With cloth diapering there really isn't a one-size-fits-all recipe for how to diaper babies. Every baby (and parent for that matter) is different. Each person will develop their own personal preferences regarding their diapers, their laundering routine and detergents etc. I think the reason we get so emotional about diapers is because (obviously) we Mama-Bears want to do everything we can to protect and care for our children. Secondly, diapers sit precisely on your babies most sensitive parts. We want our kids to be comfortable and happy and we will fight to the death to make it happen! That being said I will try to break down the different parts to these diapers with straight up information, but I'm sure my own personal opinion will seep through. My goal is to get you the information you need to be able to start cloth diapering without being confusing or frustrating.
I'm going to start with the pocket diaper. The reason for this is because this is a very popular kind of diaper and because all the diapers I sell at Chic Cheeks are pocket diapers (For now! More inventory will be added soon!). The pocket diaper can look intimidating to the inexperienced cloth diaperer. What's with all the extra parts? What is an insert/soaker? Is it really complicated? Allow me to start with the last question first. The answer - no!
Pocket diapers break down to a few different parts. The first would be an outer, waterproof layer. Inside the diaper you have a layer of material (usually microsuede or microfleece but there are others) that forms the pocket. This layer is made specifically wick moisture away from your babies skin. Lastly, you have the insert (also called a soaker). This is an ultra absorbent material that you stuff inside the pocket. These can be made from a variety of materials. Hemp, Bamboo, and Microfiber are all popular insert materials and they all work well.
Here's a graphic from Happy Heiny's demonstrating the parts of a pocket diaper.
Pocket diapers come in One Size as well as Sized (S,M,L) options. Some prefer going with individual sizes for their babies to get the best fit (you will also get a trimmer diaper) but this will mean having to purchase multiple sizes for your baby as time goes on (meaning it will be more expensive).
One size diapers are popular because most will fit from birth to potty training by adjusting the size of the diaper to fit your baby. This is an excellent option if you are diapering multiple babies with the same diapers, or to use with future children as time goes on. There are two different ways the manufacturers are able achieve a one size diaper. The first is with a snap down rise system (as seen on the graphic above). Using rows of snaps you adjust the length of the diaper and as baby grows you move to a different row. The second way a one size diaper can be made is with an adjustable inner elastic around the legs that make the diaper longer or shorter depending on the setting you put it at. We don't recommend any one size diaper over another. It's best to try one of each style to decide what your personal preference is.
Snaps Vs. Hook and Loop - These are the different options used for securing the diaper around your baby and each has it's own benefits. Hook and Loop (also called Velcro or Aplix - I will refer to it as H/L) is a very popular option for the novice cloth diaperer. This closure is considered more daycare/babysitter/dad friendly because there's no guessing the correct setting, you just put it on like you would a disposable. This closure is very easy to use, although there can be some drawbacks. The first is the dreaded diaper chain. If you aren't careful to fold the tab back onto the laundering tabs your diapers will stick to each other in the wash forming large chains of diapers that need to be peeled apart. The second drawback to H/L is that it doesn't last as long. Over time the H/L wears out and pieces of fuzz get stuck in it and it will not fasten as well. For many people the ease of H/L outweighs the potential negatives associated with it.
Snaps are generally a good choice if you are diapering an older baby. As toddlers become interested in their diapers they can easily undo H/L. Snaps are usually much harder for them to take apart so the diaper is more likely to stay on. In general snaps will last a very long time, although they can break or come loose. Personally I don't mind using snaps (even with my SLE induced arthritis) and I prefer the clean look a snap diaper has over the large strips of H/L.
Are pocket diapers easy to use? Yes they are. They are put on and worn just like a disposable. The only difference is after it is soiled you pull the insert out of the pocket before you wash it (there are some brands of diapers where you don't even have to unstuff!). Then, after it's been laundered you restuff the pocket with the insert. It's that easy!
So, why go with a pocket diaper over an All-In-One cloth diaper? Because the absorbent layers of an AIO are sewn down into the diaper they can be harder to clean (leading to stinky diapers) and they take longer to dry. With a pocket diaper all the pieces come apart so they will be more thoroughly cleaned and faster drying. You can also easily adjust the absorbency of a pocket diaper by using doublers or different types of soakers. With my stash of 20 pocket diapers it takes me a total of 5-8 minutes at a time to stuff my diapers after they are clean. I find them very simple to use and am very happy with them!
Please let me know if you find any of this information overwhelming or confusing. I'm happy to help with any questions you may have! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave comments below.