Friday, October 9, 2009

One-size vs. Sized diapers

If you followed along with our recent journey to the mecca of all kids' shows in Las Vegas last month, you know I lamented the fact that all of the cloth diaper manufacturers seem to be dedicating all development efforts towards one-size diapers. When customers come into our stores to ask about cloth diapers, they are overwhelmed by choice with respect to the styles and brands of cloth diapers available. Not only do they have to pick a type of diaper, often times, there's the additional decision of whether or not to purchase a sized or one-size version. Which one is best? That's a good question! Not an easy answer, though.

A one-size diaper is often sized from approximately 8-35 lbs. A sized diaper is sized according to the baby's weight, when your baby outgrows a size, you purchase the next larger size. There are many considerations to make when deciding which version to purchase.

Do you plan on reusing your diapers with multiple children? A sized diaper is likely the best option in this case. A one-size diaper may be used continuously for 2+ years, washed every 2-3 days. That's a lot of wear and tear! A sized diaper, on the other hand, is used for a shorter period, then set aside in favour of the next larger size, resulting on considerably less wear & tear on each set of diapers.

Do you want to sell your diapers when you're finished with them? If so, you want to keep your diapers in good shape. For the same reasons listed above, a set of sized diapers will likely have a higher resale value than a set of one-size diapers.

Do you want to use cloth diapers from day one? Most one-size diapers are advertised as fitting from 8-35 lbs, however, in reality, most one-size diapers don't start to fit well until a baby weighs 10-12 lbs. In some cases (Mother-ease one-size fitteds, for example), the diaper is so large on a newborn baby, she is literally diapered from her armpits to her knees. As long as the diaper is snug around the baby's legs and waist, it will contain mess, however, you have to consider how well clothing will fit. One-size pocket diapers are a trimmer option than one-size fitted diapers since they often come with a newborn insert.

If you want your baby in cloth diapers from day one, but you want to use one-size diapers, you should consider signing up for our newborn diaper rental program, a fabulous way to get your baby into cloth diapers on the day she's born without making the upfront investment required to buy the diapers.

Is your baby taller or stockier than average? Although most one-size diapers claim to fit babies who weigh between 8-35 lbs, you have to take this claim with a grain of salt. All babies come in different shapes and sizes, 'one size fits *most*' is a realistic way to describe any one-size diaper. If you have a tall skinny baby, she may outgrow the rise before she weighs 35 lbs. If you have a stocky baby, he may outgrow the width of the diaper before he weighs 35 lbs.

Are you buying diapers to supplement an existing stash? If so, one-size diapers are a simple stash-filler. When used in rotation with a stash of other cloth diapers, they are used less often, so they hold up better over time. Realistically, most people use more than one type of cloth diapers. Prefolds are one of the most popular types of diapers we sell, they work well, and they are cost-effective. However, they are bulky and a little more involved to use. A one-size pocket diaper makes a great 'easy' diaper to supplement an existing supply of prefold diapers. It's nice to have an 'easy' diaper for when you're out and about, for night-time diaper changes in those first few weeks, or for babysitters.

So, are you noticing a bias? My preference is definitely sized over one-size diapers. I've been in this business long enough to know that realistically, most one-size diapers, when used alone, won't last through more than one child. If you washed a t-shirt every 3-4 days for two years, for example, imagine how well it would hold up! That being said, you would still save upwards of $1500 per child if you purchased a set of one-size diapers for each baby (disposable diapers: $2500+; 28 bumGenius one-size pocket diapers: $640).

Of course, I can understand the lure of one-size diapers, you make the purchase once, and you're done (although seriously, wouldn't you miss us?). If you do want to go the one-size route, you can extend the life of your diapers using the following tips:
  • the more diapers you have in rotation, the better they will hold up. If you purchase 24-30 diapers, you'll be washing every 2-3 days for the first 6-8 weeks; once your baby is pooping 1-2 times a day, you'd be washing every 3-4 days.
  • snaps will hold up better than velcro. Velcro is more prone to wear and tear than snaps, especially on a pocket or AIO diaper that is washed every single time it is used. Your velcro will hold up better over time if you ensure it is fastened shut before you wash your diapers. Periodically picking lint and hair out of your velcro will also help extend its life.
  • use the 'low heat' setting on your dryer, or line-dry where possible. Diapers will last longer when they're not exposed to high heat on a regular basis. Covers and pocket diapers will often line-dry as quickly as they machine dry.

If the velcro or elastic wears out on your one-size diapers, it's well worth the time and/or investment to repair them. Replacing worn-out velcro is a fairly easy task requiring little to no sewing skills, Cotton Babies, the manufacturer of bumGenius one-size pocket diaper, provides free repair kits upon request. If you need to replace the elastic in your diapers, there are a couple of online tutorials that demonstrate how to do it for serged or encased elastic. If you don't have the time or inclination to make these repairs yourself, it's still worthwhile to pay a seamstress to do it, cloth diapers are an investment, it's far less expensive to fix them than to replace them.


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