In Lesson 1, we learned about prefold diapers and diaper covers. The next level up is pocket diapers. My (completely unsubstantiated) guess is that pocket diapers are the most commonly used in the cloth diapering world. My reason for this estimation is that pocket diapers are the middle of the road choice in terms of both convenience and cost.
Like prefolds and covers, these are two part system. There is the “shell” that contains the actual pocket and the absorbent insert that you stuff them with.
The above picture actually shows a pocket diaper stuffed with a trifolded prefold. This is how I stuff my pocket diapers.
Most pocket diapers are sold with microfiber inserts that you stuff into the pocket section of the diaper.
When I first started using cloth diapers, I had no problem with microfiber, but my opinion of it went steadily downhill the longer I cloth diapered. It seems to hold onto the ammonia stink that can occasionally grace your diapers longer than natural fibers, and I started having issues with repelling. Repelling happens when the pee essentially hits the diaper and bounces off of it (and usually goes dribbling down your baby’s leg). When repelling happens, it usually means that you have build-up on your diapers and you need to strip them (stripping is a topic for another post).
The idea behind pocket diapers is simple. The shell is usually made out of an outer layer of PUL. PUL is the waterproof outer cover that keeps everything dry and sanitary. The inside layer is usually made of fleece, though you can find natural fiber pockets. Between the two layers, you stuff an absorbent layer.
One of the good things about pocket is that you can adjust the absorbency according to your needs. For example, you can add layers of absorbency if your child is going to sleep for the night or is generally a heavy wetter. If your child is getting older or doesn’t seem to wet that much, then you can keep the absorbency to a minimum.
One of the benefits of cloth diapers is that the shells dry pretty quickly. Because of that, they are easy to air-dry year round. If you put them near a sunny window in the morning, they should be completely dry by the afternoon. If it’s summer and you can hang them outside, they will dry even faster.
The inserts will take longer to dry either in the sun or in the dryer, but typically one cycle on high will dry the inserts (it’s not recommended to dry your PUL on high).
Some people don’t like having to stuff the diapers after they are washed, but stuffing them after they are washed and dried makes diapering your child so much faster and easier, especially if you are leaving him or her with a babysitter. Personally, I don’t mind stuffing the pockets. It’s a fairly mindless task, so I’ll put on one of my favorite sitcoms and vege out in front of the TV while I stuff and organize my diapers.
They also need to be unstuffed before washing. I unstuff and then throw them in my diaper pail. Some people leave them stuffed and remove the insert as they go into the wash, but the thought of picking through soiled diapers for that task is icky to me.
Thirsties does make a pocket diaper that is open on each end so that the insert agitates out in the washing machine. This is a nice alternative to having to remove the insert. I have a couple of those diapers and the inserts do come out in the wash and get just as clean as any other diaper.