How to Choose Cloth Diapers for Your Baby or Toddler.
Read our Cloth Diapering Definitions and Terms as your first step in how to choose a cloth diaper system that is right for your baby, toddler, caregivers, and family.
There are so many cloth diapers available today it is disconcerting to try and fine one particular style that best fits your needs, but the good news is YOU DON'T HAVE TO! That's right, each style has its strengths and weaknesses, making it perfect for some babies and diapering situations, but no so great for another. For instance, in your home you likely have a great variety of towels; you've bath towels, hand towels and dish towels. You wouldn't use a bath towel to hand dry your dishes and most likely you wouldn't use a hand towel to towel dry your body, right? Just as you need a diversity of towels in your home, a variety of cloth diapers, and even, cloth diaper brands will most likely suit your purpose more effectively than a single style.
The Cloth Diaper System
Rather than worrying over the specific type of cloth diapers you might need, consider instead the type of cloth diapering system you want. What is your daily grind? Is your child an especially heavy wetter, or only at night? Do you enlist the services of a childcare provider or grandparent to help you with your child while you're at work? Is your caregiver comfortable and familiar with cloth diapers or have they expressed concern over the inconvenience?
All of these things are necessary when you choose cloth diapers for your baby. Remember, a solid cloth diapering system means collecting an assortment of diapers that can stretch to meet not only YOUR needs, but the needs of your caregivers as well. This might mean Prefold Diaperss and Snappi Diaper Fasteners at home during the day, Pocket Diapers with Microfiber Inserts for the evenings, and the ease of All-In-One Cloth Diapers while your child is in daycare or with grandparents.
ALL-IN-ONE DIAPERS (AIOs) - All-In-One Diapers are most like disposable diapers, except they are NOT thrown away after each use; they are reusable. An All-In-One Diaper has a waterproof outer layer that holds in wetness, an inner absorbent core, and an inner layer of a variety of soft, absorbent fabrics. All-In-One Diapers do not require diaper pins or diaper covers, making them especially convenient for any caregiver already familiar with diapering babies in disposable diapers.
FITTED DIAPERS - Fitted Diapers are not a far cry from All-In-One Cloth Diapers, but slightly more economical. Fitted Diapers do not require any diaper folding, secure around baby just like a disposable diaper, but DO require a cloth diaper cover, because unlike All-In-One Cloth Diapers, Fitted Diapers do not have an outer waterproof layer to guard against moisture seeping through.
ONE-SIZE DIAPERS - One-Size Cloth Diapers are ideally intended to meet your baby's cloth diapering needs from birth to potty training using a snapping system that can be cinched-up or loosened as baby grows. The down side to one-size diapers is the added bulk on newborns and/or smaller size babies. The bonus, if you don't mind putting up with the bulk, is you don't have to purchase multiple sizes for multiple babies in the same household. One-Size Diapers are styled like a fitted diaper, but not always sewn with a waterproof outer fabric, therefore some will need a diaper cover and some won't.
POCKET DIAPERS - Pocket Diapers are the kind of cloth diapering system to buy if you need ONE cloth diaper to meet varying levels of absorption. For instance, your baby is changed more regularly in the day than at night, so you can insert a trim Microfiber Insert into the pocket for daytime use. In the evenings, babies have longer periods of time when their diapers are not changed and need at least double the absorption - a thicker Insert or Prefold Diaper serves this purpose well. Pocket Diapers go on like a disposable diaper - wrap tabs around baby and snap or Velcro closed.
PREFOLD DIAPERS - Prefold Diapers are the most basic and economical diaper you can purchase, but what you gain in savings you give up in convenience. Prefold Diapers require a bit of practice to get used to the cloth diaper folding techniques, but once you get used to it, you can fold'em up quickly and be on your way. While your daycare providers or caregivers might prefer another style of cloth diaper when your baby is in their care, this is another situation where you can choose a cloth diaper you use at home and another style you take in your diaper bag for others. Prefold Diapers are very inexpensive and are easily washed and dried; they do not require diaper pins and fasteners if worn tucked inside a wrap-style cloth diaper cover.
A Sustainable Fabric Choice
ORGANICS - If you have a strong bend toward using ONLY NATURAL FIBERS against your baby's skin, then look for 100% certified organic cloth diapers available in cotton, hemp and bamboo. Organic fabrics should not contain chemicals as the plants harvested for the fabric have not been treated with any harsh pesticides that could compromise baby's immune system. If a cloth diaper boasts an organic fabric, there will not be any synthetic (artificial) fibers woven into it. Organic fabrics are more expensive to produce, and therefore costlier to buy, but they are easier on the environment and therefore, a more sustainable cloth diapering choice.
With so many cloth diapers on the market today, it can seem impossible to choose just one style. Learning the different Cloth Diapering Definitions and Terms will help you select the cloth diapers, diaper covers and accessories to develop your own personalized cloth diapering system.