Being a person trying to live more sustainably, cloth diapers seemed to be the best option for my little one. When I realized that there are about 8 different types of cloth diapers, I started feeling intimidated about choosing the right one and the right number of diapers. But of course, there was no better option than cloth diapers as compared to disposable ones, for they are not just eco-friendly but budget-friendly as well. So, I mustered up my courage and started doing my research. I learned that cloth diapers have a wide range of variety and offer unique solutions to our baby’s unique issues. This is why you will have a different opinion than mine or other moms, depending upon what works best for your baby. With this post, I am aiming to help you decide the best possible cloth diaper for your baby, by helping you explore the benefits of each type.
Diapers are great to absorb and hold your baby’s body waste, and there is a huge variety of diapers to do that. Disposable diapers consist of an absorbing layer made from treated cotton and wood-pulp fibers, along with a gel-like substance, and then comes a plastic-coated material that acts as a barrier. This gel-like substance expands while absorbing the moisture and liquid waste and keeps it inside. Though these plastic diapers are capable of holding a lot of liquid, they have chemicals inside, are liable to leaks, and can cause rashes in your baby. Cloth diapers, on the other hand, are made of an absorbent material consisting of synthetic microfiber or natural fiber (hemp, bamboo blends, or cotton) and a waterproof plastic material cover that acts as a barrier. Cloth diapers are popular among parents because they are reusable, eco-friendly, budget-friendly, and chemical-free. Opting for cloth diapers doesn’t mean that you can’t switch to disposable ones in times of need. Most parents prefer using disposable diapers when going out. Today, you’ll find a variety of diapers in the market to meet your baby’s specific needs, so choosing the one that suits your need is a personal choice to make.
The different types of cloth diapers
As the name suggests, this diaper is the number one solution to all your issues, with one-wear-one-wash functionality. This diaper comes with an absorbing layer and an outer layer of water-resistant material that acts as a barrier. This is highly suitable for newbies, due to its resemblance to disposable diapers.
They are the best “all-around” choice for your baby and can be used for any occasion as a safe option, but the only disadvantage of AIO is that they take a longer time to dry as compared to others. These can be an expensive alternate as you will need to change the whole diaper once it’s soiled, which is an important factor in choosing the size stash that serves your purpose the best.
AIO diapers come in a variety of insert fibers, which gives you an opportunity to choose the best one.
AL2 diapers consist of a waterproof outer layer and an absorbent component that is separable. You must add the absorbent layer inside the waterproof cover, before dressing your baby. This concept of separate layers makes the outer layer be reusable time and time again.
The snaps on both layers make it easy to attach and detach both layers. The semi-attached cover can fold out, making the drying time faster than the All-in-one diapers, and leaves you with the lesser laundry to wash.
In pocket diapers, the cover and the insert are separate and there’s an opening on either end of the diaper to insert the absorbing layer. The pocket of the insert consists of water-resistant fabric, and a moisture-wicking lining.
This lining keeps the baby dry, by pulling the excess moisture away from the skin.
Some of these diapers will have one opening on either end of the diaper. This opening is mostly made of encased plastic or lining fabric from the outside.
Some pocket diapers come with an opening on both ends of the diaper, which makes the stuffing and unstuffing rather convenient.
The lining of a pocket diaper is usually made from a wicking suede-cloth and fleece, to pull the moisture away from the baby’s skin into the insert. Both these are made from 100 percent polyester, but some babies that get irritation from the suede cloth, do not experience the same irritation from the fleece. So, choose the lining material wisely for your little one.
Pocket diapers are rather cheaper than the AIO diapers. Their versatile style helps you insert pad folded pre-folds/flats as an absorbing layer, and you can add as many layers of inserts as you want to increase the absorbency of the diaper.
One major drawback with these diapers is the time consumed during stuffing and unstuffing them.
Flats and pre-folds
Flats and pre-folds are also known as “old school” diapers and have similar absorbing layers, placed within the water-resistant cover. Their design makes it easy to replace the inner absorbent layer while using the same outer layer.
As the diaper cover has no lining, you can wipe away any waste from the cover and use it again. These diapers come in a variety of fibers and sizes as well.
These diapers consist of a single-layered piece of woven cloth, that can be folded in thirds or quarters to make a multi-coated pad. Their folding ability helps you create as many layers as you want, depending upon your need for absorbency and size.
As the name suggests these diapers come folded already into 2-3 layers of cloth and can be used in a simple pad fold. These are also a quicker alternate for flats.
Fitted diapers like other diapers have an absorbing layer trimmed into a diaper like shape, with elastic bands around the legs and the waist. As this diaper contains no water-resistant cover, you will have to place that cover yourself as you do in flat/pre-fold diapers, which can make it bulky.
These diapers are highly absorbent because the entire diaper comprises of the absorbing material, but that also makes it harder to dry. Fitted diapers are expensive and are made from a mixture of synthetic or natural material with snap-in options to increase absorbency.
Polyurethane laminate (PUL) comprises a water-resistant laminated fabric. Whereas Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is made up of water-resistant heat-reactive plastic.
TPU is not a fabric, instead, it’s a very thin layer of stretchy elastic made into a fabric-like layer.
Wool is one of the most popular alternatives for PUL/TPU covers. The fibers of the wool not just repel dampness but also prevent your baby’s diaper from dripping, by redirecting the humidity back into the absorbing layer.
Before using a wool cover, you will need to lanolize the fibers first, to make them moisture repellent. You will also need to follow specific directions for care and cleaning to preserve your wool cover. These are the most expensive cover out in the market but are certainly very convenient.
How to find the perfect diaper size for your baby?
Here are some tips to choose the perfect diaper size for your baby:
- If you are choosing a diaper for your newborn, then make sure that it’s the tiniest size available. They are a perfect choice for babies weighing 6-10lbs.
- Sized diapers consist of standard sizes (small, medium, large) with their own weight range.
- One size diaper can fit all sizes within one diaper. To make the diaper your baby’s size, you can use the snaps in front of the diaper. OS diapers have a weight range of 8lbs-35lbs.
- For babies that weigh around 10lbs-13lbs, a diaper with 3*3 (three rows of three snaps) rise snap setting proves to be the best. Whereas, for newborn babies, diapers with 4*3 (four rows of three snaps) will size down smaller to better hold your newborn.
Choosing the right diaper for your baby can become overwhelming for parents. But worry not, for there are many cloth diapers that you can choose from to serve your specific need.
AIO diapers and pocket diapers are very user friendly and need very less or no prep at all. Whereas flats and pre-folds, not only offer customizable absorbency but are also easier to wash. Make sure that you make this decision yourself considering your baby’s needs because you will be the one using them. So, choose sensibly and boldly!
Let me know your thoughts on this post below, and feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.