All-in-Ones, also known as AIO's in the cloth diapering world, are super convenient and easy to use! They are perfect for the beginner CD'er, or for part-time care givers. They go on with either snap or hook and loop (aplix, velcro, etc) closures and are the most like disposables. They have an absorbent inner layer and a waterproof outer layer.
Pockets are one of the most common diapering systems out there. They are like AIO's in that they are absorbent and have a waterproof layer built in. The difference is that they have adjustable absorbency - They literally have a pocket that you stuff with an absorbent "insert". Most major
companies use a microfiber insert or two to adjust for your own baby's needs, but other materials are becoming increasingly popular - Hemp & Bamboo especially. These have an opening (usually in the back of the diaper by the back elastic) to place the insert into, and do require "stuffing" before use. They typically have a synthetic material to wick moisture away from the skin very effectively - Microfleece and Microsuede are common.
Fitted diapers do not have a waterproof layer, therefore they require a cover, but they are significantly more absorbent than most all-in-one or pocket diapers because the whole diaper is made of absorbent material. This makes for a favorite night-time solution, even for mamas who use pockets or AIO’s during the day.
A snap-less fitted is a super absorbent cloth diaper that allows your baby’s bum to breathe, but does not come with a closure. It would require either diaper pins or a Snappi.
The basics you "need" to cloth diaper with a fitted/cover system:
Fitted diapers (6-8 for a day)
Pins or a "Snappi" if the diaper is "snap less"
Diaper pail of some sort
Wet bag or plastic bags
Additive free detergent
Washing machine/washing basin/tub
All-in-Two (AI2) Diapers
Like AIO's and Pockets, AI2's have a built in waterproof layer as well. The difference is that these diapers typically have removable soakers (absorbent layers) that either snap or lay in.
Prefolds & Flats
Prefolds are what most people think of when they hear "cloth diapering." They are the most durable and easiest to clean/dry, and are definitely the most affordable. Prefolds are nice and absorbent, and many prefold-using parents would say they're fun once you get the hang of folding them. They require some sort of closure (pins, snappi, etc) and a cover.
You typically don't want to put pants OVER wool or fleece, but PUL and other synthetic covers work well under clothing.
For waterproof covers to go under clothing you'd probably want something with nylon or PUL. T-Bums does not currently carry these, so I'd recommend Blueberry coveralls (those are one-size and come in several different fabric pattern choices) or Bumkins. Those are my favorite non-natural covers for sure. Around the house, though, if you'll be changing frequently, you may find that you don't need to use a cover at all. I only put one on my boys if I'm going to put clothes over the diaper.
Additionally - Fleece and wool covers do not need laundered every time unless #2 gets on them. I'd recommend at least 2 covers if you're worried about getting one dirty and not having another.
WOOL: Wool is the most water resistant natural fiber cover and there is a variety of different types of wool to choose from. It does require a little extra care in the washing process, but it’s not hard. It is important that any wool covers are felted and/or lanolized. Lanolizing makes your wool water-repellant even if it isn’t felted. Using wool sounds like it would be hot or uncomfortable and best for use in the winter. While it may seem a bit counterintuitive wool is actually the best summer cover out there! Because it is a natural fiber which allows airflow to your baby’s bum, it helps keep their bum cooler and drier than other options. Wool absorbs a lot of moisture naturally, and since there is airflow it allows that moisture to evaporate on the outside.
How to wash wool:Hand wash in cold water in the sink with a wool wash or a mild baby soap. Turn inside out and make sure to only agitate gently (agitation will cause the wool to felt and shrink). Roll and squeeze to get extra water out. Lay flat to dry. Avoid pulling or tugging on the wool as wool has a good “memory” and will keep the shape you put it in. If you are lanolizing, just add lanolin to the water while you wash and make sure that the cover gets well coated before rolling to dry and laying it flat. There’s lots of info out there on lanolizing, so check it out. My personal favorite tutorial is:http://understandinglaura.blogspot.com/2007/09/how-to-lanolize-woolwithout-lanolin.html
Covers - Fleece
FLEECE: Like wool, fleece is a breathable material. I use 100% polyester for covers (cotton for inner stay-dry layers of diapers). You just have to dry them with fabric softener to boost water repellent properties. However, they aren't completely water PROOF. Fleece covers are great for around the house or at night/naps because it will let his skin have airflow but will prevent leaks.
