There have been times when I couldn’t get my hands on disposable diapers and I experimented with making my own cloth diapers. When I wet these I’d usually end up with pee running down my legs. My results were horrible because I had no idea what I was doing. About a year ago I really looked at how cloth diapers worked and made some adult sized prefold diapers that work very well. The reason my first diapers didn’t work is quite simple not enough diaper, not enough layers. Easy way to test your cloth diapers. Pin them on without a cover of any kind and give them a good wetting. If it runs right through them on the floor you best try again. The cover is only there to keep the wettness from spreading through the fabric.
My thinnest cloth prefold is made from a couple old cotton T-shirts and a piece of flannel baby print material that is about a yard long. There are 4 layers of T shirt sewed in the middle and 1 layer of flannel for a 5 ply diaper. If I use an angel wing fold the front of the diaper that gets wet is doubled and becomes 10 ply. Even though its very thin and light it will work for a couple of hours. If I put a disposable over this instead of plastic pants it can be worn over twice as long.
There are some problems with wearing a disposable over a cloth, the biggest one is that you’ve got a big wet cloth diaper to wash and its very bulky. Doubt you’re going to be able to keep this combination hidden. A very good alternative with almost the exact same results is a Gerber baby prefold used as a booster and a disposable over that. Today I used this combination for 4 hours and I probably could have worn it 2 more hours before worrying about leaks. The diaper was noticeably thicker in the crotch and between the legs, but not in the rear. I usually wear a longer T shirt and baggy pants, but I’m always concerned about the diaper outline being noticeable, especially on thicker diapers, the rear isn’t a problem with this combination.
Probably the biggest advantage is how the wettness is spread out by the cloth diaper. When you soak a disposable it tends to wash the aborbent material away and it clumps in the bottom. I think most adult diapers are designed with lots of small leaks in mind and not a full wetting. Since the cloth diaper absorbs the wettness first then spreads it out to the rest of the diaper the clumping isn’t a problem and the diaper performs much better.
The only real drawback when compared to wearing an adult prefold under your disposable is that the full sized cloth diaper will actually spread the wetness farther even drawing it up the rear padding seemingly against gravity!
Prefold diapers can be bought at Wal-Mart but they can be found at thrift stores often. A terry cloth towel hand towel is about the same size and will have about the same effect, but I’ve found wet terry cloth isn’t very comfortable to wear against skin.