New to Cloth Diapers? Part 1

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I remember how overwhelming it was when I first began cloth diapering. There were so many choices (and SO many more now!) and I had no idea where to start.

The one thing I did know was disposable diapers are gross and I needed something else. I refused to compromise my child’s health any more (the gel crystals all over his private areas was the stick that broke the camel’s back!).

I want to help you get off to a smooth start. But, plan for bumps in the road. No one cloth diaper will work for all babies. No one laundry detergent will work for all households. However, as long as you stick to your convictions (why you began looking into cloth diapers) then you’ll ensure success in the long run.

You may have noticed that there are different kinds of cloth diapers. Some need a cover, others need inserts and then there are those that need nothing added to them. The following is a condensed explanation of the different cloth diaper systems. (Click => How to Make Cloth Diapers for links on how to make many different types of cloth diapers.)

ALL IN ONES/ALL IN TWOS (AIO/AI2)

An AIO is generally viewed as a diaper that needs nothing else and is very similar to a disposable. The soaker is either sewn internally or externally (referred to as a quick dry soaker) and can close with snaps or Velcro (Velcro is a trademark but there are two other similar products: aplix (softer, long life, doesn’t roll in like touchtape can) or touchtape (stronger stick and available in a variety of colors) ).

An AIO does not require a cover. An AIO with an internal soaker will have a longer drying time because the air cannot circulate around the hidden material.

An external soaker, referred to as a Quick Dry (QD) soaker, allows for air to circulate around the soaker when drying, therefore quicker dry time. The addition of a pocket to an AIO makes it a Stuffable AIO.

An AI2 has a snap in or lay in soaker . The name All in Two arose from the ability to get two uses out of each diaper. When your child pees, theoretically you can remove the soaker and replace it with another if the shell did not get wet. AI2s also have a much faster drying time because the soaker is external.

POCKETS

A pocket diaper usually does not require a cover. The exception would be a fitted that has a pocket. A pocket can be made with a PUL (polyurethane laminate) or fleece outer.

The outer can also be any material backed or lined in PUL. Minky is lusciously soft and many makers offer this fabric for their pocket diapers.

The inner material choices for a pocket include: microfleece, suedecloth, velour, athletic wicking material, minky, cotton or bamboo. Different materials will feel different on the baby when wet. Of the fabrics listed above, microfleece, suedecloth and athletic wicking material are considered “stay dry”. This means baby feels dry after a pee.

A pocket diaper is 2 layers of material sewn together on 3 sides leaving an opening for you to insert the amount of absorbent material you desire. The insert can range from a very trim microfiber towel to a bulkier infant prefold. Another popular insert material is hemp. Hemp is a natural fiber that is antimicrobial and extremely absorbent as well. Infant prefolds do double duty as an insert as well. Simply trifold the prefold and stuff the pocket. For added absorbency wrap the prefold around one of the above inserts.

FITTEDS

A fitted diaper is a diaper that contains no waterproof layer therefore requires a cover. Fitted diapers are the easiest to make on your own because they can be made from any material you have laying around your house.

Fitted diapers can be made from cotton, hemp, fleece, velour, bamboo, knits, various types of terry cloth, kitchen towels, old t-shirts, sweatshirts and many other scrap fabrics you may have laying around. Fitteds are kind of like quiche…toss in any leftovers and out comes a great product!

Without a cover the pee will soak through and get you or the furniture wet. If you are just hanging out at the house for the day a cover isn’t necessary. Just make sure to consistently change the diaper before a leak occurs.

You will undoubtedly stumble upon fitted cloth diapers and ask yourself the same question everyone asks at one time or another, “why are fitteds so expensive and cute when you just have to cover them up?” Many factors go into the answer but just think of it like a good wine or expensive pair of shoes…you often get what you pay for.

PREFOLDS

Prefolds are an absolute staple that every mother should have in her basket. They are amazingly durable and versatile. A prefold diaper is a rectangular piece of cloth divided into 3 sections. The outside layers contain 4 layers of fabric and the middle contains either 6 or 8 layers. The middle layer is the absorbent layer. You will see the prefolds described as 4x8x4 or 4x6x4. This describes the number of layers in the sections. It does not always mean the 4x8x4 are more absorbent. It is the weight of the fabric that indicates absorbency.

You will find some variations to the number of layers especially if you are purchasing specialized prefolds made with bamboo or velour. In some cases there may be 2 layers of bamboo with an extra layer of hemp in the middle.

Bamboo is a highly absorbent material, therefore needing fewer layers than cotton prefolds. This allows for a trimmer fit as well. It comes down to what you want to pay and how soft a fabric you desire.

Prefolds generally come in three sizes-

  • Preemie (4-10pounds),
  • Infant (newborn to 15 pounds) &
  • Premium/Toddler (15-30 pounds).

There are different types of prefolds out there and many abbreviations for them.

