Okay so let’s talk about types of cloth diapers and what you’ll need for diapering with them. The cheapest option for diapering your little one would be the old school way; Prefolds. Hundreds of different brands make their version of a Prefold, but basically they are a piece of fabric that is seamed into thirds, and the middle third has multiple layers to it. In order to use these, you’ll have to learn how to fold them up, which is not nearly as hard as you would think after a couple tries. Then you have two options from here. You can either fasten the old school way with safety pin, or the way I would recommend, would be Snappis. A Snappi is a stretchy plastic fastener with teeth on each end, that you pull across the sides and the bottom of the diaper to secure it. Now a Prefold diaper will absorb up the liquid, but they are not water proof, so I would recommend having a couple shells on hand, or wet pants, to keep the liquid in between changes. Now you’ll want about 24-27 diapers on hand of this style to last you 2-3 days between washing. I would also recommend 8-12 wet pants (view wet pants here); you won’t need as many wet pants since you can reuse them for multiple changes provided there is not a major mess. If you REALLY want to cut cost you can either use receiving blankets your not using and fold them up for diapers, and if you’re handy, you could make your own out of old tee shirts.
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Next cheapest option would be All-in-2’s, you may also see this referred to as Ai2 or hybrids. These are shells that usually have a quick dry interior. The shells by themselves do not absorb anything, but you add an insert of some kind to make them absorbent. Usually, an Ai2 will have snaps and come with their own type of insert. In my experience when I’ve ordered this type they usually send the shell and two inserts. The main complaint with Ai2’s is that they usually own the rights to the snaps. So you couldn’t, for example, by a Ragababe Ai2 and snap those inserts into a GroVia shell. Now, I usually work around this by just laying the insert in the shell and it works just fine. Ai2’s are will save you a lot of money because you can reuse the shells for multiple changes, while just swapping out the inserts. If you go this route, you will need 7-10 shells and 24-27 inserts to last you 2-3 days. Something to note with Ai2’s:
Microfiber inserts are the most common type of insert, but microfiber should never be laid next to babies skin. To use a microfiber insert in a Ai2 style system, you must either lay a “booster” over top which is made out of a soft or all natural material like hemp. Or it must be used inside a pocket diaper (another style of Ai2). You can also purchase disposable or reusable “liners” that will lay over the insert to provide a barrier between the microfiber and the baby.
*Booster is a thinner type insert that helps to boost the absorbency of the insert. This is usually smaller in size, and can be laid under or on top of the insert itself
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*Liner (click here for liners) is a very thin material that helps to wick moisture away from babies bottom while acting as a barrier between baby and insert. This can be purchased in disposable styles or in reusable styles. Make sure to always use a liner when putting ointments to creams on your baby. This will make sure the ointments and creams do not get on your insert and affect the absorbency.
You may have heard the term “pocket diaper” (click me for pocket diapers) thrown around a lot. It seems to be the most common in my opinion. Now, I consider these to be just another type of Ai2, because they still consist of two steps. There is the shell, then there is the insert. The difference with a pocket diaper is,well, they have a pocket! Instead of snapping or laying your insert in the shell. There is a pocket, usually in the back, or sometimes middle of the shell where you will slide in your insert. Microfiber inserts work great in pocket diapers! Usually the inside of a pocket diaper is made out of micro fleece or a fleece type of material that makes is soft and wicks away moisture from your baby. The main difference with a pocket diaper and a traditional style Ai2 is that you cannot reuse the shells for multiple diaper changes. Once used, it is like a regular disposable diaper. Simply pull out the insert and put both insert and shell into the laundry. Easy as that. Now with this style you will need 24-27 shells and 24-27 inserts as well. Pocket diapers are usually fairly in expensive, so although you need more you can usually find bundles that won’t break the bank.
Your next option is the Ai1, or All-in-1 diaper. And I’m sure you probably already guessed why they call it that. This option is everything in one, and is your closest option to the use of disposables. This option is a great style if you want to cloth diaper, but don’t want to deal with inserts. In this option, the shell is identical on the outside to an Ai2, but on the inside the “insert” or absorbent layer is sewn into the shell itself. Then, that absorbent layer is cover in a super soft material, that feels great against your babies skin. You can find these made out of a lot of various materials like bamboo, cotton, hemp, and micro fleece. The appeal with this style is you don’t have to deal with the dirty insert, and in my opinion, you’re less likely to get poo or pee on you. These act like disposables in the sense that you simply take it off, wipe baby and put a new one on. No muss no fuss. Then put the diaper straight into the laundry pale; no inserts to pull out or replace. Draw back of this style is they’re usually a tiny bit more expensive, and they take foreverrrrrr to dry. There’s just so much more material to them, and thankfully the absorbent layers work really well, but that also makes for a super long drying process. What I do, is simply throw them straight into the dryer, and in just resolved to the fact that they will most likely wear down quicker and I’ll have to replace a few most likely. But I would rather that, then have to buy more diapers to have on hand while I wait for a clean load to finish drying. Keep in mind if you dry your diapers, it will most likely void your warranty on them. But come on, who really uses those anyways? With this style diaper you will want 24-27 if you plan on drying them. You will probably want closer to 35 if you plan on laying them out to dry.
Now one of the websites I order from actually makes an Ai1 pocket diaper, which is amazing, and I love them! They can be used like normal during the day, then at night slide in two thin hemp inserts for a peaceful night of sleep for you LO. I bet this style of diaper really catches on! Click here for Ai2 Pocket Diaper
For me personally, I like them all, so I have them all! I find that when I’m out and about the Ai2 are easy and simple, and I can carry less of them around in the diaper bag. But when we’re at home I usually use either pockets or Ai1’s. When my Mother-in-law changes her cloth diapers, Ai1 are definitely the easiest; most husbands and daycares will probably prefer this style as well. But I like variety, so that’s what I have. I also find myself worrying less about the style and more about the print on the outside! If I like it, I get it!
You, however might have different goals in mind. Maybe you want the least expensive for finances; Prefolds. Or maybe you want to cloth diaper because it’s better for baby but you don’t like the hassle; Ai1. Or even still you want to be money smart, but you’re on the go a lot and don’t want to lug around 9 Ai1’s with you; Ai2. Whatever your lifestyle is, you can find a cloth diapering system that will work for you and your family. It truly is just as easy as disposables. I think it’s even easier because bye bye diaper Jeanie and huge boxes of diapers! The key is to find what works for you and go that route.
Now maybe you’re not sure which type will be the best, and you want to try out different styles before committing to purchasing a bunch. I do know that there are a ton of reputable sites where you can buy used diapers. There are also some sites that will let you rent diaper stashes for a fee. I’ll list some sites below where you can do this. For me personally, I can’t wrap my head around it. It grosses me out to think of using someone else’s used diapers like that. But I’m a huge germaphobe. Like I said though, everyone has different circumstances and maybe that works for you and you want to give it a shot! So I’ll put the links below for different sites to look into. I’m also going to post a few videos that I watched when I was learning about cloth diapering that helped me a lot! Hopefully this has been helpful, but if you’re still confused about this, watch the videos below and they’ll explain things too!
Now that you are pretty well equipped with the basics, check back soon to talk about laundry in part 3!