Wondering what kind of cloth diaper you should buy? Here’s an overview of the 9 basic types!
There are 9 basic types of cloth diapers. Yes–9! Don’t worry; I’ve given you the basics of each diaper type in this post! In my book, Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert, I go into more detail about how to use each of these types of diapers.
Types of Cloth Diapers
Flat diapers are large squares of single-layered fabric that can be folded in a variety of ways. The fabric is usually made of cotton. I have personally never used flats, but I have heard they are not as intimidating as they seem! They are also the cheapest diapers you will find! You must use flats with a cover. Here is a tutorial with various ways you can fold flats.
Prefold diapers are rectangular pieces of cloth folded into three sections. The middle section is the most absorbent layer. Prefolds can be folded around a baby and fastened with stereotypical pins or a snappi, or they can be folded in a trifold and laid inside a cover. You must always use a cover with prefolds. Prefolds are supposed to be a really great diaper for the newborn stage.
Fitted diapers are usually made of cotton, bamboo, hemp or fleece and are very absorbent–but not waterproof. You do not have to fold them yourself like with flats or prefolds, so they are ready-made to “fit” you baby’s body. Fitteds come in snaps or aplix/velcro closures. You must use a cover with a fitted.
I have a few fitteds and really like the ease of washing them. They are ready to use right out of the dryer or off the line. My husband, however, prefers pocket diapers–which require an extra step after laundering. You can find several brands of fitted diapers.
Contour diapers are a cross between prefolds and fitteds. They are already shaped, but they require pins or a snappi for closure. They also require a cover. I used some contours when I had my loan from The Cloth Diaper Foundation. The Cloth Diaper Foundation is now closed, but if you are low income and in need of diapers, check out a very similar diaper loaning organization–Giving Diapers, Giving Hope.
Hybrid diapers are a cross between disposable and cloth diapers. Often, they come with a washable outer cover, and you have the option of using a biodegradable disposable insert or a washable, cloth insert. Gdiapers are probably the most widely-known hybrid diaper system. I did try gDiapers, but I found them pricey and didn’t care for them. To be honest, they were probably my least favorite type of diaper!
Pocket diapers are what I mainly use–although I really like fitted diapers just as much. Pocket diapers are known as “modern” cloth diapers, and they are very daddy/babysitter-friendly. They require no cover and come in either a snap or aplix/velcro closure.
They are called pocket diapers because each diaper comes with a pocket that must be stuffed with an absorbent insert. Most pocket diapers are lined in either fleece or suede cloth–which are stay-dry materials, meaning that your baby will still feel dry even when he/she is wet because the urine passes through the liner and absorbs into the insert that is inside the pocket. Inserts are either microfiber (which should never be placed next to a baby’s body), cotton, bamboo or hemp). I like using fleece or suede cloth diapers during the day and bamboo diapers at night.
7. Sleeve Diapers
Sleeve diapers are very, very similar to pockets. The difference? They have two openings in the pocket–one on each end! The benefit is that you don’t have to unstuff the diaper when it is soiled. You just simply toss the whole thing into the wash, and the washing machine will agitate the insert out! A popular sleeve diaper brand is Thirsties.
All-in-twos are similar to pocket diapers except that instead of stuffing a pocket, you snap the insert inside the diaper. It almost works like a trifolded prefold inside a cover. The inserts usually get clean without having to unstuff them when soiled either. I actually really like all-in-twos, but I only own a couple of them.
All-in-one diapers are a premium type and are usually pricier than the other types. The benefit is that there are absolutely no other steps. They require no covers or stuffing. They are all one piece–just like a disposable! This fact makes them especially popular with dads, grandparents and sitters!
However, I tried a few all-in-ones, and they were not my favorites. They take a really long time to dry, which is a huge disadvantage if you only have a small stash. I’m more tempted to put my all-in-ones in the dryer to speed up their drying time.
What’s your favorite type of cloth diaper?
My eBook, Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert, is a 200+-page handbook that will tell you all you need to know to have a successful cloth diapering journey! To read more about this book, click here.