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Cloth Diaper Basics: Cloth Diaper Styles
August 4, 2013 9:34 am | by

Like shoes and cars, there are quite a few styles of cloth diapers. When I started learning about cloth diapers, I was pretty confused about the styles. I didn’t know the difference between a pocket style diaper and an All-in-One, let alone a hybrid system or fitteds. Then, after working at Cotton Babies for a few months, I started to get the hang of it. Again, like a pair of shoes or a car, there are hundreds of styles and versions of cloth diapers, so we won’t cover every  single type in existence. But if you are trying to get the hang of cloth diapers, consider this a map that will help steer you in the right direction.

Pocket cloth diapers: A pocket diaper is usually made of two layers of fabric sewn together to form a pocket that will hold an absorbent insert. bumGenius 4.0 and Fuzzibunz are pocket style cloth diapers. The advantage of pocket style diapers is that they can be as convenient as disposables to put on baby during diaper changes. Pocket style cloth diapers do require an extra step after laundering of placing (sometimes called “stuffing”) the insert back inside the pocket.

All-in-One (AIO) cloth diapers: AIO style diapers have a waterproof outer fabric and absorbent inner fabric, designed in a way that is all one piece. bumGenius Freetime and bumGenius Elemental are all-in-one style diapers. Many consider all-in-ones to be the most convenient style of cloth diaper because there is no need to stuff inserts after laundering. This makes them a favorite for those new to cloth diapering or secondary care givers that may be new to cloth diapers (i.e. daycare, grandparents, babysitters, etc.)

Hybrid diapers: Hybrid diapers are a newer class of cloth diapers that are a blend of traditional cloth diapers and disposable options. Hybrid diapers are generally a two piece system comprised of a waterproof outer cover and an absorbent insert that can be a variety of materials ranging from cloth to disposable. The Flip Diapering System is a great example of a hybrid. It consists of a waterproof, one sized fits most, cover and your choice of stay dry, organic or disposable inserts. One benefit of hybrids is that covers can sometimes be used more than once. When the insert is wet only, simply remove the insert, wipe the cover and replace with a dry insert. Another benefit is the ability to change the type of insert used when your baby’s or family’s need change, without having to purchase an entirely new diaper.

Covers and prefolds: Covers and prefolds are an economical way to cloth diaper. Covers are typically a single layer of waterproof fabric. Prefolds are the classic, original cloth diaper. Prefolds are several layers of fabric with stitching generally dividing the diaper into thirds. With modern covers, there are no need for pins to keep your prefolds in place. To secure a prefold without a cover, you can use traditional pins or a Snappi. Prefolds are usually cotton, with bleached and unbleached options available. Econobum is an economical cover and prefold system, where you can cloth diaper your baby from birth to potty training for as little as $100.


Flat diapers: Flat diapers are the prefold’s cousin. Flat diapers are usually a natural fiber, such as cotton or hemp. Flats differ from prefolds in that they are usually a single layer of fabric, without the stitching that prefolds have. Like prefolds, there are a variety of ways to fold your flats and secure them with pins or Snappis. Flats are not waterproof, so you’ll need covers to protect clothing. Because flats are a single layer of fabric, they dry much faster than prefolds. This makes them ideal for when you need to hand wash and hang dry your cloth diapers.

Fitted diapers: Fitted diapers are usually a natural fiber, like hemp or cotton, that are a shaped diaper that includes the closure. These are not rectangles like prefolds or flats, and do not require pins or snappis. They do require a cover to be waterproof. While not as convenient as an AIO, there are often more natural fabric options in fitted diapers and they can provide a better fit than a prefold or flat.

Trainers: Trainers are specifically designed to fit older children who are interested in potty training. The features vary greatly from brand to brand, but one common denominator is that they are all designed for the learning child to pull them up and down on their own as they learn to use the potty. The Flip Potty Training Kit comes with one cover and multiple cotton inserts you can change when wet and just wipe and re-use the cover, much like the hybrid Flip diaper system.  Imse Vimse trainers are all-in-one style training pants designed for a single use. Trainers are often less absorbent than other styles of cloth diapers, as they are designed to be used in conjunction with toilet training. trainer51

Sized diapers: Each cloth diaper brand has their own sizing system, so be sure to read the weight suggestions for each size before purchasing. Thirsties Diaper Covers and Kissaluvs Fitteds both come in two size choices.Another important thing to know when purchasing cloth diapers is about sizing. There are both sized and one-size options in all the categories of cloth diapers mentioned above.

One-Sized diapers: One sized diapers are a shorter way of saying “one size fits most.” These cloth diapers or covers are designed to fit most babies from newborn stage (approx. 8 lbs.) through toddler stages (approx. 35 lbs.). The way these diapers grow with baby is by having rows of snaps in the center of the diaper that create an adjustable rise. These snaps do not have to be changed at each diaper change, only adjusted as babies grow. All bumGeniusFlip and Econobum products are one-sized products that will grow with your baby.

The key to successful cloth diapering is that you must have a waterproof outer fabric or cover in addition to an absorbent inner liner or insert, sized to fit your baby.

For questions about cloth diapers, give us a call at 1-314-892-1855.


About the Author

Brittney is a social media coordinator for Cotton Babies. She has three sisters, loves pizza and enjoys listening to obscure bands no one has heard of. Outside of posting on the Cotton Babies Facebook and Instagram pages, she babysits a few cloth diaper-wearing kids and likes playing with her dogs.



  • uruguay maillot exterieur said...
    August 11, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    You know I love your blog!!!

  • lilliput said...
    August 8, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Thank you for this article. That’s all I can say. You most definitely have made this blog into something special. You clearly know what you are doing, you’ve covered so many bases.Thanks!