Welcome to Part Two of why cloth diapers leak!
Inserts, a key part of the cloth diapering system. Yet, they can also cause the biggest problems in terms of leaking. There are so many factors that can contribute to an insert leaking: type, size, and age. Before we start talking about why inserts leak, let’s go over some different types of inserts that are available.
Inserts (or doublers as some call them) are what absorb pee. Different types of inserts work best for different situations. For example, hemp or bamboo are great for overnight because they can absorb a ton. But, they aren’t the best for a quick stay-dry solution because even though they absorb a ton, they take a while to actually suck up all the pee. Microfiber on the other hand, is great for the stay-dry feeling and works great during the day with regular diaper changes. It absorbs very quickly, but doesn’t hold a ton when compared to hemp or bamboo.
Some parents like to do a combination of natural fiber inserts wrapped around a microfiber insert. It’s kind of the best of both worlds and works great if you have a heavy wetter. If you choose to go with natural fiber inserts only in your traditional pocket diapers, you may end up with a size issue as natural fiber inserts such as hemp or bamboo are quite thin in comparison to a microfiber insert. Thin is nice because you don’t have the extra bulk. But, too thin and you don’t get as much coverage as you need and then you start having leak issues due to size of insert.
So when you’re thinking about what type of insert to use in your pocket diapers, you need to also think about size. If you have an insert that doesn’t fit properly, you are going to get leaks. Ideally, you want the insert to fit from side to side and from front to back. If you have any extra space between the insert and the leg elastic, that is where you are going to have leak issues. Pee likes to run, and if it can find a clear path, that is where it will go. If there is an insert in its way, no leaks. For boys, you always want to make sure you have the insert fit right up to the front of the diaper, you don’t necessarily have to worry about it going all the way to the back. For girls though, you want to make sure you have the entire front to back covered.
Finally, age makes a huge difference. Microfiber tends to last about a year or so. After that point, it starts to get compressed and just doesn’t absorb as well. You can strip your inserts or do an overnight soak in something like Rockin’ Green laundry detergent and that will help your inserts last a bit longer. But, to be honest, microfiber inserts are very inexpensive to replace and will help keep your little one leak free for quite a bit longer. For those of you who have bought their cloth diapers second hand, or are now using them on your second baby, investing in some new inserts for $40-$60 (depending on how many diapers of course), is worth every penny.
For natural fiber inserts, they tend to last a bit longer than microfiber. But, they can get rather straggly looking because they are so thin. Picking up some new ones and slowly rotating out your old ones is a great way to replace them without spending a ton of money all at once.