When I first though about cloth diapering, I looked into all my options – I checked out prefolds, flats, pockets, all-in-ones, fitted, covers, liners, and more. I loved the idea of using prefolds or flats and covers but I was not in love with the Indian prefolds I checked out – it seemed a little too bulky for me. Thankfully, someone suggested I look into hemp – I was fortunate to have a local diaper service here in Charlotte that had organic hemp flats as an option for weekly delivery and she gladly brought some over so I could check them out. Up to that point, I had heard a little about hemp but had no idea what an important role it would play in my cloth diaper routine.
Hemp has become such a popular choice in cloth diapering for a variety of reasons. I initially chose to use hemp because it seemed far trimmer than comparably sized cotton prefolds. I quickly learned that the trimness did not at all limit its absorption – in fact, hemp is far more absorbent than its cotton counterparts. Estimates are that hemp can be three times to seven times more absorbent than cotton! Hemp is also a more sustainable crop than cotton – it grows quickly on less land and requires little or no pesticides or herbicides. This is a win-win for me!
I began my journey with hemp using Willow Sprout organic hemp flats and Babykicks hemp flats secured with a Snappi and covered with a Bummis Super Whisper Wrap or Thirsties Duo Wrap cover. The combination worked great for my little guy during the day. However, as my baby got bigger and slept longer, I needed a better nighttime solution than a hemp flat and a cover. I started using pocket diapers at night – mainly Bumgenius or Fuzzibunz – but that wasn’t doing the trick either. Hemp to the rescue… I took my hemp flat, folded it in half and stuffed it in the pocket as a doubler. Perfect. This worked so well but I kept a lookout for other hemp doubler options that might be a little less bulky. I found that there were a variety of hemp doublers and inserts available so I began to try them out. Hemp Babies Diaper Doublers provided a smaller alternative for stuffing into my BG or Fuzzibunz pocket. These doublers are super thin – I could even add two – and they don’t add much bulk to the diaper at all.
As my 7 pound baby tripled in size and became a 21 pound, five month old monster, I decided to test out hemp flats folded in half and used in a Flip cover. Beautiful! This option was super easy and was easy to execute – fold in half, tuck into the flip cover, put on baby. With the success of hemp on my baby, I quickly realized that hemp would probably be a great addition to my toddler’s nighttime diaper. We have Happy Heiny Trainers, Mother Ease, Green Acre Designs, and Fuzzibunz in our toddler’s stash – adding a hemp doubler to these diapers has completely eliminated any “overflow” issues that we would occasionally experience at night. No more wet sheets!
Using hemp has worked out really well for us. Hemp is naturally anti-microbial and anti-bacterial, I haven’t had any residual odor issues like I have had with some of my microfleece inserts. Hemp washes well but it can take quite a while to dry! Having spoken to other moms, the other downsides to hemp seem to be that if your child is a quick and heavy wetter, the hemp might not absorb the liquid fast enough so you might experience some leaking if you are using hemp alone. Also, when you first add hemp to your stash, the prep time might take longer than you are used to! Hemp requires 4 or 5 prewashes – washing and drying – before you can start to use it. Don’t be surprised if the hemp shrinks a bit as well – and becomes softer with each wash. Truthfully, the hemp might not even be fully absorbent for another 4 or 5 washes. Of course, the final downside for some might be the cost. Hemp definitely costs more. But, in my experience, it is worth every penny. Add some hemp to your stash and test out the magical mysteries of this material for yourself!
By Erin Brighton, MPH, M.Ed. – Charlotte, NC