Links below to collections of products in the various Fabric Option Categories. There is overlap.
There is a 5th option. Elimination Communication, called "EC". Learn your baby's potty cues and potty the baby. This can be done with not diaper at all, or using a simple cotton diaper under baby or any diaper. Explore EC. YouTube can be helpful. GoDiaperFree and ECPeesy are some good sources. Natural diapering goes hand-in-hand with EC. You know or will soon know that "poop face". Don't be afraid to try EC at home when you know it's time for poop. It's easier than you might think and it doesn't have to all or nothing. Cloth diapering can be part-time, too. Do what works for you (and don't listen to too much noise online - you know what is best for you and your child).
Many families have and use a variety of products made of various fabric option categories.
Washing is easier when the load is the homogenous. It is easier to wash the same kind of fabric of similar size and thickness. Mixed fabric loads can be more challenging to get clean. Synthetics are often difficult to get clean.
Synthetics and cloth diapers - Karen's thoughts and opinions
We get emails and messages asking for our opinions. Take it all with a grain of salt. Opinions are opinions and you need to make your own choices.
Recently "cloth diaper" has become synonymous with any diaper product that is reusable.
In the old days, about 5+ years ago, "diaper" meant "inner absorbency" and "cover" meant "outer waterproof part". I still use the words that way. Sometimes "diaper" might mean "pocket diaper" or "disposable diaper". But really the word "diaper" is a very general term. The are many kinds of diapers and many different diapering systems.
As you shop and compare our products with other sites, know what the diapers are made of to make an informed choice. Can't find the material content of a particular diaper? Ask the seller. Fabric content listing is legally required. Hint #1: price - in general, polyester-based diapers are less expensive than pure cotton diapers. Hint #2: if it just says "cotton diaper" and doesn't say 100% cotton, it probably is not 100% cotton. Bamboo rayon is not fully considered a natural fiber after all chemical processing it goes through. It's a cross-over fabric and bamboo is considered a synthetic for our purposes. We do not sell anything bamboo. There is no such thing as bamboo charcoal. That's an odd way to say polyester fleece sewn over polyamide microfiber which is totally synthetic. We don't sell that either.
Our Stay Dry Liners, Stay Dry Doublers and Night Stay Dry Doublers are in the polyester category. We also have Pocket Diapers with Athletic Wicking Jersey (AWJ) and some AIOS with polyester fleece built in. Polyester fleece does work to keep baby dry. Does the synthetic stay-dry feel matter? What's your opinion?
It's up to you. Disposable diaper makers say that "feeling dry" matters, but I'm not convinced.
Polyester is a man-made synthetic that is made from petroleum. It is a form of plastic. It came into fashion for diapering 1998. No long-term studies have been done as to it's safety. Is it safe? I don't know. Until a long-term study has been done, we can't know. We do know that it sheds microplastics which is an issue. Some people are "allergic" to polyester. Some people are "allergic" to disposable diapers. I have not yet heard of someone being allergic to 100% cotton. Perhaps for some, the "wetness sensitivity" you may hear about is actually a reaction to unrinsed detergent. Unrinsed detergent is high pH which turns skin red like a caustic burn or like a sunburn. Some mainstream detergent ingredients are a wonder that they can be going into our water cycle when you start researching them. Some ingredients you can't even research, such as fragrance, because they are protected trade secrets. Choose fragrance-free products. We strongly recommend fragrance-free products. Yes, I said that twice for emphasis.
Change the baby
Doesn't cotton get wet and feel wet? Yup. Yes it does and it's not a problem (contrary to what we have been told by disposable diaper companies). Cotton has been used successfully and safely for generations. It works. A wet diaper should be changed reasonably promptly and a poop diaper changed immediately. Wash and rinse the diapers fully, choose safer detergents, and change often. Do those things to avoid the so-called wetness sensitivity for babies who have otherwise normal skin. Genetics and the natural skin protective biome will vary from person to person. Some babies do have stronger skin than others, but frequent changing really helps even the most genetically sensitive skin. The goal isn't and should not be "who can change their baby the least" nor "who can go the longest between diaper changes". No matter what diapers you choose, change often. If a correctly sized diaper is sopping wet to the point of dripping and leaking, the answer could be to change sooner. With cloth diapers, you are free to change often - without that cringing feeling that you might have with disposables - of throwing money away with each disposable diaper change. Enjoy diaper changing freedom in cloth!
Everything has its tradeoffs. One disadvantage I've found is that polyester is a bit "slippery" when runny poop hits it, and once in a while a runny poop will escape with polyester, which is rare with traditional cotton diaper and cover systems. The containment success for runny, explosive poops for polyester inner pocket style diapers is about equal to that of disposables. Remember, disposables don't contain EVERY explosive runny poop either, and you might be surprised by how many people using disposable diapers buy cloth diaper covers to put over their disposables. One advantage of polyester stay-dry fabrics is that you might be able to longer between diaper changes, which may be handy for night and naps. Some families find that they use cotton diapers all day long but use a disposable diaper at night for a long sleep time. That can work. Do what works for you and your family.
2 piece systems (diaper plus cover systems) have 2 levels of containment: 1=diaper, 2=cover. But pockets and all-in-ones only have one leg elastic for 1 stage of containment. Cotton absorbs very quickly and that includes absorbing the runniness of poop from a breastfed baby. A cotton diaper with a cover over it is very effective.
Karen prefers cotton
Personally, I enjoy 100% cotton next to baby all the time and I avoid polyester next to baby's bottom. I generally avoid polyester in our clothing and bedding also. And microfiber is just ewww! I can't stand the feel of it. Even the chlorine free and fancy disposables still have the chemical sodium polyacrylate in them. Sodium polyacrylate, polyester or cotton? It's up to you. Different people choose different things for different reasons and that's ok. What I prefer influences what products GMD offers, but what matters is what you prefer. What fabrics to you prefer? Choose what is best for you.