Conveniently Green Presents…Cloth Diapers: A Beginning Guide for Beginning Beginners Part 2

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So let’s talk about diaper covers. I mentioned in Part 1 that there are some diapers that need waterproof covers. Those are the ones we use, so I’ve traveled the globe in search of the perfect diaper cover. What follows is my own personal opinion and experience…

First and foremost, Diaperpin’s review section is a great places for looking up specific covers. I’ve gotten a lot of good information there.

Diaper covers come in several different kinds of materials. Gone are the rubber and vinyl pants our mothers used. Now there’s wool vs. fleece vs. PUL. Wool is, well, wool like a sweater, and PUL is a soft polyester fabric that is totally waterproof. Fleece is fleece, like the polar fleece you’d find in a jacket. Both wool and fleece are water-resistant, not waterproof. Now people who are into wool really love their wool, but unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get wool to work.

Since this post is all about my personal experience, I’ll talk about PUL. Now there are a bunch of different “features” on diaper covers.

Thirsties single-layer PUL cover with velcro

Snaps vs. Velcro (or “aplix” or “touch tape”): Basically, snaps last longer, have a higher resale value, do really well in the washing machine, and have fewer problems overall, however it can be difficult to get a good fit sometimes, and they can be hard to put on in the dark if there are a lot of snaps involved. On the velcro side, velcro is easier to get a tight, custom fit, and it’s easier to use. On the con side, velcro breaks down in the laundy, can stick to other items in the wash, wears out faster, and stuff can get stuck in the sticky side if you’re not careful. I have a both snaps and velcro covers and like them for different reasons. There are also a few pull-on covers out there. Mouse has figured out how to undo the velcro, so when I dress him in a t-shirt and diaper, he gets a snap cover. Train Guy prefers the velcro.

Single layer of PUL vs. cloth-covered: This refers to what the inside of the cover looks like. A PUL cover can be a single layer of waterproof PUL, a layer of PUL and a layer of fabric, or encased in fabric. The main advantage of a single layer of PUL is that you can just wipe it off and use it again. The disadvantage is that they’re often not very cute and some people don’t like the PUL right up against the baby’s skin. Personal preference on that one. PUL that’s sandwiched in between cloth should  be washed after each use because the cloth has absorbed the urine. A PUL cover with a cloth outer layer is where you’ll often find the really cute patterns. Any cover with poop on it should be washed, obviously.

Sized vs. One-Size: A one-size cover is one that has a series of snaps that fold the fabric together and secure it to make the cover bigger or smaller. Advantages of one-size is obviously that it grows with the baby and you have to buy fewer covers. Disadvantages are that there are a lot of snaps involved, and despite Train Guy’s commitment to cloth diapering, he hates using the one-size because of the multitude of snaps. I personally disliked the one-size because I felt like I never got a good fit, especially in the early days. Mouse was swimming in the cover even on its lowest setting and they all leaked all the time. I personally think sized diapers have the best fit, and their resale calue can be high so it’s not hard to sell them when you’re done. A middle ground would be Thirsties Duo diapers, which are one-sized in two sizes.

Single gusset vs. double gusset: This is at the inner leg where a lot of leaks happen. All covers have a gusset (elastic at the leg) in there, but some add an additional inner gusset for leak protection. If your kid is a heavy wetter, these double gussets can be invaluable. For a while, Mouse could only wear double gussets on his covers.

Another thing to think about is red marks on the legs, waist, or both. Many covers do leave red marks, particularly on chunky babies (like mine). The type of elastic used can contribute to that a lot, as does the fit.

All that said, the following are covers I use/have used. Keep in mind that Mouse is a POWER wetter, so leaks have been a constant problem. Eliminating leaks has taken up an inordinate amount of my time.

Thirsties

Pro: Single layer of PUL, can be wiped clean, velcro, double gusset, rarely get a leak in these
Con: velcro wears out, only come in solid colors, can cause red marks

Thirsties also makes the Duo-Wrap, which is a one-size diaper cover. I haven’t used these so I can’t comment, but I love the sized Thirsties and the Duo pocket diapers.

