So, to my great surprise, after two years or so of disposable-diapering, I find myself regarding cloth diapers very differently than I did way back in 2008.
First–I’m surprised to discover that they really are more work. I know this is probably like “no duh” to 99% of the world, but when I started out, I’d never in my life used a disposable and was determined that no artificial, bleached, chemical diaper would ever touch my wee babe’s butt. I never knew anything else, and I figured the whole prefold+cover thing was, at worst, like putting on two disposables at once. And I was very confused by how disposables work–operating those semi-velcro tabs is like learning how to drive a car… easy, obvious, and second-nature–unless you’ve never done it before. I was convinced the Snappi was superior.
Now, of course, I know better. Those precious minutes spent stuffing all those diapers yesterday? Minutes I wouldn’t have had to spend if I’d stuck with disposables.
Second–I’m amazed, and thoroughly appreciate, how much less trash we’re generating. Not even in a save-the-environment sense, but in a wow-the-trash-doesn’t-need-to-go-out-yet sense. Huzzah. I am seriously contemplating buying even more diapers and putting my oldest back in cloth (and then using those when the new baby arrives and I’m still cloth-diapering two little ones), just to get rid of the diaper pail. I seriously think cloth diapers, jammed into a trash can with no deodorizer, vinegar, or tea tree oil, still smell less than the disposables jammed into a real live diaper pail. I’m sure it helps that they get washed more often than the trash goes out. And I’ve never minded diaper laundry, so no big on that score.
Third–I can’t believe how much they can hold. I think this is probably an advantage of pocket/AIO diapers over prefolds, because if the front part of a prefold gets completely saturated, it inevitably finds its way through the legholes to seep out onto clothing. Definitely not the case with pocket diapers; between the PUL on the outside and the quick-wicking fleece on the inside, there really isn’t any perpetually wet fabric anywhere near clothing–the wet is all hidden away inside, so the diaper doesn’t seem to leak, unless maybe it’s completely full. I haven’t managed to get a completely full diaper, which I think is probably a good thing! What I haven’t figured out yet is how often baby needs changed in cloth, but just the fact that the diaper clearly holds more liquid than a disposable without leaking blows me away.
Lastly, one major advantage of prefolds over pockets is cleaning. This, to me, is the biggest trade-off; I think the convenience of not assembling the prefold+cover is amply balanced by the inconvenience of having the part of the diaper with poop permanently sewn to the part of the diaper everyone sees. I never really worried about stains before, because they’d always be on the prefold and I’d just fold the poopy prefold up inside itself and wash it separately from the cover, if need be. No can do, with pockets. This is pushing me strongly in the direction of using liners, although I haven’t settled on a good solution yet. (Disposable liners are too expensive; cotton liners stay too wet and irritate the skin. Presently I’m trying fleece liners–to move to microfleece liners if I’m happy with the general way it goes–but I haven’t finished my little experiment yet. I will say, since fleece doesn’t ravel, it’s crazy how much companies get away with charging for microfleece liners. Buy some fleece and cut it up.)
That said, I do think I’ll stick with pocket diapers, and I really am seriously contemplating ordering enough to use with E, too (or R and L simultaneously). They definitely fit better and more reliably than prefolds, and clearly leak a lot less, even than disposables. I’ve been really trying to put them though the paces the past two days, and I’m pleased with the results. There’s been at least one poopy diaper that I know would have been an explosive disaster with prefolds/covers, and the pocket contained it most admirably. I also really like that they are fleece inside–you can really tell the difference in baby’s level of skin irritation after being in a pretty wet diaper. We never got rashes while using prefolds, but you could tell if the diaper had been wet because the skin got all red and blotchy. That’s not happening with the pockets.
So far, pretty happy. I think I’ll continue being pretty happy, as long as they hold up well in washing over the months and I figure out a solution to the liner issue.
And, oh yes, I found myself desperately short of cloth wipes and hurriedly ordered some from Etsy. I used them before, but apparently newborns require many fewer wipes than a ten-month-old, because my stash is clearly not up to the task!