Diaper Cover Material Options
You may be wondering why on earth there are so many different diaper cover materials and how you can know to choose the right one for you and your little one. Here is some basic info on how the different materials work, are cared for, and fit to help you decide.
Wool is definitely the way to go if you are looking for protection for heavy wetters overnight. A good thick, dense wool cover virtually guarantees waking up with dry sheets. However, caring for wool can be a bit daunting for some due to the necessity of hand-washing and occasional relanolizing.
Wool works more like a sponge than barrier covers such as PUL and ProCare - it traps the liquid between the fibers of the cover. This makes wool covers great for holding on to large quantities of fluid, even when baby is laying down. What they aren’t so great at is fitting under fitted wicking clothing such as cotton jeans (you can lay a napkin across a bowl of water and it will stay dry, but you cannot press it into a wet sponge and expect the same outcome).
The benefits of wool are its greater breath-ability, temperature regulation, and the fact that it is virtually self-cleaning when lanolized properly as the lanolin interacts with urine in a process similar to soap saponification leaving damp wool covers clean and fresh when hung to dry. The downside is that wool is a relatively fragile fiber requiring delicate washing to prevent shrinkage and occasional relanolizing to replenish depleted lanolin.
Fleece is like a wool cover for those who don't want the hassle of wool. It works in a very similar fashion with one caveat - it doesn't clean itself. However, that is easily offset by the fact that fleece is a super hardy material that can readily be washed and dried with no special care at all. You can even toss fleece covers in with your regular laundry.
Fleece covers are soft and snuggly and do breathe better than PUL and other barrier covers, however they do tend to be a bit bulky, much like their wool counterparts, and while they are slightly less prone to wick moisture through when worn under clothing there bulk can make it a challenge to squeeze into fitted pants, especially for bulkier one-size versions.
PUL (polyurethane laminate) Covers:
PUL (polyurethane laminate) is a specialty material designed specifically for the medical industry. It is completely waterproof, creating a "barrier" between the wet diaper inside and the outside world. It works much like the old-fashioned "plastic pants" in how it works as a diaper cover, but with greater comfort as it is soft, flexible, and not 'crinkly'.
PUL covers are super trim, lightweight, easy to care for, and come in a stunning array of prints and colors. They even make great swim diapers, meeting health department standards for public pool use by babies and toddlers. They fit well under clothing and can be washed and dried (with some limitations to prolong their life) as regular clothing.
While PUL covers are great for daytime use, some people find them insufficient for long nights with heavy wetters. The problem with PUL covers overnight is in how they work. While highly effective during the day the same thing that makes them so also makes them LESS effective at night. In short think of PUL (and nylon, rubber, or any such barrier diaper cover) as essentially a bowl. Bowls are VERY good at containing liquids - as long as they remain upright. When you pour in too much liquid (long hours overnight) or tip the bowl over (laying down) the liquid will of course run out. This can be countered to some extent by increasing the absorbency (liquid holding part) of your diaper system by laying in additional "doublers" or "soakers".
As they say, I hope that helps make Cloth Diaper Cover options "clear as mud". Please don't hesitate to message me if you have further questions and happy diapering!