Which cloth diaper system is the right one? Part 1 – Complete diaper systems

NancyBaby Care, Cloth diapers, Living sustainably, Säuglingspflege, Stoffwindeln, Zero WasteLeave a Comment

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Even in times of Corona, life has to go on somehow, so I thought to myself, I'll just do NOTHING on this current topic, which already dominates us all enough and costs nerves, but start with a series on a topic that is very close to my heart: cloth diapers.

In the next few weeks I would like to teach you many basics about the different cloth diaper systems,the advantages and disadvantages of cloth diapers, different materials, differences between the cloth diaper systems, how to wash cloth diapersor cloth diapers for different age groups, such as cloth diapers for newborns.

If you have decided to buy cloth diapers and are now wondering what is the best cloth diaper or the best cloth diaper system, you are exactly right here.

I am looking forward to this series and hope that I can give you many new facts and information on a topic that from my point of view will and should become more and more important.

I hope that you can take a lot of diaper knowledge about the gloth diaper with you and that if you are still undecided, I can also convince you of cloth diapers!

Disposable diapers cannot be our future!

Disposable diapers not only create mountains of garbage,but also harm our babies and the environment with their sometimes questionable ingredients. I would also like to discuss this topic in more detail in a separate article.

This image went viral on Facebook. Source: https://dirtydiaperlaundry.com.

We all have a responsibility and even if you are often frustrated by your own powerlessness due to current world events (Or is it just me?), it is worthwhile to stay with yourself and to promote changes on a small scale.

Even the ascent of the highest mountain starts with the first step. 🙂

But enough philosophizing, we come to the actual topic.

In order to understand cloth diapers and to be able to make a selection for yourself, you first have to know and understand the various existing cloth diaper systems.

When cloth diapers appeared in Germany, there were in principle only the well-known muslin diapers. I myself was still wrapped with it by my mother.

This picture has obviously changed for a long time, and today there are a plethora of different manufacturers and diaper systems. For a long time now, there is no longer THE cloth diaper system or the diaper for all situations.

From growing with you to newborn or XXL diapers, all-in-one, all-in-two, panty diapers, pocket diapers and and and and… no wishes are left to be desired. Of course, many give up or resign even before buying, as the sheer supply can literally kill a cloth diaper newcomer.

I would like to anticipate this with my cloth diaper series about the diaper system, as it is importantto me to convince so many mothers and fathers of cloth diapers instead of disposable diapers.

Therefore, in my first part of my cloth diaper series you will learn an overview of the cloth diaper systems and we start with the complete systems.

In addition to the whole theory, you are also welcome to find a cloth diaper expert in your area. There you can test and try out as you wish. Many also offer rental packages for cloth diapers.

Test, savings and beginner packages can also be found in some cloth diaper online shops such as windelwissen.de, die-besten-stoffwindeln.de, windelmanufaktur.de and stoffywelt.de.

I also took part in the training as a cloth diaper consultant with the “Stoffwindelexperten” and hope to promote the spread of reusable diapers.

1 Basics of cloth diaper systems

Before we really get into the systems, I would like to give you a few basics that are repeated in all systems.

What do all systems have in common? These are, for example, the types of closures, the size system and the basic components of a diaper.

1.1 Complete systems vs. multi-part systems

A complete system refers to cloth diapers that can consist of several parts, but only in combination of these components result in a complete diaper. Here it is not possible or useful to omit or supplement components.

Multi-part systems, on the other hand, can also be used individually and can perform various functions by adding additional components.

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1.2 Types of closures

In almost all systems, there are either snap fasteners or Velcro fasteners for closing the cloth diaper. Except for a few “exotics” (knitted diaper, gauze diaper, ..), all diapers get by with these two types of closures. By the way, I personally am a fan of Velcro fasteners ;).

Snaps consist of a female and a male part and are almost always made of plastic. The male part of the snap closure snaps into the female part and, as in other areas of application, holds the two cloth components together safely.

Advertising: Bambino Mio AIO with Velcro available at Die besten Stoffwindeln (Affiliate Link)

Snaps are not only used to close the diaper, but also to adjust the body height or to snap in suction materials.

There are situations in which a button cannot or should not be closed. Then it is important to know that the female part usually does not leave any imprints on the child. The male part, on the other hand, does, which can be unpleasant for the child.

Velcro fasteners are a good alternative to snaps. Velcro fasteners are always provided with an additional clothes velcro for cloth diapers. When washing in the washing machine, make sure that the Velcro is always closed with the laundry velcroso that it does not get caught in other fabrics. This greatly increases the service life of Velcro fasteners.

Velcros are usually only used to close diapers, not to adjust the waist height.

As an example of a Velcro diaper I can tell you the g-diaper, here is the special feature that the Velcros close backwards. As a result, children can not open the diaper so easily themselves. Unfortunately, due to the corona pandemic, gDiapers ended its operations at the end of 2020 for the time being.

1.3 Components of a cloth diaper

Cloth diapers always consist of an absorbent component and a moisture-protecting component,usually made of PU (polyurethanol) or polyester.

