Mommying BabyT

Mommy T's adventures; bringing up Baby T

Category: Natural Living

Cloth Diapers 101 – Types

Hey there! I know I’ve kept you waiting a long time since my last post on #ClothDiapers. Well, life and Mommying happened as they say. Have you ever noticed how just as you plan to do something major on your blog or in your personal sphere, things are thrown out of gear by a new baby growth spurt or teething or just general mood off? Well, that’s what happened here too. But we have kind of defeated that and here I am to talk about Cloth Diapers.

There are many kinds of people. Book people. Coffee People. Horror Movie people.

And then there are Cloth Diaper kind of people. Even within that, there are the pre-folds people, flats people, pockets people and whatever suits them kind of diaper type of people. There are also people who want to try it all (Me!). Bottomline is that cloth diapers are not a one size fits all solution. A lot depends on the individual’s comfort and convenience and baby’s needs too. But let’s make an attempt here to simplify it and tell you, realistically, about the kinds of cloth diapers that you will most likely use and want to have in your stash. So here goes…

This post shows you the various types of cloth diapers out there –
  1. Flats
  2. Prefolds
  3. Pocket Diapers
  4. Cover Diapers
  5. All-in-one Diapers

flats, flat diapers, flat nappies, square cloth, nappies, nappy cloth, modern cloth diapers, advanced cloth diapers, superbottoms, cloth diapering india, cloth diapers india, cloth diaper shopsFlat diapers come close to the traditional nappies we were diapered in. They are square pieces of cloth that can be folded in various ways to hold baby pee/poo. They most usually need pins and other fasteners like a Snappi or Boingo to hold them in place.

Most commonly available as Flour Sack Towels (FSTs), birdseye cotton, muslin, Terry. (In order of pic above, starting with the bottom printed cloth)

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Various ways of using flat diapers

Pros:
  • Economical
  • Endless possibilities: use them folded/ shaped in various ways to customize absorbency for girl or boy babies
  • Easy to use – simply pad fold to give multi-layers. Easy to clean too.
  • Dry very fast as they are thin & can be opened up
  • Can be made out of any absorbent cloth, even old clothes/ bed sheets/ towels from around the house.
  • Can be put to various uses around the house once you are done diapering.
Cons:
  • Can be a hassle to use – folding them can be a pain during emergencies
  • Low absorbency when used on its own – won’t last more than an hour or so if used on its own.
  • Not waterproof – will need the addition of a waterproof cover
  • Baby will feel the wetness – these don’t give a stay dry feel.
  • You will need a ton of these.

The best way to use these:

By far the simplest and easiest way to use a flat diaper is to pad fold it and use with a waterproof cover like a cover diaper or a pocket diaper. You can also combine multiple flats to add absorbency.

My Brand Recommendation: 

  • TinyCare Muslin Flats (come in various sizes).
  • Mothercare Muslin Cloth.

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Prefolds are multi layered, stitched rectangular pieces. They are stitched such that the centre panel has more layers of absorbency than the sides.

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Like flats, pre-folds also can be used in various ways. They can be wrapped around the baby like a traditional nappy and held in place with a fastener or simply pad folded.

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Pros:
  • Usually made of very absorbent, natural fabrics like organic cotton, hemp, bamboo. This makes them hold a lot of liquid.
  • Makes for an economical method of diapering.
  • The pre-folds can be put to multiple uses once you are done diapering.
  • Can be used for day or even night-time diapering.
Cons:
  • Usually require a lot of pre-use prepping to bring them up to full absorbency.
  • Shrink upon prepping
  • Need fasteners to hold them in place
  • Not waterproof – will need the addition of a waterproof cover
  • Baby will feel the wetness – these don’t give a stay dry feel.

The best way to use these:

By far the simplest and easiest way to use a pre-fold diaper is to pad fold it and use with a waterproof cover like a cover diaper or a pocket diaper.

