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Thread: Various questions about cloth diapers and plastic pants - waterproofing, diaper bulge particularly

  1. #1

    Default Various questions about cloth diapers and plastic pants - waterproofing, diaper bulge particularly

    I've been planning my transition back to full 24/7 for some time - anyone who's been unfortunate enough to be in the IRC channel while I'm there over the past few weeks has probably heard. :P Originally, I was going to go with disposables, but I've since provisionally decided to switch to cloth because it's cheaper in the long run, significantly more babyish, and apparently more comfortable. However, I have the following questions before I invest in cloth:

    1. How effective are plastic pants at waterproofing, in general? I've been told that I may need to change clothes even after a #1 in well-fitting plastic pants, and that seems a little odd.

    2. Part of the problem with sleeping in disposables is that wetting while lying on your back or side will often leak. Does this problem still happen with well-fitting plastic pants over cloth diapers?

    3. Does having snaps on the sides of the plastic pants compromise the waterproofing at all? I understand it's easier to change with snap-ons because you don't have to take your pants completely off, but I'm also worried that the obligatory gap between the snaps will compromise the absorbency of the diaper.

    4. How bad is the diaper bulge compared to disposables in general - is there some kind of general rule of thumb I can use to convert between the thickness of disposables and cloth of equivalent absorbency? I'm aware I'll probably have to upsize my clothes, but I want to know if it's going to be by one size or five.

    ADDENDUM: 5. What would be the disadvantage of picking one diaper weight and sticking with it? I understand a lot of providers provide night weight and day weight diapers - what's the disadvantage of wearing day weight 24/7, night weight 24/7, etc.?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2

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    Plastic pants can be good but in my experience you need to have the right ones - and that takes a lot of care in selection. A lot depends on your physique and the kind of diaper you are using, but frankly there are some very poor cheap products out there that will never be anything but unreliable. Again in my experience even plastic pants you feel you can trust will let you down sometimes and while using cloth diapers may be cheaper you do need ot factor in the high cost and limited life of good quality plastic pants - which also need careful laundering and drying if they are to last.

    Leakage in bed when lying down is always a problem - it is probably no worse with cloth and a pair of plastic pants than with a good quality disposable, but with cloth you don't have the "leak guards2 that channel pee away from the vulnerable points for leakage - the leg and waist bands. For real protection from leaks you probably can't beat a good plastic pant over a good disposable - or just accept it will happen sometimes and use a bed pad to save the sheets.

    Plastic pants with snaps work fine - they are generally the better makes and probably no more leak prone that other types. But still be aware there are so many variables that it may take time and money to find the best kind to suit your needs.

    Cloth diapers probably make bigger bulges than disposables - but not "undisguisably so". Cloth can mean a varying type of fabric and some of hte closer woven (often used in the USA) types are less bulky that hte terry towelling English home grown variety. Sorry to be repetitive but no amount of advice here can substitute experimentation - even with a cut down bathtowel to save cost!

    The disadvantage of using 2 weights of washable diapers is that you will find only hte wrong ones are freshly laundered whrn you need them!. "Night weight" is just a synonym for "heavy wetting" and I err on the side of safety as there is nothing more dispririting than wearing a diaper - only to feel what it should be containing dripping down your leg.

    This is just from one persons experience - I am sure others will have better ideas

  3. #3

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    Plastic pants provide a little bit of protection, but it's really the diaper that has to hold most of the urine. The plastic is more a "dampness" thing that keeps the outside of the diaper from soaking into your outer clothing. If you wear plastic pants and no diaper I guarantee it's going to leak out the legs (if standing) or all parts if lying down.

    As for lying down, it provides additional protection but it's still no guarantee that there won't be a leak.

    Again the primary purpose of the plastic is to damp proof, so the fact it's not a watertight fit on the edges doesn't really hurt things too much. I mean, it's no worse than the fact your disposables have a gap there or the All in ones which do.

    I can't give you a rule of thumb but it depends on how much you want out of it. If you're expecting the multi-wetting behavior of the heavy-duty absorbent polymer disposables, you're going to waddle. With out the polymer, diapers are going to be a bit bulky when dry. Think about how your disposable fits after it is fully wet and get an idea.

    There's no diaper police that's going to come after you for wearing the night diaper in the day. Night diapers are designed to be thicker because the bulk is not a problem and they expect multiple wettings without a change. Day diapers are thinner for comfort but they expect you to be on top of them for changes right away.

