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Diaper detail

August 30, 2008

So we wanted to use cloth diapers — easy enough. I remember the long gauze flat-fold diapers and plastic pants my mother used, and I’d heard of some new developments in diapering that sounded interesting. Then I waded into a mind-numbing sea of diaper styles, materials, brand names and “systems.”

These are not your mama’s cloth diapers, folks!

There are flat-folds, prefolds, contoured and fitted diapers, which increase in price in that order (typically $1-$12 each). And there are wraps/covers — some wool, some polyester, some hemp, some with velcro, others with snaps — that go over any of the above diapers ($11 and up). Then there are all-in-one diapers, which combine the cover and cloth absorbent layer into a one-step diaper and are generally $18 or so apiece.

Initially, though I like to consider myself a sort of pioneer woman of the 21st century variety, I was a little wary of the fold-and-pin method. The package instructions and diagrams I found online were a little too origami for my taste. So I fell in love with [the idea of] Dappi pinless diapers. I imagined myself the bearer of great news for parents-to-be who might balk at the traditional cloth diaper and be won over by one that goes on like a disposable, and went about showing off the Dappi diaper at work, etc. I spoke too soon, though — it’s still a mystery to me, but the Munchkin soaked right through the Dappi and a cover, and the old-fashioned prefold diapers stayed the course. After a several-week trial period, we settled on prefolds — rectangular cotton diapers with an extra layer sewn in down the center, where it counts — to be pinned on and worn under diaper covers. These are still available at big discount stores such as Wal-Mart and Target, though that’s chiefly because they’re popularly used as burp cloths.

These vary widely in terms of thickness, and due to my try-it-out methodology, mine run the gamut. Gerber’s organic prefold diapers are absorbent but thin, great for double-diapering and small enough for newborns. Their standard gauze-weave prefolds are thicker and more generously proportioned. The thickest ones I’ve found, which arrive feeling like a vinyl tablecloth but soften and plump up after just one wash, are these Chinese unbleached prefolds that you can order by size.

My very lengthy decision-making process on brand and style of cover was based largely on customer reviews at Amazon, and we ended up first with Bummis Super Snaps. Those are trusty, but I’ve since gone totally wild for Imse Vimse “bumpy soft” and organic cotton covers, which stay dry and odor-free ALL DAY (blowouts obviously excluded). Amazing. Imse Vimse’s more expensive but very cute organic cotton covers in prints seem just as sturdy. Most of my adventures in cloth diapering have been thanks to Baby Because, a fun shop with great customer service.

We’re going on six months of cloth diapers, and they’re getting a big thumbs-up from me. (And, as far as I know, from D. He might not have been the picture of dexterity early on, but these days he’s a twisting-and-pinning pro!) Of course, it helps that every time I dump the smelly contents of the diaper pail into my front-loader, I marvel that in our family’s usual behind-the-times fashion, my Mom cleaned my dirty diapers with a ringer washer. With that example, how could I do it any other way?

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