Types of Cloth Diapers
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Okay, so we’re back for the ever popular topic of cloth diapers!
For those of you who haven’t really looked at cloth before, or did a LONG time ago and have been out of the loop, there’s a lot of frightening lingo when you go to some cloth forums. And if you’re anything like me, your eyes glaze over after the information overload. So I’m here to break it down for you!
We’re going to start with the simplest part: categories of cloth diapers. I’ll break each one down for you and give you some of my pros and cons.
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Also, I am not paid by any of the diaper companies to say nice things about any of them. Everything here is purely my opinion based on the things I’ve used.
Okay…MOVING ON! Here are the basic types of cloth diapers:
All-In-One (AIO) – Most similar to a disposable. Shown below is the Bum Genius Freetime in snap closure. There’s an absorbent inner attached to a waterproof outer. They close with snaps or Velcro (aplix or hook and loop are the same as Velcro). Take longer to dry but are the easiest to use, especially for caregivers who have only ever used disposables before. Advantage: easy to use, especially for caregivers and day care providers; Disadvantages: expensive, take longer to dry
I am a fan of the fit and quality of the Bum Genius diapers I have. If you’re looking for a basic AIO that is relatively quick drying, the Bumgenius Freetime is a good option. If you’d like something similar with an organic cotton inner, the Bumgenius Elemental Organic might be more your speed.
All in Two (AI2) or Hybrid – A waterproof cover with either a cloth or disposable insert. These can be a good option for caregivers who can’t or won’t use full cloth and need a disposable option. One of the best known is gDiapers (shown below) but many other brands exist. You can also use disposable inserts with other covers (for example, if you’re like me and use mainly prefolds but want a disposable option for traveling). Pros: relatively easy to use, easy to customize (you don’t have to match brands for covers and inserts), easy for caregivers, some disposable inserts are compostable or flushable Cons: Brands like gDiapers are often sized so you spend more on covers, plus the money spent on disposable inserts can rival the cost of regular disposable diapers, the pouch where you put the insert may cause shifting or poor fit which results in leaks (but your mileage may vary!)
gDiapers has a Newborn Bundle that is a good fit for smaller babies like mine was. They come with 12 newborn and 8 small sized G pants and 80 disposable inserts. You can easily use cloth inserts, prefolds, or flats instead of disposable inserts. It might not be my first choice in newborn diapering systems, but for those that really want a hybrid system this would be right up your alley.
Pocket – Similar to an AIO in how you put it on a baby since it’s all basically one piece, but there’s a “pocket” inside into which you stuff an insert. Inserts are typically microfiber, cotton, bamboo, or hemp. Advantages: most common type so they can be found very easily and often cheaply, easy for caregivers to use (it’s what I send to my step-dad, who watches him during the day), they wash and dry easily, and you can easily customize the absorbency by adding more inserts; Disadvantages: you have to unstuff them before washing them and restuff them before using, which takes up time and is sometimes annoying (unless there is an opening at the front AND back like on the Lovely Pocket Diaper Rave model, which means the insert will agitate out in the wash)
I got a few Bum Genius 4.0 using some Amazon gift cards AND my Babies R Us gift cards. They actually carry them in the store now, which I think is really cool! They also carry gDiapers and other cloth items if you find yourself with some cards to spend!
I also really enjoy Thirsties products for their trim fit and nice quality! They have a One Size Pocket Diaper that comes in lots of cute prints and is also very affordable compared to some of the other known brands like Blueberry, Swaddlebees, and Rumparooz (also excellent products that still save money overall but maybe aren’t the most budget-friendly if you’re trying to do cloth on the cheap).
Flats – Basically big flat sheets of cotton or other natural fabrics that can be folded and fastened to the baby with pins or a Snappi. Requires a cover. These are what people usually think of when you think of old fashioned cloth diapers. Advantages: easiest to wash and dry, can get a very trim fit; Disadvantage: requires folding
I’ve enjoyed the products I’ve gotten from Osocozy because they’re really absorbent and durable while also being very kind to your wallet. They have some nice organic unbleached flats that work for everything from actually diapering your kiddo to being a burp rag, changing pad, cleaning rag, etc. At least then even if flats aren’t your perfect diapering solution, they can still be very useful!
Prefolds – These are prefolded flats, pretty much. They are small and easy to strap to a baby with pins or a Snappi
(shown right). Very absorbent, easy to wash and dry, and durable. Prefolds and flats are one of the cheapest ways to diaper a baby, the easiest if your access to laundry is limited, and personally are my favorite to use. The photo below shows a stack of covers, a stack of prefolds, and a folded prefold with a Snappi as it would look on a baby. I’ve used both the Econobum and OsoCozy Unbleached Prefolds (sizes 1 and 2) with Thirsties Duo Wrap Snap (also sizes 1 and 2) for covers. I really love both for durability, softness, and absorbency.
Contour and Fitted – Like a prefold but already in the diaper shape so they don’t require folding (which is nice for wiggly babies). They do, however, require a cover and can be pretty pricey. If you are a seamstress, there are lots of tutorials out there for how to turn a prefold into a fitted diaper. Easy way to save on the cost! Pros: very absorbent (lots of people use them for nighttime), trim fit, very secure Cons: often expensive, usually sized so you have to keep buying as the child grows unlike with other one-size options like most pockets or AIO
There are a few one-size options out there for fitteds if you’re interested in trying them out. Not to keep plugging Thirsties, but they also make a fitted meant to be paired with their diaper cover or duo wrap, though you could use it in any cover of your choosing. I’ve also heard fantastic things about the Mother-Ease .
So there you have all of the various types of diapers available! It can be totally overwhelming at first! That’s okay! I read a LOT of reviews when I was getting ready to take the plunge into cloth, and a lot of times you don’t know what will work until the baby is here and you have a chance to try things out for yourself. I’ll be doing some reviews of the products that I personally own in the coming weeks, as well as some more specific information about HOW I do my diaper laundry, what my going-out routine is, and more. If there’s anything you’re curious about, make sure to leave me a comment either below or on Facebook or Twitter!
In the meantime, if you feel like looking more deeply into cloth as a diapering option, you can visit the following:
Kelly’s Closet – online cloth diaper retailer: www.kellyscloset.com
Green Mountain Diapers – another great online retailer: http://www.greenmountaindiapers.com/
Cotton Babies – maker of Econobum, Bum Genius, and Flip: www.cottonbabies.com
The Humbled Homemaker blog post on types of diapers: http://thehumbledhomemaker.com/2012/11/the-different-types-of-cloth-diapers.html
The Cloth Diaper Whisperer – blog by the owner of Kelly’s Closet all about cloth: www.theclothdiaperwhisperer.com
Diaper Pin – Awesome site for reviews, forums, coupons, giveaways, and more (I used this site a TON when I was getting ready to make purchases): www.diaperpin.com