Thursday, 28 March 2013

Cloth Diaper Part 2- Cloth Diapering Systems

    One of the more difficult decisions in cloth diapering (and can be an expensive mistake) is choosing the right cloth diaper. First, you must choose the cloth diapering system that you like best and works best for your child. Then you have to find the brand(s) that have the best fit. Finally come the small details like, do you like snaps or hook and loop/aplix? Should I use pins, snappis or boingos or just trifold?What materials should I buy? There are many questions that you will answer for yourself with a bit of research but more then research, trial and error will answer these questions for you. First things first, what are the cloth diapering systems, how many are there and which is best? Basically there are 5 different cloth diapering systems. You  may like one or you may like several. You do NOT have to choose one and stick to it. Actually, I would even recommend trying all the ones that sounds interesting out and then deciding which work best for you and your family. We all know the best laid plans.... right? I thought I would LOVE AIO but... wait I'm getting ahead of the train, so on to explaining and naming the five different systems!

    1) Prefolds/Flats.  This system is the one that is more "old school". It is also a great system and stands the test of time. Flats are made of a natural material (ex. birdseye cotton) they are one layer and thin. It looks kind of like a small receiving blanket. It must be folded and can be pinned, snappied or boigo(ed) closed or can just be trifolded. A prefold also looks like a small towel it is rectangular but unlike a flat it is quite alot thicker. A prefold made with multiple layers it is a rectangular piece of cloth that is divided (sewn) into 3 sections. The outer sections have 4 layers and the middle section has either 6 or 8. When buying a prefold you will know how thick the middle layer is because it will say 4x6x4 or 4x8x4. The weight, density and material matter in how absorbent the prefold will be, hence a 4x6x4 prefold is sometimes more absorbent. Prefolds are made of natural materials like cotton, bamboo or hemp (etc., some even combine materials like bamboo or cotton with hemp in the middle). Bamboo and hemp are very absorbent much more so then cotton so may be less bulky. Prefolds are normally sized, there may be a 2 or usually a 3 size system. There are many types of prefolds out there (Chinese, Indian, diaper service quality, bleached, unbleached). This diapering system is very versatile, you choose the thickness, size, absorbency, how to fold it, whether to fasten it closed, what cover to use and so on.). Lastly, prefolds and flats cannot be used on their own. They leak you need a cover to put over them. There are choices in what type of cover to use, PUL type cover or wool! These are what keep the diaper from leaking through. The PUL covers are wipeable inside and can be reused until they begin to smell of urine, so 3-5 times!

The benefits of prefold are:
- They wash very well and stain less
- They dry fast
- Can be very versatile (you can customize the absorbency, how you use them-fastened, trifolded, what type of cover etc.)
- This system is the cheapest cloth diapering system
- The covers can be reused many times and only the prefold or flat placed in the dirty laundry
- These diapers are very durable and can be reused by more then one child
- After you finish using them as cloth diapers they can become a rag, burp cloth etc.

The negatives:
- I find it often hard to wrestle him into a prefold when hes moving around alot (with practice it has gotten easier), the other cloth diapering systems are easier to put on (plus 2 of the other systems don't need 2 steps - the inside and a cover on top)
- Not compatible for daycare use, difficult for grandparents and often dads
- More difficult to learn to use. You need to learn different folds and which you like best.
- When trifolded, they may shift if your child is mobile.

This is a prefold that is fastened with a Snappi.

The above are 2 covers, the one on the left is wool.

    Personally this is not my favourite system but I love that I do have some of these as backup for when my other diapers are dirty. Then again I use the flip system which is an AI2 (All in Two) System and the nighttime insert is an organic cotton prefold. This prefold used with a Thirsties hemp prefold has worked wonders for my heavy wetter. The little man who was waking up almost every night soaked now wakes up dry and the diaper isn't even soaking wet to the touch!

    2) Fitteds- These diapers also are a 2 step system. Fitteds look like a regular diaper but need a cover because they are not waterproof on their own (wool or PUL type of material). Fitted diapers are made of natural materials often cotton, hemp,terry cloth, fleece, or bamboo etc. These diapers can technically be worn for short periods of time without soaking through and they hold on baby without any fasteners like snappi's, they themselves have aplix, snaps or have an elastic that holds them in place. This type of system works great for night with the addition of an insert or prefold.

- Can be a great night option
- Covers can be reused hence the diaper can last longer

- Expensive
- Bulky

Sorry not much information here as this is the only system that I have NEVER tried as of yet.