Advertising: Suction insert – e.g: Little Lamb bamboo inserts (Affiliate Link).
Advertising: A “tub” as moisture protection (Affiliate Link)

How these two components are connected to each other and whether other components are necessary ultimately determines the type of system used.

There are also differences in the materials used in the suction core or the outer diaper (cotton, hemp, PUL, microfiber, etc.).

1.4 Size systems

Most cloth diaper systems offer two different size systems. These are on the one hand growing diapers and on the other hand size diapers.

In addition to the abdominal width, cloth diapers that grow with you are also adjustable in body height and can therefore be used beyond several growth phases of the child. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that these diapers can be used from newborn to toddler age.

Depending on the size, development and age of drying of the child, it may also be that you have to buy several sizes.

Especially for newborns and actually always for premature babies, there are still special diaper sizes.

Cloth diapers with size systems do not offer the possibility to adjust the waist height. Here you have to buy the appropriate size of the diaper depending on the size and weight of the child.

Advertising: The multi-size system from the “Windelmanufaktur Dresden”
Newborn (2-5 kg), size 1 (4-11 kg) and size 2 (9-19 kg).

Usually the sizes go from XS or S (newborn) to XL (toddler). The already mentioned g-diaper cloth diaper, which I myself used with my two children, has a size system.

2 All-In-One (AIO)

The first cloth diaper system I want to introduce to you is the All-In.One. The AIO is a system that makes the transition from the disposable diaper the easiest,as it is most similar to the disposable ones.

The AIO is a one-piece systemin which all components are sewn together. An AIO is therefore already complete at the time of purchase. You do not have to buy any other ingredients (suction materials, overpants, etc.).

An AIO consists of an outer moisture-protecting part, usually of PU (polyurethanol) or polyester and an internally sewn suction material, e.B. of cotton or microfiber. The suction material cannot be replaced or reinforced here.

Since the necessary components are firmly bonded to each other, this diaper must be completely washed and dried after use. Compared to other systems, the washing effort and the space requirementare therefore the greatest here.

Example for a AIO cloth diaper: Thirsties Natural (Affiliate Link)
Welches Stoffwindelsystem ist das Richtige? AIOs sind super für unerfahrene oder für die KiTa.
The double tightly sewn inserts need more time to dry but are an easy system for example for the beginning, at the grandparents or at daycare.
Thirsties Natural (Affiliate Link) are available with Velcro or snaps in many beautiful designs.

The drying time is also extended, as the suction core cannot be dried separately. These points result in higher washing costscompared to other cloth diapers.

Since the diaper always has to be completely in the washing machine, the wear here is also higher than with other diaper systems.

The big advantage, however, is that you do not have to worry about the individual parts here, but always have your finished diaper and the diaper is quick to put on as with disposable diapers.

3 All-In-Two (AI2)

In addition to the AIO cloth diapers, there are complete systems that consist of various interchangeable components. These include the All-In-Two, Snap-In-One and All-In-Three systems presented below.

The All-In-Two diaper is only complete when two parts are connected to each other. The diaper consists of overpants and a suction pad. The difference to the AIO is that they are not sewn together, but the suction insert is snapped into the overpants.

Since snaps are used in this case, this all-in-two is also a snap-in one at the same time (see below).

The big advantage of this system over the AIO system is that you can use the overpants several times by simply replacing the suction pad. As a result, you need a smaller number of overpants. Of course, this also depends on the size of your child's business.

In the case of major accidents, of course, the overpants can also get dirty. Depending on the material of the overpants, this is even washable inside and it is enough to wipe out instead of washing with the washing machine.

In the same way, you can wash and dry the suction pads separately from the overpants. Especially when drying, it is the case that suction pads take longer than overpants. If you dry the overpants separately from the suction pad, you can rather use them again.

Another advantage is that you have the opportunity, depending on your needs, to try out different materials as suction pads with overpants. For example, to use so-called boosters, for the night or in situations where it is not possible to wrap as often as on long car journeys. Due to the two-part system, however, it is also possible to exclude intolerances and therefore to try different natural materials (hemp, cotton, …).

Problems can sometimes arise when different components of different dealers are not compatible. Here you may be set to a specific brand.

4 Digression: Snap-In-One

Snap-in-one systems are not necessarily AI2 systems. But all AI2 systems I know of are snap-in ones. Snap in One merely refers to the fact that a cloth diaper is only complete when all parts are connected to each other by snaps, i.e. by push buttons.

However, this can also mean that more than two components are brought together.

5 All-In-Three (AI3)

Example structure of a gDiaper. Source: https://www.stoffywelt.de/

As can already be seen from the name, an all-in-three diaper consists of three different components.

Each of these three parts fulfils its own function.

Therefore, not every diaper that consists of three parts can be called AI3. For example, if a diaper consists of two different suction pads and overpants, this is not an AI3.

The most famous AI3 diapers are the gDiaper and Diaper manufactory. The AI3 system can usually be recognized at first glance in cloth diapers.

