Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Changing cloth diapers is a snap! Or... a Velcro?

One of the first concepts that shocks and pleases folks when they're discovering modern cloth diapers is that, Wowee!, changing them is no different than changing a disposable diaper, especially if you use diapers that fasten with hook-and-loop tabs.

Any real difference here between the way this Tots Bots Easy Fit and a disposable diaper are put on a baby?

[Time out: "hook-and-loop" is the generic name for the fastening products created by brands such as Velcro, Aplix, and Touchtape. It's sort of like "tissue" v. Kleenex. Since the diaper brands we carry make use of all different brands of hook-and-loop fasteners, we'll stick with the generic--abbreviated h&l from now on. K, back to our regularly scheduled info-blogging.]

Then, when folks look into major brands like FuzziBunz, they'll notice that all FuzziBunz diapers fasten with snaps, which the company advertises hold up best over time (and now come with a lifetime warranty!).

So, which is best?

There's no clear-cut answer, unfortunately. That's why there are so many choices on the market!

This is something your local rep, an experienced cloth diapering mom herself, can help you figure out so that you maximize your satisfaction with your diapers while maintaining the money savings that may have had you looking into cloth diapers to begin with. Keep in mind that there's a resale market, and cloth diapers go for 50-80% of their retail value, so if you happen to be dissatisfied with a diaper because you thought you'd like one type of fastener and you realize you'd prefer another, reselling your diapers to help fund the purchase of new ones is always an option!

Here's a quick pro/con breakdown for hook & loop:

  • Makes for super-quick, easy changes.
  • Is less daunting for childcare providers and skeptical grandmas.
  • Comes with "laundry tabs," meaning that, theoretically, the "scratchy" part (the hook) will not tear fabric it is washed with.
  • Allows for the best possible fit--there's no possibility of a baby's waist being "between sizes" when adjustability is maximized. This, in my opinion, holds the most weight in terms of value over the snaps alternative.
  • Can wear out faster with washing and drying; laundry tabs sometimes need to be replaced in order to be effective.
  • Can cause the top flap of the diaper to turn inward at baby's belly, rubbing a raw spot. This is not everybody's experience (and it hasn't been mine), but it is something to consider.
  • The sound that resonates from "undoing" h&l can wake a light sleeper if a middle-of-the-night change is required.
  • Some babies discover how easy it is to remove a diaper fastened with hook-and-loop, and persistent ones will remove a diaper even while fully clothed. I gotta tell you, once my daughter got in this habit, she was doing it in her sleep. Not cool.
And a breakdown for the snaps camp:
  • Snaps are durable and hold up beautifully to daily wear and laundering.
  • If you memorize the snap settings that give you the best fit on your baby, then changes become super-quick, and the diaper goes on straight even if your newly-mobile-and-proud little rascal is crawling away (or attempting Downward Dog).
  • In my opinion, the "look" is cleaner and neater.
  • High-quality resin snaps are much more difficult for a baby to "undo," and they don't give that satisfying crunch-rrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiip sound that babies seek out when they play with h&l fasteners.
  • Pre-determined snap settings can lead to some gapping at the waist or around the thighs. This can cause leaks for some hard-to-fit body types. I find this especially true in the newborn stage.
  • Picture this scenario: Dad is already a little skeptical of cloth diapers (and didn't get to come to your consultation with your local rep). He's left alone with your new baby while you take your shower, and he hears the tell-tale squirty, sort of... bubbly sound that we all know signifies a fresh mess. He stares downward at what looks to him like dozens of snaps, maybe a hundred snaps... and he has no idea how to make this diaper fit your baby. Ok, this isn't really a con, because it makes for a funny photo op for the baby book. I would probably stage it if it didn't happen. But the point is: snaps can be a little daunting for the cloth-skeptical!
So how do you choose?

Ideally, there's room in a cloth diaper stash for a little of both.

If you're planning to have a separate stash of newborn diapers, h&l is a fantastic option! No busy hands are trying to remove any diapers, the baby is sleeping deeply enough that you shouldn't have to worry about the sound waking her, everybody in your life will be happy to change diapers for you because, well, how is it any different than changing a disposable?, and you'll get a perfect fit.

If you're looking for a single, streamlined one-size stash to use from birth to potty-training, you may want to go with snaps. Longevity rules the day; isn't that what they always say? It should be!

As for me, I'm slowly replacing my beloved classic SoftBums with SoftBums withLinkSnaps, saving my classics for my next newborn. Why? Because a certain little diva began removing them--even under pants--before she hit her first birthday.

If you sew and you've got a baby Houdini on your hands, too, you may consider using a snap press and converting your h&l diapers to diapers with snap closures. If you're like me and can't thread a needle without risking an aneurysm, consider the "snap version" of your favorite diapers when it's time to size-up (or pass down your current diapers to a new addition).

And, lastly, eLeMeNO-Pee diapers are chosen because they are high-quality diapers made by manufacturers who stand behind their products and back them with warranties. While h&l is known to wear out over time, the products we carry that make use of h&l do hold up! My DryBees fleece overnight pockets are nearly three years old and no worse for the wear.
Finally, here's a tip from our representative Nicole, who highly prefers h&l fasteners for her harder-to-fit daughter: "If you only hang dry, you occasionally have to throw hook and loop in the dryer so it will stay sticky."

For more discussion from our cloth diapering clients, hop on over to our Facebook Page!