For the Mamas | Cloth Diapering 101: Types of Cloth Diapers & What We Use

January 7, 2014·

For the Mamas | Cloth Diapering 101: Types of Cloth Diapers & What We Use (1) I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, really… mainly because if I want to change something I just do it. BUT, I will say that I’m making somewhat of a resolution, if that’s what you want to call it, to do a better job of keeping up my “series” this year.

I realize I did the first in my (much requested) “Cloth Diapering 101” series back in November and then… crickets. I totally got distracted and didn’t do the next one in my series. I blame mom brain. WOOPS. Well, I can promise y’all that every Tuesday in January I am going to continue the series (for those who are interested and/or curious) and we’ll wrap this thing up in 2014.

So, here’s what we got coming up in the next few weeks:

  • November: Cloth Diapering: The Beginning
  • Today: Different Types of Cloth Diapers and What We Use
  • Tuesday, January 14th: Our system: wipes, creams, storage, organization, and whatnot.
  • Tuesday, January 21st: The Scoop on Poop – Using & Washing Your Cloth Diapers (I HAD to call it that…)
  • Tuesday, January 28th: Out and About – Traveling with Your Diapers
  • Tuesday, February 4th: Dealing with… Issues – dealing with the unforeseen stuff that sometimes come up with cloth diapering (mold and stink and ammonia. yuck!)
  • Tuesday, February 11th: Cloth Diapering a Newborn

I may do another follow up / FAQ post at the end of it all to answer any more questions that may come up along the way.

Now, I realize there are probably a billion (okay, not a billion, but a BUNCH) of blogs out there that have information on cloth diapering. I certainly read a TON before we started. So, why add to the noise? Well, enough of you asked me about it that it seems like there’s genuine interest (or just plain curiosity). And, everyone’s experience and everyone’s preferences are different. It’s nice to hear different opinions, viewpoints, and thoughts.

Let’s get down to business:

Different Types of Cloth Diapers

Prefolds / Flats

For the Mamas | Cloth Diapering 101: Types of Cloth Diapers & What We Use (2) So if you ask anyone over the age of, say, 50 or so, this is PROBABLY what they think of when they think of cloth diapers.

Flats are literally just a flat sheet of fabric / cotton / cloth that can be folded in different ways around your baby’s bum. Prefolds have three distinct sections that allow you to fold the diaper a little easier. The center section typically has an extra layer of absorbancy.

Flats and Prefolds don’t have any kind of waterproof layer, so they require some kind of protective cover. Keep reading to see what I mean by covers. Flats and prefolds also do not have any way to fasten them, so you need to use a diaper pin or “Snappi.”

This is definitely the CHEAPEST way to cloth diaper, but it is certainly the most cumbersome.

We used prefolds and covers the first couple weeks after Lilly was born because they are great for newborns. However, I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of this system in any way. In fact, I downright don’t like it.

Fitteds / Contours

For the Mamas | Cloth Diapering 101: Types of Cloth Diapers & What We Use (3) Fitted diapers and contours are basically the same – the one distinction is fitteds usually have either a snap closure or aplix / velcro closure whereas contours do not have any closure system – you need to use a diaper pin or snappi on a contour diaper.

Fitteds and Contours are similar to flats and prefolds in that they are just cotton / organic fabric and they do not have any kind of waterproof layer so you need a cover for these, too. HOWEVER, what differentiates fitteds and contours is that they are already in the “shape” of a diaper. You don’t have to fold them in any kind of funky or different way to get them around your baby.For the Mamas | Cloth Diapering 101: Types of Cloth Diapers & What We Use (4)

We have ONE fitted diaper (pictured) and I really do like it. It’s by Sustainablebabyish. We use it at nighttime because it’s SO absorbent. It has like 50 million layers of absorbancy. Okay, not 50 million, but you get what I’m saying. We use a Flip cover over it. My husband does NOT love the fitted diaper, so if we are using that diaper on a particular night, I’m the one who puts it on.

Although, it is “sized” (as in it is not one-size) and Lilly is about to grow out of it. So, I am not sure whether or not I will buy the next size up.

Fitteds and contours and covers can be pricey depending on what brand you use, so it’s not necessarily the most economical (price wise), but some moms swear by them.

Diaper CoversFor the Mamas | Cloth Diapering 101: Types of Cloth Diapers & What We Use (5)

Flats, prefolds, fitteds, and contours all do not have a waterproof outer layer – SO, they need some type of cover over them to protect from everything getting all wet.

There are PUL covers and wool covers. The most popular PUL cover brands are Thirsties and Flip. We use a one-size Flip cover with our fitted.

Wool covers can be quite pricey, but (from what I hear) are the bomb and do not leak. They also apparently wick away moisture so you can use and reuse the same cover through multiple changes before washing. I will be honest, I don’t use wool covers and don’t have experience with them, so I’m not the greatest resource on these. If you’re curious about wool covers, this blog has a lot of great info.


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Hybrids are, quite literally, a hybrid between disposables and cloth diapers. Although, I guess some hybrid systems include a cloth inner layer – but it’s not built into the diaper.

