After more than 2 1/2 years of heavy use these diapers have seen better days. They're in pretty good condition considering the amount of wash and wear they've seen. All of the fabric (including the waterproof PUL layer) is in great working condition, we don't have stains, and the inserts are still fine, but I found myself faced with some necessary maintenance especially considering we're planning to use these diapers with our next little one. Cloth diapers are a long term investment, but they're very frequently used and washed and they do wear out just like any other piece of clothing. For us, we're having the typical problems of the aplix wearing out and the elastics around the legs and back becoming too relaxed.
When we started cloth diapering we tried out several different brands of diapers before settling on bumGenius pockets. At the time, bumGenius pockets were only available with aplix (they have since moved on to their 4.0 version, which is available in both snaps and aplix), but this was fine with us because we wanted the aplix. Even though I'm converting to snaps now, I still think that aplix is a little better for ease of use and getting a perfect fit. However, we do have some snap diapers (Flips) so I can say that the snaps really aren't a problem to use either and snaps are definitely the way to go for long term functionality.
We purchased the aplix knowing that it would eventually wear out and we would need to do something about it. We didn't have any problems with it for probably the first 2 years (aside from the laundry tabs not working very well, but as far as functionality of diapers, no issues) and then the tabs on our most frequently used diapers (we have specific colors set aside as night and nap diapers because we stuff them differently) started to not work so well. We would end up with diapers coming loose while Jack was sleeping, which equals leaks, which is obviously not a good thing. Especially now that the weather has turned cold and Jack is back in footie PJs (and therefore doesn't have the waistband on his PJs to help hold the diaper together) it's become quite frustrating and the rest of his diapers are starting to have the same problems. Something needed done right away!
Now, back when we first noticed that the tabs weren't working as well, I notified Cottonbabies (the diaper manufacturer) of the problem and they sent me refresher kits with their new and improved 4.0 aplix free of charge. The refresher kits are a great option if you still want to stick with aplix. It contains new tabs, laundry tabs, and elastics to give your diapers a face lift. I went ahead and used one of the kits on a night time diaper and while it was totally do-able, I realized that to replace the aplix on all 23 of our diapers it was going to be quite a project.
So... I ran out of steam and stopped there. I'm glad that I did though, because several months down the road I'm discovering that replacing the aplix probably isn't our best option. The 4.0 aplix and new laundry tabs have held up really well, I have no complaints with that however, looking at the wear to the landing strip across the front and the way that the new tabs are sticking to it, I see that there will likely be issues with that down the road and replacing the landing strip isn't exactly recommended as it's quite a process and involves taking the diaper apart. It's not something I want to tackle. Not to mention, I really want to tackle this issue and have peace of mind that it's going to be a long term solution. Even with the improved aplix, it's just never going to be as durable as snaps and even IF the landing strip holds up (which I don't think it will, at least not long term) the aplix is eventually going to wear out again and I'm going to have the start the process all over again. And that would not make me happy.
And so we decided to go with snaps. It's still going to be a decent project to get all of our diapers converted, but at least I'll only have to do it once! I started out by shopping around as there are people who will do the conversion for you, but it's not cheap. And I see why it's not now that I've started the process. It takes a decent amount of work. It's not difficult, but time consuming. After pricing it out I decided it was worth the time to do it myself (of course, when do I ever pay someone else to do something that I can do for myself more cheaply? The answer to that is erm... never. At least not when I can avoid it.).
So I got online and researched what supplies I would need to do the conversion. KAM Snaps is pretty much the place to go for all your snap needs.
First, I needed snap pliers to set the snaps. They also have snap presses, which I can totally see why those are nicer, but the pliers are much more affordable so I went with that option. I also got an awl (the tool used to poke holes in the fabric).
Then, I needed snaps. They actually have snaps that match bumGenius colors so you can either choose to do a perfect match or you can do whatever color you want. I ordered size 20 shiny plastic snaps, which are the ones available in the matching colors. I decided to do 20 snaps across the front of the diapers (2 rows of 10, which is what Cottonbabies actually does with their snap diapers now that they have that option) and two snaps on each wing. For this formulation you need 24 caps, 20 sockets (the female piece), and 4 studs (the male piece) for each diaper. The snaps can be purchased either in sets (which are comprised of 2 caps, 1 stud, and 1 socket) of 100 or you can choose to purchase the pieces individually in groups of 100.
I decided to just order them in complete sets because I wasn't 100% sure what I was going to do and how many of each part I would need, plus I needed a variety of colors. I think it works out to be about the same price-wise.
So anyway, for everything I needed (minus some Black Friday discounts) I was able to get all of the supplies for $45.86 shipped. And I ordered on a Friday and received my package on Monday. Definitely a good experience! The price works out to ~$2 to convert each diaper and obviously I'll have some parts leftover. I also discovered that I maybe have over ordered by just a little bit. This is quite a bit cheaper than paying someone to do the conversion for you, especially when you consider the cost of shipping both ways.
My first diaper took quite a while to finish. First, I started with the diaper that I had switched out the aplix on and WOW did I do a good job of attaching that new aplix! It took forever for me to detach the aplix (you'll also need a seam ripper if you don't have one of those). Once I finally got everything removed I wasn't sure exactly how I wanted to configure the snaps. As I said, I ended up basing it on the diapers Cottonbabies now offers in snaps (like the Flips that we already own), but the problem with that is the Flips, bumGenius 4.0s, etc. also have very slightly different measurements than the 3.0s so I had to keep that in mind and couldn't copy their snap placement exactly.
After playing around with it for a bit I decided on 2 rows of 10 snaps across and 2 snaps on each wing. To do this I have the first row of snaps placed 3/4" down from the top of the diaper, the next row of snaps is 1" apart (all of my measurements are done to the center of the snap), and each snap is 1" apart from the next. For the wings the snaps are about 1" apart, but I really had to eyeball this because I found that the wings are a little less consistent in shape (probably the nature of the stretchy fabric), but luckily because it's stretchy it's very forgiving. I don't know if any of this makes sense, but when I was looking at conversion tutorials I couldn't find a lot that talked about specific measurements so I thought I would share mine in case it can help someone else! Also, KAM Snaps does have tutorials on their website with a few different configurations that are helpful to reference.
So anyway, the first diaper was definitely a process since I was trying to figure out what I was doing, but after that I made a template with my desired measurements and the process goes a lot quicker now. It's still a process, but now I know what I'm doing, which makes quite a bit of difference!
Here are two of the diapers I have converted:
And here's what it looks like opened up:
3 down, 20 more to go!
And then on to replacing the elastics, which I am NOT looking forward to. It seems like quite a process (double uggghh), but I'm going to hold off on that until Jack is done with the diapers so the new elastics stay nice and tight for tiny baby legs.