Thursday, August 26, 2010

AIO, Stripping, and Snappi-oh my! Your guide to cloth diapering terms

Generally speaking there are two parts you need to have for a successful cloth diapering experience. There are always exceptions but normally you'll need an absorbent part (inner) and a waterproof part (outer). You'll also need some sort of closure mechanism. Gone are the days of having to use diaper pins (although they're still widely available if that's what you want), some of the more popular closures are Velcro/Aplix, Snaps, and Snappi but more on those later. I'd like to touch upon the very basic terms of cloth diapering. I'll make another post going into more detail in the future.

AIO; all in one- An AIO cloth diaper is a diaper that has the absorbent part and the waterproof part in one part. Once soiled the entire AIO diaper will need to be put in the laundry.

AI2; all in two- An AI2 cloth diaper is a diaper that has the absorbent part and the waterproof part as two distinct and separate parts. AI2s can be more economical than AIOs because you can re-use the cover for about three pee changes before tossing it into the laundry.

Cover- A cloth diaper cover also known as a cloth diaper wrap is a water poof cover that goes over the absorbent part of a cloth diaper, specifically the types of cloth diaper products that do not offer an waterproof outer:  prefold, fitted, or flat. Cover are often made with a layer of PUL (polyurethane laminated fabric) but there are wool and fleece covers called "soakers" available also.

Aplix- Some reference Aplix to be another brand of hook and loop closure, like Velcro. Others use the terms Aplix and Velcro interchangeably to mean any hook and loop closure.

DD- Abbreviation used frequently on cloth diapering boards that refers to disposable diapers/diapering. It can also reference "dear daughter" or "darling dear" but that's a whole other post.

Doubler- A doubler is an insert meant specifically for adding absorbency to another insert, prefold, flat, etc. Doublers are often smaller than the original insert. Some people refer to whatever they put in the diaper, in addition to the original insert, to increase absorbency.

Fitted cloth diaper- A diaper that is made out of absorbent fabric such as bamboo fleece or hemp. Usually these have a cute cotton knit or cotton woven outer fabric. Inserts usually snap in similar to the AI2. Closure types vary but are mostly snaps, Velcro or the use of snappi/pins. For short use, most fitteds don't need a cover. However for nighttime, trips out of the house etc, some sort of cover is needed

Gusset- Usually at the leg openings. It is an extra piece of fabric sewn right inside the leg seam opening that provides an extra barrier. Great for containing the mess!

Hybrid cloth diaper- A diaper that has some reusable properties but also some disposable properties. Ex: a reusable cover but a disposable insert. A pro of hybrids is that they're great for traveling because they reduce bulk, cloth diaper laundry, and are easily disposed of.

Insert- Layers of absorbent material sewn together often inserted in a pocket diaper for absorbency. Generally speaking, some use the word insert to mean any absorbent part of a cloth diaper that is put in or on the waterproof part of a cloth diaper.

Lanolizing (wool)- Is a process by which you put naturals oils to the wool. It makes the wool soft as well as helps it to be almost water proof. Lanolizing is most commonly done before you use the wool for the first time and then after each time you wash it. Unlike cloth diapers that need to be washed after each use wool can go without washing/lanolizing for a couple weeks. If your child poops I suggest washing the wool no matter if it's been two days or two weeks, but that's just me. I use Eucluan to wash my wool because it has anti-bacterial properties but some people use baby wash. To lanolize you can buy "special" wool lanolizing products or you can use lanolin. I use Lansinoh brand Lanolin because I have it sitting around for breastfeeding anyway. I will do a  "How to Lanolize Wool" post in the future but it's relatively easy and doesn't take much time. The hardest part about it is waiting for the wool to dry before you can use it again. You can get a sample of Eucalan from their website, HERE.

Liners- The term liners can mean one of a couple things. Liners can be reusable or disposable liners that are meant to lay in the diaper. They can be used as a stay dry liner (microfleece lets moisture through but not back toward the baby's skin; silk liners reduce yeast infections; liners to make poop changes easier; or to prevent diaper area creams or other creams (like Monistat) from getting on the diapers. I have a stash of flushable liners, as well as some store bought microfleece liners, and microfleece I've cut into liners myself to use as stay-dry and also as protection when I have had to use creams. If you use liners to prevent cream from getting on cloth diapers be sure to wash the liners separately from all your other cloth diaper laundry to prevent it from washing out and coating your cloth diapers and possibly causing repelling. Following that, I have been able to use just about any cream including Monistat and Grandma El's without issue to my cloth diapers.

The term liners can also mean pail liners in which case that would mean a big wet bag that is meant to sit in a diaper pail or trash can for dirty cloth diaper storage. That being said, I highly recommend not using diaper pails in favor of breathable storage sacks or pail liners. Having a dark, moist, closed pail with no air flow provides an optimum place for mold and bacteria to grow.

