cloth diapers, pt. 2: decisions, decisions

This is the second in a series of posts on cloth diapering. If you want to start at the beginning, feel free to visit cloth diapers, pt. 1: why, oh why? If you already know all about the different types of cloth diapers, please feel free to skip ahead to cloth diapers, pt. 3: the grind.


Here’s a brief rundown on the major types of cloth diapers (as I understand them):

All-in-one (AIO) diapers: These diapers are all in one piece, making them the most similar to disposables. They are fairly easy to use, but need to be washed after each diaper change, as there are no removable parts.

All-in-two (AI2) or Hybrid diapers: These diapers consist of a waterproof (or water resistant) cover and various inserts that fit inside them. Inserts made of different fibers and sizes are available, and their removable nature means that absorbency of AI2s can be customized to fit different situations or needs. The covers can be wiped clean and reused between washes, as long as any mess stays on the inserts and the wipe-clean surfaces.

Pocket diapers: These diapers have a pocket (surprise!) into which various inserts can be stuffed. Pocket diapers allow for a lot of customization with absorbency, but need to be washed after each diaper change, as any pee or poop hits the fabric of the diaper itself before it soaks through to the inserts.

Fitted diapers: These diapers are the ones I know least about. The way I understand it, they’re almost like prefold diapers, but shaped to fit the contours of a baby much better. Some have snap closures, and some have no closures at all, requiring a Snappi (or something similar) to keep them fastened. These diapers require covers, because they have no waterproof parts. These are popular for use as overnight diapers, because they are very absorbent.

Once you’ve got a basic idea of the 4 types of diapers, there are a few further distinctions that need to be made.

  • Some diapers are sized, and some are one-size. Sized diapers fit a narrow(er) range of sizes, arguably providing a better fit as the baby grows. Going with a sized diaper system means you need more diapers, because you’ll have to have a big enough stash of each size to last at least a day or two before you need to do laundry. One-size diapers fit a baby (again, arguably) from birth to potty training. This means that you’ll need fewer diapers, but the fit may not be as customizable as with sized diapers.
  • Some babies are too small to really fit well into one-size diapers at first, so newborn diapers are available in each of the different 4 types. These are smaller and trimmer, and some offer cutouts to accommodate umbilical cord stumps until they fall off.

Now that you’ve read all that very scintillating information, take a deep breath, because there’s more.

What follows is what my husband and I settled on for Baby Guy and our cloth diapering adventure. Remember, I’m pretty new at this, and there are a lot of diapers I haven’t tried. I’m just trying to give as much help to people thinking about making this decision as possible.

We decided that All-in-twos (AI2s) would form the basis of our collection. We chose Best Bottom diapers. They consist of a waterproof, PUL shell with snaps in the inside front and back to which you can attach absorbent inserts. The shells come with either snap or hook and loop (velcro-type) closures. We chose snaps because they seem more durable.

The benefits of the AI2 diaper, as we see them, are:

  • The insides of the shells can be wiped clean and used multiple times between washings. (Please note that if the cloth lining the edges gets wet, we do not reuse the shell. We also do not reuse shells if they’ve been pooped in because Baby Guy’s breastfed poo is liquid and never stays on the insert.) This means that you need more inserts than shells, and therefore saves you some money (shells cost more than inserts). As the boy eats more and more solids, supposedly the poo is more likely to stay on the insert, keeping the shell clean and making it even more cost-effective. I’ll let you know.
  • The covers can be used with the inserts they’re designed to work with, but can also be used with other inserts, including very inexpensive prefold diapers.
  • Unlike with pocket diapers, the inserts can be removed without putting your hand into a wet and/or poopy pocket.
  • The shells air dry pretty quickly, and the inserts can be tumble dried, so there’s not a ton of wait time between washing and wearing.

Reasons we specifically chose Best Bottom AI2s include:

  • The snaps for the inserts mean that they stay in place as you put the diapers on and as baby moves around.
  • They feel sturdy, but soft. I didn’t mind the idea of my baby’s skin touching them, but they also felt like they’d hold up to a lot of use.
  • They have double gussets around the legs, which gives you the idea that they’ll hold a mess in a little better than diapers without them.
  • They’re one-size diapers, supposed to fit a kid from 8-35 lb. My little one was over 8 lb at birth, lost a few ounces (he was 7 lb, 11 oz at his lowest in the hospital), and was a bit too skinny for these diapers as a brand newborn. After a couple of weeks at home, though, they fit him pretty well.
  • The regular inserts come in “stay dry” microfiber, bamboo, or cotton, and each fiber choice comes in small, medium, and large. This helps match the size and absorbency of the insert to the size and soaking power of the baby.
  • For additional absorbency, “soaker” inserts and overnight inserts are available. These snap between the shell and the regular insert for overnight diapering or long car trips, when you won’t mind bulking up the diaper in order to get that extra soaking power.

6 months in, we like our Best Bottoms. We don’t have much trouble with leaking, though we chose the microfiber inserts, which are more prone to compression leaks than the other natural fibers. We chose mf because of the “stay dry” quality of them. We didn’t want our baby’s skin to feel wet all the time. When we do get leaks it’s usually on Baby Guy’s right side, either in the leg or around the waist. Sometimes it’s user error; we don’t always close up the diaper as carefully as we should or we go longer between diaper changes than is advisable. These have been (up to this point) exclusively pee leaks. We’ve never had a poop blowout in these, despite the fact that our son’s exclusively breastfed poop is basically straight liquid all the time. The prints are pretty cute (but limited) and the solid diapers come in good color combinations. We currently use these diapers overnight, and they hold without leaking for over 12 hours with a regular microfiber insert (we’ve switched to large) and a large hemp overnight insert. We never bought medium inserts, we just went straight from small to large (mostly because I’m cheap). We’re still using small inserts during the day (to reduce bulk) with good success.

