This is one of my favorite books of all time. Over the next few months, I will be reviewing each of Naomi Novik’s books from the Temeraire series, culminating in a review of Tongues of Serpents which is due to be released in early July.
I first read this book by accident. I was working for a small printing company where I inputted changes from corrected manuscripts into the corresponding digital files. I worked with dozens of manuscripts a month from a plethora of genres. Then His Majesty’s Dragon came across my desk. I thought it was just another assignment. As I made the detailed corrections I began to scan the text of the book; it was pretty interesting, a unique take on Napoleonic era history. I am not usually a fan of the fantasy genre. I can honestly say I had never before read a book with a dragon in it, let alone one who talks (unless you include The Hobbit and the children’s picture book Saint George and the Dragon). But I found myself immediately intrigued. The characters drew me in and soon I found myself looking forward to getting the next draft. I ended up working on the novel three or four times. By then I had practically read the whole thing. I got a brief taste of the next two books, Throne of Jade and Black Powder War. I found myself wishing that history had unfolded more like Naomi Novik’s version. As soon as the book hit the stands, I bought it. I read it, several times. I’ve bought every Temeraire book Naomi Novik has written ever since. I’m currently waiting with baited breath for the latest release Tongues of Serpents. I was looking forward to reading this book on my first real vacation in three years. Sadly, it isn’t being released to the public until two weeks after my vacation. If only I could procure myself a pre-release copy. I’d gladly review it for the chance to enjoy this much anticipated next chapter to the Temeraire saga.
I only had a cursory knowledge of the Napoleonic era before reading this book (and the others that follow). While Novik makes some minor historic alterations, I still found this book highly educational. But what really drives the story isn’t the dramatic action sequences, well done as they are, it’s the appealing characters. Temeraire has a wonderfully childlike quality to his personality with Captain Will Lawrence serving as the father/older brother figure. Yet as the relationship of the two begins to evolve they become less like a pet and handler and closer to a team or even a married couple. This will be a relationship that lasts a lifetime, though presumably dragons are much longer lived than humans. But Lawrence is a navy man, and never expected to find himself saddled with a dragon, let alone one who is destined to become one of the most significant member’s of the British Aerial Corps. This is the touching tale of a man who left his profession and social status behind for the sake of his nation and instead found an intimate friendship unlike any he had ever experienced before, and a dragon upon who rests the hope of a nation, but who serves for the love of his captain.
It seems like not a day goes by without some government bureaucrat proposing a new law or new tax to force Americans to live more environmentally friendly lifestyles. If the government wants Americans to live “greener” then they should make government assistance “greener.” What better way to help low-income American’s live greener than to provide more breastfeeding support and cloth diapers.
I recently read an article where a long time lactation consultant mentioned that the low-income welfare moms she saw in the hospital were the least likely to even try breastfeeding. Their reasons: Why bother to breastfeed when the government will give me free formula? Obviously moms that have to work outside the home have a harder time breastfeeding fulltime, but even the cost of a good quality breast pump is cheaper than paying for formula, so maybe if someone is on WIC instead of being provided formula, the government should issue good quality breast pumps. (I emphasize good because I know that in some states women on WIC can get a small manual pump provided for free, but this is not ideal if you are going to be pumping frequently). But it has to be more than just encouraging breastfeeding. There isn’t enough support available to new moms who are breastfeeding. I hear more and more mothers say that they “can’t breastfeed.” There are a small number of women who legitimately can’t breastfeed, but this is not the case for most. Many women encounter problems that can be easily overcome if they were provided the proper support and information. Breastfeeding admittedly takes work, but so does caring for a child and since you’ve already had the baby, the caring portion is implied. You need to stay clean and sober to breastfeed, something that you would hope is recommended anyway when caring for a child. Breastfeeding is preferable to bottle feeding with breast milk, but either is preferable to formula both for health and environmental reasons. Between manufacturing resources and excess packaging plus bottles and other feeding paraphernalia, formula feeding is without a doubt more expensive and less environmentally friendly.
I found out recently that diapers can’t be bought with food stamps. I had no idea. I always assumed that if the government provided low-income mothers with formula then they would also provide them with diapers. Apparently there is a major need for diapers among low-income families, especially in the inner city where diapers are bought at ridiculously high prices in small quantities at local convenience marts. Perhaps government-funded diaper services are the answer. Diaper services often get a bad wrap as being environmentally unfriendly, but the cleaning methods have changed a great deal in the last 15 years. But there aren’t many services left, except in large urban areas. But as the case happens, apparently large urban areas are the places diapers are needed most. People talk about starting diaper banks in the inner city. Why not start non-profit eco-friendly diaper services? Cloth diapers can be just as easy to use as disposable diapers when proper education is given and children generally have fewer diaper rashes and potty train sooner, making it an even bigger savings.
