I have to admit, I went ‘old school’ when I began cloth diapering two and a half years ago. In a money saving effort, I decided to use prefolds and covers to cloth diaper our son. Shoot, if it worked for my mom, it could work for me, right?
I began cloth diapering with Bummis unbleached organic cotton prefolds (in the preemie size) and then we worked our way up to Econobum unbleached organic cotton prefolds, which worked for us until wrestling matches on the changing mat convinced me to slowly convert our stash to all in one diapers (AIO) when my son was around a year old. After buying some budget-friendly microfiber (MF) AIOs, it was a matter of weeks before my son became a heavy wetter…and began peeing through the front of his diapers. I panicked, contacting the manufacturer because, surely, there was something wrong with the diapers. The manufacturer suggested that my son was soaking through the diaper because there wasn’t enough absorbency, and advised me to add inserts for absorbency. I was heartbroken, having invested a significant amount of money to convert my stash to AIOs, only to be told that I had to invest even more money into inserts for added absorbency.
What I did notice, however, was that the only diapers that were leaking were my microfiber AIOs. My organic AIOs (old style bumGenius Elementals and Smart Bottoms Smart Ones) had no problem handling my son’s increased output. I finally understood why so many people in the cloth diapering community swear by natural fibers (NF – organic cotton, bamboo, hemp & wool). Thankfully, I only had a handful of microfiber AIOs to add absorbency to, so I purchased Smart Bottoms Organic Cotton Boosters (the same material as the AIOs that worked so well for us) as well as Wonderful Bambino Bamboo Inserts. My microfiber problem was solved, and I vowed to limit future diaper purchases to natural fibers only.
If you’re new to cloth diapering, or just beginning to research, I highly recommend beginning your cloth diaper collection with natural fibers; yes, natural fibers are a little more expensive (excepting cotton prefolds), but the costs even out when you consider the additional inserts/boosters you’ll need to purchase once your little one gets older. Some things to consider about using microfiber in cloth diapering:
- if your microfiber inserts do not have a fleece side, you’ll need to either stuff your diaper with the insert, or use diaper liners so that the microfiber doesn’t come into contact with your baby’s skin (this can cause irritation and rashes).
- microfiber can be prone to buildup/stink. In fact, I had no issue with ammonia until my son’s teeth began coming in around 9 months old; at that point he was urinating so much at night that the change in pH and ammonia from overnight diapers created crystals in his cotton diapers.
- in my experience, microfiber ‘breaks down’ and loses it’s absorbency faster than natural fibers. Having used the same MF & NF diapers for over a year, my MF diapers have significantly ‘flattened out’ and lost any semblance of ‘fluffiness’, compared to my NF diapers (which all look the same).
Check out Cloth Diaper Revival’s informative post about using microfiber to cloth diaper.
Some things to consider about using natural fibers in cloth diapering:
- absorbency – while NF diapers will definitely hold more liquid, they absorb at a much slower rate than MF. If your little one gets irritated from moisture, I suggest adding fleece liners to your NF diapers to wick away moisture (I suggest using them regardless, but that’s up to you).
- price – natural fibers are more expensive to purchase, but again, the cost evens out when you consider having to add boosters to your microfiber diapers.
- organic cotton stains very easily, so if you want a pristine diaper, I suggest using liners (see above) and getting into the practice of sunning your diapers.
I will add that I am a huge fan of all in two diapers, and use only microfiber inserts in my Best Bottom diapers; Best Bottom’s microfiber inserts seem to be the only microfiber inserts in my stash that can hold an insane amount of liquid without leaking. However, after a year and a half of heavy rotation, those inserts have lost their body and are flattened-out. They still absorb well, but are definitely no longer my errand-running go-to diapers anymore (that would be my Smart Bottoms).
Check out a full range of organic and natural diapering product options at Diaper Junction or Kelly’s Closet (whichever is your preferred store).
EDITOR’S NOTE: I mistakenly classified bamboo as a natural fiber, when in fact, the process of preparing the fiber creates rayon. However, I stand by how well bamboo functions in cloth diapering, with it’s incredible absorbency and antimicrobial properties.