Saturday, September 3, 2011

Cloth Diapering - Where Do I Start?



Q: Which ones do you suggest for the trial?  I am completely new to this. 

A:  I'll list the 4 main categories of cloth diapering options available, mention the pros and cons in my experience then, let you know how I've used that category!

bumGenius Elemental

ALL-IN-ONE (AIO)

Description: The AIO is the closest to the disposable diaper.  They are made of a waterproof shell with an attached absorbent interior. 

Pros: They are very easy to use.  You will not have to teach Daddy or the babysitter how to use them. 

Cons: They can take a long time to dry after washing due to how thick they are and often need stripping more frequently.  AIOs can only be used once before they must be put in the wash.  

My Take: I have a couple AIOs from Bumkins that I purchased on sale.  They are usually the last diaper I reach for since I don't like their bulk and they take roughly twice as long to dry.





ALL-IN-TWOS (AI2)
gDiaper

Cost: Covers $17-$25
     Reusable, washable inserts $3-$10 per insert
     One-use, flushable inserts $0.30 - $0.50 per insert

Description: The AI2 has a waterproof shell with a removable, absorbent insert that is either laid inside or snapped into place.  You can choose to have a washable, reusable insert or a disposable insert. 

Pros: Many appreciate the versatile aspect of this diaper.  They are simple to use. The disposable inserts are made with eco-friendly fibers.  The cover can be used multiple times before it must be washed.

Cons: (see below)

My Take: To be honest, I have not used this diaper.  They are a relatively new product and I know many that love them.




POCKET DIAPERS (PD)
FuzziBunz

Cost: Covers w/insert $10-$24 (most come with 1- 2 inserts)  
     Cover: beginning at $8  
     Inserts: $1.50 - $6 ea.

Description: The PD is a waterproof cover with another material, usually microfleece, that forms a "pocket" along the interior of the diaper.  Inserts are then put inside the pocket for absorbancy and then removed for washing.

Pros: The learning curve here is not difficult.  You can use various material for the inserts.  When soiled, the microfleece usually shakes clean into the toilet.

Cons: The PD can't be used as repeatedly as a DC (below) because it must dry in between and becomes soiled faster.  Some may not prefer to have to remove the insert for washing.

My Take:  I have a variety of pocket diapers from FuzziBuns, bumGenius, Kawaii and Envibum.  They are very nice because, once stuffed, they are easy to put on a squirmy baby.  I have found that if I let the diaper dry and/or rinse the cover I can use it again.  I have just use it as a cover without stuffing the pocket, this sometimes allows for additional wears before washing.




Bummis Whisper Wrap

DIAPER COVERS (DC) 

Cost: $2 - $40
Must be used with a fitted diaper or a prefold diaper (see below).

Description: With the DC you can go as simple or as elegant as you want.  They range in material from plastic to PUL to wool - hence the dramatic price range.  There are two different styles: the pull-on and those adjusting with snap or velcro (also called "aplex"). The most commonly used variety are made of PUL and are adjustable.
Note: The pull-on covers will need a diaper that is fastened to the baby either with pins, a snappi or a fitted diaper.  With adjustable diapers, that is not often necessary, although with the very small or the very active babies, a fastener might come in handy. 

Pros:  A DC can be used multiple times before being washed.  There is such a variety, it is difficult to list the exact pros, but this option fits any budget.

Cons:  Must be used with a diaper, which requires more time to put on and a longer time to figure out.  The need for additional fastening with pins or a snappi, especially when using a pull-on, can be difficult. 

My Take:  I use the DC the most.  I Bummis Whisper Wraps, Thirsties (regular and duo), and even some plastic, pull-on covers from Wal-Mart (only for extreme emergencies!).  I love their simplicity and their price.




-> Fitted Diaper (FD) 

Cost: $15-$35
Blueberry One-Size Bamboo
Must be used with a diaper cover (see above) 

Description: These are the absorbent diaper cut into a shape that "fits" the shape of the baby.  Often, FDs come with adjustable snaps or velcro.  Some are "one-size" and can be adjusted according to your child's size.  You can find them in a variety of materials besides cotton such as bamboo, hemp and silk blends.  Many have layering in the interior for added absorption.

Pros: FDs are usually not as bulky as the prefold and don't need to be folded.  Many prefer these under pull-on covers because they are more guaranteed to stay on baby.

Cons:  They can take longer than a prefold to dry.

My Take:  I've never used a fitted diaper but I have seen them at work.  Although I love the variety of materials available and the ease of use, I can't get past the price when a prefold is 10% of the price.  I had considered making some of my prefolds into fitted diapers, especially for Doug's use (folding is not his thing) however, my pocket diapers have filled that need.


-> Prefold & Flat Diaper
Unbleached Indian Prefolds
Must be used with a diaper cover (see above)

Cost: $1.99 - $7

Description:  The classic diaper.  The prefold is a rectangular shape of material with a strip of higher absorbency along the middle.  It can be folded into thirds.  The flat is a rectangular shape minus the strip of absorbency.  These are both usually cotton but can be found in other materials like hemp.  With cotton, you can choose bleached or unbleached cotton.  They come in various sizes.

Pros:  They are cheap and they are functional!  They can be used as a burp cloth, wash rag, dolly blanket or washing your dishes ;-)  They can be used with the regular diaper cover, as an insert in a pocket diaper, or added absorbency in the AIO and AO2. 

Cons:  Learning to fold a diaper can take practice.  If you choose the unbleached diaper, it takes a couple washings to bring them to their full absorbency.  Depending on your

My Take:  Prefolds are my best friend.  I only have two sizes - two dozen infant and two dozen regular.  I can use the infant with small ones and once they need the regular, I use an infant as a doubler.  I only use something to fasten my diaper when when my babies are teeny or if I'm using a pull-on cover.  When I need a fastener, I have ditched pins forever and only use a Snappi - a plastic, grippy "T" that holds onto a prefold diaper - they are fabulous!

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When choosing between snaps or aplex (velcro), remember the following:
 
Snaps
Pro: Won't pill.  Don't have to be secure for washing.  Last longer than aplex.  Harder for baby to undo.
Con: Take longer to secure.  Not as adjustable. 

Aplex
Pro: Easy and fast to secure.  Allow for a more adjustable fit.
Con: Often pill.  Must be secured for washing.  Can wear out quicker.  Easier for baby to undo.

Remember that Sweetbottoms offers a Fix & Fasten Guarantee - they will fix or replace any broken fasteners on their diapers :-)

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Thirsties Duo-Wrap Set
One-Size Diapers
Many diapers are "one-size", meaning they have a variety of snaps and/or elasic and velcro to adjust their size to fit your child from birth to potty training.  Most one-size diapers haven't fit my newborns, but have been great from 10-30lb.  The Thirsties Duo-Wrap comes in size 1 and size 2 and broaden the range they will fit.





What do I recommend for the Diaper Trial?

I recommend getting enough to try overnight, during a regular day and for an errand day.  The following would give you a good sample of cloth diapering options:

All-in-Two: Flip One Size Diaper with Stay-Dry Insert (use the cover with a prefold at some point)
Pockets: bumGenius 4.0 One-Size
Prefolds: 3 of needed size (remember, you will need to wash them 3+ times to truly get a good idea of absorbancy).
Covers: Thirsties Duo Wrap

Don't just take my word for it!  You can look at each diaper option and determine which seems best for you!  Certainly try out an AIO if you feel that would fit your diapering style better.

With the diaper trial, keep them if you like or return them after 30 days for 95% store credit or a 90% refund!



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