Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Some Cloth Diapering Basics

All-in-ones, pockets, pre-folds, fitteds - these aren't your old school cloth diapers!

Old-fashioned cloth diapering systems consisted of a plain flat diaper pinned at the corners with a scratchy plastic cover. Today's cloth diapers come in a variety of more convenient styles and include adorable prints and colors, soft and cuddly fabrics, and simple and easy diapering solutions. In fact, cloth diapers come in so many varieties that parents who are new to cloth diapering often feel overwhelmed when trying to purchase their initial stash.

In addition to the aesthetic benefits, cloth diapers are environmentally friendly, chemical-free, and are less expensive than disposable diapers in the long run. Although many people are reluctant to use cloth diapers due to a fear of additional laundry duties, with the proper cloth diapering set-up, you only have to do 2-3 extra loads of laundry a week.

There is a broad variety of cloth diapers on the market today. Some people enjoy the economical benefits of a pre-fold cotton diaper (a multi-layer cotton rectangle that you fold around the baby's bum and fasten with a Snappi diaper fastener (these have replaced diaper pins) and a water-proof cover. A start-up kit using this system can be purchased for under $100. Additionally, if you're lucky enough to have a cloth diaper service that delivers to your house, you don't even have to deal with the diaper laundry.

A similar solution to the one described above is using an absorbent fitted diaper (similar to a pre-fold but shaped like a diaper rather than a rectangular cloth, and fastens with velcro or snaps) coupled with a waterproof. It's more expensive than pre-folds, but it is a nice solution to add a few fitted diapers to a stash of pre-folds for when you need a quicker diaper change, such as when you're out and about.

And the simplest (though most expensive) solution is the all-in-one diaper. This is a diaper where the absorbent insides is permanently sewn into a waterproof outer cover. This is by far the easiest diaper to use, but it gets expensive when you purchase the small, medium and large sizes. Another complaint heard occasionally is that these diapers take a bit longer to dry.

But by far the most popular system these days is the pocket diaper. These diapers consist of an inner layer of soft fleece, fastened to an outer water-proof layer. The two layers are attached leaving an opening at one end, allowing an absorbent insert to slide into the diaper. These types of diapers are easy to put on, and take a lot of the intimidation out of using cloth diapers for many new parents.

The diapers that are flying off the shelves these days are the one-size pocket diaper by companies such as BumGenius and Happy Heinys. These diapers are designed to fit newborns to toddlers up to 30+ lbs, creating a simple-to-use and very affordable solution. A starter stash of one-size pocket diapers will cost around $400 (24 diapers will last for about 2 days for a newborn), but disposable diapers average around $75 a month, so the cost savings catch up quickly. And if you plan to use the diapers for multiple children, the cost savings go up even more.

There are many benefits to using cloth diapers and not many drawbacks. We're pleased at the increased number of parents that are considering using cloth diapers over the past year as they are environmentally friendly, chemical-free, super soft, and just so darn cute...as illustrated below!

We encourage anyone to stop by Little Willow for a free cloth diapering demonstration. We are currently the only retail store in New Jersey that sells a selection of cloth diapers and offers guidance and suggestions in choosing and using your cloth diapers.

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