My Brand Recommendation: 

  • OsoCozy Organic Unbleached Cotton Prefolds

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Pocket diapers are by far the most popular type of cloth diapers used in the world. It consists of a waterproof shell and a stay-dry fabric lined inner. It has a pocket like opening on one side or both and allows you to stuff an insert of soaker pad inside. The most commonly used insert in a pocket diaper is micro fibre which is a synthetic fabric. However, inserts can be made of various materials – natural fabrics like bamboo cotton, hemp, organic cotton or synthetic like charcoal bamboo, bamboo rayon etc. They all have their own set of pros and cons and it greatly depends on the care giver’s preference as much as it does on baby’s comfort.

Pocket Diapers also give the user the freedom to actually use anything inside the pocket. You can use ready to use inserts or any other material pad folded to fit into the pocket. You can even add multiple inserts inside the pocket so as to make it last longer. When its time to change the diaper you have to replace the entire system – insert and diaper shell.

When it’s time to change the diaper you have to replace the entire system – insert and diaper shell. Thus a pocket diaper lasts only for 2 hours on average with the regular stuffing. Addition of a booster may increase its holding capacity.

Pros:
  • Versatile – can be used with a variety of inserts stuffed into the pocket. The essence of the pocket diaper is the stay dry inner layer and so anything that you use inside the pocket is fine. Baby will get a stay dry feel.
  • The pocket diaper itself does not require any prep. One wash and you are good to use.
  • Dries fast after wash even in the Indian monsoon
  • Value for money – usually the most affordable amongst all the diapers available

Cons:

  • Cannot be reused. Have to change the entire diapering system if soiled or full
  • Can sometimes seem bulky, especially if you are stuffing multiple inserts inside it.
  • Can sometimes be a hassle when you have a fidgety baby on hand and you need to stuff the diaper with the insert. A good idea to counter this is to keep the insert stuffed into the pocket while storing.

The best way to use these:

Stuff the insert inside the pocket and store them until use. This will save time.  You can also add a trim natural fibre booster inside the pocket in addition to a regular insert in order to increase the time the pocket will last for.

My Brand Recommendation: 

  • Superbottoms Pocket Diapers

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After having cloth diapered for a 1.5 years and using virtually all types and the most advanced types of cloth diapers I am drawn back to the simplest of all – cover style cloth diapers.

Cover Diapers essentially refers to the water proof shell only. But they provide a great deal of versatility in terms of what you can use inside the covers. Pictured above are a few of the options – Pre-folds, Terry cloth shaped into a nappy, pad folded flats, or special inserts meant for cover diapers. Cover diaper inserts need to be customized to have a stay dry layer on top, especially in the case of microfibre or natural fabric inserts.  These materials are not meant to be used next to baby’s skin (MF) or don’t have an inherent stay dry quality.

I love the Cover diaper and Soaker system from Superbottoms The soakers have a special feature which means they can be snapped into the shell to keep them in place. The material is high-quality microfibre which usually lasts me around 3 to 4 hours on its own.

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Superbottoms Cover Diapers – newborn & regular sized.

The best part about a cover diapering system is that you can simply replace the soaker/insert once full, wipe down or air dry the shell (unless soiled with poop) and add another fresh soaker. Basically, you get to reuse the shell (cover) over and over until it needs a wash. This makes it a very economical cloth diapering system.

Pros:
  • Versatile – can use anything inside the covers, specific cover diaper inserts or home made nappies.
  • Gives multi-uses as the cover can be reused by replacing the soaker/ insert
  • Dries in a jiffy even after a full wash cycle.
  • You will need only a few sets of the cover diapers and can just keep buying the inserts, if you intend to diaper using this system.
Cons:
  • You need special inserts if you prefer to give baby a stay dry feel. (But mostly they come with the cover diapering system.)
  • Using cloth diaper inserts inside a cover can lead to bunching, shifts and leaks as not all inserts have snaps to hold them in place.

The best way to use these:

Use soakers with snaps which will help keep them in place inside the cover. While replacing the soaker, wipe it down with a cloth dampened in hot water and air dry it for a while, before reusing it.

