Monday, February 22, 2010

Introduction to Cloth Diapers

Yes, I am one of those people who use cloth diapers. Before you come to the conclusion that I am a crazy hippy and close my blog never to read it again, I ask you to give me a chance to explain why cloth diapers are not only better for the environment, but also better for your baby.

In the next few posts I will be telling you about the benefits of cloth diapers.

First, allow me to give you a quick overview of the possibilities that cloth diapers afford parents. Well before Mr. B and I decided to have children (probably even before we were married) I had decided that I wanted to use cloth diapers. Yes, I am a hippy, and I am proud of it. But there are so many different kinds of cloth diapers available and so much information on the internet that it can be very overwhelming. It took me a long time to decide on what I wanted to use.

There are three basic types of diapers, plus one really cool new one that I will get to after I explain the following three.

Prefolds are basically pieces of fabric that you fold in different ways, wrap around your baby and put a cover over. They are not to be confused with flat diapers, which are just one or two layers sewed together. Prefolds have different layers of fabric in different areas. They are separated into thirds length-wise and generally have four layers of fabric in the two outside thirds, and in the middle they have either 6 or 8 layers. When you look at them on cloth diaper websites, you will see something like 4x6x4 or 4x8x4. This tells you the thickness of the diapers.

Once you've folded the diaper around your baby you use a Snappi to fasten it and then put a cover over top. When you put the cover on you must take care that the diaper is completely covered around the waist of the baby and also around the legs. This will keep the baby's clothes dry when he pees or poops.

Prefold diapers are the diapers that we use on our son and they can be folded many different ways. This is the way we fold our diapers. We use Bummis brand prefold diapers. They have starter kids you can buy. I would recommend the infant size kit for parents just starting out with prefolds, but the baby sized kit has a lot of the same stuff in it anyways and we just bought the bigger sized diapers and covers instead of buying another kit. We purchased 36 prefold diapers and 5 covers and I do laundry every other day. When Pierce was smaller we still had 36 prefolds but I only did laundry every 2nd or 3rd day. I think that's because the larger sized prefolds fill my diaper pail faster than the smaller ones.

Prefold diapers are the cheapest cloth diaper option available.

Fitted Diapers
These are similar to prefold diapers in that you wrap them around the baby and then put a cover over top. The difference is that you don't need to fold them first. Also, most of the time these diapers come with either snaps or velcro attached so you don't need to use a Snappi with them.

The benefits of these diapers are that they are easier to use than prefolds because there is no folding involved. If your significant other isn't completely sold on the idea of cloth diapering, but your budget for cloth diapers is not huge, then this might be the option for you. They're easy to use, and while they're more expensive than prefold diapers, they're still pretty cost effective. You don't need any more covers with fitted diapers than you do with prefolds, either, so you could easily have 36 fitted diapers and 5 covers like we do with prefolds.

These are the Cadillac of cloth diapers. They are just like disposables, but made out of cloth. All you have to do is put the diaper under your baby's tush, and close it up with the attached snaps or velcro. No folding or cover needed. They come in different sizes based on the weight of your child, or they come in "one-sized" options with snaps on the front to adjust the rise of the diaper as your baby grows.

They also have the option of coming fully stuffed, or having "pockets" that you use to stuff the diaper with as many inserts as you wish before you put the diaper on your child. Pocket diapers are handy if you are one of the lucky ones whose baby sleeps for long periods during the night and you want to make sure he stays dry. You just stuff the diaper with as many inserts as you need. Of course, you can always lay extra inserts on the top of an all-in-one without a pocket, too.

These are the most expensive of the cloth diaper options, but they are also the easiest to use. If you have a significant other that is really opposed to cloth diapers, these are for you. These are also the easiest diaper for your daycare provider to use.

Hybrid Diapers
Sometimes these diapers are referred to as All-in-Twos, or even prefold diapers, but there is a distinct difference between the prefolds I discussed above and these diapers. These diapers are so. cool. Unfortunately they came out after Pierce was born. If they had come out before and given me a chance to research them, I would've chosen these hands down.

The way these diapers work gets me so excited. They are covers, called "shells" by the company that makes them, with "soaker pads" that snap in, and then a "booster" that you lay over the soaker pad if your baby requires more protection. Then you close them up over the baby.

I know what you're saying, "Devon, they work the same as the prefolds or all-in-ones you described above." And I say, "But wait! There's more!" in true infomercial fashion.

This is what makes them so cool. They have biodegradable soaker pads that also snap into the shells so that if you are traveling and don't have access to laundry facilities, you don't have to buy those chemical-filled disposable diapers that just go into the trash. These biodegradable shells can be put in the trash, flushed down the toilet or they can even be composted! (But don't put the poop in the compost, okay?) How incredibly cool is that?!

These diapers are in line cost-wise with other all-in-ones, and sometimes even more expensive, but since they are very new to the cloth diaper scene, I am hoping they will come down in price as time goes on.

I want these diapers, but I can't justify the price, especially since we have already spent money on prefold diapers that work just fine. If we ever travel with Pierce, though, I would love to use these in place of disposables.

So that is it with regards to our introduction. In my next post I will talk about how to care for your cloth diapers.


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