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Except for covers, most diapers needing an insert will come with a standard microfiber insert. Microfiber can be an effective insert for your cloth diapers when your baby is young. As your baby gets older, many people find it isn’t quite absorbent enough.
The first obvious sign that your microfiber is starting to lack is when your baby starts leaking through the diaper during naps or overnight.
A second sign is that moisture will start to wick from the diaper at the leg holes, leaving wet spots in the leg creases on your baby’s pants. When this starts to happen, you may want to either start doubling inserts with what you currently have, or look into new inserts for cloth diapers. However, be careful with doubling: doubling what you currently have can start to get bulky, so many families start to look at a different insert material at that point, especially if the inserts are microfiber because then compression leaks become more of a concern.
I really want to emphasize that leaking should not a constant issue with cloth diapers. If you start to experience leaks, 99% of the time it’s due to one of the following reasons:
- Bad fit (diaper too bulky, not sealing around the legs, not fastened tight enough)
- Bad wash routine (using soaps or fabric softeners that cause repelling)
- Using types of diaper creams not recommended for cloth diapers, causing repelling
- Baby is a heavy wetter (pees a lot!) and needs more absorbent inserts or a different insert combination
- Not changing often enough– you will need to change a more frequently with cloth diapers than disposables
My youngest is definitely a heavy wetter. We were fine with the standard microfiber inserts until he was about five months old, and then we had to start looking into different insert combinations. Here I will share with you some of my favorite diaper inserts for the heavy wetters out there.
If you haven’t picked up on it from my site yet, I’m pretty economically minded. There are many high-end inserts out there that get rave reviews, but in this post, I’m going to share some of my favorite inserts for families on a budget.
Getting a Good Fit
Before buying new inserts, you can try doubling up on the ones you have. You will have to play around with it to find a combination that works. The only thing I caution with doubling is that depending on the material, it could make your diapers very bulky. If they are too bulky, they will not seal around the legs. If they don’t seal around the legs, it doesn’t matter how absorbent your inserts are–the pee will leak right out!
I do lots of doubling with my toddler, but I like to double inserts that are trim and extra absorbent to get the most absorbency for the trimmest fit.
If you made sure you’re getting a good fit with your diapers and know you are going to need to invest in some better inserts, here are my favorites:
Bamboo is a highly absorbent material, making it extremely popular in the cloth diaper world. It can hold quite a bit of liquid, plus it is trim, so layering is even easier if needed.
Because it can hold so much liquid, bamboo is also a popular option for nighttime. Bamboo is a naturally hypoallergenic material that has the added benefit of being antimicrobial, which helps with odors.
You can use these as an insert in your pockets, but you can also set them inside a cover or all-in-two system. You will certainly be happy with your bamboo inserts.
KaWaii Baby makes economical bamboo inserts that you may want to consider.
Flour Sack Towels
Flour sack towels are amazing. I have about 2-dozen of them. I purchased them initially for diapers, but I quickly realized how AWESOME they are to have around the house!
I use them for everything now–some for diaper inserts, some are kitchen towels/eco-friendly paper towel replacement, napkins, use in place of cheesecloth for recipes, etc. They are so versatile and very cheap.
Flour sack towels are very thin, but they are incredibly absorbent. You can fold these into a rectangle that will fit inside your diaper pocket (or on top of a diaper cover) and use them alone as an insert in the diaper, that’s how absorbent they are!
The only downside to this type of insert is the folding. But honestly, I just love these things so much. Even though they aren’t my primary insert, I use them several times a day for other uses. The perk is that if I’m running low on inserts and need to do laundry, I’m covered!
Some people will use flour sack towels as flats under covers, but I prefer to pad fold them because I get more layers of absorbency where I need them most.
These Utopia flour sack towels do an awesome job and are one of the softest brands.
Hemp holds 2.5 times more liquid than microfiber, so one of these inserts may be perfectly suitable on its own. You could also pair it with another trim insert, like a newborn microfiber, for an extra boost when you need it to last a while.
These inserts also have some layers of 100% cotton in them–hemp is one of the most absorbent materials, but it is also slow at absorbing. Having some layers of cotton can help things soak up more quickly.
You can use these inserts with pocket diapers or with covers. Hemp is safe to touch baby’s skin, unlike microfiber (if microfiber is left to touch the skin directly, it will pull moisture out of baby’s skin when it gets wet, causing bad rashes and irritation).
Runner Up–Charcoal Bamboo
I would argue against that, though. There is microfiber in these inserts, yes, but there is also some bamboo fleece. In my experience, they work much better than plain microfiber, and there is the added bonus of how trim they are. They are also economical.
These charcoal bamboo inserts are definitely a favorite! They have 5 layers, microfiber in the center, and bamboo fleece around the outside. Having some microfiber in them keeps them economical, but you have the bonus of the bamboo layers, which adds absorbency and helps keep any odors at bay.
Even though they have 5 layers, they are thin–thinner than many standard microfiber inserts. This helps reduce bulk. I like to pair them with a newborn insert (just one of the ones that came standard with my diapers when I purchased them) for a little extra absorbency.
Using a charcoal bamboo on its own or paired with a newborn insert keeps the diaper fairly trim, ensuring that you still get a good fit around the baby’s legs, while allowing for more absorbency.
What insert you want to get will depend on your situation. These are a step up from regular microfiber, though maybe not as heavy-duty as the other options I have given.
So Many Options!
Almost all babies will eventually outgrow a single microfiber insert. We live in an amazing time when there are SO many options for cloth diapers. There are so many solutions and products available that anybody can be successful with cloth diapering. Don’t let the fear of leaking stop you from trying cloth diapers. Leaking is easily fixed once you know the reason!
What are some of your favorite insert combinations? Share them in the comments below!