Microfiber- refers to synthetic fibers that measure less than one denier. Microfiber is used to make non-woven, woven and knitted textiles. The shape, size and combinations of synthetic fibers are selected for specific characteristics, including: softness, durability, absorption, wicking abilities, water repellent, electrodynamics, and filtering capabilities.

Minky/minkee- A very soft microfiber fabric that is smooth to the touch, some may say it feels a bit "furry". Minky comes in many colors and designs and is used widely in baby and children's things, including cloth diapers.

One size- A term that references the ability of a cloth diaper, cover, or insert to fit younger babies through toddler hood- from birth to potty is a very common catch phrase for one sized cloth diapering products. In a sense it's a diaper or cover that will grow with your baby thanks to many different rise and waist settings. One of the cons of cloth diapering with one sized products is that your baby may very well have an awkward stage where the one sized doesn't fit them very well. This often happens when they're itty bitty and the smallest one sized setting is still too big or bulky or when they're much older and the biggest one size setting is getting a bit too small.

Pocket diaper- Cloth diaper with a waterproof outer layer with a thinner inner layer that is next to baby's skin. A pocket diaper has an opening at one or both ends (depending on diaper) of the inner so you can slip an insert in the pocket between the inner layer and outer, waterproof layer.

Rise- The rise is the measurement from the top of the diaper between the legs and to the back. A good way to get an accurate rise setting is to measure from the belly button through the legs to where the belly button would be if it was on the back. Rise can also reference the snap settings that can be snapped or un-snapped to make the diaper higher or lower on a child. The rise snaps are often in the front of the diaper.

Repelling- When a part of the cloth diaper dose not absorb liquid. The liquid will either bead and sit on top of the cloth diaper part of run right off leaving the fabric pretty much dry. The bead test is not the best way to diagnose repelling. If you suspect you may have a problem with repelling try the compression test. Put some water on the cloth diaper part (insert for example) and squeeze gently. If the water absorbs, even if it absorbs slowly, you're not having a true repelling problem. If if beads up and/or runs off you'll need to strip to fix the repelling.

Side Snapping cloth diaper- A side snapping cloth diaper is a diaper that snaps on the hips as opposed to snapping in the area of the front of the belly. One pro of side snapping cloth diapers is that toddlers have a harder time unsnapping side snapping cloth diapers.

Sized cloth diaper- The term sized references a cloth diaper, cloth diaper cover, or insert that comes in specific sizes for certain measurements; EX: XS, S, M, L, XL. Most often those measurements are based on weight but you will find other sized diapers that give measurements for rise, thighs, and waist as well. Unlike a one sized diaper these diapers have limited adjust-ability and are not meant to grow with your child like one sized diapers are. You will most likely have to buy more than one size of sized cloth diapers depending on how long you plan to cloth diaper and how small your baby is when you start. One of the pros of sized cloth diapers is that there is no real awkward stage, like with one sized diapers at times.

Snappi; snappi diaper fastener- A pin less diaper closure system that uses teeth to hook in to the fabric. You can read more about the Snappi on their site, HERE.

Snaps- Plastic or metal closure systems commonly used on cloth diapers, covers, and sometimes even inserts. They are often times installed on the fabric with a snap press or special pliers.

Stripping- When you wash cloth diapers trying to remove build-up, residue, or other nastiness. There are a few different ways to strip. The two I use most often are Glamour soaks-overnight soaks in Lulu's in the Fluff Glamour Wash and regular blue Dawn. Blue Dawn is good for breaking down animal fats and grease (like for example removing diaper cream that has caused an repelling issue). Lulu's is great for removing ickiness left from other detergents, hard water minerals, and just plain everyday nasties.

Sunning- Laying or hanging cloth diapers or cloth diaper parts (covers, inserts, etc.) in the sun for stain removal. Sunning is a great stain remover. I have successfully sunned diapers in full sun as well as in overcast, snowy weather...just be prepared-the less sun there is the longer it takes to get a successful sunning. Some also use lemon juice on the stains in addition to sunning. The sun also helps kill bacteria and get out "musty" smells.

Trainers- Also known as training pants, trainers are like underwear but made with more absorbency, or the ability to add more absorbency, while potty training. Some people use cloth diaper covers or un-stuffed pocket diapers as trainers. There is some controversy over using trainers while potty training. Some people, myself included, say that trainers send inconsistent messages to the potty training/potty learning child which can prolong the potty training process. Others, swear trainers positively impacted the potty training experience.

Two sized- Two sized refers to cloth diaper products, including diapers, covers, etc. that come in two sizes. Usually is one size for itty bitty babies and another size for older babies. Two sized systems have the perks of fitted diaper products but because the weight range is broader they'll last longer than fitteds and you'll need only two sizes instead of a few to fit from birth to potty.

