Thursday, August 7, 2008

Diapering Styles

There are, in my opinion, four main diapering methods: prefolds with covers, fitteds with covers, pockets, and all-in-ones (AIOs). I do them all, so I feel like I have a good perspective on all of them. (Some people also use flats or contours, I don't but I'll do my best to explain what I know of them.)

Prefold Diapers

Now, when I say "prefold" I'm referring to the diaper service quality (DSQ) Chinese or Indian prefolds (CPF/IPF) that you can purchase online or from natural parenting stores. They come in lots of different sizes, dimensions, and thicknesses (newborn, infant, standard infant, regular, premium, toddler). The Gerber cloth diapers at WalMart and Babies R Us will work, but they're not nearly as absorbent, nor will they last as long. To the best of my knowledge, a flat diaper is just like a prefold, but I've never tried one because they don't look as absorbent. Maybe they're trimmer? And a contour diaper is a PF or flat that is shaped like a sposie, so it doesn't require folding but does (in most cases) require pinning. Prefolds are easy to use, easy to pack to take along with you, and CHEAP. The downside is that they're not terribly absorbant when used by themselves, so you'll end up changing diapers more frequently. Another benefit to prefolds, though, is that children can feel when they're wet, so if you use exclusively prefolds, your child may pottytrain younger! (Who wouldn't love that?)

Anyway, the actual folding is really not that difficult, although it takes a little practice. You absolutely don't have to use pins unless you just want to. I use a snappi instead; click here to see the full manufacturer's directions for the snappi. There are really only 3 ways that I use a prefold: the bikini twist, the diva fold, and the no fold method. I have illustrated instructions for each using my son's favorite teddy bear, his "Mama Bear," so named because I made it for him. (I know it's kind of janky looking, but it was my first time using a sewing pattern ever, so please make fun of it to yourself.)

Folding techniques

The bikini twist is great for smaller babies or mobile babies because it cuts down on the bulkiness between their legs. Start out with the prefold (PF) under baby's bottom with the edge in back lined up with baby's navel. Twist the bottom portion (going towards baby's feet) over once. Pull up over belly, fold down top edge if necessary (not pictured). Snappi or pin. Tuck in edges at thighs. All finished! Put a cover on.

The diva fold is great for more active babies, because you can actually do it with the baby on their back or tummy (ideal for when babies are wanting to crawl away, at least you don't have to keep flipping them over). Start with the PF under baby's bottom (or tummy) with the edge lined up with the navel. Pull bottom edge up, tuck top corners around baby's back. Pull bottom corners around and snappi or pin. Tuck edges in, push as far in as possible to give extra absorbency in the middle. All finished! Put a cover on.

The no fold is great, even if it is a slight misnomer. With this method, there's no pinning or snappi-ing involved, and you can also pre-stuff your diapers for daddy, parents, babysitters, etc. Start by folding the PF into thirds the tall way. Place into cover seam side down, tuck PF under the front flap of the cover as shown (not all covers have a front flap, but most of mine do for the express purpose of the no-fold method). Slide stuffed cover under baby's bottom, close and fasten just like a disposable (sposie).

Fitted Diapers

Next cheapest is the fitteds and covers method. Fitted diapers come sized (based on weight and/or baby's measurements), adjustable, and one-size adjustable (OS). They also come in a variety of materials. You can buy prefolds that have been sewn into fitteds, or you can sew them yourself. These are relatively cheap, and you have the same downside of needing to change more frequently. There are also bamboo and sherpa, which are quite absorbent, but don't provide a "stay-dry" feeling. Then, of course, there are fitteds that are lined with polyester fleece or suedecloth, both of which will draw moisture away from baby's skin, providing a stay-dry feeling.

For newborn diapers, I used mostly Kissaluvs size 0, which are pretty adjustable. Here's a pic - you can see in the first one how many snaps it has, the fold-down for the umbilical stump, the diaper snapped to the absolute smallest setting beside my hand for size comparison, and then snapped on the largest setting. She wore these from day one until she was about 3 months old.

I also use - and love - a work at home mom (WAHM) fitted diaper. The company name is MonkeyBuns diapers and I found her on eBay. I kind of took a chance, since I didn't know anything about them, but it really paid off! (For the record, she makes fitteds, covers, all-in-ones, and - I think - all-in-twos.) She offers the option of sewing a suedecloth or fleece lining. She also offers both velcro and snap closure; this fitted has snaps and a fleece lining.
All prefolds and fitteds require a cover of some kind. (I use primarily PFs and fitteds on my younger baby, although I have a few pockets and AIOs that I use for her long nap and overnights.) I use only PUL covers (poly-urethane laminate), but lots of moms use wool since it's a more natural fabric and ironically, it breathes better. Here is a pic of a simple, cheap Prorap cover.


