The ABC’s of Cloth Diapering: The Definitive Guide
by Mom Cassandra Lerro
Types of Diapers
Pocket diapers are probably one of the most common types of diapers. They are completely customizable for your baby’s needs. They typically have a back opening that forms a “pocket” for the absorbent layer to be put into. You can put however many or whichever type of insert you choose to use.
These inserts are among the most affordable type of insert, they are typically 3-5 layers, they have good absorbency and dry very quickly in the dryer or clothesline. Microfiber is made from synthetic materials (normally polyester, polyamides and polypropylene blend). Unfortunately, microfiber inserts have a few downfalls; they are prone to compression leaks caused by the baby wearing tighter clothing or created once the baby starts sitting. Microfiber inserts have a shorter lifespan compared to other inserts, and it’s important to keep in mind to NOT put this material directly against baby’s skin because it can cause an irritation. Overall, Microfiber inserts are a good, functional and inexpensive option, particularly for infants.
Hemp Inserts- These inserts are among the most expensive inserts, typically thinner fitting but more absorbent than other types. Hemp inserts are made from all natural fibers and generally blended with cotton. Disadvantages about Hemp include the ability to absorb fluid much slower than microfiber, along with the insert requiring to be washed a few times (prepped) before they are absorbent.
To learn more about prepping diapers and inserts, please visit my blog.
These inserts normally are in the medium price range, they are made from all natural fibers and are generally blended with cotton or terry, and can normally be placed directly against baby’s skin. The disadvantages of bamboo inserts are the slightly longer wait time the product requires to fully dry after washing. Bamboo inserts also need to be washed a few times in order to be “prepped” resulting in slight shrinking, and lastly bamboo is not considered antimicrobial.
To learn more about prepping a diaper, please visit my blog.
Charcoal Bamboo Insert (CBI)
These inserts are normally in the medium price range, charcoal is added to bamboo to make it darker in color. Charcoal Bamboo Inserts can be 3-6 layers thick, typically have microfiber inside them and can normally be placed directly on baby’s skin. A disadvantage to CBI is the fact that it has microfiber inside it which can result in problems already stated with microfiber.
Prefolds, Flats, Flour Sack Towels
Prefolds, Flats, Flour Sack Towels are old fashioned type of diapers or inserts; they come made from different fabrics and only provide absorbency. You may fold them in many different ways depending on your preference and baby’s needs. Please note,* you will need a water proof cover or pocket diaper for them to go into.
To learn more about different style folds and what I’ve had success with, please visit my blog.
Covers are exactly what they sound like, a waterproof cover that goes over another form of diaper or insert. Covers can be reused multiple times without need of washing and are the cheapest form of cloth diapers. They are similar to old-fashioned style diapers but have snaps or Velcro instead of an elastic waist line. Covers have the ability to be customizable because you can use them over most inserts, flats, pre-folds or fitted diapers.
Fitted diapers mainly provide absorbency and are in need of a waterproof cover. They are a great night time solution since they are very absorbent and typically made of a lot of layers. They look, feel and go on just like a regular cloth diaper. Since fitted diapers have many layers, they tend to be very bulky. The insert in a fitted diaper snaps right into it and could be made of many different materials. Some fitteds do now come with a waterproof layer sewn into the diaper and are considered hybrid fitteds.
All In One (AI1)
All In One (AI1) diapers are similar to pocket diapers but instead of having to stuff an insert into them, the insert is attached or sewn into the diaper. They come with many different types of absorbent layers. There are two kinds of AI1 diapers; flap style All in ones and sewn-in All in Ones. Flap style AI1s have 2 inserts that are sewn right onto the diaper on one edge which allows you to fold it over and into the diaper. Sewn-in AI1 have the insert completely sewn into the diaper and typically have a pocket in back to add extra inserts if needed.
All In Two (AI2)
All In Two (AI2) diaper is also known as a hybrid diaper because it blends 2 different types of diapers together in one, combining elements from AI1 and a fitted diapers. They tend to be an AI1 diaper with either a sewn-in or a flap style insert and have an extra insert that snaps onto the diaper. AI2s may be made of many different materials.
All In Three (AI3)
All in Three (AI3) diapers combine all styles of diapers into one and come with different blends of material within each insert. AI3s are amazing diapers for overnight wearing and for heavy wetters, thanks to the large amount of layers that provide superior absorbency. AI3 diapers are available exclusively to Cuddle Bear Bottoms and a hand full of other vendors. AI3s are uniquely made by Baby Basics and feature a snap in insert, a sewn-in insert, a flap style insert and a pocket for extra stuffing.
How to Care for Diapers
At Cuddle Bear Bottoms we understand that storing and washing your baby’s dirty diapers can become a very intimidating task, especially for new moms. We would like to make your parenting life a little bit easier by simplifying this process and providing you with simple steps to follow for the care and storage of diapers. People assume that storing dirty cloth diapers will smell awful, but in reality, they won’t smell any worse than disposable diapers do. First, it is best to wash your baby’s dirty diapers twice a week, about every 3-4 days. Best way to store dirty cloth diapers until their next wash is to place them somewhere unconfined and where air hits them (wash basket, open garbage can etc.) to avoid ammonia building up.* Next is washing time, I was told that I should think of my diapers as the dirtiest laundry I will ever wash in my life. When your baby is just on breast milk, there is no need to rinse or even remove poop from the diaper before washing; If baby is on formula or solid foods, the poop needs to be rinsed off before washing. It is best to wash diapers in a mainstream detergent similar to tide for optimum cleanliness. Also, during the process of washing diapers, they should go through more than one cycle and make sure to include at least one cycle being meant for the heaviest soil level. The washing-diaper experience can differ from family to family, but I am happy to share what works for mine.
To learn about my exact wash routine, please visit my blog.
Troubleshooting Cloth Diaper Issues
Do your diapers stink after being washed?
Typically when diapers stink, it means the wash routine needs adjusting some. If something is or was wrong with your wash routine causing stink, it is best to strip your diapers so that you are starting with an essentially “new diaper”.
To learn about washing diapers for my stripping routine, please visit my blog.
Are you having rashes?
Rashes can happen for a number or reasons and can be very common in diapered babies; if they are bad or lasting longer than normal, it is always best to consult a doctor. Detergents build up or ammonia build up may cause rashes on baby while using cloth diapers; these generate when your wash routine needs adjusting and you will need to strip your diapers in order to start a new wash routine.
To learn about washing diapers for my stripping routine, please visit my blog.
Are you having leaks?
There are a few common causes of leaks when cloth diapering. Are you changing your baby frequently enough? would be my first question I ask (every 2-3 hours is ideal). If you are changing frequently enough, do you notice you get leaks when baby is sitting, wearing onesies or tight pants. These are called compression leaks and come from too much pressure on the diaper pressing the pee out of it. These are a common problem with microfiber; I would suggest trying different inserts in the diaper, putting baby in looser clothing or trying a different kind of diaper. Another reason for leaks can be because your baby is a heavy wetter; if your baby is a heavy wetter you might need to try a different kind of diaper/insert or doubling up your inserts. If none of these scenarios are true to what you and your baby are experiencing, it could be that something is off with the wash routine and diapers could have some mineral build up (from hard water) and need to be stripped and a water softener may need to added to your wash routine.
Have a Question?
At Cuddle Bear Bottoms, we aim for everyone to have as much success cloth diapering their babies as we do ours. If none of these scenarios are the issue, please feel free to reach out to me and I will do my best to help you troubleshoot your leaky diapers.
Sandy can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.