I have heard the argument that many daycare providers won’t accept cloth diapers. At the same time I hear experts complaining that low-income children can’t even begin attending government subsidized daycare without a minimum number of disposable diapers, which is a difficult expense for low-income families. Since cloth is less expensive and better for the environment, why aren’t government subsidized daycare centers required to accept them? (Better yet, government subsidized daycare centers could cloth diaper all the children they care for with the diapers provided by the government subsidized diaper services. Perhaps parents could be permitted to take cloth diapers home and return them the next day to be laundered for a nominal fee). Besides that, more daycare centers are willing to accept cloth diapers if parents are willing to ask nicely and explain properly. I think that washing your own cloth diapers is still cheaper than diaper services, but I understand that many low-income families don’t have easy access to laundry facilities. Otherwise I’d recommend that the government provide prefolds and good quality diaper covers to any family collecting food stamps. (Including a diaper sprayer would be even better).
I’m not saying that breastfeeding or cloth diapering is the “easy” thing to do, though I have always found breastfeeding my daughter to be easier than making a bottle. I never have to worry about running out of formula or making sure I have clean bottles. Using cloth diapers means never having to run to the store to buy disposable diapers in the middle of the night. Both are worthwhile investments that will ultimately produce both financial and ecological benefits.
In general, I am not in favor of expanding government services, but more women breastfeeding would mean fewer government dollars spent on formula and more families using cloth diapers would lower waste disposal costs. Such programs could potentially pay for themselves. I guess the bottom line is do Americans really want to make healthier more environmentally friendly decisions for their children or settle for what appears easy and cheaper but will in reality cost us more than we ever imagined? Do our government officials really want Americans to live “greener” and healthier or are their eco-claims really a ruse to gain more control over our lives? The proof may be in the way we feed and diaper our children and the way the government helps low-income families to do the same.
When I decided to commit to cloth diapering my daughter, I did a lot of research. But ultimately I had to assess my own budget and make my own choices. Fortunately, I took advantage of the baby registry on Cottonbabies.com. (Many other cloth diaper websites also have such registries. You can also get a limited selection of cloth diapers from the Target website, but only on the website not in the store. Amazon.com also carries a good selection of Thirsties products.). As a result, some family and friends chose to purchase me cloth diapers instead of baby clothes or baby gear. I was ecstatic. While that means that I personally have spent less on cloth diapers than the cost of my current stash, keep in mind that most people receive at least some disposable diapers at their showers. One of the trends in office baby showers is to simply hold a diaper shower. If these were done with cloth diapers, maybe a lot more women would use cloth diapers.
One of the major intimidation factors to using cloth diapers can be the initial start-up cost. As I said, there are many budget friendly options. But obviously you buy disposables a little bit each week or two. Most people don’t realize how much they actually spend on diapers because it gets buried in the monthly grocery budget. I started keeping an Excel spreadsheet of how much we had spent on cloth diapers as well as a list of what we already had and what I had still hoped to buy. To date, my husband and I have spent approximately $600. Now that does not include diapers we have been given, including a very generous gift from my father-in-law and step-mother-in-law, of 6 bumGenius One Size pocket diapers. We could have managed without these, but they are very nice for using when go out of the house. As a result, we have almost completely stopped using disposables. I keep a couple in the car in case of emergency, but other than that we pretty much gave them up altogether. Now we only buy them when we travel. Many people use cloth diapers when they travel. Unfortunately, we don’t have a large enough system to go an entire three-day weekend without washing diapers, and when we go on vacation this summer I would like to get the time off from doing laundry as well. However, I have to make sure to add a week of disposable diapers into the budget for our vacation.
So I buy disposables in a small to medium size pack three or four times a year. Yep, that’s it! It kills me every time I do because I feel like I’ve flushing my money directly down the toilet. Ironic, considering I wish the diapers were biodegradable enough to do that with. When I spent $20 on disposables, I think of what $20 could buy of reusable cloth diapers. I could buy an all-in-one or pocket diaper, two of my favorite covers (if I got them on sale), or a cover and a handful of prefolds. Those items would be reused for months and possibly years to come, but at the end of my vacation those disposables are gone forever. Again, ironic because while my $20 is now gone, those disposable diapers and the perfectly preserved feces in them, will be sitting in a landfill for at least a few centuries. (Most people ignore the part on the disposable diaper packaging where it instructs the user to dump all solid waste in the toilet before disposing of the diaper). So I guess the term disposable is a bit of a misnomer. Perhaps the term waste diaper is preferable. Just as the term cloth diapers is being replaced with the term reusable diapers.
