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Cloth Diapers 101: All about One-Size Diapers

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The decision to cloth diaper isn’t always an easy one, made more difficult by the vast number of brands and styles to choose from. One of the more common and popular styles of cloth is one-size diapers, which are designed to take your child through multiple weight ranges and stages — some claiming to fit from birth to potty training. But fit and function are very different; just because they fit from birth to potty training doesn’t mean they will remain effective the entire time.

How one-size diapers work

The most popular one-size diapers are those with snap-down rises. They have multiple rows of snaps on the front of the diaper so you can snap down the front to adjust the size. To make the diaper as small as possible, you simply snap the top snaps to the very bottom snaps, which will make the diaper fold in on itself and become much smaller. Conversely, to use it at its largest, you just leave the rise snaps fully unsnapped. Some one-size diapers also offer different inserts to allow you to customize the absorbency of the diaper depending on the age and size of the baby wearing it.

It sounds too easy, right?

We know, one diaper to get you from birth to potty training sounds great, doesn’t it? While it’s true that only having to invest in one set (in theory) will save you quite a bit of money, there are a few things to keep in mind:

One-size diapers often don’t fit newborns

Although one-size diapers are advertised to start fitting babies around 7 or 8 pounds, they really won’t fit a baby well until he or she hits around 10 or 12 pounds. If you have a larger newborn, you might be able to use them immediately, but it’s not something you can rely on. And when diapers don’t fit well, they leak. The elastics won’t always fit tightly around baby’s legs and the waist will be too wide, so be prepared for blowouts. To avoid leaks and blowouts, ensure the one-size diapers you choose close securely around your baby’s legs – the diaper may look big, but it will work.

If you are planning to use one-size diapers, you will need a solution for the newborn stage. We recommend investing in a set of newborn cloth diapers until your child has grown into your one-size diapers. It does add to your initial investment, but think of the peace of mind you will get from a reliable cloth diaper. If this is your first child and you plan on having more, you can (and will) use your newborn diapers again. If you think you will only use them once, there is a great market for used cloth diapers and you will be able to sell them to another new mom!

One-size diapers are a bit bulky

If you aren’t using your one-size diapers in the largest size, they will be a bit bulky (and very bulky on the smallest setting) on your baby. Think of it this way, if the diaper is meant to fit any baby, no matter their size, there is a lot of fabric needed to cover such a broad range of sizing. Cloth diapers are already a bit bulkier than most disposable diapers, but that’s a good thing – remember, it means no blowouts! But all that extra fabric in a one-size diaper has to go somewhere. This might not mean anything to you, but some fashion-conscious parents might prefer a trimmer diaper.

One-size may not last forever

Because you are using your one-size diapers so much for so long, they can wear out faster than sized diapers. This is mainly a problem when you have one-size all-in-one diaper. The issue here is that the waterproof cover wears out faster than the absorbent diaper, especially with months of washing. The best way to have your diapers last is to have an exchangeable, removable waterproof cover; that way, if your cover does wear out you can replace just that piece, not the entire diaper. You will also want to monitor the elastics as they can cause problems as they stretch out and become loose. Choose a one-size diaper with a warranty that ensures the life of the elastic.

When all is said and done, despite a few drawbacks, one-size diapers are a very popular and economical choice that many people love. As long as you are well-educated and prepared, you will find the right cloth diaper for your baby.

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