Next is pockets. One major advantage to using pockets is that you can pre-stuff them (I do it when I'm folding the clean diaper laundry), and then they're ready to go on just like a sposie during the diaper changes. The biggest disadvantage is that you have to stuff the darn things! Pockets come sized and in OS. I use exclusively OS pockets on my son at this time, since that was all we purchased when we made the switch to cloth when he was 18 months old. Regardless, a pocket diaper consists of a water"proof" outer layer, such as PUL or heavy duty fleece, a feel-dry inner layer of microfleece or suedecloth, and a pocket in between for stuffing with absorbent material. You can stuff a pocket with anything - soakers and inserts designed especially for that purpose, a prefold, even an old dishtowel if it's laundry day and you're in a crunch! Most specially made inserts are made of microfiber. You can pick up what's called a "bag of rags" in the automotive department of WalMart for about $5; it has a dozen microfiber towels/rags in varying sizes. I stuff most of my son's pockets with PFs since it was cheaper to buy pockets without inserts, but the picture below is with brand name inserts. Here you can see the empty pocket in the diaper, the inserts I use, the pocket stuffed, and the diaper ready to go on. This is a Happy Heinys one-size (OS) diaper; it's adjustable from 7 to 35 pounds, give or take based on a child's build.
Here's an empty Haute Pocket diaper so you can see how the adjustability works. Here it is laid out, then snapped down to the shortest rise setting, then all closed up. With the rise unsnapped, it fits my two year-old. With it all closed up, like in the last picture, it fits my four-month old. Pretty cool, huh?


Next are the All-in-One (AIO) diapers; these are sized diapers. Some companies make a one-size AIO, but I can't even imagine how that would work. It seems like it would be really bulky on a smaller baby! Anyway, an AIO is just what it sounds like - the absorbent material and waterproof layer all in one piece! The obvious advantage here is ease of use; these are handy to have to put in the diaper bag when you're headed out for a playdate, or to leave behind with grandparents or babysitters. The biggest con of an AIO is the drying time - they take forEVER to dry! There are actually a few subcategories here under the AIO umbrella; there are true AIOs, AI2s, and AIO pockets, also known as AIO hybrids.

A true AIO is just like my original description. Here is a DryBees AIOs.

An AI2 is an AIO that has an additional soaker sewn on the top layer of the diaper at one end, so it's like a flap. This gives you extra absorbency without additional drying time. I don't have any, though, so no pic.

An AIO pocket or hybrid is a diaper that can be used as is, it is a true AIO with a sewn in soaker, but it also has a pocket for additional stuffing and absorbency. Here is a Thirsties AIO Pocket, hopefully you can see the sewn in soaker inside the pocket.

What do you do about nighttime?
My kids are both long sleepers and heavy wetters. You can buy special diapers and inserts specifically for nighttime use. For my 2 y/o I use a DryBees fleece nighttime pocket diaper; the fleece breathes, which remarkably keeps him pretty dry. And the pocket is very generously sized, so we just stuff the diapers with more stuff. :o) I use a toddler-sized prefold, and occasionally toss in a microfiber insert along with it. Here is my son's big fluffy nighttime bottom.


Erin said...

Hello! I am pretty new to cloth diapering and I am interested in trying some fitted diapers. I thought I would try Monkey Buns since you like them so much. I checked out her website and saw she has Deluxe Fitted & plain Flannel Fitted. Are yours the Deluxe? I think they must be since yours have the fleece lining, but I just wanted to double-check before I purchase any. Thanks! Erin

The Cloth Diapering Mama said...

Awesome! I'm so glad that you're here, and I hope that the info I've shared so far has been helpful. I'm still working through trying to post things I think I would have wanted to hear, but if there's a particular issue I haven't touched on, please let me know and I'll get to it ASAP!

About the Monkey Buns fitteds: yes, I chose to upgrade to the deluxe since it was only $1 extra per diaper. I thought that the "stay dry feel" that fleece or suedecloth provide would make my daughter more comfortable, and therefore we would all enjoy them even more. Also, because fleece and suedecloth wick the moisture away from the skin, their skin really DOES feel more dry, and so it stays healthier (less likely to rash up).

When I purchased my diapers from MonkeyBuns I had the option of choosing either suedecloth or fleece. Either one is really fine, it's just a matter of opinion. Personally, I have both from her, and I could go either way. In my opinion, it was definitely worth the extra $1!

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