Whenever I discuss the environmental impact of disposable diapers people are quick to remind me that cloth diapers have to be washed and that those cloth diapers are made of cotton and synthetic fibers which must be grown or manufactured, using valuable environmental resources and potentially causing pollutants to be released. However, my daughter’s cloth diapers are made of many of the same materials as her clothing. Yet no one has proposed that I replace her wardrobe with a collection of paper and plastic disposable jumpsuits (though during the spit up months there are times that would have been simpler). Our dishes and silverware are made up of resources that have been manufactured or mined from the earth and then transformed into the items we eat off of, using valuable environmental resources and potentially causing pollutants to be released. But no one has suggested that it is environmentally preferable for everyone to use all disposable plates and eating utensils. In fact, I keep reading articles about how much better it would be for the environment if we would all use reusable water bottles and bring our own utensils to work instead of getting the plastic ones that come with take-out. If washable, reusable clothing and dishes are preferable why not reusable cloth diapers? Obviously there are ways to make cloth diapers even more environmentally friendly (organic cotton prefolds that don’t use pesticides in the growing process, high-efficiency washers and outdoor clothes lines) but the same could be said of washing your dishes and clothes. These same considerations make cloth diapers cheaper than disposables just as washing your dishes is cheaper than always using disposable plates and utensils. No one argues that it’s cheaper to buy new dishes and utensils than to run your dishwasher do they?
These are definitely a great option for daytime diapering. I don’t really like them for when I’m out and about or at night, but they are the most affordable option for during the day. They do stain, but usually some time in the sun gets rid of most of the discoloration. I love the infant size, they are much less bulky. They aren’t as great at holding breast fed poo, though it helps if you use a Snappi. I found that when my daughter was a newborn the poo was more likely to get on the cover. However, they are still the most affordable options. I especially love using them with Thirsties covers.
I decided to buy these in the Premium size when my size month old started growing out of the Infant Size Chinese Prefolds. They really are softer and more absorbent than the Chinese Prefolds. Since Indian Prefolds have a more natural beige color, they also stain less. These are the backbone of our daytime diapering. They are a little bulky compared to the infant size but she is growing into them fast. I primarily use them with Thirsties and Thirsties Duo covers with a Snappi. Now that she is on solid foods, the poo hardly ever gets on the cover unless she has prunes. These are a wonderful, affordable option for daytime diapering.
I really wanted to like these. I liked that they could potentially make cloth diapering so affordable. I bought 2 of these during the pre-black Friday sale last fall at Cotton Babies. I tried them on my then six month old. I found that since she is long and skinny she was in between snap settings. I couldn’t figure out whether to use the prefold horizontally or vertically. Even at 9 months, (she was almost 18 pounds and 29 inches long), neither seemed to work very well for her. They seemed very bulky, even more so than her regular prefolds. I can’t imagine how huge they must be on a smaller baby. I use these primarily as backup when I’m washing diapers and my other covers are dirty. Unfortunately after only two or three uses, one of the covers has a tear on the edge of the waistband. It is still usable, though I worry about leaks. Even though I got them on sale, it’s still a little frustrating. I followed all of the washing instructions precisely. If these are meant to be one size, they need to be made sturdier. I also find it difficult to get a good fit with the snaps. We have had only one bad leak, but that surprises me, given how difficult it is to get a good fit in the leg. My daughter had already started some solid foods when we started using these, so I didn’t get to test them on exclusively breastfed poo but I will admit, I have doubts. My daughter’s EBP almost always leaked on the cover unless I Snappied the diaper and these prefolds are not meant to be Snappied. As I said, I wish I could recommend these to someone looking to make cloth diapering more affordable. I think I would sooner use regular Chinese or Indian prefolds and Thirsties covers. But they would make convenient diaper bag backups, especially if you have more than one child in cloth diapers so you don’t have to worry about having the correct size for each child. The covers alone also make a decent extra layer of support over disposable diapers when we are traveling.
Overall, these are perfectly good covers. But not the best bang for your buck. I like the gussets and these are the only gusseted covers I could find, besides Thirsties. The Velcro edge is almost sharp and I’ve scratched myself and the baby several times. The newborn size is great but my daughter grew out of it very fast. The sizes run much smaller than Thirsties. The white edges also show wear very quickly, staining and pilling. I can’t get quite as good a fit in the legs, in spite of the gussets. I think they are a little over priced, but since they were gifts, I wasn’t picky. I like to have one or two in the rotation, they are especially nice for over fitted diapers, since they don’t hold bulky prefolds as well. But I wouldn’t want them as my primary cover.
These covers have advantage and disadvantages. When my daughter was exclusively breast fed, the lack of gussets was frustrating. As a result, I didn’t buy any more in larger sizes. However, now that my daughter is eating more solid foods, I think they would probably work just fine. Some moms like the covered PUL, since it makes the cover seem thicker. But I found that the interior seemed damper than with the exposed PUL covers. The size range in the lower sizes runs smaller, so my daughter out grew her size Newborns and Smalls before her XS and Smalls in other brands. If you go with plain white rather than the, albeit adorable patterns, (Froggy Pond is my favorite) it is one of the most affordable options.
In my opinion, these are some of the best and most affordable wrap style covers around. While not essential the wide range of bright colors is lots of fun. I like to order all one color for each size so that when digging through the drawer its easy to tell each size apart, especially if diapering two different age children at once. The gussets saved us from many a blow-out. Even if the poo gets on the cover, it almost never escapes the diaper. These are by far my favorite cover. They are easy to use, reliable and durable. I have had some minor staining on the white trim of the gussets on a few of them, but that seems to happen with almost any cover I’ve used. I found that having 4 or 5 covers per size was generally enough. You probably can get by with fewer when the baby is older because the cover can be reused more times before washing.
