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Are you looking for an easy to use cloth diapering option with customizable absorbency? Pocket diapers are a popular type of diaper that offers these features and more!
Pocket diapers consist of a waterproof shell lined usually with a non-absorbing microfleece or similar fabric. There is an opening, usually in the back of the diaper, where an absorbent insert is placed inside making this a complete diapering system.
Most pocket diapers are one-size, meaning they should last your baby from birth to potty training. Some brands also offer sized options.
The beauty of pockets is that you can stuff them with whatever you wish! Most pockets come with two microfiber inserts, usually a newborn size and a larger one-size insert. Once your baby has outgrown the newborn insert, it can be used in combination with the one-size insert for times when extra absorbency is needed, such as nighttime. At that point, most babies do fine with only using only the one size insert for day to day use. Depending on your needs, you can stuff your pockets with a combination of inserts or switch out the microfiber for a completely different material all together! Pockets can also be stuffed with absorbent hemp or bamboo inserts, a pad folded flat, a tri-folded prefold… basically, if it absorbs, you can stuff it in a pocket!
Usually pockets are lined with a synthetic fabric, like microfleece or suedecloth. These types of linings do not absorb moisture. They allow any wetness to pass through to the insert and work as a barrier to give baby a “stay dry” feeling by wicking moisture away from baby’s skin. Although some babies don’t mind feeling damp for that short period of time before their caregiver notices, some babies DO mind. This helps keep them feeling dry even if you aren’t able to change them right away. It can also give you a little extra time in between diaper changes, which can be beneficial for nighttime use.
A common complaint about pockets is that they have to be stuffed with an insert before use. Some find it easier to stuff their pockets immediately after the shells and inserts have dried. That way they have all their pockets ready to go. This can make diapering with pockets easier, but it’s not necessary. You can keep your liners and shells in the laundry basket and stuff as you go if you wish!
On the flip side, another complaint is removing the soiled insert. Most pocket inserts do not agitate out on their own in the washer, and need to be removed beforehand. If it bothers you to touch the insert with your bare hands, you can get past this by using a cloth wipe to remove it from the diaper before putting it in your pail or wetbag. If you don’t have any issues with using bare hands, you can always wash your hands afterwards.
One of the major benefits of pockets is that they go on and off much like disposables! This makes them great for people who may be resistant to cloth diapering like babysitters, daycares, and even some grandparents or significant others. The closures available on most pockets are either hook & loop (also known as Velcro or Aplix) or snaps. Snaps are durable and long lasting. Also, if your baby tries to take off his or her diaper, snaps are more difficult for little ones to remove by themselves. Hook & loop is similar to what is used in disposables, so while it may not be as durable as snaps, it may a little easier to put on and take off for those who are not used to using cloth diapers. Just pre-stuff them ahead of time and they are ready to go!
Another benefit is that, although the shells generally should be lined dried to prolong the lifespan of the diaper, they dry fairly fast. Typically the inserts can be thrown in the drier on low.
If you think you can handle taking a little extra time to stuff, the benefits of pocket diapers may make them totally worth any effort. You may also realize, simply putting an insert into a diaper before using it really does not take too much effort at all!