With such a wide range of great cloth baby diapers available, it's easier than ever to use cloth diapers! But when you're just getting started, it may seem like cloth baby diapers come with their own language. Here we take a few minutes to walk through the basics. When you're ready, click through to another article on each type, where we provide more details and helpful information, plus some of the brands we trust!
If you're on a budget cloth diapers will save you a lot of money
- but getting started can be hard. The good news is that you really can cloth diaper for under $100! Whether you want
to buy new diapers, purchase gently used, or make your own, this article
has lots of no-frills ideas for you to help you work within a tight budget!
Flats are the oldest style of cloth diapers, and are the ones your grandparents and parents are likely familiar with. They are made up of pieces of absorbent white 100% cotton fabric that can be folded to custom sizes. They dry very quickly, and are very inexpensive, but require folding and pinning. They must be used with a cover or wrap to be waterproof. Flats are sometimes hard to find since many moms prefer the convenience of prefold diapers.
Prefold reusable cloth diapers are an affordable and versatile style of cloth baby diapers used by both moms and diaper service companies.
While pocket diapers and AIO cloth diapers usually start around $15 each
and continue upwards, pre-folds usually cost between $2.50 and $5.00
depending on the size.
Prefolds are not waterproof on their own. They can be laid inside a waterproof diaper cover, or wrapped and fastened around your baby with pins or a Snappi.
Usually made of absorbent cotton, bamboo, or hemp, fitted cloth baby
diapers have a contour shape similar to a disposable diaper, with
elastic or gathered edges at the legs and back to contain messes. They
are fastened with snaps or Velcro (or "aplix").
Used alone, fitted cloth diapers are not water-proof, so they must be combined with a waterproof cover. Since waterproof covers do not allow for airflow, some parents choose to use their fitted diapers without covers when they are at home. Fitted cloth diapers are easier to use than pre-folds, so they are great for active babies and toddlers. However, they are more expensive. Fitted diapers are often made of both prints and plain fabrics. While usually sized, some companies have introduced one-size options for the fitted diaper.
Example brands are Kissaluvs Cotton Fleece Fitted, Thirsties, Mother-ease, AMP Hemp Fitted Diapers, and Bamboozle.
Baby diaper covers and wraps are made of waterproof material. They are used with flat, prefold, and fitted diapers that are not waterproof on their own. Since pockets and all-in-ones are already waterproof, a cover is not necessary for these styles!
Rubber pants are a thing of the past! Thanks to new fabrics and choices of design, there are a lot of cover options you can choose from for your cloth baby diapers, including wool, fleece, PUL, and nylon. Read this article for more information on styles, fabric choices, laundering, brands, and more!
Pocket diapers were a fantastic invention! They are one of the most
popular types of cloth baby diapers for new parents, and a personal
favourite of mine! These diapers are a two-part system, with a
waterproof outer (usually made of PUL), and a stay-dry inside layer made
of wicking materials such as microfleece, minky, or suede-cloth. The
two layers are sewn together with an opening (usually at the back, but
some such as AMP put the opening at the front) to allow parents to
insert absorbent material into the pocket.
You can use anything as an insert (including pre-folds, or even towels if you run out of inserts!) You need to remove the insert before washing pocket diapers, and they must also be "re-stuffed" before use. Because of the two-part system, pocket diapers dry much more quickly than all-in-ones. Once they have been stuffed, pocket diapers are as easy to use as all-in-one diapers. Pocket diapers range in price, but are typically more expensive than pre-fold cloth baby diapers and covers.
Some of the many brands include FuzziBunz, AppleCheeks, and Rumparooz. Plus check out our article on cheap pocket diapers for an overview of 6 budget-friendly pocket diapers.
If you're new to cloth diapering, the differences between cloth diaper inserts, doublers, boosters, and soakers can be confusing to say the least! Here we review absorbent options for your diapers, and talk about fabric types too! By the time you're done this article, we hope we'll have cleared up any questions you might have about inserts and cloth diaper absorbency.