These are another fantastic product from Thirsties. They are only available in two sizes, but have snaps to adjust the rise, allowing them to fit a much larger size range. I found that they don’t run quite as large as the regular Thirsties cover. My daughter outgrew her Size 1 Duo Wrap before her size small Thirsties cover, even though both claim to last until 18 lbs. As she started to grow out of it, this made a great cover for fitted diapers which are trimmer. However, given the larger size range, this makes these covers less expensive, if they survive the wear and tear. So for just a dollar or two more than the original Thirsties covers, you can diaper your kid for longer.
This is a limited review of some of the products that I have used with my own daughter. There are many other brands and kinds of cloth diapers available. For user reviews, I recommend diaperpin.com. They can provide you with lots of helpful start up information and their Sales and Announcements page keeps you up to date on many of the sales being help at popular cloth diapering websites.
I have to give these diapers a 3 because I love several things about them but there are also several draw backs. I love the concept of a one size diaper. My daughter was born at 8 pounds and we used a couple of these for easier night time diaper changes and for on the go. As she has gotten older they have become our only diaper we will use for night time. They have leaked on occasion, but not since I started doubling up on the inserts. We haven’t had to change a diaper during the night since she was quite small.
We have had some fit issues. When my daughter was 9 months old, she was already getting a little tall for the second setting. I worry that she will outgrow the rise before she is 18 months old. She also has skinny legs and now that I have to double stuff the diapers at night I have trouble getting a tight fit around the legs. Fortunately we haven’t had many leaks as long as we double or triple stuff the diapers, since she rarely has a BM at night.
We do have some smell issues which is disappointing. I use Country Save detergent which is supposed to be approved for use with cloth diapers. The smell isn’t bad enough to stop me from using them, but after all night in the diaper, she reeks, even though her clothes and sleep bag!
However, in spite of the fact that these diapers do not get as much wear as her primary day time diapers, I am not confident that the Velcro will last until she is potty trained, let alone be used to diaper a second child. I also noticed some serious inconsistency in the laundry tabs. We ordered a three pack when my daughter was 3 months old, since we liked the two we had so much, and the laundry tabs were made of the same material as the non-abrasive side of Velcro. They seem to work better than the other laundry tabs which seem to be made of only suede cloth. I also noticed inconsistency in the shape of the Velcro tabs themselves. This is not really a problem, but it makes me wonder about quality control. The Velcro is definitely wearing on the first two of these we bought. But even some of the ones from the six pack we were given as a gift when my daughter was four months old aren’t as sticky as they used to be. I was hoping to pass these down to my next child, since they are so expensive. All in all, still a very useful diaper, especially for at night. Just don’t anticipate these lasting until potty training or passing them on to another child unless you have a very large number and don’t use them as your primary diapers. However, for just a couple dollars, you can purchase Refresher Kits from Cotton Babies with new Velcro, elastic and laundry tabs. But you will need a sewing machine and basic sewing skills, two things I currently lack.
$17.95 unless you find a sale or purchase seconds from Cotton Babies. I bought mine from Cotton Babies. The ones I received as a gift came from Kelly’s Closet.
Thirsties Duo Diaper
When I bought my first one of these I was ecstatic. Finally, no more pulling soiled inserts out of my pocket diapers. They really did agitate free in the wash! They were perfect for other people to use, because it made the diapers function practically like an AIO, as easy as a disposable. But after a few weeks I started to have trouble with the inserts bunching up on one side of the diaper. The unprotected side would leak right through my daughter’s clothes. I’m not clear yet if this is a design flaw or user error. I love these diapers enough that I’m willing to see if the issue is correctable.
bumGenius Deluxe All-In-One
I absolutely loved these in XS for my newborn. Since she was born at 8 pounds they didn’t fit for very long, but they were very trim and convenient for going out. I thought I would use disposables when I was away from home, but these made it so easy to use cloth when away from home. I actually dislike the fact that a stuffable pouch is added in the larger sizes. The opening flap doesn’t lay flat when putting the diaper on. They aren’t as absorbent as a pocket diaper, so they can leak if over-saturated. I have never had any smell issues until recently with my size Mediums. They don’t smell as bad as my pocket diapers when saturated, but definitely smell worse than when I first bought them last December. I use Country Save in the amounts indicated. Perhaps some smell is just inevitable now that my daughter is on solid foods. I haven’t tried sun drying them yet though, which can often help with smell and stain issues. I’d say that any minor smell issues are worth the wonderful convenience. However, I do think that they run a little smaller than indicated. My 19 pound, 29 inch, 11 month old seems like she won’t fit in the Mediums much longer.
