Sunday, April 13, 2014

What Makes a Cloth Diaper Trim (or Bulky)?

When I started cloth diapering over a year ago I was obsessed with finding a trim diaper.  I had used disposables on my first daughter for 18 months and I didn’t want a huge bulky diaper on my very petite little girl.  In all of my diaper trials I have assessed the bulkiness of each diaper but what really makes a diaper bulky?  In my experience the two main factors are: crotch width and thickness of the insert used.
Crotch Width
One of the biggest contributors to trimness is the width of the crotch for the diaper.  Having a more narrow crotch makes it so that extra material is not bunched up between you baby's legs and therefore there is no extra bulk.  Not only does the extra material from the width contribute to the bulk but the bunching of the insert also adds to that bulkiness.  Some of the trimmest diapers that I have have very narrow crotches: Peachy Greens and Bottom Bumpers.  Of course the narrower the crotch, the less absorbent material you will have and therefore these diapers might be less absorbent.  I would not recommend Peachy Green or Bottom Bumpers (even with a booster) for overnight, but they are perfect for leggings, jeans and are just nice trim diapers.  I have compiled a listing of the crotch measurements (based on my own measurements from edge to edge) for the diaper brands that I have so that you can get an idea of how they vary.
The type of material used for your inserts and the number of layers of that material vastly contribute to the trimness of the diaper.  In general I would say that minky, hemp, cotton and bamboo are the trimmest materials but of course this will depend upon the the number of layers used for each insert.  I have found that my microfiber diapers are more bulky than my natural fiber diapers.  I love the Peachy Green inserts, they are 6 layers of bamboo and I think for being so trim they are also really absorbent. 
What Other Factors Contributes to Diaper Trimness?
Other than the crotch width and the insert type used some other things that contribute to how trim a diaper looks is how the fabric lays, sized v.s. one size and front snapping v.s. side snapping.

Sometimes how the elastic is put into a diaper (in a casing, free, etc.), the thickness of the PUL and just the general construction of the diaper will affect how trim it look.  For example Bottom Bumpers have a very narrow crotch and a trim insert but their diapers look slightly more bulky than some other diapers (e.g. Peach Green) because of how the elastic is done and because of how the PUL lays.

Another factor is buying a sized diaper (S, M, L) verses a one size diaper.  Generally a sized diaper will be trimmer than a one size diaper unless the one size diaper is on the largest setting.  This is because the extra fabric that allows the one size diaper to extend has to go somewhere and ends up making the diaper look bulkier than the sized diaper that doesn't have any extra fabric.

The placement of the snaps can also contribute to the trim/bulky factor.  I know a lot of people find side snapping diaper to be awkward, but I love them.  I love that they have a really smooth front compared to a more bunched up look of a front snapping diaper.  While the side snapping diaper may not actually be any more trim than its front snapping counterpart, the smoothness under clothes gives the illusion that it is.
Of course there are many factors to consider when purchasing diapers for your baby and trimness may or may not be a factor for you.  I, of course, love having a variety of diapers for different "occasions" and some of my favorite diapers are also very trim.  What are some of your favorite trim diapers?
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