I started a post about cloth diapering but it got to be way to long- so Part 1 focused on cloth diapering overall and Parts 2 and 3 will focus on my specific experiences with it. There is a TON of information out there about cloth diapering and these posts will just skim the surface. The internet can be really overwhelming on this subject. I’m by no means an expert, but if you want to chat further about this, send me a message and I’ll tell you what I know or point you to someone who can help!
Once you decide to use cloth, you go crazy. There are so many options and it’s hard to research if you’re not at all familiar with the lingo. What the heck is a OS AIO?
The first step is to think about the main reason you want to cloth diaper. Is it because you want to save money, and you don’t mind a little extra work? Do you want to keep chemicals away from your baby, even if costs more (but still less than disposables)? Do you want to save the Earth but don’t want to do any extra work? Thinking through these questions can give you a good clue about what types of diapers are right for you and your baby.
Since my friend had hooked me up with some cloth diapers, I started with those. Just one problem…I had no idea what they were called or how to use them. I have to give a shout-out to one of my new favorite local businesses, Itsy Bitsy Bums. The owner was so helpful to me in helping me understand what I already had, what I would like to use, and answering all of my questions. If you’re in the KC area, they have a class that I would highly recommend checking out if you are interested in cloth diapering.
The cloth diapers from my friend looked like this:
I learned that the soft material is called an insert- these specifically are called contours. This is the part of the diaper that is absorbent. The bright material is called a cover. It is waterproof and keeps the wetness contained. You wrap the insert around the baby like a normal diaper, and seal it shut with something- there are several options. I used this little thing called a Snappi- it’s a long T with teeth that keeps the diaper closed. The cover goes over the insert and snaps or velcros shut. When you change the diaper, you can reuse the cover (assuming it didn’t get dirty too). When the cover does get dirty, you just throw it in the wash with all the inserts.
The advantage of this method is the cost. It’s cheap, partly because you can reuse those covers. The disadvantage is the hassle. The husband hated these. I only liked it okay. Since there are two steps, it takes longer to change them. My baby is very active and it was hard to get him to hold still long enough to get it all done, and the Snappi often would come off in that process. I knew that if I wanted to stick with cloth diapering, this method would not work for us. However if your main motivation for cloth diapering is saving money and you don’t mind sacrificing a little convenience, this is a great option.
One of the great things about Itsy Bitsy Bums is the trial package they offer. For three weeks, you can try up to 15 different types of diapers. At the end of three weeks, you return whatever you didn’t like and get a full refund minus a small rental fee. You also get a discount off of products you buy more of. It’s helpful to see the products in person, but you don’t have to be in Kansas City to use this. They ship anywhere- and orders over $35 ship free! It’s really a great family-owned business.
After I decided the contours/covers would not work for me, I set up an appointment at IBB and we got a trial package put together. My trial package consisted of three types of diapers: Pockets, All in Twos (AI2) and All In Ones (AIO). Each type has some sort of absorbency and some sort of cover- the difference is in how they all go together. All three types are very easy to use- they go on just like a disposable.
These are covers that have a removable insert. You change the whole diaper (insert and cover) each time. The pros: You can add extra inserts for heavy wetters or for overnights, the baby doesnt feel as wet because the insert wicks the moisture away from the outer layer, and they dry in the dryer quickly. The cons: They are bulky and you have to stuff the inserts back into the cover when you take them out of the dryer. If you have several types of diapers, it can be confusing to keep the right inserts with the right covers.
All in Twos
The insert on these diapers snap or fold into the covers. Like the contours/covers, you can just change the insert on these and reuse the cover. The pros: Not as bulky, less expensive since you can reuse covers. The cons: More work while changing if you are reusing the cover and you must prep the diapers after washing to be ready for use. Some people say AI2s are the best of both worlds. That wasn’t the case for me. There are a couple of brands I liked okay, but I thought these didn’t really offer the benefits of either the pockets or the AIOs- I thought they were the worst of both worlds. However, many people love these.
All in Ones
The insert is part of the cover and you can’t remove it. You change the whole diaper each time. The pros: The easiest of them all, trim fitting. The cons: Depending on how the insert is attached, can take a long time to dry, more expensive.
After you know what type you want to try, you have to decide what brands you might like. The cloth diaper world gets very overwhelming because there are many, many brands that make each of these types of diapers. Some brands have snaps (which last longer but are a bit more work), others have velcro (super easy but can wear out). Some brands have sized diapers (not as bulky but you have to purchase different sizes), others are one size (can be bulky, but you’re done after your initial purchase). Some have synthetic fibers (man-made fabrics that often aren’t renewable, but are super soft and stay dry longer), others have natural fibers (things like cotton or bamboo that are natural, but these can be more expensive and feel wet). The IBB website has a great comparison chart here.
I kept about half the diapers from my trial package. There wasn’t one brand that I liked EVERYTHING about, but there were lots of brands I liked most things about. I love that the Simplex AIO never leaks and has natural fibers and cute designs, but they take a long time in the dryer and are expensive. I love that the BumGenius Freetime requires zero work to put back together and still looks brand new after nearly three months, but I don’t like that it uses synthetic fibers. I love the cute designs and soft (though synthetic) fabric of TotsBots AIO, but I have more leakage with them than any other brand. I haven’t found that perfect diaper, but I have found lots that I do really like. I have at least nine different kinds in my stash!
Next time I’ll wrap up by telling you what I do for wipes and how I cloth diaper when we’re out and about.