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Confused about cloth?

The other day a friend told me that she considered cloth diapers for her first child but felt her head spinning with all the cloth options available. She was so overwhelmed that she didn’t know where to begin. She’s now expecting her second child, due in a few months. She recently googled ‘cloth diapers’ and was, once again, confused by all the choices she saw. My hope here is to clear up the confusion about cloth. The first years of a child's life are a special time that will pass all too quickly, and my goal is to help parents make the most of this time and to help them keep their baby healthy, happy, and comfortable. Because shopping for cloth is nothing like going down the baby aisle at the grocery store where the disposable diapers options are neatly placed on shelves all within arms reach. Like parenting, there are various methods of diapering - try a few and ultimately go with the one that best suits you and your child.

There are two categories of cloth diapers - those that require a diaper cover and those that do not. The diaper itself is the cloth part, most commonly made of cotton, hemp or bamboo. The diaper does the absorbing. The cover, made of wool or a polyurethane laminate (PUL), contains the diaper and keeps the baby’s clothing from getting wet. Most covers are gathered at the leg openings and secured to around the waist with velcro or snaps. Today’s cloth diapers barely resemble ones your parents may have used. Gone are the days are diaper pins and rubber pants!

Three types of diapers require a cover- flat, prefold and fitted diapers. Flat: dishtowel-type diapers that are folded multiple times, so that it fits virtually every baby and dries quickly. Prefold: layers of cloth sewn together so that you don’t have to fold them multiple times. Fitted: diapers which are gathered at the leg openings and may be secured around the waist with velcro or snaps. Two types of diapers do not require a separate diaper covers - all-in-ones and pocket diapers. All-in-one (AIO): fitted diapers with the diaper cover built in, making the diaper waterproof. Pocket: water-resistant outer shell with an opening in the back to insert absorbent material.

A quick online search will reveal hundreds of cloth brands and online retailers. Pretty much every diaper out there fits into one of the five types mentioned above. To determine which type will work for your family, identify your motivation and budget for cloth. You’ll need 2-3 dozen diapers and 6-8 covers. Five years ago, we sought a diapering system that was economical and reusable. We chose unbleached prefolds and PUL covers. We experimented with various ways fold the diapers in thirds and my husband, being very visual, created a simple diagram which we posted near the changing table. For covers we went with Bummis super whisper wraps which secure with velro-type tabs. In all, spent just under $300 on diapers for Liefe, birth to potty training. Once she potty trained, her prefolds went to a friend. Now Haydee uses some of the same covers. Our success in cloth diapering Liefe, from the simplicity of her diapering system to her ease in potty training, is influenced the choices available to Buzzie Bee Diapers diaper service customers.

If your motivation centers around convenience, talk to other cloth diaper users about what they find the easiest to use and launder. Pocket diapers and all-in-ones are easy to put on even the most wiggly toddlers. Because the insert comes out before laundering, pocket diapers dry quickly. Using a diaper service takes almost all the work out of diapering, you’ll still have to change your baby, but that’s about it. It’s also perfectly fine to diversify your diapering portfolio, such as pockets or all-in-ones for travel, daycare, or babysitters and prefolds for home use. Diaper users have a wealth of cloth options from which to choose. By being familiar with the basic cloth diaper categories and the reasons to use cloth, I believe everyone can find a cloth diaper to suit their needs and help them to be successful cloth diaper users.