A great cloth diaper fit will keep the baby comfortable and help prevent leaks. But you may experience fully saturated diapers if you have a heavy wetter, or if you are using your cloth diaper for extended periods of time such as overnight and for a long car ride. Saturated diapers can lead to leaks if you do not provide additional absorption.
Extra cloth diaper inserts are the best way to add extra absorbency and tackle leaks! Building your cloth diaper and cloth diaper insert stash is a necessary first step. Then, let’s review when and how to use extra cloth diaper inserts to tackle some of the most common cloth diapering challenges!
How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need?
Those that are new to cloth diapering may be wondering where to start with their cloth diaper stash. You may be asking, how many cloth diapers do I need? How many cloth diaper inserts do I need?
Our general rule of thumb is, start small and build.
Especially if you are transitioning from disposables, it can be a bit of an adjustment. Dipping your toe in the cloth diapering pool can be much less intimidating if you have a small stash to work with. Cloth diapering does not have to be all or nothing – many families choose to use a combination of cloth and disposables. It is common to find cloth diapering families that still use disposables with newborns, or for overnight periods, for daycare and for traveling. But when families start to see the benefits of cloth diapering not only to their baby but to their pocket-books, most don’t look back!
When just getting started, we suggest 24 to 36 cloth diapers and inserts for newborns. For older infants, 14 to 24 diapers and inserts should be enough. This is based on the need to change a diaper approximately every 2 hours, and with washing every 2 to 3 days. Washing regularly is strongly recommended to avoid unpleasant odours and residue build-up. If you launder your diapers more frequently, or if you use a combination of disposables and cloth, you can make do with less.
How Many Cloth Diaper Inserts Do I need?
You may be curious how many inserts per cloth diaper you should use. Most pocket and hybrid cloth diapers come with one insert per diaper. Some manufacturers will provide additional inserts when you purchase a set. Building up a stash of extra inserts is strongly recommended to make cloth diapering easier. Adding extra inserts can help you tackle some of the most common cloth diaper challenges, like leaks!
Extra Inserts for Extra Absorbency
One of the first and biggest reasons for building your extra cloth diaper insert supply is absorbency. Cloth diapers do not typically leak unless they become fully saturated. If you are struggling with leaks, first make sure that you have the proper fit and that your diapers are repelling due to residue build-up. If you have ruled out these potential causes for cloth diaper leaking, adding extra absorbency is your best bet!
Simply double up on the number of inserts you use in your cloth diaper. The extra insert will add the extra absorbency you need to tackle leaks. We suggest using extra inserts for overnight periods, for heavy wetters, or for times you just need a little extra protection. This is all explained below.
doubling up on inserts for overnight periods can be an easy way to increase absorbency of the diaper. Folding the insert and placing it at the front of the diaper can help increase absorbency for belly sleepers, while laying the insert flat towards the middle and back of the diaper can help with side and back sleepers.
doubling up on your inserts is great for newborns if they aren’t quite filling out the diaper yet. The extra insert will provide additional bulk and will help get the perfect fit.
if you have a heavy wetter, extra cloth diaper inserts can help boost your absorbency on a day-to-day basis. The best cloth diaper inserts for heavy wetters are ones that are made of a highly absorbent natural material, but that also dries quickly and helps keep baby comfortable. Often, the best cloth diaper inserts for heavy wetters are the inserts that are designed for your brand of diaper. This will help guarantee that they fit just right! Alternatively, any pocket diaper inserts of the fabric of your choice will help.
Boys – little parts require little adjustments, which is why when cloth diapering boys we recommend adding an additional insert folded and placed directly on the diaper, near the top rise that meets the belly.
Tips for Using Extra Inserts:
- Ensure you have the right fit: If you add extra inserts, check your fit. You want to ensure that your cloth diaper fits snuggly against baby’s thighs and waist. You should be able to fit no more than 1 finger between your diaper and baby’s thigh, and no more than 2 fingers between your diaper and baby’s tummy. If the elastic around the thighs is pulled away due to the added bulk of an extra insert, you will get leaks. Consider ‘sizing up’ to ensure you get the right fit. For a detailed guide on getting the prefect fit, check out Get the Perfect Cloth Diaper Fit to Avoid Cloth Diaper Leaks.
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- Ensure your cloth diapers are not repelling. If you struggle with leaks even after adding extra cloth diaper inserts, do an absorbency test. Residue build-up on your cloth diapers will cause them to repel and leak. An absorbency test is easy. Simply lay your clean diapers flat and pour a small amount of water on them. Apply a bit of pressure. This water should be absorbed by the insert. If the water does not absorb but rather ‘wicks’ away, you likely have a residue build-up problem. To tackle build-up and repelling, you may want to strip your cloth diapers and start over. Tips for preventing build-up and repelling, and stripping your cloth diapers are found in Washing 101 and Stripping and Restoring your Cloth Diapers.
- Check where your absorbency is needed most. After using your cloth diaper for around 2 hours, or for your overnight stretches, check to see if the diaper absorbency is maxed out. If your cloth diaper insert is fully saturated, adding an extra insert may help tackle leaks. If there are areas that remain dry, then you know where to adjust your fit and focus any extra absorbency needs specifically where baby pees.
- Get a good washing routine. Get your cloth diaper washing routine sorted! You will run into challenges if you are not getting your diapers thoroughly clean. Using too much detergent can lead to build up and repelling. Using too little detergent can also lead to build-up, odours and staining. If you aren’t getting good agitation in your washing machine, or you struggle with hard water, you may also run into challenges. To tackle these issues and get the perfect wash routine, check out Washing 101, The Best Detergent for Cloth Diapers, and Hard Water and Cloth Diapers.
- Tackle build-up and repelling. One benefit to having a supply of extra cloth diaper inserts is that you have extra inserts on hand when your diapers need a good reset. Sometimes build-up and repelling can happen, and most often its your cloth diaper inserts that need a really thorough washing or stripping – the shells don’t necessarily have the same issues unless you have hard water problems or build-up of stains or diaper rash creams. Having extra inserts on hand will let you focus on stripping your inserts while having an extra supply for your diapering needs.
- Use the right insert. There are a variety of pocket diaper inserts and booster available on the market. It is recommended that you use inserts designed for your brand of cloth diaper. If you choose to purchase extra inserts or boosters that are not specifically designed for your diaper brand, check that the size will fit in your cloth diapers and choose a fabric that is highly absorptive and gentle against baby’s skin.
Building Your Extra Cloth Diaper Insert Supply
When looking to increase your cloth diaper insert supply, consider inserts that are made of natural materials that absorb moisture while keeping baby comfortable. Bamboo diaper inserts and other bamboo fabrics are popular options for cloth diapers, thanks to their high level of absorbency. Because bamboo fabrics are so soft and wick moisture away quickly, bamboo fabric is often used in the inner layer of cloth diapers. Bamboo is also breathable and thermal regulating, making it dry quickly while keeping your baby comfortable and cool, even when wet. Looking to build your collection of pocket diaper inserts? Check out the ten pack of Bamboo Diaper Inserts from Nora’s Nursery. This pack includes soft, absorbent bamboo diaper inserts made with eco-friendly 4-layer bamboo viscose / microfiber. They get softer and more absorbent with every wash!