TL;DR: It’s prefolds with covers.
As a would-be first-time mother, I’m a total newbie to modern cloth diapering. Here in the Philippines, I’ve only ever seen disposable diapers, which rule supreme, and the traditional lampin (flat cloth diapers) on babies. (I myself was a lampin baby, as apparently I wouldn’t stop crying when they made me wear disposables).
As my due date grew nearer, I started researching on diapering options online, and was surprised to discover that cloth diapers are all the rage these days. They now come in all shapes and sizes, not just flats. The thought of not dumping more disposables to landfills appealed to my husband and I, so we decided to go with cloth diapers. We still plan to use disposables at night and when going out (we love the environment and all, but we’re not martyrs). Family members also gifted us with lots of Pampers Swaddlers and Baby Dry newborn diapers, so we plan to start cloth diapering at three months.
Anyone who has ever Googled cloth diapers will know that the web is strewn with mommy blogs obsessed with them. These moms have mountainous “stashes” of various cloth diapers. The wide range of choices — and opinions on which one is the best — certainly didn’t make it easy for me to settle on which type and brand of cloth diaper to buy. I did know that I wanted a one-size-fits-all one that can be used all throughout our child’s first years.
My initial choice was SoftBums, an All-in-Two (AI2) cloth diaper consisting of an outer cover and an absorbent insert. It was the only one I came across that uses an elastic drawstring (apparently their own patented invention) instead of rise snaps to adjust the size of the cover. It seemed to me that this drawstring system is more likely to provide an exact fit compared to rise snaps, which offer limited adjustment settings.
It was the cost that dissuaded me from going with SoftBums, as they are considerably more expensive than other brands. In addition, the inner lining of their covers is fleece, which I feel is too warm for the weather here. Fleece also soils easily, which means the covers aren’t that reusable. (It didn’t help matters that apparently the owner of SoftBums is a drama queen who can’t take criticism of her product and argues with reviewers online.)
Looking further for a cheaper alternative, I started to lean towards prefold cloth diapers. They seemed intimidating at first with all the folding and pinning involved, but the price can’t be beat. Besides, if my parents managed to lampin me for 2+ years, surely my husband and I could handle prefolds, right?
Now the real question was, which brand? We were actually gifted with a bunch of Gerber prefolds, but it appears that most people use them as burp cloths, and their performance as actual diapers leaves a lot to be desired.
After researching some more, I finally went with the highly-regarded yet affordable prefolds by Diaper Rite, the store brand of the diaper specialty store Diaper Junction. We bought 30 pieces of the natural (unbleached) cotton ones in the largest size, as babies grow big fast (I figured we could just fold the prefold at the back while the baby is still small). As for fasteners, I chose the Snappi over the Boingo.
Next up was the diaper cover. Mom bloggers say it’s a necessity when using prefolds, but the modern cover is a fairly recent trend, at least here in the Philippines. Before the disposable diaper became king here, Pinoy babies of yore — myself included — simply wore lampin secured with safety pins and nothing else. Before our child starts to crawl, we plan to do the same and go coverless most of the time. I feel it would be more presko that way, especially with the warm weather here.
So just a few covers for us, but which brand? I was heavily leaning towards another AI2 diaper, the popular Duo Wrap by Thirsties. Unlike SoftBums, the Duo Wrap is a PUL-only cover, which can be easily wiped for reuse. It comes in a lot of cute colors and prints, and can be used with flats, prefolds, inserts, or fitteds. The feature that attracted me the most was the leg gussets for added leak protection. The only downside is that it’s not one-size — it comes in two sizes, hence the name. While at first glance it appears cheaper than SoftBums, in the end it comes out as more expensive since you eventually have to pony up for the Size 2 when the baby gets bigger.
I overlooked it when I bought their prefolds, but browsing through Diaper Junction again, I noticed they had their own brand of diaper cover, the Diaper Rite 3.1 One Size Diaper Cover. Like the Thirsties Duo Wrap, it’s PUL-only and comes with leg gussets. It’s basically the Duo Wrap’s cheaper cousin that comes in just one size (the description says it can fit babies up to 35 lb).
I was a bit hesitant at first, because outside the high ratings on its product page, I only found this blog review and the video feature above. The baby in the video looks happy enough wearing it, though, so we went ahead and bought six covers.
That brings our cloth diaper “stash”, which is on its way in a balikbayan box, to 30 prefolds, six covers, and five Snappis. The total cost is only about USD 130, which isn’t bad compared to disposables. As for other costs, we plan to just handwash and line-dry them (an added challenge, I know), so no extra electricity charges. Water is inexpensive here, and so is detergent.
Of course, the real test of these cloth diapers is yet to come, and we can’t wait to use them with our baby. Here’s hoping my husband and I are up for the challenge.