Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cloth Diapering 101 - Pocket Inserts

Previously, I discussed pocket diapers as cloth diaper options. I have also done a post on cloth diaper fabrics in general, which may also help you decide.

Almost as important as choosing the pocket is deciding what goes inside it. Hence I decided to do a post on pocket inserts.

The is one of those decisions that might take a "pros and cons" list. There are always upsides and downsides to all your options.

Microfiber: Many pocket inserts are made of microfiber, at least in part. This is because microfiber is very absorbent. Very absorbent. However, it can get the stinkies, especially if you use natural detergents. Microfiber stains pretty easily - this doesn't matter as much for inserts, because they are inside the diaper. If you're OCD about stains, tho, it may drive you nuts. One warning: microfiber can NOT be the layer closest to the baby's skin. It is so absorbent it will wick the natural moisture from the skin and cause a nasty, ugly, red patch wherever it touches the skin. So be sure if you use microfiber inserts, that they aren't "peeking" out the back of the pocket on you.

Here's the best part about using microfiber as inserts ... it's available CHEAP! Go to your nearest dollar store, Big Lots, or even Wally World. Look for microfiber towels. You can find them with the kitchen towels, or even in the automotive section. They are often $1 each or less. Fold them in thirds and stuff them in your pockets. Yes, it is that simple. If you have a heavy wetter, use two. If you're a sewer, fold it in thirds and run a seam up the side to make it look more like a diaper insert and less like a towel you bought for really cheap.

Natural Fibers: Bamboo, Hemp, and organic cotton are all options for pocket diaper inserts. Most of these fibers absorb moisture much more slowly than the synthetic fibers (like microfiber) but they tend to hold the moisture better. They take a little longer to dry for that reason, but they are great as diaper material.

If you get new inserts, you have to wash the natural oils out of the material for them to reach their optimal absorbency. Plan to wash separate from other diapers 2 or 3 times, then up to 8 times before they are fully absorbent.

Other options: Have a bunch of prefolds you're not using? Fold them in thirds and use them as a cheap insert. If they're absorbent enough to use on their own, they're absorbent enough to use as inserts! Cotton, hemp, or bamboo prefolds all will work well.

Your best bet: A combination of the two best options - microfiber for quick absorbency and hemp for long-term absorbency. The insert for the Thirsties Duo Diaper is based on this idea, but mamas have been combining microfiber and bamboo or hemp for a long time. The microfiber layer goes closest to the baby's body (inside the pocket), so it can quickly absorb pee and prevent leaks. Then the bamboo or hemp layer "stores" the moisture. This is the combination I use for our nighttime system, but it also works for daytime. It works really well in the Duos.

My favorite inserts: Overall, my favorite insert ever is the Cotton Babies One-Size microfiber insert. Second to that is the Nicki's Diapers microfiber insert. Both are (1) cheap! and (2) thick. The Cotton Babies has snaps so you can adjust them for your smaller diapers. If you get the Nicki's, just fold them over. I found some Loopy-Do inserts (Knickernappies) but even on clearance they were more expensive, and not as thick (although the loop design does help with drying time.)

Pocket inserts - from left: hemp flat trifolded, from Pocket Change; Cotton Babies One-Size, snapped down; Loopy-Do size Large; a bamboo-zorb insert I bought off HyenaCart.

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