closures at the top. I have found that velcro is the way to go. They seem to last longer. The Bummis Super Brite comes in sizes NB-XL. The Thirsties diaper covers come in sizes XS-XL.  Prefolds sound hard because you have to fold them, but they are actually quite simple. Here is a site that can help you learn to fold them. Also, with a cover there is no need for those large safety pins from the past.  You can still use them or a Snappi to hold the prefold if you think you need it. A snappi is much safer than those large safety pins that can really poke your child.
Bummis Super Brite
Close-up of the BSB leg protection
Thirstier diaper cover with velcro closure

PUL material inside the covers.

prefold with cover on baby

prefold folded inside a cover
snappi on a prefold

Pocket Diaper
This is a great diaper for those of you who need an easy cloth diaper that goes on just as fast as a regular disposable. As I stated above, I started with these. Basically this diaper is like a diaper cover shown above only it has fleece inside it that goes against baby's skin. The micro fleece actually is a pocket where you put a thick insert to absorb the wetness. I started with some Bum Genius 4.0. These were very easy to use.  A dad or babysitter could definitely use these with no problem. I found that there were a couple of negatives though: very pricey, hard to clean/wash, can only be used once, and very bulky on small babies. I have not tried other pocket diapers that are sized(meaning they have them for each size NB-XL) and I am sure many people enjoy the ease of using these diapers. I did keep a couple of my Bum Genius for times when I need an easy solution.
Bum Genius 4.0

As you can see an insert or prefold is inserted into the pocket.

AIO (All in One) Diapers
AIO diapers are very similar to a pocket diaper.  The only difference is that the insert is sewen into the diaper and can not be removed. Here is a Youtube video about the difference between an AIO and a pocket diaper. I have no experience with these, but since I am not a pocket diaper fan, I doubt I would enjoy these either.

Fitted Diapers
Basically fitted diapers combine the idea of a AIO diaper and a prefold/cover combination.  Basically this diaper is made of a fleece material and snaps for easy closure. There is no folding or pinning. Just snap to close.  Then, you take a cover, like the Bummis Super Brite and put it over top to prevent the leaking. Here is a YouTube video about a very popular brand called Kissaluvs. I do not have any experience with this diaper, but it sounds like this would be a great way to go too!
Kissaluv fitted diaper

Now that I have explained what kinds of diapers are out there...I'd like to tell you how it all works. Keep reading my next post Cloth Diapering for My Family.

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