how to choose cloth diapers
When I first started researching about cloth diapers, I was overwhelmed by the number of choices and options. It seemed like there were hundreds of combinations: different manufacturers, different styles, and different systems. All of it created a big headache. I did not know what was right for me. Now that I have tried all different types of cloth diapers, I will attempt to make cloth diapering choices as simple as possible for you.
MOST ECONOMICAL – Combination of Prefolds + Diaper Covers
I am all about saving money. So, I first started cloth diapering with diaper covers and prefolds.
This combination is easy to use. Simply fold the prefold cloth diaper and place it inside the diaper cover. That’s it. You need about 24-36 prefolds and 4-8 diaper covers. You will need more diaper covers for newborns and less for older babies. You do not need to replace the diaper cover with each diaper change, simply replace the wet prefold. There are times when I use 4 diaper covers a day and there are times when I can get by with using just 1 diaper cover a day, depending on how wet or soiled my diaper covers get. I change the wet prefolds every 1-2 hours as soon as I notice the wetness.
Prefolds will stay wet on your baby’s bottom until a diaper change. If you want to keep your baby’s bottom dry while using prefolds, I recommend placing the stay dry liner on top of the prefold diaper. The stay dry liners are made of fleece, the same material found in a pocket diaper shell that protects wetness from touching your baby’s bottom.
For night-time, I recommend placing stay dry liners on top of the prefold to keep your baby’s bottom dry throughout the night! Click here for more information on night time cloth diapering.
With proper care, prefolds can last longer than any other cloth diapers. Because it doesn’t have Aplix tabs, elastics, or any other mechanical parts that can wear out, it’s simple and durable. Unlike any other cloth diapers, you can soak the prefolds in water to treat stains. Though I DO NOT recommend using diaper rash cream on any cloth diapers, my sister have used prefolds while using diaper rash cream without much problems.
Depending on the age of your baby, prefolds can be bulky. Especially when your baby starts to crawl and walk, parents tend to prefer the AIO (All-In-One) or pocket diapers for a trim fit.
This prefold and diaper cover system can be mixed up in various ways. You do not always have to use prefold with a diaper cover. If you want a trim fit, especially for a newborn, you can use Hemp Babies Little Weeds, which is made of hemp, a super absorbent natural fabric. The Hemp Babies Little Weeds can be used later as an insert or a doubler. If you want more absorbency and less poop messes on the diaper cover, you can use fitted diapers with covers. Fitted diapers are shaped like a diaper cover to contain all poop messes and provide super absorbency when you need it. Some mothers find the fitted diaper is trimmer than prefolds; others find it more bulky. I think it really depends how the diaper fits your baby and varies from age and weight.
There are diaper covers with Aplix tab or metal tab closures. Aplix tabs are convenient and easy to use. Parents who are new to cloth diapering prefer Aplix tabs because it is similar to disposables. However, the Aplix tabs will wear out over time and can stick to other diapers during laundry. Metal snaps are not as easy to use and takes a little longer to close the diaper. It may not be ideal for wiggly babies or parents who are new to cloth diapers. However, metal tabs will last much longer than Aplix tabs. Parents who have a few months use of cloth diapering under their belt seem to prefer metal tabs because it will last more than one child and won’t stick to anything during laundry.
To help you save even more money, there are now one-size diaper covers that will last from newborn baby to toddler. Though one-size diaper covers are meant to fit newborns, it is still quite big for them. So, Thristies came up with Thirsties Duo Wrap diaper covers, two diaper covers that will fit from newborn to potty training toddlers. For my personal experience, I really just need two sizes (Small and Medium) instead of four (Newborn, Small, Medium, and Large). I have a skinny 2-year-old who still fits Medium size diaper covers.
MOST CONVEINIENT (but more expensive) - Pocket and All-In-One (AIO) diapers
Pocket and All-In-One cloth diaper system is my cousin’s favorite diapering system. She tried several different cloth diapers and this was most convenient for her. Even though you spend a few hundreds of dollars up front, you are still saving quite a bit of money by choosing cloth diapers versus disposables. You need about 18-36 cloth diapers, more for newborns and less for toddlers. My cousin has 12 pocket diapers and 12 All-In-One diapers. Some parents prefer to use all pocket diapers; others prefer mostly the All-In-One diapers for daytime and a few pocket diapers for night-time.
