Prefolds, Covers, and Snappis . . . Oh My!

{ Tuesday, April 21, 2009 }
Don't you hate it when life gets in the way of blogging? I have so many things I've been wanting to post about here. First of all, more than you ever wanted to know about cloth diapers.

Val brought up some valid concerns in the comments of this post. Like Val, I remember my mother using cloth diapers with my younger brother and it being quite a pain. Mom rinsed the dirty diapers in the toilet (the thought of which still makes me gag) and everyone was always getting stuck with the diaper pins that inevitably ended up all over the house. I'm certainly not an expert, but here's what I've learned about how cloth diapering is different now than it was when we were babies.

First of all, our parents probably used either flat or prefold diapers. A flat diapers is essentially just a large square of fabric that is folded up and around the baby. Prefold diapers are similar, but are prefolded (clever name, huh?) and sewn into place so that there are extra thicknesses of fabric where the baby will wet. In the past, these diapers would have been folded around the baby, pinned into place and then covered with a waterproof layer which my mother called rubber pants (but were probably really plastic). These covers are still available, but something like this is more popular since it wraps around the baby, is adjustable, and the fabric is breathable. I've heard that you can just fold a prefold into thirds, lay it inside the cover and you're good to go without having to do any fancy wrap and pin action. If you prefer, you can also do the fancy wrap action without the pinning if you're using one of the wrap around covers. Finally, if you're set on pinning, an alternative to diaper pins are Snappis which are plastic devices which grab onto the diaper to keep it in place. The advantage to flat or prefold diapers is that they are relatively inexpensive and dry quickly in the dryer.

Our mothers would be happy to learn that there are other options as well! There are fitted diapers, which look like disposable diapers, but are made from absorbent cloth. They either snap or velcro around the baby and need to a diaper cover in order to be waterproof. There are also all-in-one diapers, which are the closest you can get to feeling like you're using disposables. These have the waterproof layer and absorbent inside sewn together in one piece so all you do is velcro or snap the whole shebang on the little one and you're good to go. All-in-ones are the most expensive option and I've heard complaints that they take forever to dry in the laundry due to all the different layers of fabric. This is where pocket diapers come in. They work similar to an all-in-one diaper, but there is a removable middle layer of absorbent fabric that can be washed and dried separately (which means they dry quickly).

I am told that there is no need to soak or rinse cloth diapers before washing them. There shouldn't be any, ahem, solid waste for the first several months and after that, the solids can just be dumped in the toilet and the diapers washed with an extra rinse. I was also concerned about soaking because I seem to remember my mom having bucket full of water and diapers waiting to be washed (which is not only a safety concern, but an aesthetic one as well). They say the dirty diapers can just go in a waterproof bag inside an airtight garbage can until laundry day, when the whole mess gets thrown in the washer. We shall soon find out if "they" know what they're talking about.

I've been researching diaper options for months now and it seems like most people have the hardest time finding the right fit during the first few months. I'm hoping that we can avoid that problem by using prefolds since we have so many options for folding. Also, the covers are what prevent leaks and they're relatively inexpensive so we can afford to try out a few different brands until we find something that works. Prefolds are also the most economical option to get us through that period when the bean will be using 2 (or more?) dozen diapers a day. After that, we're switching to homemade pocket diapers. There's a little anxiety for me around this topic because its quite an investment, both in time and materials, to make these puppies and there's really no guarantee that they'll fit or work for us. I guess its like everything else with this baby--we can plan all we want but we really have no idea how this whole thing is going to go until she gets here.

That being said (and no one accused me of being brief), I've made our very first diaper. I really stressed about what fabrics to make it out of. The waterproof outer layer is PUL (polyester polyurethane laminated fabric), that was an easy choice. The inner layer, the part that touches the bean's skin, is organic hemp fleece. From what I've learned, microfleece or suedecloth are better choices in terms of wicking moisture away from the baby and I debated for quite a while about whether that should outweigh my aversion to covering our child's nether regions with synthetic fabric but, in the end, the hippie in me won out. I really hope we don't have a ton of leaky diapers and an unhappy baby. The synthetic fabric won out for the inner layer, which is three layers of a microfiber dish towel that I stitched together.
The microfiber "stuffing."

Inside view--all stuffed.

And all folded up. Its a bit sloppy, but not bad for a first try.

Interestingly enough, after all that debating about fiber content, I didn't give much thought to fabric color. I picked what I thought was pretty and bought it. It wasn't until the sweetie noticed the outer layer fabric sitting on my sewing table and asked, "What if baby #2 is a boy?" that I realized I should have picked something a bit more neutral.


Anonymous said...

I am so, so, SO impressed with your homemade pocket diaper! My sewing skills are limited to making squares and rectangles (pillows, curtains, napkins), so when my wife suggested I try to make some of these, she was laughed out of the room. I have no faith in my sewing skills at all.

That said, you seem to have picked the perfect fabrics. From what I have seen, hemp is the most absorbant and best for wicking, and the microfiber dish towels are a perfect solution for the liner.

We have had similar responses to our choices to cloth diaper, and we're still in the process of figuring out what is going to be the best option for us, but it is pretty incredible how far cloth diapering has come. My mom, who was also a cloth diaperer, really tried to encourage it when my sister had her baby last year, but she sent her in the old directin with the pins and plastic pants, so it lasted about a week before my sis was back on the Hugg.ies. It's fun showing my mom the new diapers now. But honestly, we still haven't figured out which we're choosing. I think we're leaning toward the soft covers and prefolds, with a few pocket diapers for those times when we want the convenience of a disposable. There are just too many choices!

Jess said...

wow. i'm definitely impressed.

what's this about baby #2? #1 isn't even home yet!

Dani and Tonka said...

ahhhh I just did a diaper post. Were having so many issues! I wish I could sew, I have a machine but dont know how to use it =(

Val said...

Impressed isn't even close to describing what I am as i read this! Jeesh woman! That was QUITE the diaper lecture you just gave on your research!
AND you make your own!

And woah - - there'll be ANOTHER baby?!!! huh.
ok then! :)