  • DSQ simply means that it is Diaper Service Quality versus the type of diaper you would find in your discount store. They are more absorbent than the Gerber brand and are the type that you would pay money for from a diaper service company.
  • CPF stands for Chinese Prefold
  • Another option for prefolds are Indian Prefolds. Indian prefolds are said to be softer than the CPF and are made of gauze rather than twill.
  • There is also the choice of bleached or unbleached. Bleached prefolds are not whitened with bleach but rather with peroxide. Unbleached are in a natural cream colored state. Unbleached do require extra prep time to remove the natural oils in the fibers.

Prefolds can be pinned or snappied on your baby or you can fold it in 3 (trifold) and lay it in a cover. If you choose to use a different system prefolds can still be used as pocket stuffers or doublers. They are an investment worth making.

In upcoming posts I will explain different covers and how to wash your cloth diapers. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask. When you read posts always read the comments. There is a wealth of information found in the comments!

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About Autumn Beck

Autumn is a wife, mother, homeschool teacher, friend and most important a follower of Christ. She began cloth diapering in 2005 and has experienced many joys and trials throughout the years. You can read more from Autumn over at https://www.facebook.com/beautifullyblessedlashes.

View all posts by Autumn Beck

29 Responses to “New to Cloth Diapers? Part 1”

  1. Niki Says:

    How many inserts do I need with a pocket diaper? Can I get away with just the inserts that come with the diapers, or should i buy extras?

    Reply

  2. Amy Says:

    Oh my goodness, Oh my goodness!
    I had NO idea CDs were this evolved!
    After almost twelve years I am pregnant again :) I was very young when my daughter was born and used disposable diapers ot knowing any different. I now know, without a doubt, that I will only use CD on this new baby of mine :)
    A friend has offered to throw a baby shower for us and is wanting a “registry”. So, I am trying to figure out what to request. I now have some ideas thanks to this awesome information. Really, I now know that I can do MUCH more research!
    Thank you! Thank you!

    Reply

  3. Springroll Baby Says:

    Thanks for the interesting read on cloth diapers. I am new to the world of cloth diapers, and will definitely do some more research about it. The benefits to the environment alone seems reason enough to use them.

    Reply

  4. Fire Dancer Says:

    another good diaper to stock is motherease, which i use with my son. they now distribute to stores who want to carry them. http://motherease.com

    Reply

  5. Manda Says:

    Right now I can’t read all of this or all of the comments, but I want to say that I love that your husband commented! Not only is this blog helpful, but you seem like such wonderful and friendly people.

    Reply

  6. jan Says:

    I meant to say, will microfleece reach a point where it will never ABSORB again….

    Reply

  7. jan Says:

    I am so frustrated!!!! At that point where I want to give up… but my resolve (stubbornness) won’t let me! Anyway, I broke the #1 rule and spent a bunch of money on diapers I never tried :( My only saving grace was that I bought them used on CL. (I can’t bear the thought of missing a bargain!)

    I purchased several Blueberry pockets with microfleece lining. I am having a problem with them wicking on my 4 mo. DS… I spent ALL day Sunday stripping them and they are STILL wicking… grrrrr. My question is, can the fleece just give out at some point and never wick again? If so, could I use strips of fleece to line them with to help them absorb again??? Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated :)

    Reply

    • Autumn Beck Says:

      Jan, unfortunately it is possible that the PUL has lost its water-proofing value. This can happen with diapers that are used heavily. I used BB pockets with Paisley and after using them A LOT they did begin to wick. Do you dry your diapers on high heat? This can seal the PUL and solve the problem if you normally line dry. When you drop water on the inside of the diaper does it just roll off? If it does have you tried rubbing Dawn on it with your thumbs?

      Reply

  8. Nurture Says:

    Great post! Our store is “new” to cloth diapers too. After noticing a demand in our area, we decided to start carrying cloth diapers in our store. We currently stock Bumgenius, Fuzzi Bunz and G diapers because we understand they are the most popular and easiest to use. We’re hoping that by having cloth diapers in our store people will be able to come in, touch and feel them, learn about them and find out that CDing isn’t as hard as people think. If you have a favorite “starter” diaper that we’re missing please let us know so we can start carrying that as well.

    Reply

    • Autumn Beck Says:

      I *highly* recommend carrying bum genius organic all in ones and Flips. Do a search on my blog for these diapers. Love love love them both.

      Other popular cloth diapers: thirsties covers and pocket aio, happy heineys, baby kangas, kissaluvs, sustainablebabyish, gads (green acre designs), imse vimse covers, woollybottoms.

      Reply

  9. leanna Says:

    Love this website! Thank you for all this information and support :-) I never thought I would use cloth diapers, but when my 6 mo. old son kept getting persistent diaper rashes I researched and was saddened to see how many chemicals was in his disposable diapers :-( As soon as I switched over to chlorine free disposables his rash got better and now I am on my third week of cloth!! Diaper rash no more!! So, here is my question…I have bum genius 3.0 and just purchased Fuzzi Bunz can i wash them both in the same load? I ask this b/c they both come with different washing instructions.

