Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cloth Diapering Basics

Many people ask me how to get started with cloth diapering.  So I decided to sit down and type up an entry with the basic knowledge, key points, and starter tips.  Hope this helps!!!

There are six basic categories of cloth diapers.  They are:

Pockets -  Pocket diapers are a two part system that includes a waterproof cover with a special opening to “stuff” an insert into the diaper.  Once the diaper is stuffed, it is a one step process to put onto baby.  This diaper is great because you can "customize" what inserts and how much absorbency you need for certain times of day (awake, nap, night).

All in Ones (AIO) – As the name implies, this is a diaper that has no removable or additional part.  And All in One consists of a waterproof cover with an attached absorbable inner layer.  Simply put onto baby, use, take off baby, and then throw into wash.  While they are extremely simple to use, these diapers can be more expensive and more difficult to dry!  

Prefold/ Flats – These are what most people traditionally think of as cloth diapers.  It is a square or rectangular piece of fabric of varying size, thickness, and fabric.  A prefold or flat needs to either be fitted to baby with pins and then a cover put on over top or can simply be folded and placed in a waterproof cover and then put on baby.  This is one of the cheapest options when cloth diapering, but can also be the most time consuming to put onto baby depending on which method you use.

Fitted – A tailor fitted diaper with an Aplix (velcro) or Snap closure that hugs close to baby.  This diaper does not require folding or stuffing but does require a waterproof cover as the fitted itself is not waterproof.  This option is extremely absorbent.  However, depending on what kind or brand you get, this can get pricey.

Covers – These are the waterproof outer shells that need to be put over top of fitteds, prefolds, or other inserts.  Many covers can be simply wiped or air dried between uses and do not need to be washed after every use.  Covers can come in a wide range of fabrics from PUL, laimated fabrics, Fleece, Wool, and more!  With this wide range of fabrics, there is also a wide range of prices!

All in Two (AI2) – All in Two diapers are somewhere in between all of the above.  An All in Two diaper consists of an outer waterproof shell and an insert.  The intent of All in Two diapers is that you can simply take out the wet/soiled insert, put in a new insert, and reuse the shell.  Inserts for AI2’s vary and can be a snap in soaker, a long insert, or a prefold-like insert.  These diapers are marketed as an “AI2” because they are sold as a 2 piece system with a reusable shell.  Many of these diapers are also marketed as “hybrid” diapers as they can also have a disposable insert used with them.

When choosing to cloth diaper, it is essential that you do your “homework” and research the different kinds of cloth diapers.  When you are first getting started it can be overwhelming and many people get turned off immediately due to the shear volume of options.  When you break it down into the above categories, you can get a better feel for the types of diapers out there and then narrow the search from there.  Many people are immediately attracted to one kind of diaper and are immediately turned off to others.  You have to think about what is best for you, best for baby, and best for anyone else that may be caring for and changing baby.  Once you narrow down to a type that you want to try, you can start looking at brands and specifics without being so overwhelmed with information.  Then, after you have a diaper or two, you will have a better feel for what works for you and can build up a stash or try other things.

Helpful Hint:  Do not buy an entire stash of diapers until after you have tried a couple different kinds/brands.  You may find that you don't like certain ones.  You don't want to spend the money to buy an entire stash of one kind and then hate them and want a different kind.  No two parents are the same, so you have to try out the diapers and see what works for you!  You need to test the diaper out to see 1. how it fits baby 2. How you like it 3. how it washes and 4. how others caring for your baby like it.  You may love a diaper but it doesn't fit your baby well, etc.

Another decision that you have to make is velcro vs snaps.  When starting out, I recommend trying each.  You may find that you like one better than the other or that one fits better.  With the velcro, you will find that the diaper does fit your baby better because you can get the perfect fit.  However, over time, the velcro may wear out.  With snaps, there is almost no wear and tear to the closure but you may not find a perfect fit and may have to settle for an OK fit.  Every baby is different and every parent is different.  So you have to figure out what works best for you!

My other helpful hint:  When starting out, find a retailer that either does a trial (where you pay a deposit to get and try the diapers but only pay the full amount if you keep them) or a retailer that has a sampler of diapers (where you can get multiple kinds/brands at a discounted sample package price).  My affiliate, Kelly’s Closet, has a great sampler where you can pick and chose what you want to try.  Affiliate link to right.

One Last Helpful Hint:  Research detergents.  There are a zillion different detergents out there, but only some are safe for cloth diapers.  A good or bad detergent can make or break your cloth diapering experience.

Good Luck!  And as always, feel free to ask questions!!!

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