In fairness, I don’t think we gave these diapers a fair shot. I thought they were too expensive to justify. At $16.5-$18.95, these sized diapers seemed overpriced compared to a bumGenius One Size pocket diaper for $17.95 or a bumGenius Deluxe All-In-One for $15.95. We also only tried these diapers in snaps. As it turns out, we really don’t like snaps. I wish we had given them another chance in Aplix. These diapers definitely run larger. Our daughter has already almost outgrown her medium Bumgenius AIOs and she’s not even a year old yet! She wore her XS SposoEasy longer than her XS Bumgenius AIO. If she continues to be ahead of the curve in her growth, we may opt for a few of these were she outgrows her other size large diapers. Because these diapers are 100% cotton they don’t hold quite as much as micro fiber AIOs but they also don’t develop detergent buildup and smell issues as easily.
$18.50 at Happy Baby Company and Blue Penguin both with free shipping. However, I have seen them on sale at Happy Baby Company for $17.50. Keep your eyes open for sales.
I have version 1 of this diaper in a size 0. They are only OK. Because my daughter is long and skinny they were never really a good fit for her. My husband really didn’t like the snaps and vastly prefers fitted diapers with Velcro instead. They weren’t as absorbent as my bumGenius and Thirsties Fab Fitted diapers and didn’t hold in the Breast fed poo as well either. I was also disappointed at how rough they got after just a couple of washes. For this price, I would sooner pay a little more and buy a Thirsties Fab Fitted.
I received a six pack of these as a baby shower gift. I had read mixed reviews, but like how affordable these were and hoped they would be easier to use than prefolds. I should have listened to the reviews. These are not worth the additional money. They aren’t very absorbent and they leak poo out the legs. Thanks to Thirsties covers I rarely really got a leak onto my daughters clothing, but they were still frustrating to deal with. I ended up using them as backups when I was running low on diapers or washing diapers. Prefolds are a more economical choice, they leak less and are just as easy to use once you get used to them.
I love these diapers. They are wonderfully trim, especially the XS on newborns. These were my favorite for night time diaper changes when my daughter was tiny. Even now that she is in size Mediums they are still my favorite. They are easy for my parents and husband to use. (I just have to remind my father that they need a cover). My only disappointment is that I wish they were a little less expensive. If I could afford it, I would diaper my daughter with these all the time, though now that she is older, they are not quite as absorbent as prefolds, but much more convenient to use. (I actually recently found a whole bunch of Version 1 of these diapers at Diva Diapers for less than $10 each! The only difference that I can find between Version 1 and Version 2 is that the Velcro can only be overlapped in one direction on the Version 1 diapers).
This is a budget friendly fitted diaper. By far the least expensive fitted diaper I’ve ever found. It also seems to have a pretty wide size range from 5 to 13 pounds. I liked that these are all cotton, unfortunately that made them more prone to staining. (Though nothing a little sun drying couldn’t cure). The gussets don’t hold breastfed poo as well as I would expect for a diaper designed for infants. That being said I wish I had more of these. They are easy and convenient for night time diaper changes. But, I can only give it a 3 because I wish it came in larger sizes and because of leakage issues.
While prefolds are by far the least expensive diapers, they are certainly not the only option. One step up from prefolds are fitted diapers. These diapers still require a cover, but the diapers themselves usually secure with Velcro or snaps, making them nearly as easy to use as a disposable. It’s just more like putting on disposable twice, first the diaper then the cover. These were one of my favorite options for nighttime changes when my daughter was a newborn and we were changing her two or three
times a night. It was great not to have to think about Snappis or pins in the middle of the night. These are pricier however. Not unlike covers, there are dozens of options available. There are some brands, like Kissaluvs, who make one-size fitted diapers. I have never tried these, so I won’t speak to them, but I just wanted to mention that they do in fact exist. For some families, especially those diapering more than one child at once, using one size fitted diapers with one size covers, may be the most convenient and even budget friendly option. The fitteds we have tried with my daughter have been Kissaluvs, Green Mountain Infant Fitted, Bamboo Fitted and Thirsties Fab Fitted.
Many moms swear by Kissaluvs, especially in the size 0. We, however, did not have a good experience with them. The diaper itself got very rough after just a few washes and my husband really I hated the snaps. I didn’t mind them as much, but I never could get a really good fit with them. As I have said before, I am in general not a fan of snaps, but most one-size covers are usually snaps, since they do sometimes last longer, so I’m learning to work with their advantages and live with their disadvantages. We also found that the Kissaluvs fitted was not as absorbent as other fitted diapers. It did hold in breast fed poo well, but not really any better than the other fitted diapers, in spite of advertising to the contrary. I also found it a little bit annoying to pay an extra dollar to get it in a color as opposed to unbleached/natural.