My Brand Recommendation: 

  • Superbottoms Cover Diaper & stay dry soakers

The All-in-one diaper is the one that comes closest to a disposable diaper, in the sense that it can be just fastened onto baby without the need to add any other inserts/ soakers. It usually also lasts much longer than most diapers.

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All-in-ones as the name suggest contain all the diapering parts – waterproof shell and absorbent insert built into the cloth diapers system. You just put the entire diaper on and are good to go.  As such they are convenient and less hassle. Most All-in-one type diapers are made of very absorbent materials and so will last for a much longer duration. This makes them a favourite for night time diapering. You can also add more absorbency to these diapers to increase their hold time.

There are various types of All-in-one diapers. But these are the most common:

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Left: The absorbent part is stitched into the inner shell of the diaper. (TotsBots)

Centre: Flap style inserts (Superbottoms Plus)

Right: Snake style insert which can be folded as per your preference.  (Smart Bottoms 3.1 )

All-in-one diapers are a big favourite with people who prefer less complicated diapering. It is a wear and go kind of system. This also makes it easy to be carried on vacations or while out of the house.

Pros:

  • Simple and easy to use.
  • Usually have great capacity so can be used for longer durations. This makes them great for baby naps, local travels or even vacations
  • Less number of spare parts – great when travelling out of home.

Cons:

  • More absorbent also means thicker and so these diapers tend to be a little bulky
  • They also take more time to dry
  • Tend to be expensive
  • Some All-in-one diapers still need you to add extra absorbency.

The best way to use these:

Buy All-in-one diapers which are trim and promise to hold long hours. This way you can get away without adding any additional boosters/ inserts.

My Brand Recommendation: 


The Hybrid or All-in-Two diapering system gives the user a little more freedom with its usage.

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Typically a hybrid or AI2 diapering system consists of a waterproof cloth diaper shell or cover and an insert for the absorbency. The cloth diaperer has the option of using either the special snap on reusable cloth inserts that are designed for the shell or disposable, biodegradable inserts. One can actually even get away with using other insert types like flats, pre-folds etc within the shell.

Technically any cover diaper/ shell + customized insert diapering system also works under the same principle as a hybrid/ AI2. You can use any insert within the shell – customised reusable, own inserts or even disposable inserts.

Pros:

  • Gives greater flexibility to the user.
  • Is convenient especially when traveling out of the house – the insert can be discarded if using a disposable one.

Cons:

  • The shell usually has a mesh or suede inner which can get messy to clean when soiled
  • The shell is not reusable unlike a cover diaper (which comes close to the shell + customised insert/ soaker system)
  • Some shells offer the use of only the specific inserts which can be snapped on. One cannot use any other inserts with the system.

The best way to use these:

They are great for travels when you have no access to a wash and clean facility. You can simply dump the insert without feeling too guilty for harming the environment.

My Brand Recommendation: 

  • Grovia Hybrid diapers

Have you entered the big, beautiful world of cloth diapers? Which type of cloth diapers did you start with and what are your favourite types? What is the one element of cloth diapers that you struggle with?

World Environment Day – 5 ways you can make a difference

5th June marks World Environment Day and like most people I do stop to ponder about the impact my actions & living choice have on the world & its environment.  World Environment Day is not a hallmark holiday. It is a very important and grave part of our modern lives today.  We need to talk more about the Environment and the legacy we leave behind. The old Indian saying which has been quoted far too many times, rings loudly in my ears…

“We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children”

Before I had #BabyT I would roll my eyes at those tree hugger type of people who would advocate save trees, go green, save water and all of it was mumbo-jumbo to me. I mean how does just one plastic bag I use make a difference? Right?

Turns out I was wrong. When they put that shriveled up & pink little dumpling in my arms I was transformed. I vowed to do everything to protect him and bring him up as a good human being in a better world than you and I know today. A cleaner, greener, healthier world. And so I joined the “Hippy bandwagon” – the term hurts me sometimes, but this is what some people now refer to me as. A hippy. But the hippies are a cool lot, they spread love and harmony and did a lot for the world that they graced their brief lives with. 

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