  4. #4

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    All diapers can leak. The aim is to lessen the impact of leaking, and the number of possible manners in which a diaper can leak.

    With exposed elastics on your plastic pants, they will quickly become damp and leave wet marks on your clothing and furniture. Tuck your pants up into the diapers and/or get some plastic pants with covered elastics. You'll need extra large/long plastic pants for this. Too, sleeping on your side with anything less than a full-coverage pull on will invite leaks, too, if you wet while asleep, or while lying on your side. Snap-on plastic pants invite more leaks in this scenario.

    I used pin-on prefold diapers for years, with a good vinyl-covered polyester pant over them. These leaked from time to time, and the laundry was constant when I moved to the country and away from the diaper service that washed them for me. I switched to a high-quality disposable now, but these will leak, too, even with the leak guards. To make sure that nothing other than my diapers get wet, I wear a terry-lined plastic pant over the disposables, nearly always. Never once has a diaper leak gotten beyond this terry-lined plastic pant.

    Cloth diapers are more bulky and nearly impossible to hide under pants. And the waddle-factor is worse, as I believe the odor problem is - the urine is not held locked up by the diapers so much. Good luck to you in your diaper adventure.

  5. #5

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    Just letting everyone know great info. It's helped me a ton so far.

    However here's an item that might get rid of smell altogether. Try "Nullo" out. It's a morning/night daily pill for body odors. By what people have said it go rid of all urine smell, no matter how bad. I have not tried these yet but have heard a good bit of info on them and from people that have tried them. Apparantly they work. ($15 lasts you a month, 60 tablets, 1 in the morning and 1 at night)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaliborio View Post
    I've been planning my transition back to full 24/7 for some time - anyone who's been unfortunate enough to be in the IRC channel while I'm there over the past few weeks has probably heard. :P Originally, I was going to go with disposables, but I've since provisionally decided to switch to cloth because it's cheaper in the long run, significantly more babyish, and apparently more comfortable. However, I have the following questions before I invest in cloth:

    1. How effective are plastic pants at waterproofing, in general? I've been told that I may need to change clothes even after a #1 in well-fitting plastic pants, and that seems a little odd.

    2. Part of the problem with sleeping in disposables is that wetting while lying on your back or side will often leak. Does this problem still happen with well-fitting plastic pants over cloth diapers?

    3. Does having snaps on the sides of the plastic pants compromise the waterproofing at all? I understand it's easier to change with snap-ons because you don't have to take your pants completely off, but I'm also worried that the obligatory gap between the snaps will compromise the absorbency of the diaper.

    4. How bad is the diaper bulge compared to disposables in general - is there some kind of general rule of thumb I can use to convert between the thickness of disposables and cloth of equivalent absorbency? I'm aware I'll probably have to upsize my clothes, but I want to know if it's going to be by one size or five.

    ADDENDUM: 5. What would be the disadvantage of picking one diaper weight and sticking with it? I understand a lot of providers provide night weight and day weight diapers - what's the disadvantage of wearing day weight 24/7, night weight 24/7, etc.?

    Thanks in advance!
    1)Most plastic pants are pretty effective at their job. Avoid the el cheapos from Nicediaper.com. Also, take some time and measure your waist and, more importantly, your leg diameter. If you size them badly, you'll either risk leaks, blow them out, or both.

    2)If you have a cloth diaper of sufficient thickness on at night, you're quite unlikely to leak. The combination of having material on the sides and plastic pants will help prevent a lot of leaks. Certainly being on your side is still risky, but it's a way safer bet in cloth than in disposables, and I've never once leaked out the back of cloth (unless I didn't have a sufficiently thick diaper on and it was already soaked). Well-fitting plastic pants are one of the best things ever, and I also love high-back plastic pants for night use.

    3)Honestly, I've never owned a pair of snap-side plastic pants because I have that very fear. That said, I think the risk of leaking out the side would be considerably less than the risk of leaking out the side of disposables because there is still material on the sides of cloth diapers.

    4)The cloth bulge is definitely more noticeable than a disposable bulge. It seems to me that cloth is about 1/3 again as thick for the same holding capacity as a disposable-i.e. cloth with the thickness of an Abena X-Plus with a soaker would hold like an Abena without a soaker.

