~ Diapers ~
My initial diapers were homemade flannel fitted diapers, using the very popular (and free!) Rita's Rump Pocket pattern, or "RRP." Using sale-priced flannel, they cost under $2 a piece (much cheaper than the average $10 and up you'll pay for ready-made fitteds). I already had a bit of flannel on hand, so 20 diapers ended up costing about $18. You can get 1 diaper (two sides) out of every 2/3-3/4 yd. of 44" flannel.
These diapers require inserts to absorb moisture (two layers of flannel won't hold much).
I used clear elastic for the legs, but I think cotton swimwear elastic would have been a better choice -- the clear elastic is very stiff and isn't quite as stretchy as I would have liked.
After about 18 months these diapers really started showing wear, with holes developing at the ends of the elastic. That's probably due to the quality of flannel I used.
My biggest beef was that the flannel was so wet against my baby's skin that it caused redness and "waterlogged" skin, which also leads to rashes. I ended up making lined inserts (see below) to solve this problem. I also made several half-flannel/half-alova-suede diapers in this pattern, which allowed the wetness to wick through and stay away from baby's skin.
PROS: Inexpensive, user-friendly
CONS: Need to be stuffed with an insert (or two, or three), wet against baby's skin, require time to make.
COST: about $2 for all-flannel diapers (if you can find it on sale); about $3 for half-flannel/half-alova suede (again, sale prices);
~ Inserts ~
After far too many hours of research, I decided to go with microfiber auto towels from Walmart to use as the absorbent inserts in my cloth diapers. It's $5 for a pack of 8, and they're just the right size to tri-fold and stuff in the RRP diaper. I only needed one insert for an infant (not a heavy wetter), but that went up to two in the for a toddler.
|From left to right: an unfolded microfiber towel, a folded towel, and a|
suede cloth covered towel (you can see the back-and-forth lines I
stitched to keep the towel folded properly)
Fleece and suede cloth, on the other hand, are "stay dry" fabrics that wick moisture through without feeling wet to the touch. So I tri-folded some of my microfiber inserts and covered them with suedecloth. I could simply lay the insert in the flannel diaper with no stuffing required (at least, until we started needing two inserts per diaper!).
PROS: Cheap (and easy to find), very absorbent
CONS: Can develop odor and detergent build-up over time; require "stuffing" into a diaper
COST: $5 for a pack of 8 ($0.62 each)
~ Covers ~
Personally, I'm very surprised this cover has good reviews -- It's stiff, ugly, oddly shaped, the fabric snags easily, and it has a horrible plastic smell. Do you want to know what I really think about it? *wink* It leaked every time I used it because the leg openings have a very strange shape. It might work better with a tri-folded prefold, but I never tried that. I'm so glad I only bought one, and I'll certainly never buy another!
PROS: Nothing that I can think of!
CONS: Odd shape, stiff, and costly overall (comes in 5 different sizes)
2. Fishnoodles Snapper Cover Not Recommended
PROS: Well-made, trim
CONS: Super small (and sized incorrectly, in my opinion)
COST: $8.40 (for a second quality)
3. Dappi Diaper Covers Not Recommended Overall
Also, I think the knit elastic used on the edges of the diaper (which was wonderfully soft) would wick moisture onto clothing, since I seemed to have frequent little "leaks" when using these covers. Maybe I just needed to change more frequently, but I didn't have this problem with other covers.
As a note, these covers have a mesh layer inside the diaper which you won't see in my picture because I trimmed it out. I didn't like that it would get wet during use, and unlike vinyl or PUL, you can't just wipe it clean. So removing the mesh may have made them less effective (though I tried them both ways, and didn't notice a difference).
PROS: Super cheap, easy to put on, soft jersey outer fabric, gentle elastic
CONS: Wicks moisture onto clothing; made of vinyl instead of breathable PUL (polyurethane laminate); velcro could be stronger; four different sizes brings the total diapering cost up; run quite large (which makes it hard to get the fit right).
4. Econobum One-Size Cloth Diaper Cover ($5, normally $8.95 individually or $9.95 with the prefold) Recommended with reservations
I have 5 of these covers, since I took advantage of a BOGO sale to boost my stock. The cover may be one-size, but the Indian prefolds I received as part of the sale are certainly not (I have yet to see a "one-size prefold" for sale!). They're way too big for an infant, regardless of how you fold them, but are too small for a toddler unless you tri-fold them and lay them in the cover. They are quite absorbent, though!
|The Indian prefolds you see under the cover hadn't been washed yet; they|
become quite fluffy after several washes!
PROS: Super trim (despite being one-size); very adjustable; great snap system; hold in the moisture really well; simple to use; dry very quickly; decent price
CONS: No leg gussets (though that hasn't been a big problem); lower quality; bad customer service
COST: $8.95 (although I purchased mine for $5 each)
~ Pocket Diapers ~
Kawaii One-Size Pocket Diaper Not Recommended Overall
|Just one insert in the diaper in this picture, and it's already|
Overall, the diaper is fine. The fleece inside is soft, the laminate outer seems sturdy, and the snap design is fine. But the diaper really needs both of the microfiber inserts it came with for sufficient toddler absorbency, and that makes it huge! The inserts are almost laughably huge. Also, this diaper has no leg gussets (my personal preference), and the fleece stains pretty easily. Since laminate doesn't do well in the wash, I hang this diaper to dry, but the fleece lining increases the dry time.
PROS: "Stuff and go;" good quality; good snap design; decent price for a pocket diaper
CONS: Very bulky(!); not the best at holding in mess; more difficult to launder
COST: Free to me, but usually $10.95
~ Accesories ~
I made a stash of simple flannel squares, serged all the way around. However, I gave up on using them as diaper wipes, because the flannel repelled water (I don't soak my wipes in solution, so I had to spray or pour water on the wipes at each change) and they seemed to just smear things around.
They have come in handy for all sorts of household purposes, though, and I still send all of my scrap flannel to the serger! I much prefer the terry cloth wipes that we are currently using.
PROS: Lots of pros, just not for cloth diapering...
CONS: Repel water, not good for messy diapers
COST: Free! They were all made from scrap or leftover flannel
I discovered this handy tool when I purchased my Dappi covers! The Diaper Duck is a plastic hook that hooks onto your toilet seat so you can rinse and soak messy diapers easily. It's really intended for prefolds or flat fold diapers, but I used it successfully with my fitteds and inserts (though I couldn't utilize the "wringing" aspect.
However, when it broke after a year (I think I was a bit rough with it when "swirling" diapers), I decided to upgrade to a handheld diaper sprayer -- now that I'm using flat fold diapers, I wish I could try it again, but the sprayer is easy and doesn't require soaking the diaper.
PROS: Cheap; Extremely helpful if you don't have a sprayer
CONS: Mine broke after a year of use; requires soaking the diaper in the toilet (thereby rendering the toilet useless until the diaper is removed)
~ Detergents ~
I initially used my homemade laundry detergent and an occasional splash of vinegar in the rinse cycle, but after my Econobum experience, I would no longer recommend pure soap, borax, or vinegar for PUL(polyurethane laminate) diaper covers.
I switched to Thirsties Pre-Wash every couple of cold cycles and Thirsties Super Wash for every hot cycle. However, I still had to strip my diapers, and wasn't so impressed with them that I'm willing to pay the (in my opinion) high price -- almost $0.25 a load for just the Super Wash.
Well, that's an exhaustive (or exhausting...) look at what we've tried in cloth diapering so far!
For the other posts in this series, go here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3