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Inserts are probably the most critical component of modern cloth nappies. Assuming that you have a high quality PUL fabric nappy, with high quality leg elastics and the nappy fits nice and snug, more often than not leaks are primarily due to using insufficient, or incorrect inserts.Understanding the differences between the most commonly used inserts is essential in ensuring a successful cloth journey.
The first step is to simply think of an insert as a sponge. That's all an insert really is.Then understand that the insert is the only part of the nappy that absorbs the wee. So adding a second insert effectively doubles how much wee the nappy can hold. This is why we always recommend taking 2 inserts per nappy (pockets and sleeves can actually accommodate up to 3 inserts which is often needed as the little one approaches potty training time and wee volume is at maximum).
Now think about the 3 main properties of a sponge:1) How quickly it absorbs liquid2) How much liquid it can absorb3) How well it holds onto that liquid when it is squeezed
Applying that to a nappy: How quickly does the insert (or sponge) absorb the wee, how much wee can the insert absorb, and finally when the little one starts getting more mobile and sits, rolls, falls and is hugged - how well does the insert hold onto that wee.
From years of real world experience and dozens of more scientific tests, we have noted the following with regards to the three primary insert materials we offer: Microfibre, a fully sythetic fabric, absorbs very fast, absorbs a lot of wee, but is not very good at holding on to the wee when it is squeezed. Bamboo terry, made from bamboo fibre, also absorbs very quickly, also absorbs a lot of wee, but is considerably better at 'holding' onto the wee when squeezed. Hemp fleece, a mixture of hemp and cotton, absorbs far slower than microfiber/bamboo, slowly but surely absorbs A LOT of wee, is MUCH better at 'holding onto the wee when squeezed.
Based on the above: Microfiber is a very good insert up until the little one starts getting more mobile, then it rapidly becomes less useful - eventually most moms stop using microfiber all together and stick to bamboo and hemp until potty training. Bamboo is an excellent 'middle ground' insert and is used right through the cloth journey. Hemp inserts may be unnecessary at first but become indispensable as the little one gets older. Hemp inserts must always be used together with a faster absorbing insert - with most moms opting for bamboo.
Also take note of the following important considerations:Microfiber is the cheapest insert, does have a role to play over the course of about the first year, dries very quickly.Bamboo is also cost effective, is not quite a robust as microfiber - being more sensitive to highly acidic wee (a feeding issue!) and will start breaking down after prolonged tumble-drying.Hemp takes much longer to dry than microfiber/bamboo. It stiffens on the line (can be worked softer by hand or popped in the tumble-dryer for a few minutes) and also loses it shape to varying degrees.
So what inserts do we suggest ?First keep in mind that all babies and their moms are different. Factors such as feeding routines, age, available free time, even where you stay (think humid Durban vs dry Joburg) always vary. Understanding the differences between the types of inserts described above should help you decide what's best for your baby and your routine.
Having helped thousands of moms along their cloth journey we can suggest the following: If starting out from the 4½Kg mark - 1 microfiber and 1 bamboo insert combine very well (note that we always suggest using 2 inserts). This will be a good combo for about the first year. A lot of moms opt for this combination. Note that eventually, as the little one grows and wee volume increases, the nappy will need changing sooner as the inserts become saturated faster. Then it will be time to introduce hemp inserts. A fairly strong case can also be made to rather take 2 bamboo inserts per nappy - especially if budget allows, since bamboo inserts will be used right through the cloth journey, where microfiber eventually is rather left on the shelf ! If the little one is a bit older already say 9 or 10 months, we believe that microfiber usually has less usable life left - rather combine 1 bamboo and 1 hemp insert together in the pocket. If the little one is approaching 2 years of age, think about taking 1 bamboo and 2 hemp inserts.
INSERT ORDER:The insert that absorbs the fastest is closest to the bum. The most absorbent insert (ie the insert that holds the most liquid) is placed FURTHEST AWAY from the bum.So if using a microfiber, a bamboo and a hemp stuffed inside a pocket (i.e. below the staydry lining of the pocket):1) Microfiber on top (remember tho that microfiber MUST NOT come into direct contact with the skin - so it must be stuffed into the pocket)2) Then comes bamboo (bamboo can be placed directly against the skin)3) Hemp (the most absorbent ) is placed furthest away from the bum - hemp is generally used along with other inserts, but is always furthest from the bum.
(Note that hemp fleece fabric is quite 'fluffy' and can release quite a bit of 'fluff' during the first wash.)
We have also included a little more info in the product description of the inserts below:
A 4 Layer cream coloured bamboo blend insert (2 outer layers bamboo+ 2 inner layers microfibre).....
A 4 Layer cream coloured bamboo 'pure' insert (all 4 layers are bamboo terry)
A 4 Layer hemp fleece insert.Generally considered the most absorbent inserts especially since they '.....
4 Layer grey bamboo fleece' insert (2 outer layers bamboo fleece + 2 inner layers microfib.....
5 Layer white StayDry bamboo 'pure' insert (Top layer is white Microsuede StayDry, lower 4 layers ar.....
4 Layer Hemp Fleece Booster Insert.Similar to the regular size insert, only smaller.This is the most.....