The cloth diaper world can be SO overwhelming to begin with. You hear all these buzz words like “washing routine” and “prefolds” and “pockets.” What in the heck does any of it mean?! It’s been incredibly helpful to me to read blog after blog, find Facebook groups that help, and most importantly, have friends who can help me troubleshoot or walk me through it all. Not everyone has friends who can, though, so I’d love to be yours!
Over here, you’ll find a Cloth Diapers 101 post about the what’s, why’s, and how’s of cloth diapers, but I wanted to do a separate post just about the different types of cloth diapers. After all, if you don’t know which cloth diapers to buy, you certainly can’t wash them!
There are 9 main types of cloth diapers: flats, prefolds, fitteds, contours, hybrids, pockets, sleeve, All-in-Twos, and All-in-Ones. Once you understand the differences, all those names will make PERFECT sense. This post should help you decide not only what will work best for your family’s laundry schedule, but also your budget and your baby’s bottom.
Once you’re done deciding which ones are perfect for your baby and your sanity, head over to this post to check out all the different how-to’s of cloth diapering or this one to make your own organic, safe, effective (and cloth-safe) diaper rash cream!
Types of Cloth Diapers
Flat diapers are exactly what you’d imagine– flat, square pieces of material (usually cotton or bamboo) that you fold in a bunch of different ways, depending on sex of the baby, preference, which cover you’re using, etc., and then use pins or snappis to keep them shut. I’ve never used these, but they ARE hands down the cheapest option for diapers. You buy a whole bunch of the flats plus a few covers (they’re the waterproof, cute part of a diaper to hold the pee in) and you’re set!
These are similar to flats, in that it’s a piece of cloth that you either snap/pin around the baby or lay inside a cover. The difference between flats and prefolds, though, is that they have three sections with the middle section being the most absorbent. You also always need to use a cover with these!
Fitteds are super absorbent, but not waterproof, so again, you need covers with these. They don’t require folding like flats or prefolds because they come with velcro or snap closures and are already made to fit to your little person’s body.
Contours are a mix between fitteds and prefolds. There’s no need to fold them (which makes them similar to fitteds) but they don’t come with velcro or snaps so you still need pins or snappis to close them. Like fitteds and prefolds, you need a cover for this style as well.
Hybrids are a mix between cloth and disposable. You can find them with an outer, reusable cover (like cloth) and you can choose to use either a biodegradable insert or a cloth insert. Personally, I think they’re pricey and defeat a lot of the purpose of cloth diapering, but if this system works for you, awesome!
Pocket diapers are what 90% of our stash is made up of. They’re super church daycare/babysitter/daddy friendly, cute as can be, and beyond easy to use. Basically, you have a set of inserts (usually made of either microfiber [don’t put this one against baby’s body], cotton, bamboo, or hemp) that get stuffed inside the “pocket” of the diaper. I use microfiber or cotton inserts during the day and bamboo or hemp at night because they’re more absorbent and mean that baby can sleep without feeling wet for longer– I swear our boys would wake up with a hemp insert weighing more than they did some nights! When a diaper is used, you just pull the insert out, drop the insert and diaper into the wet bag and you’re ready to do laundry.
The benefit of pockets, for us, is that they’re ready to go once they’re stuffed so you can sit on the couch and get a whole load done and ready to go while you watch your favorite show at night. Then, they’re as easy to use as disposable diapers which means that you don’t need to keep disposables around for when you have a babysitter over or take baby to your church’s daycare.
These are essentially pocket diapers but with an opening on both ends, rather than just at the back like pockets. The biggest perk about these are the fact that you don’t have to pull the insert out before you toss it in your wet bag. When you dump them all into your washer, the washing machine will agitate the insert out for you! We have a couple of these by accident and I will say, I wish I’d found more!
Like pockets, All-in-Twos have an insert inside the diaper. The difference is, instead of having to stuff the insert into a pocket, you snap it onto the diaper. Think of it sort of like a prefold with a cover, except it actually snaps onto it. Like sleeve diapers, this type usually gets clean in the washer without having to unstuff them, so if you choose to use it, it DOES mean a little less work when it comes to the laundry.
Y’all, these are the dream diaper. There are zero extra steps. There’s no cover, no stuffing, no inserts, no pins or snappis. They work exactly like disposable diapers (which makes them super babysitter/daycare-friendly), but without the impact on our planet. The catch? All-in-Ones are also the most expensive (so you may end up with a smaller stash for the same price and need to do laundry more often). Because I use a dryer on low to dry my diapers, the longer drying time (because they’re thicker and don’t come apart) doesn’t bother me, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’d prefer to air dry or if you have a smaller stash.
QUESTIONS? COMMENTS? COMMISERATION?
If you have more questions I didn’t answer or just want to chat about accidentally crunchy mom goodness, hit up in the comment section or on my Facebook page or Instagram where I’m sharing all kinds of awesome tips, tricks, and general mom hacks for surviving life with tiny humans ruling your home!