How to wash: Fleece covers can be washed with your regular laundry, no problem, and you only have to wash them once a week or so unless #2 gets on them. Just throw in extra fabric softener if you notice that the fleece feels damp to the touch after wearing the diaper for a couple of hours.
Covers - PUL, Nylon, or other synthetic waterproof material
These may be the easiest to care for and they last the longest without showing signs of wear. They come with snaps or hook & loop closures (velcro, aplix, etc) and go on over any diaper. They are typically thin and very waterproof - perfect for wearing under clothing and preventing any leaks.
How to wash: Fleece covers can be washed with your regular laundry, no problem, and you only have to wash them once a week or so unless #2 gets on them. To increase the life of your cover, air drying or drying on low is a good option. If you notice that your PUL is starting to "delaminate" you can pop it in the dryer for a hot cycle and it will essentially "melt" the PUL back into place if it isn't too far gone already.
How long between changes
Most good fitteds can be worn for 2-3 hours with a cover without leaks, sometimes longer. T-bums can actually be worn overnight (my boys wear my super fitteds overnight), but that's because they are made with lots of absorbent fabrics. With cloth you DO want to change more frequently because there aren't chemicals in them to absorb the water up and away from the bum like disposables. I change every 2 hours or so at home, but they go longer when we're out and about or whatever. All-in-ones depend on the brand, but can also be worn 2-3 hours at a time.
The T-Bums Wash Routine for AIO's, Fitteds, Pockets, and AI2's
(You’ll figure out what works best for you as you get used to it)
After changing your child put the cloth diaper in a designated pail, bag, or bucket (we use a big bucket with a lid from Home Depot - nothing special).
For urine you may choose to rinse before placing in the bucket but it is not necessary.
For poop rinse off any solid matter by dunking in the toilet or running under the tub water. You can buy a special diaper sprayer if you want to help get it off with minimal effort. Then, throw in the pail/bag. The longest you should go between washes is 3 days because the ammonia builds up.
1 cold rinse cycle (to get any extra "stuff" off without setting it with heat),
1 hot wash with detergent/soap,
1 hot rinse,
Fluff dry in the drier or hang out to dry outside.
The sun is great at getting out stains. If you sun cloth diapers they can feel a bit stiff. Toss them in to fluff dry which will soften them up.
Special notes: For most cloth diapers you should use an additive-free detergent or a detergent made especially for cloth diapers. In the T-bums household we use original Tide powder or Tide Free & Clear. Many cloth diapering moms use special detergent. Be sure to research your options and choose what works best for your household. You also want to avoid fabric softeners because they can make your diapers less absorbent.
Out and about
Just be sure to take a bag to put soiled diapers in. This is called a "wet bag" and you can purchase special ones or use plastic grocery bag. There are benefits to a true wet bag (zipper or pull closing to keep wetness and odor in, thicker waterproof layer, etc), but if you have plastic bags lying around it's better to re-use those and give them a new purpose. We're all about recycling, upcycling, reusing, and reducing waste!
That's all you need! It's just like disposable diapers - You take the diaper off, wipe, and you're ready to put a fresh one on. The only difference is that you put it in a bag to take home and wash later.
Cloth diapering has come a long way! It really is simple, and pretty much has the same convenience as disposable diapering now.
WHY CLOTH IS BETTER:
You can pick any style to meet your needs (AIO's, fitteds, covers, AI2's, etc)!
You can pick from a million and one fun and attractive patterns and fabrics!
You can go all-natural!
You can save LOTS of money! (the average disposable diaperer spends $2000 a year on diapers for ONE child... That adds up to a lot)
You can have custom diapers that match your interests and preferences!
You can know that you are saving the earth from at least 10,000 diapers in the landfills just by diapering ONE child with cloth!
It is more convenient and easy-to-do than ever!
Common materials used on cloth diapers:
Cotton (knit, jersey, thermal, interlock, etc) - Stretchiness and absorbency varies based on the type of cotton used (knit is more stretchy, interlock is firmer, thermal has more texture, etc) but it is used in most fitted diapers due to its availabilty and the fact that it is a 100% natural fiber.
Organic cotton fleece - Like your favorite sweatshirt, this fabric is thick and comfortable. Suitable for all layers of a diaper with either the flat side or fleece side towards skin. Dyes well, and the flat side makes a nice canvas for stamping or fabric paints.
Organic cotton terry - This fabric is the same as the fleece, but the loops are not brushed. One side of the fabric has loops like a towel. Use smooth side towards skin. Because the loops are not brushed, this fabric is trimmer than fleece.