For just a few cents more I could buy my favorite fitted diaper which is Thirsties Fab Fitted. I was nervous about trying this diaper. It got mixed reviews from a lot of moms. But we ended up loving it. First, it comes in so many colors, and can be matched to the covers. This may sound silly, but I like to coordinate the colors of our diapers and covers whenever possible, mostly in anticipation of when we are diapering multiple children so that we can tell the size of the diapers and covers by the color. This is not a full proof system, since not all diaper products are available in colors. But I have found it to be helpful. These diapers were so trim on my little newborn, must less bulky than a prefold. Easy to use for anyone, especially a sleep deprived husband adjusting to cloth diapers for the first time. The only real downside was the price. Now that my daughter is older and goes longer between diaper changes, they don’t hold as much urine as her prefolds or pocket diapers, but I still love them for the ease of use. I wouldn’t use them at night, but now that she goes all night with the same diaper (though she doesn’t always sleep all night), we wouldn’t use any variety of fitted anyway.
We are also fans of the Bum Genius Bamboo fitted diapers. These seem to have been discontinued so I won’t bore you with too many details on a diaper you can’t buy except on EBay or another used diaper source. These were a little cheaper than the Thirsties, especially if you bought them in packs of 3, 6 or 12, saving more the larger the package. They aren’t colored and the sizes run a little smaller and the diaper itself is cut a little bit narrower, but other than that they work as well as Thirsties.
The final kind of fitted diaper we used was Green Mountain Infant Fitted. At first I didn’t like these. They seemed to leak poo onto the cover every time. While the cover held it in, this was still annoying. Plus, the cotton seemed to stain worse than my other fitted diapers. However, the size range on this diaper is much larger. My daughter wore them long after she outgrew her newborn and extra small size fitted diapers. As she got closer to the middle of the size range the diapers fit much better. I wish they had over lapping Velcro though. However at $8.95 each, they were very reasonably priced. But they don’t come in larger sizes. Honestly, I wish we had bought more. The only downside is that the only website who sells them doesn’t have a free shipping option. They are great to use when the baby is small and you are making so many diaper changes a day with so little sleep. Plus, it gives you time to adjust to the prefolds that, for us, later became the backbone of our day time diapering.
Pocket Diapers and All-In-One Diapers
Two other great products available in cloth diapering are Pocket Diapers and All-In-Ones. Pocket Diapers are exactly what they sound like, a pocket or sleeve that is stuffed with an insert, often micro fiber. The insert absorbs the wetness and pulls it away from the outside layer of the pocket, thus keeping baby dry. In my experience, Pocket Diapers are one of the best nighttime diapering options, though I like to stuff them with at least two inserts. The two I’ve tried have been the Bum Genius One-Size pocket diaper and the Thirsties Duo Diaper. I like the idea of a one size diaper. However, they may not really fit from birth to potty training, depending on our child’s dimensions. They are the best product I’ve found for all-night sleeping without leaks. I have had leaks once or twice, but it as usually due to user error or forgetting to double stuff the diaper. I do recommend using two inserts when trying to avoid changing a child in the middle of the night or having baby wake up drenched through. However, I also use these diapers for when I take my daughter out of the house. But it is less than convenient to pull an insert out of a wet or soiled diaper when changing baby in the back of your car.
This is where the Thirsties Duo Diaper is great. Their inserts don’t need to be removed. Simply stuff the diaper, use it and toss it in the diaper pail. The inserts agitate free when washing. That is a great feature! Especially for grandparents or babysitters who may not know to remove the insert or don’t want to deal with the potential grossness. (Then there is my wonderful father, who used to use prefolds when we were little and never hesitates to change a diaper, but often forgets to remove the inserts from my pocket diapers. I can’t complain, at least he offers to change diapers. These diapers were designed for him). Thirsties Duo Diapers come in two sizes rather than just one, making them more versatile in trying to create a birth to potty training diaper system. My hope is that my daughter will be able to keep wearing these after she outgrows her bumGenius One-Sizes.
A true AIO should be only one piece. Beware of diapers that claim to be All-In-One, but need to be stuffed. These should be accurately call All-In-Twos. (This should not be confused with the optional stuffing pocket available in size small, medium and large of the bumGenius Deluxe All-In-Ones). The two we have tried are bumGenius Deluxe All-In-Ones and SposoEasy. Overall, I preferred the bumGenius AIOs. These are very trim fitting and soft inside.
However, they run smaller in size than the SposoEasy and we did begin to develop some smell issues once my daughter was on solid foods. If having products made of natural fibers is important to you, then SposoEasy is the way to go. The absorbent portion of this diaper is all cotton, so they rarely develop any of the smell issues common in micro fiber diapers. They even have a built in doubler. Both are as easy to use as disposables. These are a great option if you want to cloth diaper a child who is in daycare.
I have heard the debate so many times about whether or not cloth diapering is really less expensive than disposables. If you are doing it for environmental reasons, it is absolutely better. If you are looking for the absolute cheapest option for diapering your kids, it is still affordable if you chose a more basic no frills system. (If you are completely new to cloth diapering and don’t recognize the terminology I’m using check out the Diaperpin.com dictionary page).
I’m a big fan of a combination system: prefolds for during the day, fitted diapers for nighttime changes (for newborns), pockets diapers for all night sleeping and All-in-One’s for out of the house and babysitters/relatives. My mother used cloth diapers when I was small, so she knows how to use a prefold, but she still prefers the fitted and AIOs or pocket diapers. My father also used prefolds when I was small and finds the “high tech” diapers confusing. He usually prefers the AIOs or fitteds. He can use the Pocket diapers, but he is always forgetting to remove the wet insert. (Fortunately Thirsties Duo Diaper has now eliminated the need to remove the wet insert, more on that later).
I’ve compiled several possible diapering combinations. You have to shop around to look for the best price on the various cloth-diapering websites, unless you are lucky enough to have a store in your area that carries cloth diapers. Unfortunately there aren’t any near us. Always remember to factor in the cost of shipping when planning your budget, or always order larger amounts to get free shipping. I find that for Thirsties products, Amazon.com almost always has the cheapest price, plus free shipping after $25, which is lower than most free shipping thresholds on other websites. That being said, I prefer to support small businesses when I can. My favorite sites so far have been Cotton Babies, and Kellys Closet. (I also like Green Mountain Diapers but they don’t have a free shipping option, which I find frustrating. However, they are very useful for reference.) I also recently discovered the Happy Baby Company who claims to offer free shipping on any order in the US, though they don’t carry all of my favorite products.
Prefolds and Covers
In my opinion the cheapest, yet most reliable option would be prefolds and covers. How you combine these will determine how inexpensive it can be. There are three ways to secure a prefold inside a cover: pins, Snappi or just trifolded and lain inside. I find that a Snappi is the most reliable method. A Snappi is a fun little item that looks kind of like fallopian tubes. It has little gripping teeth that grab into the prefold in three places and holds it together. One Snappi is $3 or $4 each but will last up to 6 months. So if you avoid losing them, you can still make it affordable. Pins are less expensive, but I will admit that I’ve never been able to get the hang of using them. Laying the prefold in the cover works fine if the baby is only wet or once baby is on mostly solid foods (since BM’s are more formed and less likely to leak out of the diaper onto the cover).
Having tried many brands of covers, I would recommend Thirsties or Bummis Whisper Wrap. These are similar in price range. The main difference is the covered vs. exposed PUL and the gussets. I love the gussets on the Thirsties covers. Without them my exclusively breastfed daughter would have had many an accident, (something which also used to happen to her in disposables).
The Bummis also worked well, but the Thirsties seemed almost blow-out proof, even if the poo escaped the diaper, it wouldn’t escape the cover. I also found that since the Bummis had a covered PUL they seemed to get damper when the diaper was completely saturated. I also like the Thirsties Duo covers which are like the Thirsties covers except that they have snaps to adjust the rise, giving them a wider size range. These also just became available in an all snap version, for parents that prefer snaps.
The Thirsties covers are available in a dozen or so colors, Thirsties Duo Wrap is available in 8 colors. Bummis Whisper Wrap is available in white and 4 or 5 patterns. Bummis also makes the Super Snap version which is available only in white. While I’m not a huge fan of snaps, in the newborn size, it has a nice dip in the front, to keep from rubbing on the umbilical cord.
There is another budget friendly option, depending on what kind of diapers you prefer. This would be the Econobum one-size system. For $50 you can get 3 covers and 12 prefolds. The recommendation is that you buy at least two packs. I might recommend three, just to be safe, if you are using these exclusively, or at least purchase a few extra covers. These prefolds are simply tri-folded and lain inside the cover. These are not really designed to be secured using a pin or Snappi.
In my experience, this means that you may need more covers, because the poo is more likely to get on the cover. The cover is one-size with a series of snaps to adjust the rise, and then snapped closed once on. (Personally, I am not a fan of snaps. I find that Velcro or Aplix is easier to use, and gives a more precise fit. The flip side is that in general the Velcro will wear out sooner, but it can always be replaced if you sew, or know someone who will do it for you. The snaps don’t always last longer, it kind of depends on the quality of the snaps compared to the quality of the Velcro) The perk of this system is that it is one size. So, in theory, you buy it once and then use it until your kid has potty trained. That being said, I don’t find that the covers are as sturdy as other brands, so it’s hard to believe that they would make it until potty training. There are ways to extend the life of your covers, one being to wash by hand. Personally, I don’t baby my covers. I secure the Velcro before washing and I air dry or sun dry rather than putting them in the dryer, but that’s about as far as I will go. They need to be sturdy enough to hold up to the rigors of diapering otherwise what good are they? Unfortunately the exposed PUL inside these covers seems to stain easily. Since I bought these in winter I haven’t yet tested to see if the sun will take out those stains. But despite some nasty poops, none of my daughter’s other covers have stained inside, even the white Bummis covered PUL! This is definitely a worth while part of a budget friendly system, but I wouldn’t want to use it exclusively.
