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Cloth Diapering Basics: The Options

Cloth Diaper Options

Cloth diapering can be overwhelming. There, I said it! When my husband suggested cloth diapering, I thought it was a great idea, for the environment and for our wallets. Then I started researching all of the brands, types, and accessories and was quickly overwhelmed. So let me try to break it down for you as easily as I can. While reading, keep in mind that with all cloth diapers you need two layers. An absorbing layer and a waterproof layer. The absorbing layer will absorb all the pee/poo and the waterproof layer will act as the barrier and stop leaking. Here is the breakdown of the types of cloth diapering:


One of the most popular types of cloth diapering is the prefold and cover method. This is especially handy when cloth diapering from birth and is probably going to be the cheapest method. A prefold is basically a layered rectangle of cloth that you fold on to your baby and clip with a Snappi (the modern day version of using pins). There are several folds you can use but all are fairly simple. It is called a prefold because it is layered and therefore it is “pre-folded”. The center has more layers than the two sides, which you can see when holding up to the light. You then place a cover over the prefold.

When your baby messes in this diaper, you just replace the prefold, and keep the same cover. You can use the same cover 2-3 times depending on if it gets wet or gets poo on it.  This method is great for newborns because you can fit your baby better. With this method, the absorbing layer is the prefold and the waterproof layer is the cover. One drawback to this method is that the wet prefold will be right on your baby’s bare skin. They do have newborn size diapers, however, they are so expensive and can only be used a few weeks.  If you are going to use prefolds, we recommend having 24 to 30 prefolds and 3 to 4 covers.

prefolds covers


Fitteds are like a prefold with a snap or aplix (velcro) closure. These will still require a cover because there is no waterproof layer. The advantage is that you do not have to fold up a prefold to put on your baby, which can get difficult as your baby starts to move around and wiggle more. You just close up the diaper and then place a cover over it to act as the barrier.


Pocket Diapers

Pocket diapers are very popular. When you open up a pocket diaper you see a pocket on the inside of the diaper. Inside that pocket, you will put what is called an insert. You just put the diaper on your baby and fasten with the aplix or the snaps and you are done!  When your baby pees, the wet will go through the top layer and will be absorbed in to the insert. This means the wet will not be right against your baby’s bare skin, which is the main advantage to pocket diapers. Pocket diapers are considered one size diapers. However, they will not fit a newborn. They are recommended for 8-10 lbs+. They also have a row of snaps that you can use to adjust the size of the diaper so they grow with your baby.

The downfall is when you need to change you baby, you will have to replace the whole diaper. So as you can tell, this method can be a little more expensive. When you purchase a pocket diaper it will come with two inserts. A newborn insert and then an adjustable insert. One of the great things about pocket diapers is that you can adjust the absorbancy as needed. For example, if your child is a heavy nighttime wetter, just put 2 inserts in the pocket for overnights. If going with this method, we recommend having 18 to 20 pocket diapers.


All-in-Ones (AIOs)

All-in-one diapers are just what they sound like. They are the absorbing layer and the waterproof layer all in one diaper. The “inserts” are sewn in. These diapers are popular because they are just like disposables in the way that they are ready to go. Just grab a diaper to change your baby. There is no folding, or stuffing. A downfall to these diapers is that they take longer to dry. Also, if you have a heavy wetter you cannot add to the absorbancy like you can with a pocket diaper or cover.


All-in-Twos (AI2s)

Think of all-in-two diapers like a cover and prefolds. That is pretty much what they are. There are several versions. The Flip system has a prefold that you just place in the cover. The Grovia system has an insert that snaps in to the cover. The advantages and disadvantages to AI2s are the same as listed for the prefolds/covers – when changing you just have to replace the insert or prefold but the wet is still sitting on your baby’s bare skin.



I hope this helped you figure out what type of cloth is best for you. I always had a variety of cloth – pocket diapers and prefolds mostly with a few all in ones. Cloth diapering is awesome and I highly recommend it!

I currently have two cloth diaper giveaways running – both ending on 8/11/2015 – so click below to enter to win: