baby buttcrack, originally uploaded by Trithemius
Please enjoy this guest post by my wife. The Jay wanted to know more about cloth diapers, so I'm passing you off to the expert.
Ashley's mother here. Evil Dad wanted to write a post about cloth diapers. When he asked me what he should write about them, our conversation went something like this:
Evil Dad: What do you think about cloth diapers?
My one blog reader asked about them, and I was trying to think about what I could blog about them.
Oh. Um, I like them?
What else? What can I write about them?
Well, there's lots of different kinds.
Yeah. And they're not more work than the paper kind.
Well, to you they're not.
That's true. They'd never get washed if it was my job. What else?
Do you just want me to write the blog?
I first thought about using cloth diapers before I was even pregnant. It's just something that I've always known that I wanted to do. It's better for the environment, it's better for the baby (paper diapers have so many chemicals in them, and babies are more prone to diaper rashes when in them), it (can) save you lots of money (I'll come back to this point), and lets face it, they're cute!
There are so many different types of cloth diapers, but when it comes down to it, there are pretty much 4 basic types:
I've used some of everything, and they all have their positives and their negatives.
Let's start with Prefolds. Prefolds are what most people think of when they hear "cloth diapers". They're what my mom used on me and my sisters when we were babies, and they're what my grandma used on my mom when she was a baby. When most people hear "cloth diaper" they think "prefold, pins, and Gerber plastic pants". Well, my friends, let me tell you, cloth diapers have come SO far since our parents' generation. Yes, prefolds do still exist and yes, many people do still use them. However, they have improved dramatically over the past 20+ years. They come in Chinese bleached, Chinese unbleached, Indian bleached, Indian unbleached, Diaper Service Quality, and of course, the Gerber prefolds. They come in a multitude of sizes, assuring you the perfect fit for your baby.
In my opinion, the positives to prefolds are that they dry really quickly, they don't tend to hold on to stink because they are made of natural fibers, and they're cheap. If you're cloth diapering to save money, prefolds are your answer. Negatives to prefolds are that they do come with a learning curve. There are many many different ways to fold them, and you just have to figure you for yourself what fold works the best for your babe.
Moving on to fitteds. Fitted are just that--diapers that are, well, fitted. They are usually made of 2 layers of fabric, and an inner "soaker" that is either sewn in between the 2 layers, or it might lay or snap on top.
When you use a prefold or a fitted, you need to also use a cover, since they are not waterproof.
There are 3 basic types of cover: PUL, fleece, and wool.
PUL is short for polyurethane laminate and is basically a waterproof fabric that many diaper covers are made out of. My favorite PUL diaper covers are Bummis Super Whisper Wraps. These come in all sizes to fit your itty-bitty-fresh-from-the-womb-newborn all the way up to your ready-to-be-potty-trained-toddler. Similar to the BSWW is the Prorap cover. These are very similar, but they have an extra leg gusset to keep in the poo-spolosion.
Fleece is another type of waterproof fabric. These covers can be made as "soakers", which is your basic pull-on diaper cover, "shorties" which are a diaper cover that are made in the style of shorts, or "longies" which are constructed as pants. Shorties and longies are intended to replace the need for pants or shorts, which helps to cut down on bulk which can be a problem with cloth diapers.
Wool is a fantastic naturally waterproof material, thanks to lanolin, and it makes great diaper covers. Soakers, shorties and longies can be constructed from either recycled wool sweaters, or they can be knit out of wool yarn. The really nice thing about wool is that you don't need to wash it very often. All you need to do is air dry it after using, and by the next diaper change, it'll be ready to go again. It doesn't hold on to stink, so unless you have a spolosion, no need to wash.
Pocket diapers generally contain an outside layer of PUL and an inside lining of microsuede, or other non-absorbant, but easily wick-able material (to keep baby's skin dry). They have an opening in the back of the diaper for an absorbant insert to be inserted into. There are so many different inserts out there, but the ones that I've had the best luck with are microfleece, hemp and bamboo. Microfleece is extremely absorbant, but it tends to hold on to stink since it's synthetic. In fact, it is so absorbant, that it is one of the only materials that you do NOT want to have directly against baby's skin, because it will actually pull natural oils from the baby away, resulting in extremely dry skin. Not cool. Hemp is another very absorbant material, and since it's natural it doesn't usually stink as bad. It is also incredibly trim. Bamboo is a "newer" material used in the cloth diapering world and seems to be all the rage. It is super soft, super absorbant and super "green".
Finally we have All-in-Ones. These diapers are the most like disposables, as they need no "prep" work. There is no folding involved, you do not need a cover, and unlike pockets, you do not have to stuff them. They are grab-n-go. They usually contain a PUL outer, a sewn-in hidden soaker, and/or a snap in, sewn-in or lay-in additional soaker. The drawback of these is that they take f-o-r-e-v-e-r to dry since they have so many layers to them.