But I kept hearing about how much more affordable cloth diapers are compared to disposables so it seemed worth looking into. But how much would cloth diapers actually save? I take great pains to use coupons, buy in bulk and stock up during in-store specials; nevertheless, even natural, organic-style disposables take up a lot of space in landfills — not to mention my garbage can. Aside from saving money, cloth diapers might help in my efforts to go green, while keeping things as natural as possible for the baby. Since I knew next to nothing about using cloth diapers, I tried to search online.
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Cloth diapers have come a long way since your mother or grandmother used them. I purchased several styles and brands of diapers before our baby was born, and have since added more of our favorites to complete our stash. Here is a thread with a list of other cloth diaper rental programs. Continue reading to learn about the various types of cloth-diaper systems, inserts, covers, and fasteners, as well as the negatives and positives for each option.
Prefolds with covers: These were the main diaper option before disposables were available. Prefolds can also be folded and laid in diaper covers instead of wrapped around the baby, or stuffed in pocket diapers. Suggested stash count: Prefolds are the cheapest option. The waterproof cover can be wiped and air-dried and used several times before laundering, unless it is soiled. You can customize the fit on baby depending on how you wrap or fold the diaper.
They take longer to dry in laundry. The diapers are bulky and pants may not fit as well. Some brands are sold in sizes vs. My opinion: I used prefolds a couple of times when my diaper stash was small. Econobum sells trial packs with a cover and 3 inserts, and Thirsties are popular with prefold users. Fitted diapers with a cover: These are similar to prefolds, but without the hassle of folding or wrapping the diaper.
They are shaped and fasten like a disposable diaper with velcro or snaps and need to be used under a waterproof cover. These are also made of cotton, bamboo, or a blend, so they are natural and highly absorbent. Most have elastic around the legs, so leaks are rare. Many people use these overnight to prevent leaks. The diaper feels wet against the skin, takes longer to dry in laundry and will be make pants tighter like the prefolds. I used them on occasion and never asked anyone else to put them on my son, since they were more difficult.
Inserts with covers or all-in-twos: There are a variety of insert choices, including inserts made from cotton, bamboo, hemp, terry, microfiber and other fabrics. You can just dump them in the in diaper pail or washer. The covers air-dry very fast and inserts can be dried in a clothes dryer. The insert can shift or cause wicking if left sticking out of diaper cover.
Day care centers may not use them as the whole diaper must be changed with every diaper change, so make sure you check before you invest in this system. I love that we can reuse the covers until laundry day unless they get messy , and they hang dry within hours. It are also easy to customize which inserts we want to use to get the protection level that we need in different circumstances long car rides, naps, etc.
Depending on the inserts you choose, these were also the thinnest diapers we used, so they fit better under snug clothes. Pocket diapers: The inner and pocket are usually made from fleece, suede cloth, cotton or a bamboo blend. Some babies can be sensitive to the suede cloth used in some pocket diapers. You may want a few extra inserts so you can double-stuff the pocket diaper if needed or if an insert gets lost or damaged in some way.
Pocket diapers are easy to use because you can have them stuffed and ready, and just pull them out to use like you would a disposable. Many people swear by pocket diapers for overnight because they can add extra inserts. These dry fast since the inserts and diapers are separated for laundry. Since the pocket gets wet, the entire diaper must be washed with each diaper change. Bum Genius 4. All-in-ones, or AIOs: These have an absorbent material sewn into a waterproof cover. The outer part is usually made from polyurethane laminate PUL and the inner can be any type of material except for microfiber.
These are the easiest diapers to use because they are one-piece, like a disposable. They can be stuffed with extra material if needed, but tend to be highly absorbent on their own. They are great for people who think cloth diapers will be too complicated. You take it off and throw the whole thing in the laundry.
They take a long time to dry if you are air-drying them, as is recommended for longevity. They are usually more expensive than other systems. Thermoplastic urethane TPU is a similar type of material. M inky: Minky diapers are soft on the outside think minky blanket and lined with a waterproof material on the inside PUL. Wool covers are natural, breathable and waterproof, thanks to lanolin. They are great for clearing up or preventing diaper rash since they are breathable, but some babies are sensitive to wool.
They do need to be hand-washed and lanolized on occasion, so there is more work and maintenance involved with laundry. Fleece covers are soft, breathable and water-resistant. Natural and absorbent, this material will be heavy and wet against the skin unless used in a pocket diaper. These are thicker than some other inserts, but highly effective and easy to clean.
Most prefolds are cotton. Microfiber or microterry: Microfiber cannot be used directly against the skin as it is extremely drying and may cause a rash. Microfiber-only inserts are usually used inside pocket diapers, or on the inside of other inserts covered in natural material or fleece. These vary depending on brand, but are usually three to five layers and some brands have cotton or microfiber the middle like Alva 4 layer.
Bamboo alone absorbs very fast and is thin and soft. They are great for doubling with another insert, but you may need to use two together if the brand is particularly thin and floppy like Alva 3-layer. The Alva 4-layer with microfiber inside works well, but the three-layer are too thin for me to use alone or to stuff into pockets. However, people rave about Applecheeks bamboo inserts. Hemp is natural usually blended with cotton for softness and can absorb a ton.
Charcoal Bamboo CBI: These dark gray inserts have a charcoal bamboo outside and microfiber on the inside. They are very absorbent and have a stay-dry feeling, but they do take longer to absorb moisture. The lining in pocket diapers helps wick the moisture to absorb faster. This blend of bamboo, cotton, viscose and microfiber is said to absorb moisture 20 times faster than other fabrics, and will hold more moisture. Disposable Inserts: Want the ability to throw away the inner part of the diaper and wash only the shell, orgo back and forth between washable and disposable based on convenience?
Flip , and G-Diaper offer disposable inserts, and these can probably be used in other covers as well. These inserts are more expensive so they may be best for traveling or running around town, but still produce less waste than whole disposable diapers. There are just a few fastener options, and they each have their pros and cons. Velcro also called Hook and Loop or Aplix for some brands: These are most similar to fasteners on disposables, so they are easier for those unfamiliar with cloth diapers to use.
They are easy to adjust to get a great fit on baby, but you have to check that each tab in folded in when laundering or they can snag other items. Velcro wears out faster than snaps, so these may not last through multiple children. Older babies and toddlers can open these tabs and take off their diapers. These fasteners are very secure and hard for babies to undo. Snaps are harder to adjust to get the best fit, though after a few times, you figure out where you need to fasten them to fit your baby and you can just adjust that as your baby grows.
Different brands have a different number and placement of snaps. My opinion on fasteners: Your baby will grow out of them before they can unfasten them, and before the Velcro wears out. These descriptions should help with your search for the perfect cloth diaper, or give you enough information to figure out which varieties to try. Let me know which type and brand of diaper you prefer in the comments.
Which is cheaper, cloth diapers or disposables? How to build a cheap cloth diaper stash. Val McCauley was drawn to writing about Living on the Cheap after moving to Columbus from her small hometown after college. She realized that there were a ton of events and activities going on around the city, but there wasn t a website that made it easy to find out about these things. Her love of travel and desire to get out of debt after college cemented the need to live on less while still having fun.
Over the last several years, she has paid off all of her debt and still has fun.
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