Anyway. Hybrids typically have a cloth diaper cover or outer layer and use a disposable insert that sits directly in the diaper.

The two most popular hybrid systems are gDiapers and the Flip system.

Basically, you have the cover, and then you have some kind of cotton, fabric, or disposable insert that sits inside the diaper.

I had a couple gDiapers that were given to us to try out – and I’ll be honest, I hated them. I know some moms LOVEEEEE gDiapers, so I won’t knock them totally. But they did NOT work well for us at all.

Hybrid systems can tend to be a little pricey, but it really all depends on what brand you go with and what you decide to buy.

Pocket DiapersFor the Mamas | Cloth Diapering 101: Types of Cloth Diapers & What We Use (6)

Pocket diapers are probably the most popular and most purchased cloth diaper today. The diaper has a PUL waterproof protective outer layer with some kind of fleece, cotton, bamboo, or other fabric interior layer. The inner layer and outer layer are sewn together and that leaves a “POCKET” to insert the absorbent inserts.

Some moms LOVE and swear by pocket diapers – and the great part about pocket diapers is you can really adjust absorbancy depending on how much your kid goes potty. You can add or remove inserts accordingly.

For the Mamas | Cloth Diapering 101: Types of Cloth Diapers & What We Use (7)

We use pocket diapers pretty much JUST at nighttime now. I do like pocket diapers, but I don’t like them as much as the system we use… which I will get to below.

There are also a bajillion different brands of pocket diapers. We primarily use The Little Bee Co. and we have one FuzziBunz, one BumGenius 4.0, and one Charlie Banana.

Pocket diapers aren’t the cheapest of all the cloth diapering options, but because SO many companies make them (including a TON of etsy SAHM / WAHM shops) you can get pocket diapers for super cheap!

All-In-Twos – AI2s

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An all-in-two diaper is pretty much how it sounds, there’s an outer layer / cover that is waterproof with an absorbent inner layer. HOWEVER, it does not form a pocket like pocket diapers. The insert to adjust absorbancy either sits inside the diaper or, in most cases, snaps in.

All-in-twos are very popular because you can adjust absorbancy and the ease of just snapping the insert in is a hit among dads and caregivers. However, all-in-twos can be extremely pricey. So, there’s that.

All-In-Ones or AIOs

For the Mamas | Cloth Diapering 101: Types of Cloth Diapers & What We Use (8)   My FAVORITE of all the diapers. All-in-ones are exactly what you think they are – the diaper and absorbent layers are literally ALL in one piece. No stuffing. No snapping in inserts. Nothing. Just snap or velcro and go.For the Mamas | Cloth Diapering 101: Types of Cloth Diapers & What We Use (9)

AIOs are the closet thing to a disposable diaper that you can get without having to throw away the diaper.

AIOs are my favorite and this is what we use PRIMARILY. My FAVORITE AIO brand is the BumGenius Freetime.For the Mamas | Cloth Diapering 101: Types of Cloth Diapers & What We Use (10)

Now, AIOs can be some of the most expensive of all the diaper types (not always, but sometimes) – which is why they are less common. However, they really don’t HAVE to be the most expensive. We are extremely blessed and 90% of our diapers were gifted to us by friends, family, and my wonderful in-laws. However, even if our diapers weren’t gifted to us, I would definitely invest in the AIOs.

After trying EVERY type of diaper known to man when Lilly was first born, the BumGenius Freetime AIO really just was the best in so many ways. It fits her the best. We NEVER have leaks (EVER!). They are SUPER easy to clean. They dry REALLY fast. They are easy for my husband, grandparents, and babysitters to use. They really rock. They’re also one-size so they fit from 8lbs to approximately 35lbs. They fit Lilly almost right away when she was born. I think we started using them on her when she was a week or two old.

I do have ONE AIO from The Little Bee Co… I don’t LOVE it yet. I’m still giving it a chance. I love The Little Bee Co. as a company so I REALLY want to like it. (They’re the TOMS of diapers – for every diaper purchased, they donate a diaper to a baby in need. AWESOME.).

Sized vs. One-Size Diapers

The other thing to look at or keep in mind when you’re shopping for or looking at diapers is whether or not they are sized or one-size diapers. Sized diapers usually fit for certain weight / height ranges. One-size diapers typically fit from either 8lbs or 10lbs all the way up to 35lbs. It really all depends.

Anyway. So, those are the different kinds of diapers.

They really range in ease and price. But at the end of the day, it really is what works best for YOU and YOUR BABY. Don’t think that because I love AIOs that you will, too.

If you are considering cloth diapering, I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend trying out a BUNCH of different kinds of diapers before locking yourself into one brand or one type. That’s what we did and I’m SO glad. Every baby is different and every diaper is different on every baby. I got a bunch of different diapers to start to see what worked best for us, and then once we identified what we liked the best, we stuck to it.

What about you? Do you cloth diaper? What is your favorite kind? Are you considering cloth diapering? What other questions do you have? Sound off in the comments below!!