The Difference Between a Liner and a Soaker: Or, Why You Shouldn’t Give Low Ratings to My Favorite Products

>There are a lot of cloth diaper resources popping up out there. Why? Because cloth diapering is experiencing a resurgence in popularity and modern cloth has so many new options. Because modern cloth still has not become mainstream, parents looking to purchase cloth rely on the reviews and experiences of other parents who have used those products. This is smart because it saves valuable time and money when choosing the right diapering system for your family.

Parents who have used products are an excellent resource for whether or not a product works and is worth your time and money. They are in the trenches so to speak, using diapers and their accessories on a daily basis. In some cases there use may fall under the extreme: a toddler and pair of infant twins all in diapers. Since a lot of us do not find ourselves in this situation but can image the wear and tear on a diaper under these circumstances–a review from this parenting situation is highly valued. We trust that mom’s “been-there-done-that-try-this-not-that” perspective and opinion. Now if she can only find the time between diapers to write her review!

Which is why occasionally I happen across a diaper product review that makes me cringe and want to jump to the defense of that poor diaper product being berated for not working as the user hoped. This failure to live up to the user’s expectations could be for legitimate reasons or it could be that the user did not understand the product’s intended use. When you try to use a product for something other than what it was designed for, of course it is going to fall short.

We’ll take, for instance, the poor unassuming reusable diaper liner–one that I frequently use and has received many bad ratings. Yes, the company that makes these liners claims they increase absorbency and that you should use one in each of their diapers and can double up if needed. But, the intended use of any liner (reusable or disposable) is that it functions as an inexpensive way to protect your larger investment (diaper) from becoming ruined by either soiling (visual) or clogging with barrier creams and ointments (absorbency). It is not supposed to give you a few more hours of wear–cloth diapers are meant to be changed frequently, cutting down on the instance of diaper rash. But, a liner protects the current absorbency of your diaper by not allowing materials that would affect its usefulness to touch the surface. Plus–because they cost me $2 as opposed to the $25 my adorable pocket diaper costs–I don’t mind if I have to throw away the liner.

Diaper liners are made of thin materials so that moisture can pass through and into your diaper so that moisture does not sit against your child’s skin. So when I see reviews of these products and testimonials that say the liner did nothing to increase absorbency and that your diaper leaked because of it, I rush to the defense of the product. These are still cotton and need to be properly prepped (washing and drying at least 5 times) and then they are still only a liner designed to protect your investment. So really it should be the product description, in this case, getting a bad review–but not the product!

Since I am only one woman and I haven’t gotten around to trying all the products available, I cannot discount every bad report a diaper or diaper accessory receives. So how can you determine if these reviews are good or not before you buy? You can save yourself a lot of hassle if you know your common diaper terms.

Liner – Thin layer of material either reusable or disposable designed to allow moisture to pass through and keep solids and creams/ointments from touching the surface of a diaper.

Doubler – Thin absorbent material designed to slightly increase the absorbency of a diaper.

Soaker Pad – An absorbent pad made from various materials and used inside a diaper cover.

Flats – Large thin piece of material that is folded in various ways to wear as a diaper. (Snappi/Pins and Cover needed)

Pre-folds – Rectangular diaper with layers already in place and sewn together. (Snappi/Pins and Cover Needed)

Contours or Fitted – Diaper shaped absorbent material that make have velcro or snaps or need the use of a snappy. (Cover needed)

AIO – Absorbent material and waterproof outer all sewn together.

AI2/Hybrid – Diaper cover and absorbent material can be separated. Pad sits or is snapped into the cover. Pad can be reusable, disposable, cotton, hemp, organic.

Pocket Diaper – Pad slides into a pocket between the cover and the inner liner.

Cover – Waterproof material used to keep excess moisture contained.

About the Author: Shannon is a cloth diapering, extended nursing, working mother and wife. She is passionate about natural-attached parenting and blogs about her experiences at The ArtsyMama. She is also a Diaper Parties consultant with Everything Birth, Inc.

1 thought on “The Difference Between a Liner and a Soaker: Or, Why You Shouldn’t Give Low Ratings to My Favorite Products

  1. Courtney

    On an unrelated note- do you have a natural diaper rash cream to recommend? Also, any advice about dealing with persistent thrush?
    Thanks again!


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