Cloth diaper covers are my favorite option because they are the most flexible option. If you happen to have inserts from AI2s or pockets, you could easily lay those inside your cloth diaper covers. Some people prefer fitted diapers because they are somewhat contoured to conform to the curves of your baby’s bottom but you still need something over the fitted to contain the moisture. For containing moisture I always choose cloth diaper covers.
In our house we only use prefold cloth diapers with cloth diaper covers but regardless of which cloth diaper option you choose, there are four features you want to consider. These cloth diaper features should help you answer the most common cloth diapering questions. I’m going to discuss these questions in relation to using cloth diaper covers with prefolds but you should be able to find AIOs, AI2s, AI3s, and pockets with the same features. In fact, most of the brands I’ll mention make all types of diapers so if you’re going with a different system just replace the words “cloth diaper covers” with your system of choice.
Can You Use Your Cloth Diaper Covers Through Multiple Changes?
The first thing I was looking for was a fully waterproof cloth diaper cover. Some covers, like the Smart Snugs we tried, have a soft lining at the waist with the thought being that it’s more comfortable for baby. My problem with these is that they, like AIOs and pockets, can get dirty too quickly. When the prefold diaper gets soiled, the soil runs straight through it to the lining of the diaper cover. I prefer fully waterproof covers that I can quickly wipe down during a diaper change. Granted, in the first few months with those runny poops I was happy to grab a new cover after each poopy diaper but as Babe started to eat solids and the poops became more firm, it was much easier to use one cloth diaper cover through multiple changes.
Recommendation number one: buy fully waterproof cloth diaper covers.
Will Your Cloth Diaper Covers Leak?
Next let’s talk about leak protection. Lots of people still use old fashioned diaper pins or modern snappis to keep the cloth diapers on their baby. Personally, I don’t have the time or patience for that. When Babe was a few months old we realized we could just lay the prefold into the cloth diaper cover the same way we would lay an insert in an AI2. This honestly made life so much easier. But now we needed to make sure the diaper cover was going to hold all the soil in. In this case I strongly recommend a diaper with double gussets. The interior gusset really make a lot of difference for leaks when the leg bends. There really isn’t an argument against double gussets.
Next recommendation: buy cloth diaper covers with double gussets. But that doesn’t narrow things down very much.
Will Your Cloth Diaper Covers Stay On?
The first diaper covers we tried were Thirstees covers with aplix (aka Velcro). A few of our wonderful friends were outgrowing their diapers and passed some down to us. Some were in better condition than others and we quickly learned that we were not fans of aplix for that reason. Aplix may seem like a better idea because it can be easily adjusted for size but it wears out and then you are stuck with a diaper that doesn’t stay closed. When you put clothes on over worn aplix things get caught, the tabs pull open, and it’s really easy to get frustrated.
So here’s my third recommendation: buy cloth diaper covers with snaps. They’ll last longer and have a better resale value.
When we decided to buy some brand new cloth diaper covers we decided to get some Thirstees with snaps since they have double gussets. They come in two sizes – 6-18lbs, and 18-40lbs. Since Babe is petite, we bought about a half dozen of the smaller size. We quickly realized that these were not going to be the diapers for us. Babe’s thighs are proportionately larger than her behind so when we snapped them to fit her chunky thighs she had serious plumber butt! They are very popular for more proportionate babies so if you think your baby will be more averagely proportioned then Thirstees might be a good option for you.
Will You Need to Buy More Cloth Diapers As Your Baby Grows?
I asked around for recommendations about diapers that fit babies with chunky thighs and I heard good things about Flip covers which can be used with Flip inserts or prefolds. They are one-size diapers with different snap positions to adjust the rise so you don’t need to buy small, then medium, then large as your baby grows. That right there, the sizing, is one reason I highly recommend them. The Flips are also supposed to be good for babies with chunky thighs because of the snap configuration across the waist, which is something good to consider. However they don’t have double gussets so they weren’t an option that interested me. They were my first look at one-size diapers though and that’s my next recommendation.
Recommendation number four: buy fully adjustable one-size diapers.
Some people really like the option of buying a diapering system like Flips though, one with it’s own brand of inserts that you don’t have to stop and fold like you do with prefolds. I did not know of a one-size diaper cover with snaps and double gussets that has inserts like the Flips so I did a search and found Buttons brand. They look like a truly awesome product.
If you want to give the Button diapers a try you’ll need a few Buttons Cloth Diaper Covers, some prefolds or some small inserts for the first months, and some nighttime “doubler” inserts. You could also opt to buy a full Buttons Cloth Diapers – Starter Set.
However, for price considerations, I’ve found prefolds with cloth diaper covers to be way more cost effective than brand name inserts. So, after all of my research, my top recommendation is the Blueberry Coveralls Cloth Diaper Cover with Snaps. They have everything I have mentioned: a waterproof inside you can just wipe down, double gussets, a snap closure, and they are one-size snap covers so they will get you from birth to potty. (They also make a mini version for tiny babies like premies but if your baby was full term you can probably skip the minis.)
One other option worth considering is custom diapers. There are a ton of WAHMs producing quality, adorable diapers. Some people like to get diapers with pictures or phrases from their favorite books/shows/movies/hobbies/etc. You can usually find these on Etsy or through an internet search. Just make sure the producer is CPSIA compliant.
So how many do you need? Most people recommend a minimum of 24-36 prefolds and at least six cloth diaper covers. Stay tuned for posts on caring for your cloth.