Froggy Bummi Super Whisper Wrap

Bummis Super Whisper Wrap
Pro: adorable prints, cloth-covered elastic is gentle on skin, sandwiched between two cloth layers, wrapover velcro tabs gets a tight fit
Con: single gusset can lead to leaking (that’s why we stopped using them), need to be washed each time

Proraps
Pros: Cheap as hell (prob. the cheapest on the market), double gusset
Cons: Unbelievably scratchy and literally broke the skin on Mouse’s tummy :(. Lots of people love this cover but I can’t for the life of me understand why

Imse Vimse
Pros: Double gusset, cute prints, soft outer
Cons: velcro wore out FAST and it was tough to get a good fit. We had leaks, especially when he got bigger.

Mommy’s Touch one-size
Pros: cute, sandwiched PUL makes this cover soft inside and out, one size
Cons: We never got a good fit and they leaked like hell. Lots of moms love these, though.

Stacinator So Simple
Pros: NEVER had a leak in this, fleece legs and waist have never left a single red mark, fantastic for nighttime, single layer of PUL, snaps are super easy
Cons: Pretty much the ugliest cover on the face of the planet, and really billowy although it does bunch down. This cover is STRICTLY utilitarian.

Mouse and his Dr. Seuss Bumkins size small

Bumkins
Pros: Single layer PUL, wipe it off and go, wrapover velcro tabs for great fit double gussets, DR. SEUSS!!!!!
Cons: harsh elastic left tons of red marks, just didn’t feel comfortable to me.

Mother-ease Air Flow
I just got one of these but I like it so far. The snaps are easy to adjust, there’s a single layer of PUL, cute fabrics, and the wings have a kind of fold-over design so you get air flow, but I haven’t had any leaks

GEN-Y

Here we come to my very favorite diaper cover of all time: GEN-Y covers. For starters, they’re adorable, but they also work like crazy. They’re one of the only covers I have with single gussets that don’t leak. They’re also really good at reducing red marks.

Rockin' his Argyle GEN-Y Minkee cover

Pros: Single layer of PUL you can wipe down, adorable prints, very gentle binding leaves virtually no red marks, couple of different snap settings help with fit. Also available in a soft Minkee cover that needs to be washed each time.
Cons: run a little bit more expensive than other PUL covers (but worth it!), you can’t delay in buying one if you find one you love–each cover is made with small batches of various fabrics, so fabrics come in and out and you have to grab them while they’re in stock.

Overall, my favorite covers are GEN-Y. The snaps are fabulous because Mouse can’t get them off, and the prints are so much fun. I need to stop checking their site because I’m always tempted to buy more!

I love my Stacinator So Simple at night. It’s hideously ugly (sorry guys), but talk about a workhorse–I know I can totally rely on it and it looks absolutely comfortable on Mouse’s Jumbo Thighs. Train Guy really likes the Thirsties because the velcro is very straightforward and they’re essentially bulletproof.

So that’s my big fat opinion on diaper covers!

Please also see our Conveniently Green–A Word About Energy and Water Consumption post.

Happy cloth diapering!

The Scrivener

Conveniently Green Presents…Cloth Diapers: A Beginning Guide for Beginning Beginners Part 1

Gen X Moms has moved to www.GenXMomsBlog.com. Don’t forget to update your bookmark!

When I mentioned the words “cloth diapers,” my mother gave me this look that said, “Are you out of your mind?” Well, actually her look said, “I love you, you’re my daughter, I’m not going to tell you how to parent, and you have some kooky ideas sometimes, but ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR EFFING MIND???”

I know, it’s a lot from one look, but I’m telling you, it was there.

And no, I’m not out of my mind. We use cloth diapers. And you may be surprised to learn that cloth diapers are nothing like what our moms used. Now I know a lot of you in the audience are familiar with cloth diapering, but many of you are beginners. And the world of cloth diapering can be very confusing and intimidating, so I am creating a Beginning Guide for Beginning Beginners. If you don’t consider yourself a Beginning Beginner, then go ahead and forward this link to a friend who is!

So I can hear you from here–where’s the Convenient part of this Conveniently Green, Scriv? Because cloth diapers seem like a whole lotta work. Well, they are and they aren’t, but here’s some food for thought. First, take a look at how much you’re spending per diaper for your disposable diapers. For argument’s sake, let’s say you’re paying 25 cents per diaper. Now, you can buy a single one-size diaper (which is just like it sounds–one size and it grows with your baby)–just ONE diaper, and use it every night. Say you purchased one of the popular brands like the BumGenius one-size diaper for $17.95. Using one disposable diaper at 25 cents per diaper every night for a year will cost you $91.25. Now subtract the cost of one (that’s right, ONE!) cloth diaper for use at night, and you have a net total of  $73.30. Yes–you can save $73.30 by using ONE cloth diaper a day! Hot Damn!