Wet bag- A bag meant for carrying cloth diapers, often lined with PUL on the inside and fabric on the outside. The PUL keeps moisture and stink in but still allows for some breath-ability. Wet bags are available in all different fabrics and many different sizes.
wet/dry bag- is a bag that has "wet" section lined with PUL to store dirty diapers but also has a "dry" section to store clean, un-used cloth diapers.

Wicking- When fabric carriers moisture from one place to another. Ex: The inner layer of a pocket diaper gets saturated and carries moisture to the leg gusset. Certain types of inner fabric will cause more wicking than others. Another source for wicking is an improper fitting diaper

Wool: Wool products like those listed below can be used as an alternative to PUL cover and worn over things like fitteds. Some mothers also use wool over prefolds. It's a natural fiber and  offers more breathe-ability than PUL covers which can help prevent things like yeast rashes and heat rashes. It's also very unique in the sense that it can repel moisture on the outer  but absorb it into the core of the fiber. I believe the term wool soaker and wool cover are different names for the same thing.
longies- handmade long pants made from wool
shorties- handmade shorts or bloomers  made from wool
skirties- very similar to a "skort" in that it has a bloomer over a little skirt that are handmade from wool
woolies- this term is new to me but from what what I have been reading woolies is a term that encompasses wool products made for use over cloth diaper products, like those listed above.


  1. I'd like to add that sized diapers are pretty much the only option currently out there for special needs kiddos who will need diapers for much longer than your average child will. Our little one is 5, almost 6 and has Down syndrome. Many children with Downs don't potty-train for awhile and in situations like ours, there are medical issues for that child that help 'prevent' potty-training.

    For those that are concerned about the impact disposable diapers have on the planet, children with special needs often will go through diapers like a newborn (averaging 8-10 diapers on a good day), which if they are in diapers for 6+ years, you're looking at over 22,000 diapers will go into landfills. (I think that is the correct word). Not to mention the cost of buying all those disposable diapers.

    We didn't start using cloth until this last March, when a friend sent us a larger diaper. I won't say that we would have used cloth diapers earlier if we had known that there were diapers that weren't One Size. But that was because our little one was diagnosed with leukemia (at 26 months) and had chemotherapy treatments and didn't finish until this last October... But, it was several months after asking if there were diapers out there for SN kids before we found any.

    Even now, we run into families of children with special needs and the family uses CDs with that child, but only has OS because they don't know that there are bigger diapers out there.

    I'm very grateful that there are sized diapers out there. But I'd really like to see someone come up with a One Size size 2 for special needs kiddos that doesn't cost them an arm and a leg, since those families often have financial worries to deal with too.

    Then even if the child potty-trains, they'll often need extra protection at night and really who wants to wear pull-ups. Many companies that make cloth trainers only make them in a toddler size. I don't believe I've ever seen a trainer in a size 4 or larger, and I've done some searching.

    Often sized diapers are someones only option and if companies stop making them, many special needs families will have to use disposable diapers for years. So don't give up on them entirely. :)

  2. @Jamie - that is some really great information and a good intro to cloth diapering... though you didn't mention FPFs :P that i was trying to figure out from a previous post :)

    @ Happily Southern - I hadn't thought about SN kids with CDs before... i once 'babysat' a girl who was in her teens and still wore diapers (for menstrual cycle and accidents) She used disposables though. Sized diapers (and custom fits) are probably very important to you now that you have switched to cloth

  3. JustCorey~ FPF (famous pocket fitteds) are exclusive to Cow Patties Cloth Diapers but don't worry! The diapers Cow Patties has available will have their very own post. I will also be doing "How to use" posts complete with picture tutorials very soon.

  4. @JustCorey I actually haven't had any customs for J. It was very confusing at the start of using cloth diapers that even though someone offered to make J custom diapers sets that we could sew, we didn't end up doing them. I have regretted it sometimes, but if we had done customs we wouldn't have been able to switch to cloth diaper fulltime as quickly as we did because of the cost factor.

    @CrunchyBabe I'll be looking forward to reading your "How to use" post. Do you have email subscriptions set up for this blog? I find that is the easiest way for me to keep track of blogs I read.

  5. I just added the option to sign up for email subscriptions. It's on the top right of the sidebar. Enjoy!

  6. Thank you for posting about special needs kids. We are currently switching our Autistic son to cloth because he shreads disposibles at night. It was so hard to find anyone that had anything in his size and although we did end up finding someone that is making a custom order (For less money than some infant/toddlers diaper cost!) It was a long and frustrating journey. I wish there were more options for older children that need nightime protection or special needs kids that still need to be in a diaper or training pant. Many "mainstream" children still wet the bed until they are 8 or 9 and it makes more sense for the kids to be able to go to sleep in comfortable cloth, just in case they have an accident than to put them in an unbreathable, uncomfotable plastic pull up every night.