From The Cloth Diaper Whisperer Archives! This is a favorite blog post about how prefolds can be so easy to use. Originally posted on Jan.20th, 2011.
I found a new favorite cloth diaper. It is very absorbent and I never have leaks. It is affordable and easy to use.
No, it's not the latest pocket or all-in-one diaper. It's not fancy. There's not even a whole lot of science behind it. In fact, it's a little bit old fashioned. What is it, you may ask? It's the prefold.
Scary, yes, I know. When I first started cloth diapering my newborn four months ago, I scoffed at prefolds. Why use those ancient things when there are so many awesome new diapers on the market? But then I found out their dirty little secret: they are cheap and effective, and not nearly as difficult as I imagined them to be.
I decided to try prefolds one day because my rapidly-growing son had hit a point where I was struggling to get his diapers to fit him properly. He changed so much day to day and I was getting frustrated. I was also getting lots of leaks. And, with so many great, convenient diapers on the market, there just had to be a reason that some parents still prefered to use prefolds and flats. What did I have to lose? If I didn't like them I wouldn't be out a ton of money, and I could always use them as rags or burp cloths. I placed an order for half a dozen prefolds, a cover, and a Snappi, then searched the internet to learn the best ways to fold them.
My package arrived a few days later. I prepped the prefolds right away, so I could try them the same day; I am impatient like that. Then, skeptically, I put one on my two month old son for the first time. It actually looked like the ones I saw online! I was pretty darn proud of myself but I knew I had won the battle, not the war... how would it hold up when my son peed? Or, worse, had an explosive poop?
Perfectly, as I soon found out. I have not had a single leak since I started using prefolds. I had a couple instances where I had some slight wicking and his onesie got a little damp--my own fault, for not being more careful when putting on the covers--but never a real leak. Over the past two months I have fine-tuned the art of putting on a prefold. Not to sound too full of myself, but gosh darn it, I am good at it. I can jelly-roll those things like nobody's business.
So yes, I love my prefolds. They are much easier than I ever could have imagined, and very versatile as well. I like that I can let my son go coverless to let his skin breathe. I like that I have the option of using a fleece liner to help him feel dry. I like that I can still have fun with them, and can find prefolds in fun prints, or embellish them myself, or even dye them if I want to. And I love that, with the help of a hemp insert, my son wake up every single morning with dry sheets and jammies.
I still love (and use) my pocket diapers, and I know my likes and needs may change as my son grows. I am already learning how to deal with a very squirmy four month old, which presents a new diapering challenge. I am so glad that modern cloth diapers have made more people (myself included) hop on the cloth diapering bandwagon... but, sometimes, it's okay to be a little old-fashioned.
My husband and I live in South Africa, and work for a mission agency. We have two amazing kiddos, a daughter who is nine, and a 16 month old stuntman.
What is the #1 reason you cloth diaper your baby? I told my husband that it was to save money; but honestly, it was mostly it was because cloth diapers are just irresistibly cute.
Who has been your biggest cloth diapering supporter/cheerleader? My husband, who knows we are saving money and now gets what I mean when I say cloth diapers are irresistibly cute.
What is your favorite diaper and why? I am a big fan of bumGenius pocket diapers; they fit great, work well, are easy to use, daddy-friendly... and irresistibly cute.
If you had one superhero power, what would it be and why? Flying; I would love to be able to nip across the ocean to visit family a bit more often.
Describe your parenting style using three words. Lead by example.
What is one product you absolutely can't live without?Wet bags.
How do you think being a parent has changed you? I think my relationship with my kids has changed the way I understand God's parenting of ME. I have become much more patient, compassionate and realistic towards myself and others. And I know for certain that I can function on way less sleep than I ever imagined possible.
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I think the hardest part of cloth diapering for our family was nighttime diapering. When our daughter was about three months old, we stopped changing her at every night feeding because it was waking her up too much. Up to this point, she was changed every three hours or less – she never really had the chance to fully wet a diaper.
Of course the first time we left our bumGenius 4.0 on her for a six-hour stretch, she wet right through it. We had used the infant insert, so we bumped it up to the full-sized insert the next night. That also leaked. We discovered that both inserts in our BG4.0 diapers did not do the trick, neither did both inserts in a Rumparooz pocket. (And if you've ever used a one-size Rumparooz pocket on a little baby with both inserts in it, you know how ridiculously enormous it is – she can't have been that comfortable in it.)
At this point, we were out of diaper options. We were a one-size pocket family, with no other diapers at home. So we went back to changing every three hours to avoid leaks and started researching our options. We decided to try a fitted and cover to see how it worked for us. We had read many positive reviews, and it couldn't hurt.
We began our fitted and cover journey with a Kissaluvs cotton fleece hybrid one-size contour diaper (say that five times fast!) that we closed with a Snappi fastener and covered with a Thirsties Duo Wrap. It worked fantastic! The first night with our new nighttime diapering system was so easy and leak free. We couldn't be happier. Unfortunately, it was short lived.
A few months later, our daughter began leaking through the Kissaluvs diapers, too. I tried adding boosters (we used hemp inserts), and while they helped, they were not the answer. Also, our little one was five months old and she was quite wiggly when we changed her diaper, making the Snappi closure a bit difficult. So I hit the internet again and researched fitteds with snaps. I found a ton of well-reviewed brands, including Babykicks, Sustainablebabyish , and Bummis. However, we ended up buying three Baby Beehinds fitted diapers because of a great deal I saw. We found our diaper!
Finding a very absorbent fitted diaper you love is the best thing you can do when searching for a nighttime cloth diapering system for your family. Yes you can add hemp or other natural fiber inserts (we do periodically) to help aid in absorbency, but sometimes it's nice to have something that can work on its own. Don't be afraid to try a few different brands – cloth diapers can have excellent resell value!
For six months we didn't have a single leak. It was awesome! I had seen that other people like to use wool or fleece covers over their fitted cloth diapers for a more bullet-proof solution, but I don't believe in messing with a good thing. We had three fitteds and two PUL covers that we really liked.
Eventually, however, our daughter started getting red at night. After airing out in the morning, though, she returned to normal. So I figured the minimal air flow was the culprit. I did not want the redness to turn into a rash, so we purchased a fleece cover to try. Let me tell you, I was nervous about the fleece cover! How the heck is that supposed to keep her dry?! But it did! We now have two fleece soakers and a pair of fleece longies (pants), and they are wonderful. I have even tried wool soakers, and I really like them a lot. I made my own out of up-cycled wool sweaters, which was a fun project (there are tons of tutorials out there if you are interested). The wool also works really well, and I could see heavy wetters doing better with wool than with fleece.
I think we've finally hit the ceiling when it comes to nighttime solutions. We have extremely absorbent fitteds that we can pair with hemp inserts for extra absorbency and cover with either PUL, fleece, or wool, depending on what she needs that night. It took a little trial and error getting here, but we now have a very user-friendly (and grandma and grandpa friendly!) and versatile nighttime solution that didn't break the bank.
Bio: Jennifer Esposito - I've been cloth diapering my daughter, Adele, for a little over a year. She wore her first cloth diaper when she was 6 days old and was in them full time at 3 weeks. I've been married to my best friend for 4 years. I'm an editor by trade, and during my free time I like to run, sew, or read.