Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Popular Cloth Diaper Styles

When I first mentioned cloth diapers to my mom, she immediately thought of the old ‘Gerber flats’ and safety pins she used on my sister and I as children.  Today cloth diapering is anything but old fashioned.  With all the choices in styles to pick from, there is a diapering option to fit every family and every budget.

Pocket Diapers

Pocket diapers are made up of an outer diaper shell that has an open pocket in the back or the front of the diaper.  The pocket is designed for an absorbent insert (or two) to be placed before use.  When the diaper is soiled, the insert should be removed from the pocket and laundered with the diaper shell.  The pocket diaper will dry quickly because it is laundered and dried in multiple pieces as opposed to a one-piece “All in One” diaper (see next section).

Pocket diapers are wonderful because they make it easy to adjust the amount of absorbency depending on the needs of your baby.  You can stuff pocket diapers lightly with one insert for during the day, and double with two inserts for nap times or overnight.  The design of the pocket diaper also helps to wick moisture away from baby and into the absorbent inserts, which helps baby stay dry and comfortable.  The down side to pocket diapers is that you have to “stuff” them.  Usually the best time to do the diaper stuffing is after laundering.  It’s easy to stuff 2-3 days worth of pocket diapers while watching TV in the evening, and it doesn’t take much time.

Another thing to note about pocket diapers is that since the absorbent pad is concealed beneath another layer of fabric, it is critical that correct detergent be used on the diapers to prevent this fabric from repelling liquid.  If the wrong detergent or too much detergent is used, liquid can ball up and roll right off the diaper before it is ever able to contact and be absorbed by the insert.

Pocket of pocket diaper

All in One Diapers (also called AIO diaper)

AIO diapers are designed to be the simplest and most straightforward diapering system.  Put on the diaper, and when it’s soiled, wash, dry and use it again.  A typical AIO might have a fleece layer covering an absorbent microfiber/or hemp inner layer.  This design helps wick moisture away from baby. These diapers are great because you don’t have to re-stuff the diaper after laundering.  The down side to AIO diapers is that they will take longer to dry than a pocket diaper.  You will need to factor in some extra time on the clothesline, or more time in the dryer before your diapers are ready for use again and that could mean needing to purchase a few more diapers.

AIOs can be a little more challenging to launder.  Some comments I’ve read about AIOs are that they may have more issues with “stink” or not getting clean enough.  It makes sense that an AIO isn’t going to be agitated as much in the laundry compared to a diaper that is laundered in 2-3 pieces.  You might consider setting your washer on “heavy” load so that the diapers have a little more time to get clean.  AIOs also give you a little less flexibility for absorbency.

AIOs that seem to be especially wonderful are those designed specifically for newborns.  At this age, babies are so small that an AIO often provides a great fit with the least amount of diaper bulk.  They also make cloth diapering easy for sleep-deprived parents who don’t want to sacrifice any extra time on stuffing diapers. One of the most adorable newborn AIO diapers that features a low rise for an umbilical cord is “Little Joeys” from Rumparooz.  One of the most economical newborn AIO's is from BumGenious (aff link).

Here is a video of an All in One diaper from BumGenious that is designed for older babies. It offers a solution to the drying time issue:

All in Two Diapers and Hybrid Diapers

“All in Two” diapering systems use a waterproof diaper shell that contains snaps inside the shell to attach an absorbent pad.  When the inner pad becomes soiled with liquid, simply remove the pad and snap in a new pad.  “All in Two” diapers have the benefit of being fast drying and having no preparation before use (you can snap in a fresh pad quickly during diaper changes).  A great and inexpensive “All in Two” diapering system is “Best Bottom (aff link)”.

Hybrid diapers use a very similar concept as “All in Two’s”, except in this case the absorbent pad is a disposable (and sometimes compostable) paper product.  Some diapering systems (like Grovia) are designed to be used as either an “All in Two” or Hybrid.  Hybrid diapering can be great for long outings or travel, where you don’t have a lot of room in the diaper bag.  A company that makes exclusive Hybrid diapers is “Flip”. One of the cautions to “All in Two” or hybrid diapers is that you need to make sure you have the cover on tightly.  If there are gaps around the legs it is easy for breast-fed-baby-poo to sneak out.  All in Twos are actually more effective than pocket diapers at containing urine, because the absorbent pad is not covered by another type of material that could repel liquid if laundered or cared for improperly.  “All in Two” and Hybrid diapers are simple diapering systems that require little effort, and are very cost effective since you can re-use the diaper shell through out the day.

Fitted Diapers

Fitted diapers are a modern twist on an old diapering concept.  These diapers are designed as a highly absorbent cloth that is fitted and sized to baby.  The fitted diaper usually attaches to baby using snaps. Fitted diapers are used in combination with a waterproof diaper cover, or wool cover that keeps moisture within the diaper.  Fitteds are wonderful because they are so absorbent and are great for older babies.


Prefolds are one of the most traditional of all diapering systems.  An absorbent rectangular cloth is folded and secured on baby by use a hook system called a “Snappi”.  A waterproof diaper cover then covers the diaper to hold in moisture. Prefolds are great because they are a highly absorbent diaper, and they give you the freedom to change the fold and the style of the diaper.  The down side to prefolds is that you have to learn to fold them.  This might seem intimidating, but a little practice and patience is all it takes.

The most basic and inexpensive diapering system.  Flats are large pieces of fabric that can be anything from a receiving blanket to an old kitchen towel.  Flats can be folded in a similar manner to prefolds, and secured using a Snappi.  The cloth needs to be covered by a waterproof diaper cover.

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