    Thank you for your help!

    Reply

    • Autumn Beck Says:

      Congratulations! Making the switch to cloth is awesome! I must say this frustrates me that cloth diaper manufacturers can’t have the same washing instructions. How confusing this must be to new users :( As long as you are using a cloth diaper safe laundry detergent and no fabric softener then you should fall in the safe zone for both diapers.

      Reply

  10. Carlene Says:

    Please tell me your thoughts about the disposable liner inserts? Will these work on newborn BF poop? Should I use one each time? Which ones do you recommend? Thanks!

    Reply

  11. lisa Says:

    Hello. I am very VERY new to the CD world. I do know that I’m partial to the AI0’s and AI2’s. In my quest I have noticed 2 things….my son gets a rash from the pee touching his skin and i noticed that he has had friction blisters in his inner thighs. Can anyone offer suggestions to prevent these things?

    Thanks!

    Lisa

    Reply

  12. Sarah Flukinger Says:

    Hey Autumn!! I agree 100% with what you said about sticking with your convictions. I have certainly had my trials with cloth diapers. I do love my pockets though!! :) Especially my blueberry minky one size!! But I think that really staying with your convictions helps you get through the tough times. i will admit, I use a sposie at night. We just got a hydrascale filter on our water well, so I’m hoping that my water improves and that getting all the ammonia out of my inserts will help me go back to CD at night, especially with #2 on the way!! Thanks for a great article!!

    Reply

  13. Kristina Says:

    I am due next week so haven’t got a chance to practice what I have been studying about CDing yet. I got some diapers off diaper swappers and am having fun with the hyena cart too. My newest quest for info involves prefolds vs. flats and bamboo velour. Do the flats come in the same fabric types you listed? Seems like nothing softer than the BV on the baby but you can’t snappi it, right? Not sure which is the way to go. I also really like the support and community of Wahm’s helping each other so I prefer to buy from them but find the BV very hard to find.

    Reply

    • Autumn Beck Says:

      Kristina, you’re right bamboo velour is amazing! Banana Peels Diapers is the best source of cloth diapers I have found. She has both flats and prefolds with explanations for each. Clover (a WAHM business) makes an organic velour prefold that is snappiable and affordable.

      Reply

  14. Cloth Diaper Mom Says:

    A great over view. I always tell parents that it is simpler than it seems. When you are just looking at all of the information, it can be overwhelming. It helps a lot if you can simplify your desire to cloth diaper down to one main reason. Are you looking for cost savings, convenience, or the most environmentally friendly options? That usually helps them to think about what is most important to them and then they can make an easier decision.

    Reply

  15. Sharon K. Says:

    I have cloth-diapered 2 children so far, and come Dec we’ll be cd-ing our 3rd! I have found that as the baby grows, my preferences change. I am a fitteds & covers girl, I cover fitteds with regular covers or wool. But as my kids reach 2 and are going on the potty, I prefer all-in-ones or pockets (and I usually hate pockets b/c I hate stuffing dipes!) b/c my kids need to be able to take off the diaper easily on their own, and it’s just more work with a fitted/cover. Plus I find them strewn all over my house LOL But I LOVE cloth and couldn’t imagine diapering my children any other way. My husband, on the other hand, still claims he doesn’t know what needs a cover, what doesn’t, and he doesn’t understand doublers, etc. Forget about snappis LOL So I always make sure I leave him with clean AIOs, stacked in a pile ready to go- AND I have to have my selected “nighttime diaper” built for him, ready to go, if he’s doing bedtime :)

    Reply

    • Autumn Beck Says:

      Sharon, you made me laugh! My 5yo son will sometimes come tell me “it smells like pee in my room” and it’s because I left a diaper in there! I am terrible about leaving diapers where I changed them *blush*

      Reply

  16. Theresa Says:

    I prefer all in ones or fitteds with fleece. I use the dream eze aios so that there is only organic cotton touching her skin and the soaker is not sewn in all the way so it dries faster. Plus dh hates covering diapers. I love fitteds for night time because they are so breathable and with a fleece cover they are leak proof. I’m not into wool so fleece works well for us.

    Reply

  17. Dr Michael Beck Says:

    From a hubby’s point of view, AOI’s is the way to go. Everything is ‘all in one’ place and you don’t have to go searching for parts and try to figure out how they go together.

    Reply

  18. jamie Says:

    i havr an 9 week old so am relatively new to cd still. i use prefolds and pockets. is it normal for the prefolds to keep shrinking? i have unbleached indian pf. My infant size is now almost the same size as the premies i have

    Reply

    • Autumn Beck Says:

      jamie, different brands will have different shrinkage. If you purchased them from Green Mountain Diapers, Karen lists what the completely shrunk up measurements are. They won’t continue to shrink every time you wash them, they’ll reach they’re fully shrunk state eventually…wow that was a vague answer! HTH a bit!

      Reply

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