If you are looking for an alternative to disposable diapers, you might be considering cloth. Cloth diapers are an option for those looking to decrease their environmental footprint and focus their consumption on reusable items. You may be imagining wrapping baby up in large sheets of linen that must be fold just so, stabbing yourself with diaper pins trying to fasten them, and the horrible smell of the plastic or "rubber" pants. I am here to tell you, cloth diapers are so much more than that. Its 2019, this is the age of the cloth diaper. Cloth manufacturers have listened to care givers and potential parents and cloth is now a huge range of products that are made to fit the needs of each child and family. On the scene today: pocket diapers. Be prepared to be amazed by the ease of use and customizable features of pocket style diapers.
Pocket style diapers follow the same standard cloth equation: pair a waterproof cover with an absorbent material and you are all set for success. The absorbent layers are often referred to as inserts, and these inserts can be anything from simple folded flats or prefolds to luxurious brushed bamboo or hemp cotton pads. The size and absorbency of each insert is determined by the material from which it is made. The thinnest, most absorbent inserts are made from microfiber, which is a man-made fiber, think of a towel you would use to dry a car. These are the go-to fiber choice for many pocket diapers as they add maximum absorbency with the least amount of bulk.
Inserts of standard cotton are bulkier, so inserts of a bamboo or hemp cotton blend add absorbent properties but more efficiently to their size. Natural materials can be more gentle on skin than microfiber, so do not necessarily need to be incased in the pocket to be used. They also require more prepping, or prewashing, before they reach their maximum potential absorbency.
To the pocket diaper itself. Pocket style diapers are a waterproof shell that include a sleeve where the absorbent layer can be inserted held in place by a soft, baby skin friendly, material. The interior of these diapers are often made of fleece, which is an amazing product in it self. If you do not believe me check out Considering Cloth: Fleece Liners. Some interiors are brushed cotton fleece or even brushed bamboo, either of which will make you think, for at least one second, about using it to make your own undies.
Pocket style diapers come in several varieties, from your less expensive cover with fleece sewn in to the self- agitating bamboo lined all-in-two's that dominate online diaper boutiques. You can purchase them by size from Newborn-Toddler (each size covers a range from 5-8lbs) or pick up One Size versions that fit from 8-35lbs. I find the one size are great as they have extra room for additional inserts to prevent leaks overnight or on car trips.
Pocket diapers come in a variety of colors and patterns which make them nearly irresistible to grab at the store. You will want to pick some that have the best features, like double leg gussets, rear elastic in the waistband, snap closures, and a wide pocket opening for easy stuffing and removal of soiled inserts. The inner lining material should be a natural fiber, but if you prefer something in the polyester family, I recommend utilizing liners to prevent over-drying baby's skin.
When washing standard pocket style diapers, you will need to remove the inserts prior to loading into the washing machine, so keep that in mind as you shop. Self-agitating versions claim that the inserts are ejected from the diaper during the wash cycle, thus leaving you out of that process. Inserts can then go into the dryer, though I recommend hanging covers to air dry. The more you expose the waterproof covers to the dyer the more opportunities for trouble, so I avoid it as best I can.
Each time you change a pocket diaper the entire diaper must be washed. You cannot insert a new absorbent layer into a cover that has been exposed to urine or feces until it has been thoroughly cleaned. This is super important to remember as you will need to have enough diapers to last you between washes. Factoring in the average cost of $15 per pocket diaper (some are $5 while others are $35+), you will need to keep your budget in mind when deciding if you can purchase 24-36 pocket diapers.
The great thing about pocket diapers is their similarity to disposables. Once stuffed and stacked all you need to do at a diaper change is wrap them around baby and fasten them with either velcro or snaps (depending on what you choose). Velcro (hook and loop) are great for first-time cloth users or for newborn midnight diaper changes. I remove the inserts and place the cover and inserts into the wetbag separately to keep washing simple (just dump and go). This is a great way to consolidate work, since you are washing your hands after each diaper change anyway. Once baby starts developing motor skills and minor dexterity, snaps become a must.
The pocket diaper is a versatile animal that can help with several common issues for diapering. First, you can increase absorbency easily by adding more inserts to the pocket, which is great for nighttime or heavy wetters. Second, the fleece interior creates a barrier between baby and the absorbent material, which come in handy if you need to use creams or ointments on skin. Third, they pack up just like disposables, stuff them all on laundry day, and you can grab and go quickly. Fourth, the range of different insert materials mean you don't need all that bulk, which is great for smaller babies and helps with fitting that fluffy butt into clothes. Last, pocket diapers can be a great investment since you can customize them to meet the needs of the baby who wears them.
Who loves cloth diapers? I do!
If you have any questions about cloth in general or pocket style diapers, let me know. If you have an idea for a future "considering cloth" installment leave a comment below and I will do my best to address your topic.
If you are considering pocket diapers, here are a few reviews to help you narrow down your search for the perfect fluff:
Kawaii Diaper Review (common crazy favorite) from the Cloth Diaper Wisperer
Reviews of several brands from Dirty Diaper Laundry
Reviews of several brands from All About Cloth Diapers
List of the Best Cloth Diapers from Very Well
I am a highly opinionated and sassy mother of three and wife to one. I hope you enjoy reading about my efforts to tackle the infuriating obstacles of life using straight talk and humor. If I say it, I mean it, or maybe I am being sarcastic. I like to focus on topics from my everyday life: parenting, cooking, crocheting, and a whole list of other things that inspire my rage.