BumGenius 3.0 One-Size AIO

But what about the washing? Isn’t that disgusting? Well, if your child is more than 6 hours old, you have already learned new and exciting definitions of disgusting. Is washing a single cloth diaper really more gross than that poo-splosion you had that one time where you had to change your shorts AND your shirt AND your underwear because ew, that was liquid? Or that other time when the projectile vomiting made you just throw that bra away and step directly into the shower? Trust me, Mom. You’ve washed worse.

Cloth diapers these days are not what your mother used. They’re actually easy, convenient, and believe it or not–cute. Let me take you through it.

Diapers need three essential parts: an absorbent layer, a waterproof layer, and something to hold it all together. A disposable diaper is, of course, all of these in one. But did you know that there are cloth diapers that are also all of these in one? And that they’re cleverly called “All In Ones”?

That’s our first category. An All In One (AIO) diaper is just like it sounds–a sewn-in absorbent layer, a waterproof layer, and either velcro or snaps to hold it all together. Many AIO’s also have a pocket where you can add additional absorbent inserts if you like.  It’s basically the same as a disposable diaper, except you throw it in the laundry instead of throwing it in the trash. These are the easiest diapers to use, and the easiest way to convince other caregivers to use as well. AIO’s sound great, don’t they? They are! But they can also suffer from two problems: one, because there’s a very absorbent layer sewn in, they can take forever to dry (and I mean for.ev.er.), and two, sometimes they are hard to customize to your absorbency needs and can get bulky. They’re also on this high end, price-wise.

Our second category is All In Twos (AI2). I know you’re saying, “Scriv, I just got the hang of AIO’s–what’s this 2 thing about?” Well, an AI2 is just like an AIO, except instead of a built-in absorbent layer, that layer is snapped in. This helps with the for.ev.er. washing part, because once you separate the absorbent layer from the rest of the diaper, the whole thing dries a lot faster. However, you can still have that absorbency problem (there are exceptions, but we’re keeping it basic here).

FuzziBunz Perfect Size Pocket Diapers (click image for larger view)

Is there an easy diaper with truly versatile absorbency? Where you can put exactly as much or as little as you need? Why yes! Yes there is! Meet your new friend, Pocket Diapers. No, this is not a diaper that fits in your coat pocket (har har har). It’s a diaper that has a waterproof layer and an inner layer, and in between you can stuff an absorbent insert. You can customize your inserts to be light or heavy, so you can double-up at night and slim down during the day, or whatever. Again, like the AI2 they are quicker to dry than the AIO. If you pre-stuff your pocket diapers, then anyone can use them like an AIO, and by “anyone” I mean Dad, Grandma/Grandpa, Day Care Worker, and, you know, YOU. Lots of people love pocket diapers, including me!

Once you move past the diaper that has it all together, you have the diapers and covers category. This is where the absorbent diaper and the waterproof cover are two separate things. I’m going to start with the diaper.

Kissaluvs V2 Fitted Diaper (click image for larger view)

One style is a Fitted Diaper. A fitted diaper is an absorbent diaper that is already shaped like a diaper (you know, that familiar hourglass shape) and attaches with either snaps or velcro. Fitted diapers often come with a snap-in insert for extra absorbency. Another style is a contour diaper which is just like a fitted except it requires fastening, like with a pins or a Snappi. More on the Snappi in a second.

On the end here, there are the traditional flat and prefold diapers. These are the ones your mother will recognize. They’re either square or rectangular and require some folding and fastening to attach them to the baby. Once attached, they also require a cover. Now I know this sounds very Inconveniently Green, but they are your least expensive option and many people really love them. These are also the diapers you get from a diaper service. We used a diaper service for several months after Mouse was born, and loved it. And guess what? You don’t need pins anymore! Some incredibly smart person invented this thingy called a Snappi. It’s an elastic doo-dad shaped like a T with plastic claws on all 3 ends. You hook the claws across the diaper and it holds it all in place. It’s pretty much the handiest thing ever to happen to cloth diapering. You can also use a Snappi to fasten a contour diaper.

Snappi Diaper Fastener

So that’s pretty much your intro to the different types of cloth diapers. Within these categories, there are many brands and varieties to choose from. In subsequent posts on this topic, I’ll take you through more aspects of the joyful world of cloth diapering. Happy diapering!

The Scrivener

Please also see our Conveniently Green–A Word About Energy and Water Consumption post.