There are a number of absorbent materials available for cloth diapering. Microfiber is probably the most commonly used- it allows manufacturers to keep the cost of diapers low, while providing a decent level of absorbency. After using my fair share of microfiber and finding aspects of it frustrating, I started to try some natural fiber inserts. The cotton prefolds I used in the newborn stage had been surprisingly absorbent, and my research revealed that natural fibers might actually be superior to microfiber in some situations. I discovered that natural fibers can be extremely absorbent while remaining more trim than microfiber, that they may be easier to keep clean, and that they can be gentler on a sensitive baby’s skin.
The natural fiber options I added to my stash included organic cotton, bamboo, and hemp blends. While they require more preparatory washing than microfiber, I quickly discovered that they held more urine than the microfiber inserts I was using. For example, one tri-folded bamboo viscose insert held at least as much urine as a medium/large microfiber insert. Frequently, the inserts I tried were more trim than the microfiber. Suddenly I was able to double-stuff a naptime diaper without any difficulty. Two of the bamboo viscose inserts greatly outpreformed two microfiber inserts, and were about half as thick.
Compared to cleaning microfiber, cleaning natural fibers comes easily for me. Not everyone deals with microfiber “stinkies” but at times, I did. The majority of my diaper laundry could be perfectly clean and without odor, but some of the microfiber inserts would cling to stains and scents. It was frustrating, to say the least! Some brands will suggest that bleach be used on microfiber to avoid this problem, but bleach is a cleaning product I prefer not to use. Once I started using the natural fiber inserts, I noticed that I wasn’t dealing with any unpleasant smells- and I didn’t have to use bleach, or any other harsh additives, to keep the inserts from getting stinky.
Another issue, which isn’t a problem for all families, is that of sensitive skin. My son reacts to exposed PUL easily. I have seen babies who have reactions to microsuede or microfleece, used to cover a microfiber insert. When families encounter this difficulty I suggest they give some natural fiber diapers a try, to find a fiber that won’t cause a reaction for their sensitive-skinned baby. Of course some children could have sensitivities to various natural fibers, but in general they are a good alternative for babies whose skin doesn’t tolerate the synthetic blends used in microfiber topped with microsuede or microfleece.
I decided I had to try Bottombumpers, first and foremost, because all of their designs feature natural fibers inside of the diapers. Every Bottombumpers diaper is lined with 100% organic cotton, and their soakers are also made of 100% organic cotton. Not only do Bottombumpers use this natural fiber option, they go a step further and create a stay-dry lining with a top soaker layer made from organic bamboo velour. This commitment to a fully natural fiber lining and absorbency system, coupled with a natural fiber stay-dry element, is difficult to find among national cloth diaper brands. There are lots of reasons to love the innovative design of Bottombumpers, but in my opinion, this is what makes Bottombumpers such a standout diaper.
If you are frustrated with microfiber, want to find something more trim and absorbent, or know that your baby is having reactions to synthetic fibers, you should consider trying some natural fiber inserts or diapers. Remember that you will need to do additional prep washes- anywhere from 2 to 5 for most fibers, depending upon the brand’s suggestion. (These extra prep washes help to increase the absorbency of the fibers.) Typically the cost will be slightly more than that of a synthetic fiber diaper, but the benefits can far outweigh the extra investment!
Have you tried replacing your microfiber inserts with natural fiber inserts? Did the natural fiber linings and soakers draw you to Bottombumpers diapers?