Switching to cloth diapers from the predictable plastic can seem a bit overwhelming. Tracking down supplies can seem difficult. There's the diapers, pins, and if desired, diaper covers. (And it's not easy to find if you don't have a baby superstore close by.) There's the additioanl laundry, and managing soiled diapers when you're out and about. Disposable, one may think, could seem easier.
Welcome to the 21st Century. Today's cloth diapers elimiate worries and certainly make things easier for parents and babies on the go. Many brands offer all-in-one diapers, which eliminate those pins, covers and, often, liners. Others do require individual liners that can be inserted.
We recently reviewed several brands of cloth diapers for washability, ease of use and child's comfort.
Our subject? A squiggly 11-month old who is constantly on the move. His assistant? A working mom balancing two kids, a crazy household and a full-time job.
During evening and weekends over a 3- to 4-week period, we tested the following brands : DryBees, Kushies Classic and Ultra, KnickerKnappies and Wahmies.* Here's how they fared:
Overall ease of use: The all-in-one brands (Kushies, Drybees) by their nature were easier to use than the pocket diapers (KnickerKnappies, Wahmies) requiring inserts.
When dealing with a wiggly child at changing time, remembering to insert a cloth insert into the diaper didn't always happen (as my Thanksgiving guests could attest). Inserts also need to be removed from the diapers before washing, as they can bunch up in the diaper during washing and drying and may not completely dry. It may sound basic, but if you're crunched for time, sometimes things slip.
Washability: Despite multiple washings, we did not see problems with shrinking of the fabric or elastic or wear on the fasteners.
Ease of fastening: The majority of brands tested use velcro or snaps to keep the diapers closed. I personally preferred DryBees, which had a wider strip of of velcro, giving me a somewhat greater sense of security. Kushies had significantly thinner velcro strips, which admittedly made me nervous about whether they'd become loosened or undone (they didn't).
The Wahmies clasp closure diaper was the most difficult to manage. (We tested a snaps version as well.) Using three sets of hooks and loops on each side, the diaper was challenging to use when the subject wouldnt' lie still.
Adjustability for child's size: DryBees, Kushies and KnickerKnappies offer multiple sizes. Wahmies was the only brand tested that offered a one-size-fits-all diaper.
KnickerKnappies and Wahmies used snaps to adjust lengthwise. It does create a slight bulkiness up front, but no visible discomfort in the leg bands.
Leakage: Some incidents of leaking did occur with the cloth brands. Much of it was due to user error - failing to put in an insert in a pocket diaper when distracted. (This problem was eliminated by inserting clean, dry inserts into the diaper after removing them from the dryer.)Generally, the diapers held up well during naps and overnight.
Our recommendation: From ther perspective of a busy working mom of two, I preferred the DryBees and Knickerknappies. In our family, child's comfort and ease of use are king.
While each of these diapers held up well, were comfortable for the baby and had no major problems with shrinkage or leakage, having an all-in-one diaper did also make things significantly easier.
* Other companies were invited to participate in the review but declined to participate. These were: