Cloth Diapers, or “Prefolds and Pockets and Covers, Oh My!”

Mr. Smartipants

I have realized recently how blessed I am to have two local real-life friends who are using cloth diapers (and several more who are using them, but live in other states, as well as those who have used them in the past, but lack a baby to diaper). Add to all this that I am within easy driving distance of not one, but two brick and mortar cloth diapering stores, and I have a very sweet set-up. With all that, it still took me until Nikolay was sixteen months to “buy in” and get started.

My first thought was that I’d want all-in-one diapers, called AIO, to transition from disposables. These are called all-in-one because they have both the absorbent “soaker” part of the diaper and the waterproof exterior in one piece. I bought fifteen brand-new AIOs from an eBay source that seemed like a really good bargain. $70 for 15 wonderful diapers would indeed have been a bargain, but $70 for so-so diapers really isn’t. Thankfully, I had only washed and used five of them, and was able to get a full refund for the remaining ten. I’m not really certain what to do with the five that were used for two weeks or so … they certainly “do the job,” but I found that there were several factors that I didn’t like. For example, they are meant to be washed inside-out, but lack laundry tabs for the velcro. This means that I had to close them back up after they’d been used and then turn the inside-out. Pretty grody, especially when you forget to do it right away, and have to do it as you are transferring the diapers into the washer.

Next, I bought four unbleached premium prefolds, a snappi, and a medium ocean blue Thirsties cover from one of our local cloth diaper stores, Wildflower Diapers. I also bought a wet bag  (to transport used diapers) for my diaper bag, and a much larger “wet bag”/hanging diaper pail (to store all used and soiled diapers until laundry day).

I was so excited about the prefolds. They’ve cheap, they’re long-lasting (elastic and velcro in other diapers can wear out over time), they’re “old school.” (That being said, claims that women have been using them for many generations are a bit overrated: I believe they were invented fifty or sixty years ago. Before then, women used single “flat” sheets of fabric. These, usually found as large squares (or close to squares) are still around and going strong, and referred to as “flats.” They require a bit of know-how and practice to fold them into a usable diaper, but once this is mastered, I’m told they are the most versatile (and truly “one-size”) diaper out there. I also bought a dozen flats, though I have yet to fold them and use them.)

Cloth-eez Red Edge Prefolds

The prefolds were, at first, very disappointing. They seemed excessively bulky, and I couldn’t get the fit right. I was going to give up on them when I realized that part of my frustration had to do with the length of the prefold: it was too long to fit in my son’s size medium covers without folding, which is what made them so bulky. Soon enough, I realized that there was a company out there selling prefolds that are trimmed to just the right length for newborn, small, medium, and large covers. I ordered some “red edge” medium prefolds (see above), as well as a couple more covers, and hoped for the best. After they were washed and prepped, I admit I was a little annoyed that they weren’t as soft and “stretchy” as the unbleached prefolds from Widlflower Diapers. Then I researched a bit, and found out that this softness had to do with the natural oils of the cotton, and that it will fade with washing. The sturdier GMD prefolds would hold longer, and withstand more washings. It has taken a while to practice some folds and snappi-ing. I bought pins, but I prefer the snappi so far. I found that the red edges fit well, though I would prefer if they were a teensy bit wider and/or stretchier. To help with this, I bought some “toddler” snappis, which aren’t that much bigger than the regular ones, but have helped make it just a tiny bit easier to close the prefolds.  All in all, I am becoming more and more convinced by the ease of use and versatility of prefolds. Another unexpected bonus: I don’t get quite as irked when my son soils a prefold – poop on a $2 diaper is much easier to bear than poop on a $14 diaper!

Diaper Covers

My covers thus far are the Thirsties v. 2 in “ocean” and “melon,” and the Bummis Super Brite in yellow and green. Both were chosen because they have a single layer of PUL (which allows me to wipe them clean and are easily re-usable if they haven’t been soiled) and doubl  leg gussets – very important for catching anything that might try to escape onto clothing! Sadly, Thirsties came out with their new Thirsties Duo Covers right after I bought the others. I am trying to convince myself that I don’t need them, though I hear tell that they fit much more snugly than the regular Thirsties. I can’t even consider trifolding the prefolds in the regular Thirsties because they are a bit loose in the rump. Hmmm… perhaps eventually. I am definitely considering getting them for Baby Number 2 when the time comes!

UPDATE: since writing the draft of this post, I caved and bought two Thirsties Duo size 2 covers, and I love, love LOVE them! For photos comparing the fit of the Thirsties v. 2, Bummis Super Brite, and Thirsties Duo, see here.

