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Adding Absorbency To Cloth Diapers

Posted by on 2/9/2016 to Helpful Tips
Adding Absorbency To Cloth Diapers
There are some times in your cloth diapering career when baby will start peeing more, or when you need your diaper to last a bit longer. For example, when that wonderful day comes when baby is sleeping through the night, you definitely don't want that gorgeous slumber to be interrupted by an inopportune leak and midnight bedding change! Different phases in baby's development change the amount and frequency with which they pee too - times when they are nursing frequently will result in wetter diapers, and when they start holding their pee longer towards toddlerhood means bigger pees. 

In this blog, I will go through some ways to add absorbency to your diapers to get through the wet times without floods!

Check if your inserts are soaked

If your current inserts are completely soaked when you change baby, it is a good indicator that you will need to add absorbency if you want the diaper to last longer to prevent leaks. If you are currently getting leaks but your inserts aren't sopping wet, take a look at our article on troubleshooting leaks, as your leaks may be happening for another reason. 

Types of materials

Natural materials such as hemp, cotton and bamboo are excellent choices for adding extra absorbency to your diaper. Synthetic materials (e.g. microfiber) are prone to a nasty thing called compression leaks. To fully describe compression leaks, think of a sponge. It can absorb huge amounts of liquid, but what happens if you squeeze it? The liquid easily squirts out. This happens in diapers as well if the inserts are squashed, for example by putting two microfiber inserts in a diaper. The can absorb a ton in theory, but as soon as they are squished by a diaper cover or the weight of a baby, that same liquid ends up escaping out of the diaper. 

Natural fibers are both really absorbent and trim, and they don't experience compression leaks nearly as much as synthetics. They will add absorbency to your diaper without causing other types of leaks. 

What is the difference between a booster/insert/doubler?

This can get confusing, as there are tons of terms thrown around out there - inserts, boosters, doublers etc. etc. Basically they are all the same thing - they are something absorbent that goes in a diaper to absorb pee. Here is a breakdown of those terms: 

Insert: The main absorbent portion of a diaper. This is the part that came with the diaper - for example the microfiber insert that is included with each bumGenius pocket diaper. It is usually shaped/sized to fit the diaper, and without it you wouldn't have anything in the diaper to absorb the pee.

bumGenius Pocket Diaper with insert
bumGenius Pocket Diaper with Insert

Doubler (also known as booster): A doubler is something that is designed specifically to go in a diaper IN ADDITION to the insert to add absorbency. Many are made of natural materials, which as explained above, are excellent at adding absorbency.

Hemp Babies Doubler
Hemp Babies Doubler

Either an insert or a doubler can be used to add absorbency, but doublers do it without adding as much bulk as using a second insert. If you are on a budget though, you can use a small prefold or a second insert and give that a try. 

Where do I put the doubler?

In the diaper, silly. As far as whether to put it above or below the insert, it depends on what materials you are using. For example, microfiber is very fast absorbing while hemp is slower, so you would use the hemp underneath the microfiber. The microfiber will grab the moisture quickly, while the hemp underneath will slowly draw liquid out of the insert above it, forming a reservoir. 

If you need absorbency in a specific spot in the diaper (for example up front for a boy) you can also fold your doubler/second insert to add extra layers right where you need it without adding bulk elsewhere. 

Make sure you still have a good fit

After you have added your chosen extra absorbent material, check your fit to make sure that you aren't getting gaps anywhere. Lift baby's legs up to make sure the elastic is snug around the legs (not super tight, but you shouldn't see gaps) and no huge gaps at the belly. You may have to adjust your snap setting, and possibly go up a rise on a one-size diaper to get a good, leak proof fit. Remember, if you can find a gap, so can pee! 

Try different things!

Diapers are not rocket science - really. Try different combinations in your diapers to see what works for you. Try folding your inserts differently, adjusting your fit or adding a different type of booster. Give me a shout to get some advice.

Most importantly, don't give up! Some babies go through phases of being heavy wetters, while others consistently are able to put out large fires with the amount they pee. There is a combination that will work for every baby!

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