Ok, if you follow my blog you have an idea what I'm going to say. However I felt this summary was needed and it's to later become part of my "cloth care and use guide"
Diapers should be changed often! If you do they wont leak.* You probably figured that, but the issue is how often. I say about once per feeding or every 2-3 pees (the third pee being those situations where life held you up a wee bit). And of course immediately if baby poops. There are several reasons to change diapers this often.
1. Its just unhygienic to not change diapers this often. Regardless of if the diaper feels dry or not. Sitting in urine for many hours and many pees is not a clean thing to do and can lead to diaper rash, even if the diaper feels dry. Disposable diapers have sought to create diapers that are continuously more absorbent then the last. Cloth diapers are also hopping on this train. And they all make it sound appealing; who wouldn't like to go 5, 6, or more hours without changing a diaper? ...until we consider that what we're really doing is having baby sit in urine to increase our personal leisure.
LESSON: change diapers often cuz leaving your baby in pee for hours is gross and unhygienic.
And by the way this applies to disposable diapers too, its still unhygienic even if they are designed for that kinda use.
2. If you let baby pee more then 2-3 times in the diaper your building up a fair amount of urine in that diaper. Urine build up leads to ammonia build up. Ammonia is the scurge of the cloth diaper world. It makes diapers smell bad (even when clean) and it destroyes the cloth diapers absorbency, which requires diaper stripping and reduces diaper longevity. If that's not bad enough, ammonia in diapers leads to diaper rash. For this same reason they should be washed often too.*
LESSON: Change diapers often so you dont cause diaper rash from dirty-ammonia-build-up-diapers.
3. A baby who is used to sitting in a diaper for hours on end is harder to potty train. This is so because they are used to the feel of urine against their skin and dont have a desire to change that. A child who is always freshly diaper is used to a consistent clean fresh feel on their skin and will potty train to maintain that comfort.
LESSON: raise a child who is used to a clean fresh bum to make potty training easier.
4. This isn't medieval Europe! Back then it was acceptable to have baby sit in dry urine. You see they dried out urine filled swaddlings, then reused them, washing only after several turns. But they didn't understand hygiene back then, they bathed (maybe) once a year (if wealthy). Eventually they realized the health and rash connection and were encouraged (finally) to clean after each use.
LESSON: We are cleaner then those in medieval times in all ways...except diapering. That's a scary step back for humanity.
So next time someone claims their 3/3/3/ prefold works great, know your dealing with clean healthy parents. And when someone advises you that some 8 layered fitted diaper leaks - run! Either they dont know how to use and/or care for the diaper they have, or they let their baby sit in urine for hours....either way get your advice elsewhere.
*cloth diapers need proper care and proper use not to leak. And some leaks just happen on occasion. Check out my 7 types of leaks post.