Since posting a few times about my experience with cloth diapering, I have had several friends ask how to get into it. I'll admit it, when I was pregnant I tried and tried to research, but pregnancy brain got the better of me. There are a ton of great resources out there, and I'll probably only be repeating pretty much anything else you can read out there. However, I'll be writing this as if to myself a year ago, when I had no idea what anything meant.
My sweet sister, author of Fantastic Actuality blog, has agreed to help me co-author this series. She was the one who broke everything down to me in "For Dummies" style, which was when everything finally made sense. She has even sent pictures to help the visually inclined (like myself).
In this post, we'll be covering the basic of the basics: old-school cloth diapers (like what your grandmother would likely have used), and different cover options.
Prefolds, Flats, and Fitteds – These are the absorbent options to go inside a cover. Prefolds and flats are your "grandmother’s cloth diapers.” A prefold is a piece of fabric that has been tri-folded and sewn together, generally with extra padding in the middle. They can be wrapped around a baby and held in place using a snappi (a silicone "T" with shallow teeth at each end to hold the diaper together), diaper pin, or other fastener. They can also just be folded and placed in a PUL cover. A flat is similar, but it is not pre-folded so you need to do all the folding to either wrap around baby or put in cover. A simple and inexpensive flat option is a flour sack towel from Wal Mart (I used them on Bean along with a prefold for overnight).
A fitted is an absorbent diaper with no waterproof layer. It generally closes with snaps or aplix (hook and loop, like Velcro), though you may need to use another fastener, like a snappi. It is already fitted to the baby with a diaper shape and elastics for a tight fit. Prefolds, flats, and fitteds all require a cover of some sort. You can buy them from most cloth diaper realtors.
There are also hybrid fitteds which include a layer of fleece either on the outside of the diaper or as a hidden layer. These diapers are not completely waterproof or resistant and will leak if not changed quickly but provide a good option for a breathable diaper to wear at home or at night. Hybrid fitteds are WAHM made and do not require a cover in most circumstances.
Covers - There are 3 styles of covers. The most common is PUL or polyurethane, which is a waterproof plastic-like material. Generally they snap or aplix (hook and loop, like velcro) closed. Common cover brands are Blueberry Coveralls or Thirsties Covers. Unless the diaper cover is soiled, you can wipe it out and reuse it 3-4 times before needing a new cover. They require some sort of insert to go in the cover, such as a fitted, prefold, or flat, to absorb waste.
Fleece covers are made from fleece and usually pull-on rather than have snaps or aplix. While not waterproof, fleece is water resistant. It is also very breathable. Many people use fleece at night either over a heavy-duty fitted or another PUL style diaper for added protection from night leaks. Fleece is generally WAHM (work at home mom) made.
Wool is similar to fleece but is more natural and requires a little more work. Wool is also water resistant instead of waterproof, but many people use wool and fleece with no issues. Wool is naturally antibacterial and absorbs order. You can purchase wool covers from companies such as Sbish or from WAHMs (like me!). Unlike PUL covers, wool and fleece can be made in pants, shorts, footies, and skirt versions so no other bottoms are required!
Part 2, "Not Yo' Grandma's Cloth Diapers", coming soon!
Mama Bear of one Baby Bear, Bean, who both love Papa Bear, and live in a crafty, gluten-free cozy den.