We've tried them all, and AI2s are our favorite diaper type of all! If you're looking for something quick and easy, all-in-twos may be the cloth diaper answer you've been searching for! AI2s have a detachable insert means that the shell can be reused for
more than one diaper change. These diapers offer convenience, flexibility, and affordability. Read our comparison of AI2s compared to all-in-ones, and check out an overview of some of our favorite brands.
With a waterproof, washable shell and a disposable or re-usable insert,
hybrid diapers are a cross between traditional disposable diapers and
cloth diapers. At each diaper change, the insert is replaced, but the
cover can be used again and again.
Hybrid diaper manufacturers sell cloth inserts that can be used at home, and disposable inserts that can be used for times (such as travel) when storing or washing is inconvenient.
All-in-one cloth diapers (also called AIOs) are super-easy to use, and are the closest type of cloth diapers to disposable diapers. Many parents buy a few all-in-ones to have on hand for babysitters and grandparents. They are fitted, with a waterproof shell and a built-in absorbent layer, and Velcro or snap fasteners. While some all-in-ones do have a pocket to allow you to add extra absorbency, most cannot be customized. Because the layers are all stacked and sewed together, they are sometimes not as trim and can take longer to dry than other forms of cloth diapers. This article provides more information, plus a comparison of a few of our favorite brands!
Most manufacturers offer one-size and sized options. One-size diapers are adjustable so that they can
grow along with your baby from birth until potty training.
Thanks to a set of snaps used to adjust the rise (or a fold-down rise with two sets of snaps), one-size cloth baby diapers are a great option for parents who may only cloth diaper one child, or who are looking to reduce their total investment. One-size diapers do not always work well on newborn diapers, because they are bulky and may not provide a snug enough fit.
Whenever we can, we provide photo size comparisons of one-size diapers on their smallest setting next to a newborn diaper to help you get a feel for what to expect. If you plan to start with cloth diapers early on, you may wish to buy newborn or sized diapers.
Are you planning to start cloth diapering right from day 1? We've got
information on using newborn cloth diapers, including suggested brands
and styles that offer a good fit for brand new babies.
When you're diapering a newborn, it's important that your diaper offers a snug fit! You want to have a diaper that is snug around the back and across the back to contain runny newborn poop.
If your baby is a heavy wetter, cloth diapering at night can be a
frustrating experience until you find overnight diapers that works.
Are you tired of getting up with an unhappy and wet baby? You do NOT need to switch to expensive disposable overnight diapers! There are some great cloth diaper options available for overnight diapering.
This article provides help with heavy wetters, suggestions for overnight diaper options, and help with stinky diapers and diaper rashes if your baby is sleeping through the night.
Many parents have discovered the paradox of modern potty-training - at a time when you most want your toddler to recognize that wet diaper feeling, Pull-Ups mask the wet feel. Cloth training pants are designed to pull up just like underpants, but are made with a waterproof outer layer such as PUL and absorbent material on the inside. Some manufacturers make pocket trainers so you can customize absorbency.
Planning to take your baby swimming? Here's why you need to look at cloth swim diapers, even if you never plan to put a cloth diaper on your baby in their life. Learn more and read up on popular brands, too!
Here's a list of 8 cloth diaper friendly designer diaper bags! It's amazing how much "stuff" moms need in their diaper bags when they travel with a baby! From a change of clothes for you and 3 outfits for baby, to hand sanitizer and extra wipes, it's not easy to pack light!
While the choice of styles (and then brands!) may seem overwhelming at first, every single style of cloth baby diapers is a great option! Keep your budget and preferences in mind, and consider how much time you want to spend assembling diapers. Once you know what is important to you, it will be much easier to make a decision.
Keep in mind, no matter what cloth diapers you choose, you will likely still save money compared to using disposable diapers. And, if the first diapers you purchase don't work out, please know that you can easily re-sell them to recoup most of your cost to put toward another style!