Cloth Dipaering 101: Types of Cloth Diapers Explained

I know when I started to look into cloth, I kind of wanted to give up. There's just so many options out there. There's slang galore that made no sense to me. Figuring out which type of diaper was going to be right for my family was quite the research filled adventure. I wish I had found a simple explanation of the different kinds of cloth diapers to guide me in my decision making.

As I said in my last installment, cloth isn't for everyone. And I have no desire to start some one way to doing this parenting thing is better than another way debate that does nothing but harm. I do want to share why it worked for my family and answer any questions those who are curious about cloth might have.

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Fitted Diapers: Fitted diapers are shaped a lot like disposables. They are made of fleece or other absorbent material. They require a diaper cover (like a Thirsties Duo Wrap Snap) to hold in the moisture.

Prefolds: I consider these a more old school option. But cloth is not what it was when we were kids. There's no more plastic pants. You don't have to use safety pins. Prefolds are flat, multiple absorbent layers that you fold up and secure with fasteners (like Snappi Cloth Diaper Fasteners). Like fitted diapers, prefolds require a diaper cover (like a Thirsties Duo Wrap Snap) to hold in the moisture.

Covers: Covers are waterproof and hold in the wet and mess. You use a cover in conjunction with prefolds and fitted diapers. Most covers are made of PUL, but some use wool.

Pocket Diaper: Pocket diapers are made of a waterproof outer layer with a pocket to hold the absorbent layer (inserts). You can stuff the pocket with varying levels of absorbency depending on how heavy your child is wetting.

All In One Diaper: All in Ones (AIO) have the absorbent layer sewn right into the waterproof shell. There is no need to stuff inserts into these diapers. You just grab a diaper and stick it on the kid. Its not easy to adjust the absorbency in these diapers, so they can be very bulky on itty bitties. They also take forever to dry.

Fitted, covers, pockets, and AIO all come in one size and sized varieties.

One Sized vs Sized: Sized sized diapers fit a specific weight range, much like the numbers on disposable diapers. You'll have to buy new ones as your child grows. One Sized (OS) have a system of snaps that allow you to adjust the fit. They generally fit from 8lbs to 35lbs. Depending on the size of your kiddo when she's born, you can use OS diapers from birth to potty training.

So how on earth do you decide which option to go with? Well it depends on so many factors. Prefolds with covers tend to be the most affordable option. They also require the most work. AIO are seen by many as a great way to go if you have someone who is cloth skeptical (a husband, grandparent, daycare provider) helping with the diapering. Sized diapers are generally cheaper upfront, but I found OS were a better value overall.

After trying out fitted with covers (Kissaluvs and Thirsties Duo) and several brands of pockets (bumGenius, Happy Heiny's, and Fuzzibunz , we settled on bumGenius 4.0. They are OS pockets. It was the perfect balance between connivence and affordability for us.

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  1. Thanks for sharing. We spent years trying different diapers and finally on child #3 we found out favourite combo- Sandy's fitted with a thirties cover.

    1. I hadn't heard of Sandy's before. They look like a great option!