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Cloth Diapers 101: Types of Cloth Diapers
March 19, 2012 1:46 pm | by

It has been more than a year since we shared information about the different styles or types of cloth diapers currently available. There are a lot of new products that have been introduced in the last year, so we thought a little refresher course might help.

Just like any new hobby or skill you learn, parenting and especially cloth diapering, comes with its own jargon. I was really confused when I first started, then I got the hang of it. I felt pretty confident when I joined the Cotton Babies team only to learn there was a lot more to cloth diapering than I’d previously experienced. We won’t cover every cloth diaper in existence in this blog post, but consider it a primer to get you started 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 all 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. Our 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: Cloth trainers are the newest kids on the cloth diapering block. 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 pack 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. Fuzzibunz, Bummis and 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.

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.

Sized diapers: Each cloth diaper brand has their own sizing system, so be sure to read the weight suggestions for each size before purchasing. FuzziBunz Perfect Size cloth diapers are available in S, M and L sizes. Thirsties Diaper Covers and Kissaluvs Fitteds both come in two size choices.

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 bumGenius, Flip and Econobum products are one-sized products that will grow with your baby.

The key to successful cloth diapering is to remember that you must have a waterproof outer fabric or cover in addition to an absorbent inner liner or insert and it needs to be the correct size for your baby.

Are you wondering about other cloth diapering terms? Ask in the comments below and we’d be glad to help.

About the Author

Heather is mom to four, born within 40 months (single, twins, single). She writes transparently about her chaotic household to encourage others through the twists and turns of parenting.


1 Comment

  • a2zbaby said...
    March 21, 2012 at 12:49 am

    Really fantastic post, covering with great info, I have learned lot of new thing about diapers and i hope every parents must can the value of high quality diapers so thanks for shared such kind of post with us diapers for babies