Types of Cloth Diapers – Sorting Through the Confusion!

Written by on October 5, 2012 in Family - No comments | Print this page


Cloth diapering is one of the most earth friendly choices you can make when it comes to how you care for you baby. Instead of contributing 6000-8000 disposable diapers to the landfills over a child’s diapering years, cloth diapers are used over and over again. They can even be used for multiple children!

Cloth diapers have come a long way, too! They come in an endless variety of cute patterns and styles. If  you’re just getting started, maybe you’re just as confused as I was when I started looking into cloth diapering. There are a lot of new terms to learn! What surprises a lot of people is that there are actually many different kinds of cloth diapers. Each has its pros and cons and everyone finds a “favorite.” Let’s take a look at each.


The original cloth diaper, flats are simply a flat piece of material that can be folded a number of ways and then pinned or fastened onto baby. They are used with a waterproof cover. A couple perks of using flats are that they are easy to clean and they dry quickly. They can also be folded in different ways to best absorb moisture. For example, you can fold them with more padding in the front for little boys or more padding in the middle for girls. Flats are also a very inexpensive option. 18 flat diapers and 3 or 4 covers is more than plenty to start out your stash if you are able to do laundry at least every other day.


Prefolds are similar to flats. They are simply, as their name suggests, prefolded. Prefolds are also pretty inexpensive and are used with covers. They can be less bulky than flats. When you’re shopping for prefolds, you’ll find that there are different sizes and absorbency levels to choose from. Select size based on your baby’s weight. The absorbency of the diaper will say something like 2x4x2. These numbers mean that there is 2 layers of fabric on the sides of the diaper and 4 layers in the middle. Every baby is different, but older babies usually need a more absorbent diaper.

All-In-One (AIO)

All-in-one diapers are just what they sound like! The waterproof shell is built onto the outside of the diaper. These are the most dad-friendly and babysitter-friendly type of cloth diaper, since there is no difference in how they are used from disposables, other than where you put the dirty diaper when you’re done changing baby!

All-In-Two (AI2)

All-in-two diapers consist of a cover and an absorbent insert that snaps into the cover. AI2 diapers are also very easy to use. Though there is another step to changing time, AI2s do dry more quickly. Also, because you can buy disposable inserts, they are more convenient for some people on the go.


Fitted diapers are similar to AIO diapers as they’re simply put on your baby like a disposable diaper without any fancy folding or anything. They do need to be used with a cover, though. Fitted diapers are great for older babies who are starting to be more active, as the snug fit is super effective at holding everything in.


Pocket diapers also use inserts, but they are placed inside a pocket on the diaper cover rather than snapped in. Pocket diapers are handy because you can double or even triple the inserts for older babies or overnight. Absorbency is important overnight – after reading all the best crib mattress reviews to find the best bed for your baby, you want to keep it clean!

More Cloth Diapering Lingo

There few more accessories you might want to check out if you’re just getting started with cloth diapering. While some of these definitely aren’t necessary, they can definitely make your life a lot easier!

  • Diaper pins are covered safety pins that can be used to fasten prefold or flat diapers.
  • Snappis are a neat, pin-free tool that you can use instead of diaper pins to secure baby’s diaper.
  • A diaper sprayer attaches to your toilet and makes cleaning messy diapers a breeze.
  • A wet bag will come in handy if you’re planning on using cloth while running errands or travelling. Put dirty diapers inside and keep the mess contained!

There’s a lot to learn about cloth diapering when you’re just getting started. I’m hoping this vocabulary lesson has been helpful as you look into building your cloth diaper stash!

This is a guest post.  Kylie Worthington is a crunchy mom of two and loves using prefolds and Thirsties covers to diaper her newborn. She and her husband enjoy the outdoors and are crazy about taking their boys camping, hiking and fishing. They love shopping for their natural home at websites like http://www.ecohomeinspired.com.

Image courtesy of winnond / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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