How the Heck do you Decide Which Cloth Diapers to Use?

The Basics

As I said in an earlier post, I was pretty overwhelmed by all the cloth diaper options out there, so this post is what you need to know about all-in-two (AI2) cloth diapers.  (These are also referred to as hybrid diapers.)  It is by no means comprehensive, but it’s the information that I used to make sense of the cloth diapering world.

I decided pretty early on that I wanted to use AI2s.  This means that there is a shell and an insert, so if the shell is clean, you can reuse it with a new insert.  This cuts down on laundry and also means shorter drying times.  Below is a brief summary about types of shells and inserts.  You can find my reviews of specific brands of shells and inserts here.

The Skinny on AI2 Shells

Among AI2 shells, there are ones that have fuzzy/fabric lining (cotton, bamboo, microfiber, mesh) and wipeable lining (PUL).  I like the fuzzy/fabric lining because it’s softer against baby’s skin.  The wipeable ones get sticky if the weather’s hot and that can’t be comfortable for your baby.  The drawback of fuzzy/fabric lining is that it requires more frequent washing.  You can reuse them if pee gets on it, but after a couple times, you really need to change the cover because you can smell the pee.  The wipeable ones are great because unless there’s poo, you can reuse them over and over because they don’t absorb any pee.  I ended up with a mix, but more of the fuzzy/fabric lined ones.  I use the wipeable ones when the weather’s cool.

Most shells also come with either velcro or snap closures.  Velcro is more convenient and ensures a more exact fit, but snaps don’t wear out as quickly over time.  I went with mostly snaps and some velcro.

The Skinny on AI2 Inserts

This is where it gets totally confusing because you can pretty much mix and match your shells and inserts.  Sometimes the snaps for the inserts are universal, but if not, you simply place the insert you want in the shell you want.

The cheapest inserts are microfiber.  These keep moisture away from your baby and have the fastest drying times.  The drawbacks are that they are usually petroleum based, man-made, can get microfiber “stink”, and can lead to compression wetness (they get puffy when full and your baby’s weight can make pee leak out if it’s really full).  Most (maybe all?) natural inserts are made of hemp, bamboo, or organic cotton.  I did the most comparisons with hemp and bamboo because organic cotton takes a lot of resources to grow and produce.  Hemp is naturally antimicrobial and very absorbent, but it absorbs slower than bamboo.  Bamboo is renewable and also very absorbent (just slightly less so than hemp) and absorbs quickly.  With natural materials, your baby can feel the wetness, but some people say that this helps them potty train quicker and so far, neither of my boys seem to mind and it hasn’t led to any diaper rash.

For more info on specific brands of shells and inserts, click here.


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