In the past twenty years, one of the most striking changes in the modern cloth diaper movement has been the introduction of easy to use fastening systems. Though diaper pins still hold quite a bit of popularity, the use of hook and loop closures, the use of polyresin snaps, and the invention of the Snappi have made fastening cloth diapers as easy as using disposables.
Hook and Loop is a general term used to describe the fastening material that consists of a soft plush loop material paired with a nylon or plastic hook material. Most commonly known by the brand name Velcro, it is often used as a closure for cloth diapers. Hook and loop allows for incredibly easy use and adjustability. However, hook and loop materials do require some level of maintenance in the wash and will eventually wear out (lose their stickiness). The best cloth diaper brands include laundry “tabs” that are sewn into the diapers as a means of holding the hook and loop tape closed when washing. This prevents the hook and loop from snagging other items in the wash and prematurely wearing out. In addition, the greatest longevity for a diaper which has hook and loop closure will be achieved if the item is consistently line dried after washing. When considering diapers that use hook and loop, make sure that the positioning of the hook material is in a comfortable (non-scratchy) location; not all brands have found a way to minimize the risk of this type of discomfort.
Polyresin Snaps are durable plastic snaps used to secure cloth diapers. They are easy to snap closed but difficult for a child to remove on their own. They are easy to launder, as there is no need to fasten laundry tabs and there is no risk of them snagging anything else in the wash. Snaps for different brands of diapers come in different sizes and quality, so they are not all universally compatible with each other, nor will all have the same expected lifespan. In addition to being used to fasten diapers, snaps are frequently used on “one size” diaper shells and covers to adjust the rise (and size) of the diaper. In some leading brands, they may also be used to secure the soaker pad to the diaper shell or cover, so that it does not move around in the shell. One thing to watch for in diapers with snaps is whether or not the snaps are exposed on the inside of the diaper, as these can be uncomfortable for the child if they do not have cloth covering them.
A Snappi is a diaper fastener that was invented in South Africa in 1987 by a father looking for an easier way than pins to fasten his child’s cloth diapers. A Snappi is a cloth diapering essential for anyone using flats, prefolds, or fitteds without a closure. A Snappi is a stretchable non-toxic rubber fastener with small plastic teeth on the ends that hook into the fabric of the diaper. The user hooks the Snappi to secure the diaper in two places, pulling it to fasten from hip to hip and in the center below the waist. When using a Snappi, a diaper cover is generally required because it is possible for an uncovered Snappi to snag on fabrics. And if a Snappi is pulled loose by a child, the teeth that hold it to the diaper could injure the child.
A demonstration on how to use a Snappi can be viewed here:
Diaper Pins are a classic closure for flats and prefold style diapers. Many fitted diapers are available with no attached closure system, thus allowing the parent to choose between pins and Snappis for closure. Pins and Snappis both give a very customized fit, but if you are wanting to have the diaper worn without any cover, then pins are the safest option to use. When using pins with cloth diapers, be sure they are designed for use with diapers and not standard safety pins. True diaper pins have a locking head that will protect the child from getting stuck with loose pins, and will protect you from the mess that may occur if a safety pin were to come undone.