Today we'll start with some basics in cloth diapering. There are really 2 basic systems to choose from - The first is referred to as an All In 2 (AI2) or Hybrid. It comes in 2 pieces. You simply snap in the soaker pad (top piece shown) to the shell (shown in green). This particular diaper is the GroVia AI2 system. GroVia offers the soaker pad in organic cotton or fleece. I find the fleece really absorbent and strangely, it doesn't stain. The shell also protects from leaks and is water resistant. (To older generations, the shell is the "rubber pants" part!) Note: Another 2 part system is the pocket diaper. It's basically a shell that has a pocket you stuff. People like that you can control the absorbency, or amount of soaker pads you put in, but I find them sort of a pain. For me, they were a hassle to stuff. The shell also gets soiled, so you're not able to reuse.
A minor negative about this diaper is that it does take "assembly". Once you get the hang of it, assembly goes faster than flattening out a disposable diaper. The shell comes in either a snap fit or velcro across the waist. You'll notice the snaps to adjust the rise. I read reviews about the velcro wearing, but I've been using mine for over a year with no signs of wear. Finally, when laundering the AI2's you will need to care for the soaker pad and shell differently. The soaker pad goes into a diaper pail and is washed with specific cloth diaper detergent, while the shell goes into a small wet bag/diaper pail and can be washed on warm with regular detergent and other garments. (Don't worry - we'll get in to the laundering part in more detail in a bit!) A benefit of AI2's is that they are slightly more cost effective. A single shell is $16.95 and a 2-pack of fleece soaker pads is $17.95. Since you're essentially getting 2 diapers out of that combo, that's a total of $17.45 per diaper. Also, If the shell isn't dirty, you can use it all day long. The manufacturer recommends changing the shell every 2 soaker pad changes, but I often push this if it's not dirty. These are my FAVORITE cloth diapers!
The other popular style of diapers is the All In One (AIO). Just like the name sounds, the AIO's are "pre-assembled" - soaker pads are connected directly to the shell. You'll notice the waist and rise both require snaps. I haven't seen an AIO with velcro on the market - I'm assuming they might not do well in the washing machine.
The benefits to this diaper are that your laundry can go in one bag and in one wash together. Also, there is no extra time assembling your diaper. Many childcare facilities will allow you to bring in cloth diapers if they are AIO's. They're easier for them to keep track of, store, etc. One draw back of the AIO is the slightly higher cost, at $23.95 per diaper. Also, because I have to adjust the soaker pad and contend with waist snaps, I find using this diaper actually takes longer.
As we progress in this series, you'll want to take note that a full-time cloth diapering family should have a 24 count supply of diapers on hand. If you choose the AI2 system, that means you'll need 12 shells and 12 two packs of the soaker pads. If you choose the AIO system, you'll need 24. Side note: I certainly understand when families say they want to cloth diaper part-time. You're a little afraid to commit, nervous about making the financial investment, or worse yet, nervous family members (like husbands and mother-in-laws) won't be on board. I'm here to tell you - There is no such thing as part-time cloth diapering! If you're going to be doing the laundry anyway, you may as well go full bore. And Lullaby Lane is here to help you get started. Stay tuned for more!
Up next in this series: We'll discuss laundry details, caring for your diapers, and accessories like the wet bag, diaper pail, and cloth diaper friendly balms!
So...Am I peaking anyone's interest in cloth diapering???