One of the most common questions I see from parents new to cloth diapering—after “What type of diaper is the best?”–is, “Should I get Velcro or snap closures?” Like all cloth diapering questions, the answer varies from family to family. Some swear by snaps, others would rather let their kid run naked than snap a diaper. I’ve personally used both for the last two years of cloth diapering, and here are some pros and cons of both.
- Really fast to put on. Even when my kid is in snap closure diapers, I always have a velcro closure diaper in the diaper bag. When I am taking up one of the two stalls in the public restroom and trying to change the diaper on a screaming, wiggly child, who normally never puts anything in her mouth but thinks it prudent to continuously lick the nasty public changing table, keenly aware of a growing line of impatient, full bladdered people behind me, you bet I am in no way fiddling with snap settings on a diaper. Velcro it is.
- More customizable fit. Even if a diaper was covered completely in snaps there would be some way that my growing children would manage to be between snap sizes at some point, thus making the diaper fit completely weird and probably letting poop escape. With Velcro a child is never “between” snap sizes, and you can readjust the fit quickly without fiddling with snaps.
- Easy as Velcro pie. Or…just as easy as Velcro. No need to tell the daycare or babysitter, “So he is on the FIRST rise snap setting and on the THIRD set of snaps from the center for the waist…” Anyone who isn’t familiar with cloth diapers would be completely lost and everyone has a story about coming home to their kid wearing a diaper backwards or sideways or some other way thanks to a confused-as-heck caregiver. I don’t know anyone in the modern era who doesn’t know how to work Velcro, so this is a often a preferred option to have on hand for people who are less familiar with cloth diapers.
- Velcro wears out much, MUCH faster than snaps. The edges start curling, the hook side collects lint and loose threads, the loop side gets overly fluffy, and after a while if the diaper is to be used longer, since the Velcro will wear out far before the rest of the diaper does, the Velcro must be replaced by either more Velcro or converted to snaps. This can be a plus for bargain hunters, as many people sell used diapers with worn out Velcro for very cheap, if you don’t mind replacing it yourself. But parents with kids often don’t have the time to spend repairing a large amount of diapers.
- Velcro sticks to everything… Super sticky Velcro is good for the most part, since no one wants a full diaper coming undone at exactly the wrong moment due to a Velcro failure. Unfortunately this also means Velcro tends to stick to everything else in your washing machine—inserts, cloth wipes, other Velcro diapers. This phenomenon even has a name…the “Velcro chain.” And heaven forbid a disposable wipe gets into your diaper pail and goes through the wash with Velcro diapers. You will be picking fluffy bits out of your Velcro for a long while, something that certainly I don’t know from experience…nope, certainly not me.
- …Unless you have a toddler. At some point it is likely your toddler will pick at their uncovered diaper and discover that with a tug, the diaper will peel right off. You will know when this moment comes when you glance over at your child and notice their butt is bare, and the diaper is across the room (or if you happen to be using a cover and insert/prefold/fitted, the diaper parts may be in multiple places!). My daughter started figuring this out right around a year old, and that’s when I ditched Velcro for everyday use. Actually, to be quite specific, I ditched it when I found her, diaper off, in the process of pooping all over my computer chair. That was the End of Velcro for a good long while.
So that all being said, what do I use personally? I like Velcro for the newborn stage, maybe to 5 or 6 months or so. Babies grow so fast and that way I don’t really need to worry about adjusting snap sizes every few weeks or days or even hours. As I mentioned above, it’s also nice to have a Velcro diaper in the diaper bag just because it’s faster to change in public. After that I’m all about snaps though. They last much longer than Velcro and don’t really wear out. My toddler did figure out how to unsnap her Flip covers around 15 months old, so it’s worth mentioning that if your kid REALLY wants their diaper off they will probably figure that out no matter what.
*Tidbit of the day: Velcro and Aplix are both brand names. I think there’s a misconception that Velcro is a brand name and Aplix is generic, but nope, they are both brands. Another brand name out there I see sometimes is Touchtape. I use the name Velcro in this blog because I think it’s the most well-known brand name, especially to those new to cloth diapers. If you really want to avoid saying a brand name, refer to the closure as hook/loop or hook-and-loop closure. Many large diaper manufacturers actually do this on their websites, probably because they may change suppliers often and use different brands. If they use one specific brand, they will generally mention it (Rumparooz exclusively uses Aplix, for instance).