Have you heard stories of from your parents and grandparents? Struggles with diaper pins and plastic pants were the norm, but that isn't the case anymore. Cloth has changed so much! New fabrics, diaper styles and (the best part!) the prints make cloth diapering function meet fashion.
For those new to cloth, let's take a run down of some of the popular terms:
PUL- Polyurethane Laminate, a very thin layer of polyurethane is used to coat the one side of a fabric. You'll find PUL in a variety of applications including some cloth diapers and wet bags. This can be machine washed and dried. (Smart Bottoms, Buttons)
TPU- Thermoplastic Polyurethane, a thin layer of polyurethane is used to coat one side of the fabric (like PUL), but the bonds between the molecules are a little different giving a tad more stretch (or rigidity depending on application). Applications vary, but TPU fabrics are popular for cloth, since they can also be machine washed and dried. (Rumparooz)
Pocket- A type of cloth diaper that has a built in pocket and lining. These are a favorite because you can add extra absorbancy straight into the pocket of the diaper and not have to worry about insert movement. The downside, you only get to enjoy your favorite pattern until they are soiled once. (Rumparooz G2, OBV)
AIO- Another popular style of cloth diaper. These usually have "tongue" of fabric that you can fold to meet your needs, but lay down where it would go next to the baby vs in a pocket. These are also a "one and done," so once they are soiled once they must be washed. (Smart Bottoms 3.1, Dream diaper, and Born Smart; Rumparooz Lil Joey)
Cover- A cloth diaper cover is only the PUL or TPU fabric made into a cover with no lining of any sort. These are great if you are planning to use flats, pre-folds, or a system of your own choosing. Plus, you can reuse a cover many times, as long as it isn't soiled on the outer cloth, before you need to put it in the pail. A huge bonus since you get to enjoy your favorite prints longer! Covers are also great if you want a cute pattern (and extra security) in a disposable. While it is not recommended to cover a disposable with a cloth diaper cover for long periods of time, you can use them temporarily to guard against leaks or for a cute addition to a special outfit. (Too Smarts, Rumparooz covers, Buttons Covers)
AI2- These is a hybrid style of diaper. They are similar to a cover, but include some type of snap system to attach an insert to and make a full diaper. These are popular because they take one of the best features of covers, the ability to last through multiple changes, and make an easy to use system that that doesn't require a lot of folding know how! (Buttons System)
Flat- Your grandparents diaper! Just kidding! A flat is a large piece of fabric that is folding and attached around the baby. While these are the most versatile, they are the hardest to get the hang of and need to be folded and clipped on every time either using a traditional diaper pin (safety pin) or a Snappi.
Prefold- A prefold is a flat that has been "pre-folded" into a smaller shape that is already doubled up in the paneling. These are great because they are a little easier to use than a flat, but you have to pay attention to sizing. There is still the folding factor, but it varies a bit depending on your purpose. You can simply fold them in 3s and use them as a liner in a cover, use them as extra absorbancy in a pocket diaper, or use a snappi or clip to wrap around the baby like a traditional diaper and then cover with a diaper cover.
Insert- What goes in your diaper's cover or what you add for extra absorbancy. These can be stuffed in a pocket, snapped in, or simply laid in the diaper.
Microfiber- A popular type of cloth diaper insert. These are typically cheaper than their counter parts (cotton, hemp, bamboo) and are very easy to prep. One wash usually does it and they are a great affordable option. Plus, they dry quickly in the dryer. They do have some pitfalls though. They can suffer from compression leaks, they can be a little bulkier, and they can hold smells a little more. While these sound horrible, they are just things to be aware of to make sure you have a great diapering experience. One thing to make a special note of- NEVER put microfiber directly next to baby's skin. These are great at absorbing quickly and alot! Because of this, they can dry out baby's skin terribly. If you have an insert that is microfiber, make sure it has a microfleece or other layer of fabric on top before you put it next to baby's bottom. You can also wrap a plain microfiber insert in a FST (flour sack towel) or some other cloth layer before you place it in a cover. The pocket of a pocket diaper works well for this too!
Now, that you know about all the jargon and different types of diapers let's take a look at some other tips:
- Make sure you use a cloth safe diaper cream. Creams with petroleum bases will absorb in your diaper fibers and repel water. These must never be used with cloth. Creams with zinc can stain your diapers. If you have a cloth safe cream that contains zinc, typically a disposable liner will keep you safe from stains. Balm!Baby creams are a great cloth safe brand that we carry, but there are many others on the market.
- Once you begin solid food, you need to have a plan to remove solids from the diaper. You could DIY a sprayer, purchase one, or do the old school dunk and swish. Diapers that have been soiled with solids cannot go straight into the pail and washer.
- Get a good wash routine. Check with your diaper manufacturer's website or literature first. If you are still having trouble, ask someone. You can always ask us at Water Lilies or there are multiple websites and Facebook groups that can provide assistance. It may take a little trail and error to find the best routine, but it's worth it!
Disclaimer: This is not meant to be a be all primer. If you are thinking of cloth diapering, please dive into the topic on other blogs, message boards, Facebook, etc. These are recommendations based off of our own research and experience. This post was created to help you get started down this wonderfully fun rabbit hole called cloth diapering. If you feel we've left something out or have bad information, please let us know.