Pocket diapers are popular because it keeps your baby’s bottom dry. It has a cloth diaper shell (with a stay dry layer) and microfiber inserts. You simply stuff the insert(s) inside the shell. The layer that touches baby’s bottom is made of soft fleece that keeps moisture away from the baby even when the insert inside the pocket diaper is completely wet. Because of the dry layer, the pocket diaper is a popular choice for night time diapering. My daughter can wear the pocket diaper 12 hours straight at night without leaking. And it keeps her bottom dry the entire night! It’s also great for day time use, when you are battling a diaper rash or when you do not feel like changing diapers every time it is wet. When I am running errands and cannot change diapers for 2-4 hours, I like to use pocket diapers. It will keep her dry and comfortable even after she wets the inserts. It is most convenient, because you do not have to change the diaper as soon as it gets wet. Because it is easy to use and keeps my baby’s bottom dry, pocket diapers are my personal favorite to use for daycare.
All-In-One (also known as AIO) cloth diaper is like the prefold and cover put together in one. Because you do not need to have to deal with putting two separate pieces together (pre-fold + diaper cover), it is convenient to use, just like the disposables. Also, there is no stuffing inserts like the pocket diapers. Some AIO cloth diapers (Organic bumGenius and Dreamease) are made of cotton inside, and other AIO cloth diapers (Thirsties AIO) have stay dry fleece layer just like the pocket diaper. If you like the natural fabric touching your baby’s bottom, choose AIO diapers with cotton inside. With natural fibers like cotton, you should change the diaper as soon as it gets wet. Some babies are not bothered by the wetness in cloth diapers. So, some mothers will go 2-3 hours without changing the wet cloth diaper. However, I do not recommend this as it can cause redness and a diaper rash. Use a stay dry liner to keep your baby’s bottom dry if you do not want to change the diaper as soon as it is wet.
Another great advantage of AIO and pocket diapers is that they are TRIM! If you are love the trim fit of the disposables, you will love the trim fit of the AIO and pocket diapers. Parents tend to prefer the AIO and pocket diapers as babies learn to crawl and walk. Trim fit diapers allow your baby to move more freely.
Unlike prefolds, the pocket and All-In-One diapers may not last for several years. The elastics around the legs, stitching, and Aplix tabs can wear out over time. You must take great care of these diapers to last a few years. However, with excellent care, it may last more than one child. The metal snap closures will last much longer than Aplix closures. FuzziBunz One Size Pocket diapers have metal snaps and replaceable elastics which will last longer than pocket diaper with Aplix tabs.
MY DIAPER STASH
At first, I used mostly pre-folds and diaper covers, trying to stay as economical as possible. I also used the Hemp Babies Little Weeds with a diaper cover whenever I wanted a trim fit. I also used the fitted diapers when I needed more absorbency, especially for nap time or running errands. For night-time, I used a pre-fold and a stay dry liner with a diaper cover.
As my baby got older, I really liked the trim fit and the convenience of the All-In-One and pocket diapers.
At 18 months of age, my 20 lbs daughter’s diaper stash is:
12-18 prefolds (Mix of both Infant and Premium size)
4-6 diaper covers (Size Medium)
6 All-In-One (One Size)
6-8 Pocket diapers (One Size)
I usually use the pre-folds or fitted with a diaper cover when I am at home. When I am out and about, I use the pocket diapers or All-In-One. For night time, I use either pocket diapers or pre-fold + stay dry liner + diaper cover system.
I wash my diapers every 1.5 days to 2 days.
MY FRIEND’S DIAPER STASH
She used mostly pre-folds and diaper covers when her baby was young, with a couple of pocket diapers for when she was out and about. As her daughter started to crawl, she ditched the pre-folds and cover system. They were too bulky for her.
At 11 months of age, her 17 lbs daughter’s diaper stash is:
5 bumGenius 3.0 one size pocket diapers
5 Fuzzi Bunz one size pocket diapers
5 fitted diapers (without the diaper covers)
It is recommended to use diaper covers with fitted diapers. However, some mothers, just like my friend, like to use them without the covers, to avoid sitting in wet diapers. She only uses them at home, when wetness can be detected right away. As soon as her baby pees, she changes the diaper.
She washes her cloth diapers daily.
MY COUSIN’S DIAPER STASH
She washes her cloth diapers daily.