Ok, second installment of the registry list! One of my wise aunts told me recently, “What babies need most: full bellies, dry britches, warm jammies, and the love of Mom and Dad who give them lots of hugs and read to them a lot.” Well, the “warm jammies” part was the last round, and this round addresses the “dry britches”.
I have decided not to go the route of disposable diapers. I’ve done a lot of research, number-crunching, and thinking about this, and cloth diapers win every round. When I say “I”, I mean my husband says he doesn’t mind either way as long as he doesn’t have to deal with poo.
Heh. It must be nice to live in his world.
Cloth diapers – the simple ones anyway, which are the ones I want to use – have two basic parts and a few accessories. Once again I will provide pictures so there’s a visual reference for what I’m talking about.
The actual diaper itself is called a cotton prefold diaper. When it’s new, it looks like a placemat-sized rectangle of flat cloth with some seams running through it. After washing it a few times before the first use, it “quilts up” and looks thicker and ripply. Cotton prefolds are common, inexpensive, and durable. They are called “prefolds” as opposed to “flats” because they come prefolded into three sections, with the middle section generally being twice as thick as the outside sections. For example, a 4x8x4 prefold is four layers on the sides and 8 layers in the middle. The layers are sewn in place. They also make great burp cloths.
There are various ways to fold a prefold so that it contours to your baby and fits inside the second piece, which is a waterproof diaper cover. The basic diaper cover is made out of autoclaved polyurethane laminated fabric (PUL). It’s not your average plastic-backed fabric. “Autoclaved” means that it went through a high heat steam sterilization process so that it’s safe for multiple uses even after coming in contact with bodily fluids. PUL is durable, nontoxic, highly waterproof, and washable. It was first developed for use in the medical field and is still used there today. It’s pretty cool stuff. Since the inside of the diaper cover is lined with PUL, any interior leaks can be wiped out and the diaper cover can be used again. More involved diaper covers are often lined on the inside with microfleece or other fabric in order to increase absorbency, but they have to be washed after every use.
I don’t expect any of you to wade through the seemingly endless array of cloth diaper cover options on the market. I have collected here the top four contenders that I think are the best choices overall and are the ones I want to use. They’re listed here in relative price order, and the links go to the company website for more details on construction and features. Cloth diapers and accessories are sold in many brick-and-mortar baby supply stores, and about a million places online. Each company website has a list of stores across the country where their products are sold.
Econobum: These are the most basic diaper covers out there. They are one-size diapers which use a series of vertical snaps to create larger or smaller sizes from front to back, and snaps to fit the baby across the waist just like every other diaper in the world. They are listed as fitting babies from 8-35 pounds. Econobum sells a “starter package” which includes 12 cotton prefolds and three diaper covers, and its low price point makes it a great deal. Its one drawback is that the PUL fabric is thinner than most diaper covers, and many reviewers have said that when they were unsnapping it, it felt like they might stretch or tear the diaper. However, none of them reported any actual stretches or tears even after months of use. Econobum diaper covers come in white with a limited variety of trim colors. The starter package diaper covers only come in white trim.
Flip: These are a step up in quality from Econobum and come in more colors, but are essentially the same. They are also one-size diapers sized with vertical snaps and fit babies from 8-35 pounds. They’re intended to be used with the special Flip absorbent inserts and are often sold in sets with them, but they are also sold separately and work fine with regular prefolds too. They’re made by the same parent company as Econobum.
Thirsties Duo Wrap: The Thirsties also have size-adjusting vertical snaps, but they’re a “two-size” system rather than a “one-size” system because a one-size doesn’t quite get small enough for the smallest babies or big enough for the biggest babies. Size 1 fits babies from 6-18 pounds, and Size 2 fits babies from 18-40 pounds. The Duo Wraps have an extra elastic leg gusset on each leg, so there are two layers of gathered fabric and elastic to get through before the diaper leaks, and they have a choice between snaps or Aplix (basically a deluxe brand of Velcro) fasteners. The Aplix fasteners come with “laundry tabs” on the inside of the diaper so that the hooks side can just be folded down for washing and won’t wear out as quickly or damage anything else. These covers come in an array of bright colors and patterns.
Blueberry Coveralls: These covers also come in a “two-size” system, with the Mini Coverall fitting babies from 6-18 pounds and the regular Coverall fitting babies from 18-40 pounds. They have the extra elastic leg gusset and come with either snaps or Aplix around the waist. They are very high quality and come in the best range of colors and patterns.
Those are the two basic parts of a cloth diapering system. These other things are accessories to facilitate the diapering process.
Snappi diaper fastener: Cloth diapers do not need diaper pins. Some moms just use the diaper cover to keep the cloth diaper on their baby, but I’d rather have the security of a fastener so that it doesn’t slide around or bunch up. Snappis are really cool, durable, easy to use, and cheap. You can see what they look like in the picture. The oval sections have a row of teeth that sink into the fabric rather like the little metal fasteners for ace bandages, and the center Y-shaped section is stretchy to provide a close fit. When not in use, the upper edge of the ovals fold over the top and under the teeth to prevent injuries.
Flushable inserts: These are most useful for those nasty, tarry meconium days. Just lay it on top of the diaper, put it on as usual, then lift it out and flush away the trouble. Why don’t you just use disposable diapers at first, kittenchan? Because I can’t get 100 disposable diapers for 8 dollars, and I’d still have to deal with sealing them up and throwing them away instead of just… FLUSH.
Changing pad: Target sells basic changing pads with waterproof lining in packs of three, which I like because there’s one for home, one for the diaper bag, and one for the wash. The diaper bag? Yeah, because public changing tables are nasty and I’d rather put something down than change my baby where someone else’s poopy bottom has been. It’s also useful for changing diapers in the car, or any other unorthodox surface. I suppose someone will say “Oh just use a towel” but I’d rather not have to clean up leaks if they can be prevented. Washing a changing pad is a lot easier than trying to get ammonia stench out of the seat of the car, or someone else’s carpet or couch.
Cloth wipes: These are just squares of terrycloth or flannel with a hem or serged edge. Two of my friends are avid seamstresses and have sergers, so if someone wants to give cloth wipes but doesn’t want to buy them new, it’d be easy to come to some agreement on bringing together materials and workmanship.
Diaper bag: I am going to be picky about my diaper bag. I don’t like lots of tiny pockets because they’re annoying, they get in the way, and they make me feel incomplete for not having lots of tiny things to put in them. On the other hand, I’d rather not have a single cavernous hole where everything gets lost. Since I will be using cloth diapers, I’d like a separate waterproof, zippered section for keeping the dirties until I get home, and rather than having to wipe it out all the time and hope nothing is growing in the corners, I’d like one that can go in the regular wash. I’d like it to look versatile and not scream “I am a diaper bag for a BABY!!!!!” what with baby cartoon animals, washed-out pastels, and other cutesy stuff. I found one made by PlanetWise which fits the bill to a T.
Diaper pail: Made by a variety of different companies, I’m looking for one which is waterproof on the inside, has some kind of elastic or drawstring on the top, is able to be washed in the regular laundry, and can hang on a doorknob to save space.
I know this post probably isn’t as exciting or inspiring as the previous one, but maybe the next post will help make up for it. Keep those britches dry!