Archive for June, 2010

Cloth Diapering 102

June 14, 2010

If you’ve internalized the cloth diapering definitions

(quick recap: flat = big one-layer diaper, prefold = smaller rectangular multi-layer diaper, fitted = diaper with elastic and snaps or Velcro but no waterproof outer, all-in-one = like a fitted but with a waterproof outer, pocket = diaper cover sewn on three sides to a stay-dry layer with the back open for stuffing, cover = separate waterproof outer to go over a flat, prefold, or fitted)

then here is the place to come to find out more.

Disclaimer: This is for if you really want to find out more. If all you want to do is buy some diapers for your baby and get on with your life, please see my “Getting Started” section.

Cloth diapering is about making choices. There are lots of choices. Here are some major ones:

Do you want natural fibers or synthetics? Natural fibers breathe better and are easier to clean. Synthetic fibers are trimmer, more absorbent, more durable, and dry more quickly. Some babies are sensitive to one but do fine with the other (my kids were fine either way).

Do you want Velcro or snaps? Velcro is easier and more adjustable, but snaps are less likely to scratch, snag, or be pulled off by the baby.

Do you want a separate diaper and cover? A flat, prefold, or fitted with a separate cover will be more breathable, more leakproof, easier to wash, and, in most cases, cheaper. A pocket or all-in-one will be faster and more convenient to use, especially for baby-sitters and other people who aren’t used to cloth.

If you decide you want a separate diaper and cover, do you want flats, prefolds, or fitteds? Flats are good if you don’t have your own washer and dryer. Fitteds are good if ease of use is important and you have a little bit more money to spend. Prefolds are an in-between option. What kind of cover do you want? Nylon is cheap, PUL is durable, wool is breathable. Pull-on covers are simple, but wrap-style covers provide more flexibility (especially if you’re using flats or prefolds) and are easier to take off; see velcro vs. snaps above.

If you decide you want a diaper that goes on more like a disposable, do you want pockets or all-in-ones? Pockets dry faster. All-in-ones don’t require stuffing, and have the option of natural fiber inners.

The combinations are endless. I like natural fiber prefolds (or snapping fitteds) with separate snapping covers. Our child care provider likes synthetic Velcro-closing pocket diapers. My husband likes snapping all-in-ones with natural fiber inners. My mother likes Velcro-closing natural fiber fitteds. Everyone likes different things; this is why there are so many different kinds.

By the way, when I say “natural fiber” I really mean “cotton.” Hemp is widely available, too. It’s breathable like cotton, is more absorbent than cotton, but tends to be stiff, and doesn’t come clean as easily. Then there’s bamboo, which to my understanding is not technically a natural fiber because it is blended with polyester. Many fitteds and nearly all flats and prefolds are natural fiber, but you need to check to be sure. Wool is the only natural fiber diaper cover material. When I say “synthetic,” I am talking about diapers that are cotton blended with polyester, or that have microfiber soakers and microfleece against the baby’s skin. Many fitteds and all-in-ones, all diaper covers that aren’t made of wool, and nearly all pocket diapers are synthetic.

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