    5)There's certainly nothing stopping you from picking one weight diaper and going with it. The only reason for different thicknesses is for ease of fitting under clothing during the day. Personally, I'm a fan of flat, non-prefold, squares that I can layer and fold according to my needs at that moment, but if I were using prefolds, I'd probably all night-weight and add soakers for night use if I felt it necessary (which in my experiences using prefolds, I usually do).


    Some other people mentioned urine smell. Realistically, if you stay properly hydrated, this won't be a problem. As an added precaution, use a bit of powder when you change, and you should be fine.

    Good luck, and enjoy the cloth!

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by dayannight View Post
    with cloth you don't have the "leak guards2 that channel pee away from the vulnerable points for leakage
    I'd been thinking about this, and have been considering either this or this: the first one is pull-on, and I'm deducing - from my limited experience - that it might fit better than a disposable in the same way that underwear does; at the same time, the second one has velcro closures, and I'm not sure whether the adjustable fit will make things better or worse. (As an addendum: whichever one of these I pick, I will probably buy enough to wear 24/7 - took your comment about dripping down the leg to heart. :P)



    Quote Originally Posted by willnotwill View Post
    If you're expecting the multi-wetting behavior of the heavy-duty absorbent polymer disposables, you're going to waddle. With out the polymer, diapers are going to be a bit bulky when dry. Think about how your disposable fits after it is fully wet and get an idea.
    Thanks for the advice. I'm not quite sure what you mean by the bolded bit, though - are you saying that if I'm trying to get the same performance as an Abena M4, the fact that I'm wearing a diaper will, well, not be subtle? I guess I'm reasonably prepared for that; it's one of the trade-offs.



    Quote Originally Posted by PFD View Post
    With exposed elastics on your plastic pants, they will quickly become damp and leave wet marks on your clothing and furniture. Tuck your pants up into the diapers and/or get some plastic pants with covered elastics. You'll need extra large/long plastic pants for this. Too, sleeping on your side with anything less than a full-coverage pull on will invite leaks, too, if you wet while asleep, or while lying on your side. Snap-on plastic pants invite more leaks in this scenario.

    ... To make sure that nothing other than my diapers get wet, I wear a terry-lined plastic pant over the disposables, nearly always. Never once has a diaper leak gotten beyond this terry-lined plastic pant.

    Cloth diapers are more bulky and nearly impossible to hide under pants.
    Thanks for the advice on how to wear plastic pants! That's definitely something I wouldn't have picked up. And I'll certainly keep the terry-lined plastic pants in mind, as I do believe a local vendor sells them. As to the bulk thing, though - that bad? I mean, I'm buying cargo pants kind of as a precaution against this - how bad is it going to be?


    Quote Originally Posted by xbabyx View Post
    1) ... Avoid the el cheapos from Nicediaper.com.
    ...
    2)If you have a cloth diaper of sufficient thickness on at night, you're quite unlikely to leak. ... I also love high-back plastic pants for night use.

    ...
    4)The cloth bulge is definitely more noticeable than a disposable bulge. It seems to me that cloth is about 1/3 again as thick for the same holding capacity as a disposable-i.e. cloth with the thickness of an Abena X-Plus with a soaker would hold like an Abena without a soaker.
    ...

    Some other people mentioned urine smell. Realistically, if you stay properly hydrated, this won't be a problem. As an added precaution, use a bit of powder when you change, and you should be fine.

    Good luck, and enjoy the cloth!
    Thank you for the counter-recommendation in (1)! I had been half-considering NiceDiaper, I'm a little ashamed to admit :P - but I can definitely cross them off my list now. Per (2), should I go for the velcro-closing diaper or the pull-on, of the two links above - and is it a particularly bad idea to go with high-back plastic pants 24/7? How high are we talking?

    For (4), I'm kind of trying to build up a consistent rule of thumb here - I've had one or two packs of Abriform Extra and I just assume they scale up smoothly, so I really don't know how much thicker X-Plus is, but I've never seen anyone complain about it showing, and it's the high-end diaper. That kind of ratio doesn't seem so bad - yet PFD, above, does say it's almost impossible to hide. Is this down to a difference in diapering methods? Am I potentially at risk of being indiscreet if I pick the wrong diaper? ... Damn, that sounded dramatic. :P

    And finally, I do powder. It's part of my babyish side - and I figure they must have a pretty good reason to do it. :P

    Thank you everyone for your wonderful answers. You've been amazingly helpful!