     3) Pockets - A pocket diaper is made of two parts, the outer is usually PUL (sometimes TPU or apparently even fleece) and the inside is often fleece, sometimes minky or even another fabric (cotton, suedecloth etc). This material is soft and gives a stay dry feeling. What makes this diaper absorbent is the insert that is added. Inside the diaper between the PUL and the inner fabric is a "pocket" it is big enough to add in an insert or two. The inserts are what make these diapers absorbent. Inserts are often made of microfiber. This material is great, it absorbs well it doesn't need as much prepping to reach its maximum absorbency unlike cotton or hemp or bamboo. Microfiber cannot touch babies skin, it will irritate it and cause a rash, hence you cannot use microfiber inserts inside the diaper like in an AI2 system or a prefold system. (As an aside, these diapers can be bought sized or one size)

- Once stuffed you can put it on just like a disposable, especially if you have the diaper with Aplix (hook and loop ("Velcro")
- The insert cannot shift much so your baby will not leak because the insert moved
- This system washes well and dries relatively quickly
- You can sun the inserts and the diaper if there are stains so that it is easier to get it out then in an AIO
- This does not need a cover so there is only one step - put it on your baby
- You can choose the material of the insert, add one or two inserts (or a flat or prefold) hence customizing the absorbency to an extent
- Can be put on baby faster
- Can be customized for nighttime use
- Daycare, grandparent and babysitter friendly (especially if pre-stuffed)

- You have to stuff the pockets with inserts before use
- The diaper can wear out faster then a prefold system (the diaper is washed more often)
- After each use you throw the insert AND the diaper in the dirty laundry it cannot be reused
- This system is more expensive
- Many of these diapers are not good for night the way you buy them, they would need extra doublers/soakers (NOT microfiber not night)
-Not as durable as other options

 (picture from Cozy Bums)

    So far this is one of my favourite systems. I like that you can can change the absorbency, I like the many different material options. I like the how easy and quick diaper changes are. Alek squirms so much now and gives me about 30 seconds to fully finish his diaper change so this is a great option. From this system I have tried Charlie Banana (which I guess it a hybrid because you can use the included inserts or DISPOSABLE inserts laid on top of the diaper like an AI2 system- great for travelling!), Kawaii and BumGenius 4.0 diapers. I have to say so far the Charlie Banana diaper is my favourite. Plus have you seen the prints, they are beyond adorable!!!

     4) All in Ones (AIO). This diaper system is the closest to a disposable you will get. You do not have to add inserts or stuff in anything extra. This diaper also has the outside waterproof PUL type layer (so no cover is needed) and an inside like a pocket made of fleece, suedecloth etc. on the sides but in the middle it is cotton, hemp or whatever material other then microfiber that the absorbent part of the diaper is made of. If you open the diaper it is the shape of a regular diaper with a long tongue like piece of material extending from the middle of the diaper. This material can either be stuffed inside of the "pocket" or can just be flipped into the middle of the diaper. This absorbent part is sewn into the diaper and cannot be removed at will.

- Very easy and quick to put on baby
- You can add an insert inside the pocket (if there is one)
- Daycare friendly and easy for grandparents and babysitters

- You cannot customize the absorbency as much as with the other systems
- Takes longer to dry
- Diaper is not as durable as other systems
- This system is on the expensive side
- Harder to get stains out
- Harder to get very clean

     5) All in Two (AI2). This system is very versatile. This system is two piece, there is the "shell" (usually like a cover) and the soaker (like a insert). The soaker can be snapped into many systems or just laid inside. Some systems go even further and have the pocket option so that you can insert the soaker and use the diaper as a pocket (hence there is the stay dry material lining the inside of the diaper) or use it as an all in two by laying a soaker or prefold on top. The idea is that if your child urinates you can take out the soaker (air out the cover) then reuse the cover again.

- Ease of use
- Versatility
- Ability to customize the absorbency
- The soaker can be snapped into many of the diapers hence unlike prefolds the absorbent inside cannot move out of the way causing leaking.
- daycare, babysitter and grandparent friendly
- Washes well, dries quickly because the diaper can be taken apart (easier to sun out stains)
- More durable then the AIO or Pocket since you can reuse the shell multiple times like a cover
- Can be great for night

-  This system is relatively expensive
- You cannot always reuse the shell so that should not be counted on

The above is the Softbum Omni and has the pocket option or you can use snap in soakers or prefolds inside the shell.

   Personally I am becoming very interested in this system. I have a softbums and at first I was great disappointed that I could not always reuse the shell several times (because if baby soils the inside you cannot reuse it).  Then I began to love this concept. I can use prefold or soakers or even some inserts inside, choose the absorbency but unlike the prefold system I can use a soaker hence no folding! Plus if you do not rely on using it multiple times before it is put in the wash it is great when you do get to reuse it. Also the system is expensive but if you get to reuse the shell several times (which as baby gets older is more of a possibility) then it becomes a less expensive option. I mentioned the Flip system I use for nights, this is an AI2 system, although the shell is more like a cover with no lining inside just the waterproof (easy to wipe) PUL and the soakers for nighttime are prefolds. I need to get some more AI2 for day use. At the moment I am looking into The Best Bottom AI2s.

For those interested in more information, I found 3 websites very useful: Dirty Diaper Laundry, Padded Tush Stats and All About Cloth. Also when choosing which diaper to buy or try out, this app is VERY helpful!

1 comment:

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