Bamboo - The in-demand, “it” fabric in the diaper world is Bamboo. Bamboo is naturally anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. This porous fiber absorbs moisture and wicks it away from the skin, leaving baby cooler and drier than cotton or synthetic materials. The bamboo plant is a quickly renewable resource that, unlike cotton, requires no pesticides or replanting and releases over 30% more oxygen than a typical tree. It is an amazing material that suits both your senses and your environmental sensibilities.
Organic Bamboo Velour (OBV) -
Absorbs quickly like microfiber.
Naturally organic. when you see OBV (organic bamboo velour) the organic refers to the organic cotton that provides stability to the base of the
fabric. OBV is an ~80/20 combination of bamboo to cotton.
Highly absorbent. only hemp challenges bamboo for most absorbent fiber.
Organic Cotton Velour (OCV) - Super soft and cuddly fabric - Perfect for up against the skin. In addition to its soft texture, it is a great fabric for wicking moisture away from your baby's skin. Highly absorbant and comfortable. Breaths well and feels great.
Flannel - A soft woven fabric with very little stretch. Usually cotton... Popular material in recieving blankets and used for cloth wipes, flat diapers, and since it is a natural fiber, it is perfectly fine against most babys' skin.
Wool - Wool is the most water resistant natural fiber cover and there is a variety of different types of wool to choose from. Using wool sounds like it would be hot or uncomfortable and best for use in the winter. While it may seem a bit counterintuitive wool is actually the best summer cover out there! Because it is a natural fiber which allows airflow to your baby’s bum, it helps keep their bum cooler and drier than other options. Wool absorbs a lot of moisture naturally, and since there is airflow it allows that moisture to evaporate on the outside.
PUL - PUL, otherwise known as polyurethane laminated fabric, is a lot more technical than just a plastic backing on fabric. The original application is the medical field, and it is still used for this purpose. Like cloth diapers, it is used to replace disposable products with reusable. It provides the waterproof barrier needed in the medical field that can survive multiple institutional washings. The laminate can also be autoclaved, which is a very high heat steam sterilization process, to make it safe for reuse even after it comes into contact with blood or other bodily fluids. For more information: http://www.celticclothswholesale.com/pages/PULFabric.htm
Terry - A knit fabric with a slightly looped face. Perfectly suitable to a Snappi closure. Recommended as a hidden layer or outer layer due to the roughness of the loops. Absorbs very quickly and traps moisture in the fabric very well. Excellent for prefolds, diapers, and cloth paper towels.
Hemp Jersey - A knit fabric similar to tee shirts material. Excellent for trim inserts and absorbent layers. Use 4 to 6 layers depending on your needs. Also dyes well and makes sturdy, kid proof clothing.
Hemp Fleece - Like sweatshirt material, this is a flat knit on one side with a brushed surface on the other. Commonly used for an absorbent layer with the brushed side towards skin but can be used smooth side up as well. Hemp has natural antimicrobial properties and absorbs much more than cotton alone.
Polyester Fleece - There are many varieties of polyester fleece used in diapers. It is important to consider the options carefully before choosing. These definitions do not generally apply to fleeces found in the large chain fabric stores.
Lightweight microfleece- This is the fleece most often chosen as a next to skin fabric. It wicks moisture away from skin and keeps baby's skin feeling dry.
Midweight- Also called 200 weight, this fabric is water resistant. It is suitable for a cover or outside of an all in one for moderate to light wetters. Subject to "compression wicking" meaning if pressure is put against the outside of the fabric such as in a car seat or high chair moisture will wick through to the outside. Can also "sweat" if the diaper is too wet underneath.
Heavyweight- Also called 300 weight, this fabric is very water resistant. Suitable for a cover or outside of a diaper for most babies. More waterproof than 200 weight, and also much thicker. Subject to "compression wicking" meaning if pressure is put against the outside of the fabric such as in a car seat or high chair moisture will wick through to the outside. Can also "sweat" if the diaper is too wet underneath.
Windpro- This also comes in three weights, light, medium and heavy. All three offer superior waterproofness as well as breathability. Makes excellent covers as well as outer layers on diapers. Can sometimes compression wick, but far less than 200 or 300 weight. Loved for summer diapers and nightime covers due to it's breathability as compared to PUL.
Microfiber - Often used as the absorbent layer in fitteds, and as inserts for pocket diapers. Made from polyester it is thin and wicks moisture away quickly and effectively.