Monday, November 24, 2008

Cloth Diapering 101! AIO, DSQ, Fitted, Pockets, WHAT!?

If you would do a google search for cloth diapering, you would come up enough information to make your head explode.  It's so daunting to some people that they give up altogether before they even get started. 

But it's not as bad as it sounds.

For this week, my goal is to expose the mysteries of cloth diapering so that anyone can read along and come out feeling like that have enough knowledge to make an educated decision as to whether they'd like to cloth diaper their children.

As always, if you have hints or information to add, please comment!  The more the merrier.

As with any niche, cloth diapering comes with its own quirky terminology. 

But before we delve into that, let's talk about what makes a cloth diaper, a cloth diaper.  :)

Nearly every cloth diaper has an absorbant component, a waterproof outer component, and some method of fastening.  There are extras to certain types of diapers, but that's the bare minimum. 

Below are the most popular types of  cloth diapers on the market today:

Diaper Types

AIO - All-in-ones - These are diapers where all of the components are held together to make one whole diaper. Some have a microfiber inner layer to wick away moisture, others are cotton.  (Some AIO diapers are also separated into a more specific catagory:  AI2s, or all-in-twos...  this just means that the layer closest to the baby's skin is more like a flap, allowing it to be positioned in different ways, as well as allowing it to flap around in the wash.  Kushies are good examples of this)  Examples:  Kushies, BumGenius 2.0, Green Mountain, Swaddlebees, Bumkins  Pros:  Easy, easy, easy to put on.  Everything is together so you don't have to do a lot of word to get them on your child.  In the same vein, they're easy to pack and transport since you never have to worry about remembering all of the components.  Cons:  Often expensive (Kushies are the exception), they take longer than other types to dry.

Pocket Diapers - Very similar to an AIO except that the "soaker" layer (see below for definition) is in the form of an insert to fit into a pocket in the diaper.  The pocket is formed by leaving either the seam in the top back or both the top back and the top front open to allow insertion of the soaker.  Examples:  Fuzzi Bunz, Tiny Tush Elite, BumWear, BumGenius 3.0, Happy Heinys, Blueberry, Snap EZ Eco  Pros:  You can customize the amount of absorbency based how big of a soaker you use.  Some newborns don't require an insert at all.  Convenient and dries fast.  Cons:  Also can be expensive, takes time to stuff inserts.  You also have to shake/pull out the inserts for washing, which some people find kind of gross.

Prefolds- These are rectangular shaped diapers that are made of multiple layers of absorbent materials.  In order to use these, you have to fold the sides in towards the middle and fasten with pins or something like a Snappi (see below).  These are the most basic of basic diapers and are often the cheapest.  Sometimes you will see them descibed with three numbers.  3x5x3.  This refers to the number of layers each diaper has in each section.  The first and last numbers are the outside layers and the middle number is the middle of the diaper.  Layers vary based on the size needed.  You can buy prefolds on your own, or you can hire a diaper service which will wash your diapers and provide you with a clean set.  These must be used with a waterproof outer layer to prevent leaks.  Note:  DO NOT USE THE PREFOLDS YOU CAN FIND IN TARGET OR WALMART OR THE LIKE.  These are not quality prefolds and are really more suited for burp cloths.   Examples:  Chinese Prefolds Pros:  They are cheap, cheap, cheap.  They're pretty foolproof with care and often last forever.  Cons:  Can be somewhat difficult to learn to use.  Might be hard to wrangle a toddler into one.  These are fairly bulky.

Contour Diapers - These are similar to prefolds except they are shaped and don't require folding.  They still need fastening with something like a Snappi and they also need a pair of waterproof pants on the outside. Examples:  Kissaluvs.  Pros:  Easier to use than a prefold, and yet still cheap.  Cons:  Still require the ability to use a fastener. 

OS - One Sized Diaper - This refers to a diaper that has snaps to allow for a one size fit.  The user is able to snap the diaper in a particular way to set it to large or small.  Pros: These diapers are that they can last from birth onwards, (most types).  Cons:  They can be a bit expensive to start up and they can also be a bit bulky in the beginning.  Examples:  Tiny Tush, BumWear, BumGenius 3.0, Green Mountain, Prefolds, Happy Heinys, Cuddlebuns

Some diaper types require some extra materials:

Extras and Terms

Snappi - This is a fasteners made of plastic that are used with prefolds or contour diapers in place of pins. 

Soaker - This is the absorbent part of the diaper.  In an AIO, the soaker is attached.   In Prefolds, there is no technical seperate soaker, so this refers either to the middle layer or to the wool pants used on the outside of a prefold.  In pocket diapers, this is the multi-layer absorbent pad that you stuff into the diaper to hold the liquid.  You can also put a seperate soaker in any kind of diaper for extra absorbency.  There are tons of differnet kinds and shapes, so you have to either get one in tandem with your pocket diaper or search around to find one that works for you.

Hook and Loop or Aplix - For most diapers, the actual Velcro brand velcro is not used because of its roughness.  Thus, to prevent confusion, many will refer to their enclosure as hook-and-loop instead.  Aplix is a softer brand of hook-and-loop closures.

Liners - Either a piece of washable material or disposable material that is used to line the diaper so that waste is captured before hitting the main part.  This allows for easy disposal of solid waste.  Kushies Liners are a good example.  The disposable liners can be flushed as they are biodegradable but they are NOT safe for all septic systems. Convenient, yes.  Necessary?  No. 

DSQ - Diaper Service Quality - This refers to prefolds that are made with the best materials available to stand up to many uses and washings.  If you chose prefolds, it's advised to search for diapers of this quality to ensure the best performance. 

Diaper Cover- This an outer layer that is put on after a cotton diaper such as a prefold or a contour.  (There are some one sized cotton diapers like the TinyTush as well).  These pants are either a waterproof material or wool.  Wool is made to absorb moisture, while the regular diaper covers are made to keep it from leaking outwards.  (Wool generally doesn't leak).  You can use these more than once before washing, particularly the wool ones. 

You should now have enough of a working knowledge of cloth diaper terms to be able to browse around on some cloth diaper bulletin boards or websites. 

Stay tuned tomorrow for "Getting Started:  Cloth Diapering Essentials (And then some!)"

Also, check out my cloth diaper review and giveaway here. 

1 comment:

  1. FWIW: We use prefolds some of the time but don't fasten them. DD isn't very squirmy so with a Thirsties cover they stay just fine.


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