Friday, August 30, 2013

Doublers and Boosters for Heavy Wetters


What do you do if you have a heavy wetter?  How do you protect against daytime (and certainly night-time) leaks?  This is a question asked by cloth diapering parents all of the time, and while you can find tons and tons of thoughts on this topic, I think it can usually be summed up pretty simply.

You need the right amount and kind of absorption.

If you are a pocket diaper or cover user, dealing with a heavy wetter often means that you simply add a booster to your diaper.  You can choose to add an additional microfiber insert, or add a natural fiber insert underneath your existing inserts.  With an All in One diaper, you can simply lay the doubler on top of the absorbent part of the diaper.  There are pros and cons to each method, but ultimately either method will help you keep your heavy wetter dry.

One of the best options for extra absorbency, while not adding a whole lot of bulk, is a hemp doubler.  ThirstiesBabykicks, and Hemp Babies all make great hemp inserts.  Hemp is super absorbent, as well as antimicrobial.  This means that you can rest a little easier knowing that your baby is protected, and that the inserts will resist getting stinky.  Hemp does need to be prepped separately from your diaper laundry for the first wash, and it can take up to about 6 washes to reach full absorbency, but unlike microfiber and other synthetic fibers, it never loses absorbency.

Cotton boosters such as the OsoCozy Organic Diaper Doublers, and bamboo boosters like Tots Bots Bamboo Boosters are also great options.  Like hemp, these natural fiber inserts will absorb a whole lot of fluid, and won't hold on to smells.  Their natural composition means that they will become more absorbent over time.  Just make sure you also prep these inserts separately for the first wash.  (The reason for this is that natural fibers contain natural oils that can cause repelling in your diapers if you add too many unwashed inserts in with your diaper laundry.  Honestly, tossing a couple new natural fiber inserts in with your diaper wash probably won't do anything to your diapers, but if you're going to prep a whole new stash of natural fiber inserts at one time, you will want to do that with a load of towels or some clothes.)

So are natural fiber inserts for you?  Let's talk about the pros and cons.

*Natural fibers can hold a significant amount of fluid
*They are not prone to compression leaks (when pressure from an over-stuffed diaper or a heavy baby pushes on the inserts and causes fluid to leak out)
*Most natural fibers have some kind of antimicrobial properties.  This means fewer battles with the dreaded stink.
*Become more absorbent with time
*will not need to be replaced very often, if at all
*Can go right up against baby's skin

*Natural fibers must be prepped.  This means that they are not fully absorbent until they have been washed and dried 5-6 times.
*A bigger investment on the front end than synthetic fibers
*There is some discussion as to wether or not natural fibers absorb fluid as quickly as synthetic fibers
*Can take longer to dry than synthetic material

Natural inserts not for you?  No problem!  There are so many styles of microfiber inserts to choose from that there is bound to be one to fit your needs.  From thin inserts such as bumGenius Diaper Doublers which are just two layers of microfiber and will not add much bulk, but will add to absorbency.  There are also thick bumGenius One Size Inserts that have 3 layers of microfiber and are much fluffier.

Microfiber is a really common and popular material for inserts.  Most likely it came with most of your diapers when you bought them.  The only real thing to keep in mind with microfiber specifically is that you can't put it up against baby's skin.  Microfiber is great at pulling moisture into itself, which can cause some serious rashes on sensitive skin.  Plus it's not super soft.  Now with that in mind, let's go over pros and cons.

*Super affordable
*Absorbs quickly
*Absorbs a good amount of liquid
*Dries fairly quickly

*Synthetic fibers can hold in smells and ammonia buildup
*Can need to be replaced after a year or two of use as inserts lose their fluffiness
*Microfiber can't be put up against baby's skin.  It will need to be inside of a cover, or a liner must be used.
*Prone to compression leaks if overstuffed, or if significant pressure is put on one area of the insert
*can be bulky

There really is no right or wrong answer when it comes to adding absorbency to your diapers.  Unfortunately that also means there is no hard and fast rule as to what will work for you and what won't.  It can take some experimentation, but hang in there!  Adding some extra absorbency is the best place to start when it comes to dealing with a heavy wetter.

My personal advice is to try some natural fibers if you've been exclusively a synthetics user, and vice versa.  Try something new, invest in some high quality inserts.  They are one of the most important components of successful cloth diapering!


  1. I have some Babykicks hemp boosters (like the ones pictured), and I have had some problems with them. They hold on to stink, and they are breaking down. It seems like the middle layers are disintegrating, and one has a bunch of holes in it. I use CD safe detergent and have a front load HE washer. I have had a few bamboo ones that are starting to have the same thing happen. While I love the absorbency of the natural fibers, it seems like they are not that durable.

  2. N Bear- unfortunately hemp can break down over time. It's been my experience that it's an issue I have more when I've kind of forgotten about the diaper laundry and my hemp has been left to sit for a little too long with pee on them. =( Cotton does tend to hold up a little bit longer than hemp, but it's just not quite as absorbent!


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