Cloth diapers are a world that for many – most – is unknown and frightening. The fact that there is too much – or too little – information, countless opinions and reports does not help to break down the initial barrier. Everyone has different tastes, different needs and, of course, a different experience. When we still don't know what we like or where to start it's quite scary.
Breaking the initial barrier, for me, required many hours of research... trying to find the most unbiased information possible about reusable diapers. I myself try my best to remain impartial, although I know that it is clear that my favorite brands are Grovia it's at Sloomb. However, it is necessary to maintain impartiality regarding the systems and brands, looking for quality and functionality, in order to fulfill its purpose and/or solve specific situations. In this post I'm going to cover some tricks so that you can decide which cloth diaper is best for you, for each case.
What are the ideal characteristics of a diaper?To be considered good, a diaper must have some basic characteristics which, for me, can be summarized as follows:
- Durability and quality;
- Good absorption;
- Good fit;
- Good waterproofing.
These points are the basis for you to be successful in choosing a cloth diaper. You can even use it as a guide to help you choose a diaper or several diapers, because some options may perform better in different situations.
Durability and quality of a reusable diaper
The quality of the article is essential for the diaper to be used for a long time. Always opt for reputable brands with certifications. The certifications guarantee that the fabrics do not contain chemicals that are harmful to your baby's health, that the safety conditions of the article are met and that the production is done ethically. If you prefer, you can opt for diapers made by other mothers. There are very talented people who make diapers on a small scale and they are of excellent quality.
The durability of the diaper is important so that you can use your diaper from when your baby is 4-5kg until potty training. If you have a poor quality diaper, the elastics will wear out, the fabric will start to unravel, the waterproofing will be lost over time, etc. The aim is for one diaper to be used by one or more babies, so we always bet on recognized quality brands. This way you reduce the amount of resources spent and save money in the long run.
Absorbency of a reusable cloth diaper
Absorbency is the most important feature in a reusable diaper. When the absorbency of a diaper is not enough, it will give rise to the dreaded sores. To avoid leaks it is also important that diapers are changed frequently, not least because your baby's bottom is not made to be in contact with pee for hours. Pee is a corrosive substance and when in contact with the skin it causes irritation and rashes.
From lowest to highest absorbency, I list below the fibers most used in cloth diapers:
- cotton + bamboo
That is, microfiber is the fabric with the lowest absorption, and hemp with the highest absorption. But it's also important to note that the speed of absorption is also a factor to take into account - microfiber is a fast-absorbing fabric and hemp is a slow-absorbing one. And understanding this can help you create absorption blends to solve specific problems that you will experience over time.
For the day, we must ensure that the diaper holds 2-3 hours. During the day, all types of diaper will do, unless the baby pees a lot and you need tricks like the absorption mixtures I just told you about.
For the night, it is advisable to opt for diapers with a greater number of absorption layers and/or more absorbent fabrics such as bamboo and hemp. During the night you need absorption for 12h-14h... and if the baby pees a lot, it may also need to be reinforced. For example, in my son's case, all diapers at night had to be reinforced. And my trick was to use muslin and bamboo pads to reinforce night diapers.
A good fit in a cloth diaper
The answer is yes! This is key to using cloth diapers successfully. It is important to get a fit that is perfect for each baby's particular appearance. A good fit will prevent leaks and increase your little one's comfort. How to adjust a cloth diaper? I already mentioned this point in the series about cloth diaper myths but it never hurts to remember: to get a perfect fit you have to, after tightening/closing the diaper, manage to run a finger over the belly area and a finger over the leg area.
Fit is a feature that can only be ascertained after trying on the diaper you have in mind. But here are some tips on how to choose a diaper that respects the baby's appearance:
Diapers that fit all babies
diapers for chubby babies
skinny baby diapers
Usually, for babies with a thin appearance, almost any diaper will do. Bear in mind that the “big” diapers I mentioned above may start to fit a little later because in the leg area the diaper may not fit well, leading to leaks. For example, one Grovia AIO in a skinny baby is suitable for around 5-6 months while in a chubby baby it can be used earlier, around 3-4 months.
Some of the diapers I like for skinny babies are the ones Rumparooz or have Grovia Hybrid Diapers.
Good waterproofing in a reusable diaper
Waterproofing is a feature that cannot be overlooked. Proper waterproofing keeps pee and poop inside the diaper and prevents both us and our baby from getting wet.
Depending on the type of diaper you want, waterproofing may or may not be part of the diaper: pocket diapers, All in one or hybrids, the waterproof cover is part of the diaper; in two-piece systems – musselinas, pre-folded, contour and adjusted – waterproofing is achieved using a waterproof cover (or the ones that are also waterproof woolen cloaks).
When the cover is part of the diaper, you don't need to pay attention to anything except the adjustment of the diaper, which is achieved as we mentioned earlier. Now, if you opt for two-piece systems, you also have to pay attention to a crucial detail for the cover to fulfill its function of preventing accidents: the cover has to accommodate the diaper – absorbent part – in all. if you choose musselinas or pre-folded, you won't have much difficulty choosing the cover, practically all of them will do.
For pre-folds, the cover I most recommend is the Grovia – it may be because it is my favorite, but it fits perfectly and with little volume when used with pre-folds. In the case of laces diaper, you will have to choose a wool cape. The nappies with strings are always in the thigh area and only the wool covers manage to cover that part of the body.
These are the characteristics to look for in a diaper, so the answer to the question we get so often: "What is the best cloth diaper?", there is no single answer, since for each of us there is a different "perfect diaper".
For many others there is only one ideal diaper. Personally, for me, there is a perfect nappy for every occasion for example: a nappy for the night – Sloomb OBF; a diaper to go on vacation – Grovia Hybrids with biodisposable pads; the diaper for daddy – Grovia Hybrids with velcro closure… The important thing when looking for a diaper is to take into account your needs, preferences and, most importantly, that the essential features are met: quality, absorption, fit and waterproofing.