I have also ordered some Booroi covers, which allow you to trifold prefolds and not have to snappi or pin them. The Booroi holds them securely. You can even have several prepped and pre-stuffed into the covers, which in essence turns them into “convenience diapers” great for outings/babysitters/dads. My main concern with these is how they’ll do with poop, but we shall see. (I haven’t had any poop get on the other covers – it’s been very well contained in the prefolds.)

Smartipants

I currently own nine Smartipants diapers. They are very highly rated on diaperpin.com, and the price point – I bought three 3-packs for $36.95 each – can’t be beat. They are a pocket diaper with synthetic (microfiber) inserts. Once stuffed, they have the ease of use of a disposable, bearing in mind that they do have a snap closure. These are our baby sitter and daddy diapers… in fact, just this morning when my husband changed the baby, he selected an aqua-colored Smartipants. Some dads love the challenge of a snappi or pin … but thus far, my husband has not found the prefold love. 😉 I have also been using these as our nighttime diaper, stuffed with two microfiber inserts. This has worked most nights, though one time there was a bit of moisture wicking out the top where N had been laying on his stomach. This may be petty, but one thing I dislike about these is the pale colors. My favorite one is the aqua, modeled in the first photo above this post. I also like the white, suprisingly, though I had thought after my eBay diaper experience that white was boring. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I would really love these more if they had bolder colors (like the new BumGenius green and orange, or the GroBaby green and orange… can you guess that green and orange are my favorite colors?).

I will probably write a separate post about using gDiapers “little g” pants with cloth inserts. I have gone back and forth on this, and am still partially undecided – although at the moment I’m leaning towards selling the starter pack I bought and using the money for the GroBaby shell I’d like to try.

I will write a separate post about cleaning our diapers. Products to be discussed include Maggie’s Soap Nuts, Country Save Detergent, Potty Pail, and ye olde Baking Soda/Washing Soda/Vinegar…. and perhaps Tiny Bubbles, if we win some for free. 😉

Up next:

  • I have pre-ordered two Booroi diaper covers (the new version 1.5, which will be shipped around July 27th).
  • I am jonesing for some GroBaby Shells and soakers. I love the Kiwi Green and Mandarin Orange, though they’re also coming out with new patterns this September and new solids this winter. I figure I might buy one or two to try out, and if I like them enough, I might buy more as the new patterns and solids come in (4-6 total shells, ten to twelve soakers) and replace the Smartipants with these. Smartipants, though awesome, have two things going against them: they use synthetic fibers, which I would prefer to avoid, and they are pastel, which I’m not a fan of…bring on the bright, bold colors
  • I also really would like to have one of these “Potty Pail” Diaper cleaning/spraying systems, though I would imagine we could rig something like it for much cheaper. My parents have a utility sink, which is reaaally helpful for washing out soiled diapers
  • While I am not terribly tempted by the $25-$35 “designer” fitteds like GoodMamas, I would like to look into sewing some of my own, perhaps especially after I buy the serger I’m hunting for.
  • I would also like to try my hand at sewing some “prefold-fitted conversion” (or “prefitted”) diapers.

I also have a mental list of things I’d like to get for Baby Number 2, when the time comes. Of course, many new and exciting things may come out between now and then, but at present, it looks a little something like this:

  • 2-3 dozen organic newborn (orange edge) prefolds from GMD (If 3, one dozen would be converted into prefitteds)
  • 2-3 dozen organic small (yellow edge) prefolds from GMD (Ditto above)
  • 4 Thirsties Duo size 1 covers (blue, orange, green, yellow)
  • 2 Booroi size small covers (blue and green, unless new colors inclue an orange)
  • Other covers to be determined: possibly some wool covers/pants/longies
  • Possibly some newborn size all-in-ones
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3 thoughts on “Cloth Diapers, or “Prefolds and Pockets and Covers, Oh My!”

  1. I agree that brighter colors are more appealing… I bought 12 Fuzzi Bunz for our son, but wanted them to be gender neutral so I could reuse them. I don’t really dislike the mint color I got, but I grab the bright blue and red ones we also have first!

    Very jealous you can actually go buy cool diapers in person! Here all you can buy new are prefolds, although I did score some nice AIOs at a consignment store once…

  2. I love my wool! I was totally unsure at first but once I got a cover and then made one of my own (from merino, oh so soft!!), I fell in love. Its what I use at night and around the house 🙂

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