One of the best deals I’ve seen is the Try-It Kits sold by Cotton Babies. For $35 you get six prefolds, two covers and a Snappi. This is a pretty reasonable price, considering that you get to choose between White and Patterned Bummis Super Whisper Wraps, normally you pay extra for the patterned Super Whisper Wraps. You get to pick the size prefold (infant or premium) and the size cover (newborn, small, medium or large). If you get four sets, (two with infant prefolds, two with premium prefolds), one in each cover size, that will give you a good start to your diaper stash. I also recommend buying Chinese or Indian prefolds individually. They usually cost $1.50 for infant and $2 for premium, unless you can find them for less on sale. Combine these with a selection of covers (my personal suggestion would be Thirsties or Thirsties Duo). This way you are trying out three different covers with your prefolds.
Don’t be tempted by the cheap cloth diapers you see in Target and Wal-Mart. These really make better burp clothes than they do diapers. Don’t get me wrong, if you are on a really tight budget you could probably make them work if you double them up, but since regular Chinese or Indian prefolds are so reasonably priced, I don’t know that there would be any real advantages.
There are even more inexpensive covers than the favorites I listed above. The absolute cheapest covers I’ve even seen are a pull-on style nylon cover (meaning no Velcro or snaps) from Dappi. You can buy a two-pack for $5. However, they do run rather large. The newborn size never did fit my daughter well, though she has always had skinny legs. So I never tested them in a larger size because I simply didn’t like them. They also didn’t breathe well. I used to use them over disposables when I was traveling, but now when I have to use disposables I use my Econobum or Thirsties covers over them, especially on long car trips. You can also buy a Bummis Whisper Pant for $6. The disadvantage of this kind of cover is that when the poo leaks out of the diaper, which will happen on occasion, especially when using prefolds on an exclusively breastfed baby, you then have to pull the messy cover down over the child’s presumably clean legs. Yuck! I have to say it was not an appealing prospect. You also must always use a Snappi or pins with a prefold diaper when it is worn under a wrap style cover. These covers are good options if you are on a barebones budget. Fortunately, though our budget was tight, I was able to buy some wrap-style covers instead, and still end up saving a ton of money compared to disposables. There are also cheaper brands of wrap-style covers. The Pro-Wraps covers are $8.95 each. I had a few of these that I tried, though they were second hand. I have to admit that I wasn’t impressed. I couldn’t seem to get the legs to stop gaping or the waist to be tight enough on my skinny girl. The Velcro tabs in the front don’t overlap, as they do with many other brands to allow for a more precise fit. Maybe it would have been different had I bought them new, but these just weren’t the right covers for us. Lite Wrap covers are similar in syle and pricing.
There are also the one size options. These covers tend to cost more, but if they really do last until your child is potty trained, you will ultimately spend less on covers. Generally these are available only in snaps. Other than the Econobum, I haven’t tested any of them personally. Some of the other cloth diaper moms I’ve spoken to love the Flip cover used with prefolds rather than the inserts that are part of the Flip system. You can also use regular prefolds and even some fitteds with the Econobum cover. Though sometimes the edges of the fitted don’t fit well into the cover, it depends on the cut of the cover and the Chinese or Indian prefolds seem a little bulky, but they can work. The Econobum cover is $8.95 by itself and the Flip cover is $13.95.
One last kind of cover I must mention is wool. Now I don’t use a lot of wool. I have a couple of handmade wool covers. The ones I made are not as good. The ones I was given as a gift are nice. However, here is the deal with wool. It is supposedly amazing. It keeps wetness away from the baby but off of the baby’s clothes. It is naturally antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal. There is also some kind of interaction between the ammonia in and urine and the lanoline, so there is no smell. The idea of using a diaper cover over and over after it had been soaked with urine, even if there was no smell, is still a little disturbing to me. I have used them. Unfortunately, I was afraid to use them when my daughter was small after she pooped on one. I don’t think they hold the poo in quite as well. Now that my daughter is older, I have since tried them again. I do like them better now, though I prefer them with fitted diapers. Part of me still can’t trust them with prefolds. I do like how soft they are and that they don’t feel stiff or bulky under my daughter’s clothes. The wool covers that are made commercially seem to be wonderful quality but also quite pricey- $30 and up. Some people won’t use anything else. Supposedly they are very durable and you don’t need as many covers over all. I haven’t tested this well enough for myself. My suggestion would be that if you really want to go with all natural fibers, buy one or two covers to try and then see how you feel before you invest too much money in them. If you end up not liking them, you can probably recoup most of your money by selling them on EBay.
There are obviously many other covers available; dozens, perhaps hundreds in fact (if you include of the WAHMs who design and sell their own). The reason I mention the ones I do is because they are budget friendly priced and/or I have tested them myself. Please feel free to check the reviews on various cloth diaper websites as well as Diaperpin.com. You may love Dappi covers and wonder why anyone would spend $11 on a Thirties cover. Or you may hate Thirsties covers, consider them cheap and prefer some of the more expensive designer covers that are available. I prefer Velcro, you may prefer snaps. I am here to give you information and to share my own cloth diapering experience with you. You need to do your own research and draw your own conclusions.