It always consists of the following three components:

  • Suction insert
  • Moisture-protecting tub / inner diaper
  • Outer diaper (usually without moisture protection)

The tub, which is both moisture-protective and breathable, is snapped into the outer diaper. The tub is e.g. made of PUL, nylon or wool and leaves some fresh air on baby's bum. A suction pad is then placed in the tub, which is merely inserted.

The advantage of the AI3 is that in principle any suction insert that fits the size of the tub can be used here: washcloths, prefoldes, gauze diapers,etc.

However, the following should be noted: The suction pads are always slightly larger than the tub, so that the diaper automatically adapts to the body-appropriate shape. The tub arches slightly upwards. This covers only a small part of the baby and allows the rest of the skin to breathe.

You also always have to make sure that the insert sits securely. Since it is not snapped in, something can slip here and run out as a result.

With AI3 diapers there are no growing diapers,but so far only multi-size systems. Apart from that, however, AI3 has many advantages.

The most obvious advantage is that the separation of the three components, suction insert, moisture protection and outer diaper, produces less laundry than with other cloth diapers. Only what has become really dirty needs to be washed. In most cases, it is enough to replace only the suction pad and reuse the tub as well as the outer diaper several times. All parts can also be dried separately from each other, which in turn saves time.

Hotly loved: The gDiaper from the USA. Unfortunately, they fell victim to the pandemic. Remaining gDiaper items are available at Amazon (affiliate link).

Since all individual parts can be procured separately and in different numbers, the price of the purchase is also reduced here.

For me personally, the fact that the diapers are also available without PUL or other plastic components is convincing. As already mentioned, the AI3 of the Windelmanufaktur Dresden (Germany) is made of wool (outer diaper and tub) and cotton (suction insert).

gDiaper also makes a comparatively small diaper bum, which I unfortunately can not say with the wool variant from Diaper manufactory.

In summary, the AI3 system is very flexible and offers good possibilities to save laundry and money. Therefore, this system is currently also my personal favorite.

6 Pocket cloth diapers

The last complete diaper system I would like to introduce to you is the pocket diaper. A pocket diaper differs from the other complete systems in that it has a pocket in which the suction part is placed.

Basically, with a pocket, suction insert and moisture protection are separated from each other.

The outer diaper is made of two layers. The outer layer is mostly coated with PUL and therefore provides moisture protection, the inner layer is made of a moisture-conducting material (often a mesh or microfleece) to conduct the moisture of the baby bum into the interior.

These two different layers are firmly sewn together and form a pocket on one side.

An advantage of this type of diaper, in contrast to AIO, is that the baby does not come into contact with the moisture-protecting PUL.

Different suction inserts can now be stuffed into the pocket of the pocket diaper. Again, you have the advantage that you can decide quite freely in the choice of suction pads depending on the situation and preferences,similar to the AI3.

Microfiber suction pads are often used, which suck particularly quickly. Such suction pads dry out baby's skin quickly, so they must not be directly attached to the skin and are therefore particularly suitable for pockets.

Depending on how the pocket diaper was made, the opening can be located at the back of baby's bum or at the front of baby's belly. Both can have advantages and disadvantages. In the case of contamination by stool, it may be unpleasant to remove the suction pad in the case of a rear opening.

As with an AIO, a complete change is always necessary if the diaper has to be changed. However, suction pads and diapers can be dried independentlyof each other.

Thus, the pocket diaper is a good alternative to the AI2 or the AIO.

7 Conclusion

In this article I have introduced you to the different complete diaper systems existing at this time. Which system is the right one for you depends strongly on your expectations of a diaper system and your personal preferences.

When choosing the right system, I would personally ask myself the following questions:

  • How important is a simple and fast handling to me?
    • very important = AIO
    • medium = AI2, Pockets
    • less important = AI3
  • How important is a low laundry effort to me?
    • very important = AI3
    • medium = AI2
    • less important = Pockets, AIO
  • How important are natural materials to me?
    • very important = AI3
    • less important: AIO, Pockets, AI2
  • How important are diapers that grow with me?
    • very important: AIO, AI2, Pockets
    • less important: AI3
  • How important is it to me to be able to adjust the suction strength depending on the situation?
    • very important: AI3, Pockets
    • less important: AIO, AI2

Depending on how you weight these questions, you can make a pre-selection and exclude a system if necessary. I would like to give you a recommendation, but there is actually no one cloth diaper with which all parents and children will be happy. In addition to the above criteria, there are still unnamed points such as the appearance (different manufacturers have very different designs), price and size of the diaper bum.

In addition to the complete diaper systems, there are also other systems that I will introduce to you in the next posts. Maybe your favorite is also among these systems.

I hope I was able to give you a first overview and am happy if you get rid of your comments and questions in the comments.

If you are interested in two-part cloth diaper systems, you can now read the article on the second part of my cloth diaper series: Which cloth diaper system is the right one? Part 2 – Two-part systems.

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Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed this blog post.

Best regards

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