We have 7 Best Bottom Shells, 18 small microfiber inserts, 18 large microfiber inserts, and 2 large hemp overnight inserts. We will purchase more overnight inserts, but I wanted to try them before I invested in more. I think eventually I’d like to have 6 in my stash.

We also decided we wanted some All-in-ones (AIOs) for convenience. Again, here we chose snap closures for these diapers.

  • AIOs are easy for on-the-go diapering.
  • They’re less intimidating for other people to use, and not everyone who will end up watching our baby will be familiar with cloth diapers.

We chose BumGenius Freetime diapers for the following reasons:

  • They feel great- soft inside (with stay-dry microfiber) and not cheap or plasticky on the outside.
  • They dry fairly quickly because the (permanently attached) inserts fold out to hang dry.
  • The inserts can be folded to provide uniform absorbency in the diaper, or more absorbency toward the front (for boys) or the back (for girls).
  • They’re one-size diapers, but, they also come in newborn size.
  • The Albert diaper is basically the most adorable diaper ever. (If you’re a nerd…which I might be.)

For the first few weeks, we used BumGenius newborn diapers. These only come with a hook and loop closure, but that’s not a big deal, since they’re so small that they will not need to be used as heavily as one-size diapers. We really loved these, but I did wish they had cutouts for the umbilical stump. We squeezed as much life out of these as we could. They are for babies less than 12 pounds (though I kept using them a bit past 12 pounds because they were so adorable).

6 months in, we love our BumGenius Freetime one-size diapers. We used to use them as overnight diapers, with no additional absorbency needed, but Baby Guy wets too heavily now for them to last overnight without a diaper change. That being said, these hold for quite awhile, and we very rarely have leaks with them. I like to use them in the mornings when Baby Guy is more likely to poop, because they have to be washed after each diaper change anyway, and they hold the mess in very nicely.

We have 7 BumGenius newborn diapers and 6 BumGenius Freetime one-size diapers.

To round out our initial stash, we chose Applecheeks envelope covers.

We chose these (technically) pocket diapers because:

  • They’re sized diapers, and we thought we’d give that a try.
  • They work very well with inexpensive prefold diapers as inserts.
  • The opening of the pocket is in the middle of the diaper, meaning that while it agitates in the washer, the stuffed insert comes out on its own (no shoving your hand in a disgusting diaper pocket).
  • BUT, if you don’t want to use it as a pocket diaper, you can simply lay inserts in it and use it as a cover. This means you can reuse it between washes, as long as the mess stays on the insert.
  • They are so soft and adorable you just can’t help but want to see your baby snuggled up in them!

6 months in, I love the Applecheeks covers, but they’re my husband’s least favorite in our stash. We both love the way they look and feel, but as far as ease of use, our other diapers are just a bit simpler to fit. Once Baby Guy outgrows size 1 (which works for babies from 7-20 lb), we probably won’t buy more. These are the most expensive diapers in our stash, which contributes to the reason we won’t replace them as they’re outgrown.

We have 3 Size 1 Applecheeks envelope covers. We use prefolds or our Best Bottom small microfiber inserts in these covers.

Along the way, we’ve discovered that more is better, so we’ve added a few other diapers to our stash since our initial spree. I think the real issue here is that once you start with cloth diapering, you keep seeing really cute diapers that you want to try simply because of the way they look. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but if I wasn’t such a cheapskate, I’d have a lot more diapers just for aesthetic reasons.

Here are the other diapers we’ve tried:

Imagine AIO– We have one of these in newborn size and one in a one-size. Both of these are hook and loop closure. I just found them on Amazon and thought they were adorable, and since they were significantly less expensive than our other AIOs, I thought it’d be worth a shot. We loved the newborn diaper (which lasted longer than our other newborn diapers, being a bit bigger), and we love the one-size diaper just as much. We don’t have problems with leaking and they’re incredibly soft. I try to have this one on when we hit the pediatrician’s office so that the doctor can close it up without having to figure out which snaps to use. *Note- Though Imagine calls these diapers AIOs, the insert is not permanently affixed to the one-size diaper; it snaps out. This helps it dry faster, but technically it means that it’s really an AI2.

Thirsties Duo Wrap cover- We have two of these, both in size 2, which is meant to fit babies from 18-40 lb. Our baby is not yet big enough to wear these, but I’m hoping they’ll be a good replacement for those Applecheeks covers he’ll grow out of eventually. These covers don’t feel quite as sturdy as our Best Bottom covers, but they’re stretchy, which I’m excited about. They’re also less expensive than the Best Bottoms. I bought these pretty much because I am totally in love with the prints. I tried to get my husband to choose which one was his favorite, and he told me to buy them both. Who was I to argue?


Thirsties Duo Wraps, size two

I’m sorry about the incredible length of this post, but I tried to be as concise as possible without leaving out anything important.

The next post in the series will involve daily issues with cloth diapering! If you’re still with me, thanks! If you want me to write about a different type of diaper, feel free to send me one. Just kidding (or not…if it’s cute).


About mrsmartin

I love to camp, hike, read, take pictures, spend time with friends and family, play word games, and learn stuff about all kinds of different things. I'm a Seventh-day Adventist Christian. I'm a vegetarian teetotaler. I used to be a teacher and now I'm a wife and a mom.
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3 Responses to cloth diapers, pt. 2: decisions, decisions

  1. Pingback: cloth diapers, pt. 1: why, oh why? | a teacher's work is never done

  2. Pingback: cloth diapers, pt. 3: the grind | a teacher's work is never done

  3. Pingback: cloth diapers, pt. 4: the long, wet night | a teacher's work is never done

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