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Cloth Diapering: It's ALL about the inserts!

Posted by Becca on 8/5/2015 to Cloth Diaper How-To
cloth diaper inserts

All About Cloth Diaper Inserts

Sometimes, whether or not your pocket diapers work has nothing to do with the diaper/diaper shell and everything to do with the level of absorbency. Not all cloth diaper inserts are created equally, and not all inserts work for all babies.

So, what do you put in your diapers?

Everyone has their own preferences. I know mine change with whatever my family needs at the time.

When my daughter was in cloth diapers, I only ever used the inserts that came with each diaper, and I occasionally added a hemp or cotton doubler at night. I was a bit OCD about matching my diapers and inserts correctly and if my husband stuffed the wrong insert into a diaper, it bothered me until those two pieces of diaper finally came through the wash together and I could fix it! I remember one time, a babysitter accidentally flushed one of my BG3.0 inserts and I had to replace it with a 4.0 insert and it bothered me to no end that they didn’t “match.” Weird, right?

cloth diaper inserts
When my son was born, he was a super duper wetter right off the bat, so I switched all my microfiber inserts out for pad folded flats. It was more work when it came to folding and stuffing my diapers, but flats are easier to wash than any other diaper (especially in a high efficiency washer) and they don’t get that stinky smell that microfiber can get, especially if you have hard water like I do. If I ran out of flats, I used a smaller prefold— either cotton or cotton/bamboo blend. The diapers were a little fatter with
and flats, but I grew accustomed to the bulk and was pleased with the level of absorbency.

My son needs as much absorbency as I can give him.

Now that I’m pregnant again and have bouts of morning sickness and utter exhaustion, I don’t seem to have the time to pad fold all the
flats before stuffing them so I bleached all my microfiber inserts and went back to using them instead. Four years had passed since I’d used them last so I sort of forgot which insert went to which diaper. Also, some diapers have long since retired and some inserts were never used in the first place, so I have quite a weird conglomeration of diaper stuffing collected in my basement. I also ended up with more inserts than diapers, which is nice when I come across a sale for pockets that doesn’t include the inserts. Nowadays, as long as a diaper is stuffed with an effective, absorbent layer, I’m happy even if the insert doesn’t match the diaper.

A lot of people prefer natural fiber inserts. This is one of the reasons I liked using flats and prefolds so much. Joeybunz has a fantasticaly trim and absorbent insert in a hemp/cotton blend. I have a couple of these and I use them as doublers inside my fitteds, or all on their own inside a pocket for a trim fit. Diaper Rite and AppleCheeks both have bamboo inserts, and I always loved the Knickernappies hemp/microfiber loopy doo insert for a great blend of absorbency and trimness.

Now, lest you think that diaper inserts are only reserved for pocket diapers, let me assure you that I’ve had much success using them with many different types of diapers. You can lay them within a folded prefold or flat, within a fitted diaper (or even between a fitted and a diaper cover, and you can even lay them in the layers of an AIO diaper. I have found particular nighttime success putting a Joeybunz hemp insert underneath the sewn­ in layer of a Diaper Rite AIO for my heavy wetting two year old son. As long as you don’t but microfiber/microterry directly against a baby’s skin, you’ll be able to use your inserts in just about any type of diaper.

You can stuff your diapers with a lot of things. Some people prefer natural fibers, and some people prefer the microterry insert that comes standard with most diapers. You don’t have to stick with the insert that comes with your diapers. Don’t be afraid to buy a couple of different kinds and experiment with what works best for your baby. You may find that, like me, you stuff your microfiber inserts in a bag in the basement for two years and forget about them in favor of the natural fibers in flat diapers. Or you may find that you sell all your microterry inserts and restash with hemp or bamboo inserts. As long as your baby’s diapers have sufficient absorbency, it doesn’t really matter if they have the absorbency that came with the diaper.

So tell us about your experience with customizing diapers and absorbency! Do you have a secret super absorbent combo that works best for you? What is it?



Date: 8/5/2015
Love this post! The Joeybunz inserts have been a favorite of ours for years. We too have a mishmash of prefolds, flats, pockets, and natural fiber and microfiber inserts. I typically do a microfiber over a Joeybunz in pockets, and a microfiber over a prefold for naptime or overnight. Just curious why the microfiber shouldn't touch their skin? I've CD'd three babies that way,haven't had an issue.
Mete Hill
Date: 8/7/2015
Our micro fiber inserts that came with our diapers work well. But for going out we use mf/hemp blend or bamboo/mf. Works awesome! For night time we use mf and a thirsties cotton Velour doubler works great for us!
Vanessa Bee
Date: 8/7/2015
I typically use microfibre and a cotton/hemp... But I'm curious to try FST because I hear they are very absorbent.
Amber Ludwig
Date: 8/7/2015
I've just heard about these natural charcoal inserts I'm dying to try!! I don't have much experience, just what I've read. Hubby wouldn't CD or first so I'm not giving him a choice with our second ;)
Arielle Markley
Date: 8/8/2015
Thanks for the informative post! I need to start experimenting with different inserts. My 5 week old is a heavy wetter and has outgrown the absorbency of the newborn diapers but isn't big enough to fit into the OS diapers.
Carri McGuire
Date: 8/8/2015
We use BG 4.0s and their inserts. They've started to retain a bit of urine odor though, which is really bothering me. I'm planing to slowly trade them out for CBIs which are trimmer and seem to work just as well. We also use FSTs folded for a boy, that I really want to sew in that fold (but I'm worried they'll start to retain odor too if I can't unfold them for washing).
Julie Lake-Berton
Date: 8/11/2015
Great article! Very informative!
Date: 8/13/2015
Thanks for the article. I have only been using cd for about a month or so and I am still trying to figure out what works best for us.
Emily Smith
Date: 8/15/2015
Love this! I have a 7 week-old in fluff and am still new to cloth-diapering. I have a variety of inserts I've picked up but I'm still trying them all out. I love experimenting!! Great article. Thanks!
Christine Jarman
Date: 8/15/2015
I thought I was the only one OCD about matching inserts to diapers! I was really bad about it at first. Then I started using fst origami folded with an insert, or even a washcloth, added in the middle for absorbancy. That's when it changed. I LOVED my Alva covers combined with a fst, so I would steal an insert from a pocket diaper to use for absorbancy. I got tired of this after a bit and bought a mixed used lot of inserts for my fst & flats(which also had MY CD that my grandma had kept)... After that I still attempted to match up inserts, but mostly went with absorbancy.I fell in love with Alva bamboo blend inserts, that's what really changed up my combining of different inserts, for different cd. Yey for breaking old habits!

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