What You Need to Know About Diaper Inserts
Pocket diapers are one of the most convenient cloth diapering options on the market. The waterproof outer shell and leg gussets keep everything contained, and the absorbent inserts stay put in the diaper’s handy, built-in pocket and wick moisture away from baby’s skin.
Because parents have the option to add extra inserts in order to increase inserts, they are able to adjust these diapers to their baby’s needs. As an added bonus, there are several different kinds of inserts available, making pocket diapers even more customizable.
If you are thinking about stocking up on pocket diapers, knowledge of the various kinds of insert options will be extremely helpful in allowing you to make informed diapering decisions. For this reason, we have taken the time to compile a list of the most popular insert options, and the pros and cons of each.
By the end of this article, you’ll be a cloth diaper insert expert, and able to make informed diapering decisions for your child.
— Microfiber —
Microfiber inserts are the most common type of insert out there. These are usually the type of inserts you find included with your pocket diapers. While some people love microfiber inserts, others hate them and go out of their way to replace included microfibers with another option.
Microfiber is a man-made fabric with some pretty good absorbing abilities. These inserts soak up a lot of liquid quickly, making them great for those babies who wet their diapers quickly and all at once.
Unfortunately, microfiber inserts do have some downfalls. They tend to have problems with compression leaks, as they work much like a sponge and will release liquid whenever they are pressed on. They can also develop detergent and urine build-up that will start to smell bad over time. In addition to these two cons, microfiber cannot be used directly against a baby’s skin as it can cause dry skin and break-outs.
Pros: quick absorbency; fast drying; inexpensive
Cons: compression leaks; build-up smells; can’t be used on skin
— Cotton —
The oldest diapering option (not to mention one of the most common natural fibers used to make fabrics), cotton is a solid choice for diaper inserts. Some parents who prefer cotton will go out of their way to purchase cotton pieces specifically for using as inserts. However, any piece of cotton can be used in a pocket diaper, including prefolds, flats, and flour sack towels.
Cotton is convenient because it's inexpensive and almost always readily available. It's also quick drying and soft on baby’s bottom. Cotton is a fine insert for a light to average wetter who needs a soft and breathable diaper.
With all of that said, there are a few things that are less than stellar about cotton. For one thing, it can be pretty bulky, making for a large diaper that is hard to fit clothing over. Cotton inserts are not the most absorbent either, which can lead to leaks if diapers aren’t switched out often enough.
Pros: easy to find; inexpensive; soft; quick drying
Cons: bulky; not the most absorbent
— Hemp —
Inserts made of hemp are a favorite of many cloth diapering moms and dads. These inserts are made using a combination of hemp (for absorbency) and cotton (for a softer fabric). They do their job quite nicely, and this particular combination of materials seems to add to their functionality.
Hemp is perfect for the heaviest wetters, because it can hold a lot of liquid. Not only does it absorb a lot, it holds onto everything it absorbs, so compression leaks are not a problem when using hemp inserts.
However, hemp does have a longer drying time than microfiber or cotton. It has also been known to develop a case of the stinkies over time, and it is more expensive than either cotton or microfiber.
Pros: extremely absorbent; holds onto liquid
Cons: slow to soak up liquid; slow to dry; build-up smells; expensive
— Bamboo —
On the pricier end of the diaper insert spectrum, you’ll find bamboo inserts. A lot of parents swear by bamboo, especially those who have had issues with microfiber and cotton inserts.
Because bamboo is incredibly thirsty and holds onto any moisture it absorbs, it is another good option for heavy wetters. It does not tend to have issues with build-up or bad smells, which is a big bonus for anyone dealing with hard water issues.
However, bamboo is notorious for being slow to soak up liquids, which can lead to leaking if a child urinates a lot in a short period of time. This can also cause issues with rashes, as the child will be sitting in a very wet diaper until all of the liquid can be absorbed. On top of this, bamboo, as stated before, is more expensive than some of the other options.
Pros: extremely absorbent; holds onto liquid
Cons: slow to soak up liquid; slow to dry; expensive
— Minky —
Fairly recently, one well-known diaper company released a new "minky" insert. Some people claim that these new inserts are more absorbent than microfiber, others claim exactly the opposite.
Minky inserts are a great option if you like microfiber, but would like a thinner insert. These inserts are softer to the touch than microfiber, and the cost is similar to the cost of microfiber. They are also quick to dry.
Minky inserts are only available from one diaper retailer, making them more difficult to come by than other types of inserts.
Pros: quick absorbency; fast drying; inexpensive; soft
Cons: compression leaks; build-up smells; more difficult to find
— Zorb —
Zorb is the one of the newest insert options out there. This fabric was made specifically for diapering, and is an excellent option overall. If you are having issues with the absorbency of diapers, you need to try Zorb.
Zorb can hold up to 10x its weight, and absorbs it more quickly than any other fabric on the market. It is truly the ultimate insert fabric, and since it’s so absorbent, fewer layers are required in any given diaper, leading to a trimmer fit. To make a good thing even better, Zorb dries quickly, so line-drying is not an issue.
Unfortunately, finding inserts made with this miracle fabric is a difficult task. Etsy tends to be the best place to look.
Pros: inexpensive; quick drying; incredibly absorbent
Cons: difficult to find
— Conclusion —
With so many inserts to choose from, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. If this is the case, it may be a good idea to order a few of each option and try them out to see what works for you and your family.
Some parents like to double up their inserts. One popular insert combination is microfiber or minky on top (for quick absorbency) and bamboo or hemp on bottom (for better, longer lasting absorbency). This combination of inserts seems to work well for a lot of babies, making it a good thing to try out on your little one.
- Kevin Thill