  8. #8

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    ^^ Avoid a pull-up. It won't fit snugly, and it'll be very prone to drooping. High back plastic pants 24/7 is certainly doable, but it'll be excessive. High backs rise up past your belly button, so during the day you'll have a big area that's covered only by plastic and could be uncomfortable (unless you're really into plastic ). As for hiding cloth during the day, they're thick, but it's possible. I'd recommend trying a couple on your own time to get an idea of how well they hold for you with your setup, but yeah, the Abena X-Plus with a soaker basically calls for pants the next waist-size up (2-inch increments here, so 5 cm), so a daytime cloth diaper that holds an acceptable amount (like an Abena X-Plus with no soaker) would be about the same. IIRC, the X-Plus isn't dramatically thicker than the Extra, noticeable, but not dramatic.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaliborio View Post
    I've been planning my transition back to full 24/7 for some time - anyone who's been unfortunate enough to be in the IRC channel while I'm there over the past few weeks has probably heard. :P Originally, I was going to go with disposables, but I've since provisionally decided to switch to cloth because it's cheaper in the long run, significantly more babyish, and apparently more comfortable. However, I have the following questions before I invest in cloth:

    1. How effective are plastic pants at waterproofing, in general? I've been told that I may need to change clothes even after a #1 in well-fitting plastic pants, and that seems a little odd.

    2. Part of the problem with sleeping in disposables is that wetting while lying on your back or side will often leak. Does this problem still happen with well-fitting plastic pants over cloth diapers?

    3. Does having snaps on the sides of the plastic pants compromise the waterproofing at all? I understand it's easier to change with snap-ons because you don't have to take your pants completely off, but I'm also worried that the obligatory gap between the snaps will compromise the absorbency of the diaper.

    4. How bad is the diaper bulge compared to disposables in general - is there some kind of general rule of thumb I can use to convert between the thickness of disposables and cloth of equivalent absorbency? I'm aware I'll probably have to upsize my clothes, but I want to know if it's going to be by one size or five.

    ADDENDUM: 5. What would be the disadvantage of picking one diaper weight and sticking with it? I understand a lot of providers provide night weight and day weight diapers - what's the disadvantage of wearing day weight 24/7, night weight 24/7, etc.?

    Thanks in advance!
    1) More important than the pant, you need sufficient diaper(s) to absorb a wetting(s). I use one or more flat cloth diapers folded and pinned to position the bulk where it’s needed the most. If leakage with one diaper is a problem, use two, etc. As for the plastic pant, I prefer a large one that covers the diapers with room to spare.

    2) Like above, from one who has wet during the night thousands of times, with multiple cloth diapers and a “good” plastic pant leakage is not an issue.

    3) In my experience snap on plastic pants are fine during the day. However, at night sleeping on your side they leak.

    4) Cloth diapers are bulkier than disposable, for me it’s part of the fun.

    5) Again I prefer flat cloth diapers. During the day I generally wear one, at night three.

    Warning, at first you’re going to be frustrated with cloth diapers. Stick with it, once you master the art you’ll never go back.

  10. #10

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    Based on the advice in this thread, I'm considering buying 16 of these and 8 to 16 of these (not sure what the ratio of plastic pants to diapers should be, one to one seems a little excessive but I might be wrong). Is this about right? What else should I get?

    A couple more questions that have come up:


    Quote Originally Posted by WBxx View Post
    1) More important than the pant, you need sufficient diaper(s) to absorb a wetting(s)
    I have a tendency towards flooding. Should I double up on the diapers I linked above, or is that just ridiculous? I'm a little paranoid about leakage and I understand it can happen even with plastic pants.



    Quote Originally Posted by xbabyx View Post
    ^^ Avoid a pull-up. It won't fit snugly, and it'll be very prone to drooping. ... the Abena X-Plus with a soaker basically calls for pants the next waist-size up (2-inch increments here, so 5 cm), so a daytime cloth diaper that holds an acceptable amount (like an Abena X-Plus with no soaker) would be about the same.
    Based on the first sentence quoted, I selected the velcro diaper linked above. Per second, in terms of whether or not I should double up, I ask you the same question as above - given that I'm going back into diapers 24/7, I'd like something that I can be sure will absorb a lot and not leak from overuse.

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