Sunday, February 12, 2012

Help! What are the different kinds of cloth diapers?

First, know that within the types of diapers, you can get several types of fits and closures.  You can read about the difference between sized and one-size diapers here, and diapers can either be snapless or close with snaps or Velcro (also called aplix).

There are six basic types (though each type has many subtypes!). For more detailed information on any type, including pros and cons, pictures, and brand lists, click on the name.

Diapers That Need Covers
These diapers need a separate cover to become waterproof. 

A flat diaper is just a layer or two of an absorbent material like cotton, sewn into a large square. You can fold the diaper into various configurations to create an absorbent diaper that is secured with pins or a Snappi, or fold it to use as an insert. A flat diaper needs a cover to be waterproof. If your grandmother cloth diapered, this is probably what she used.

A prefold diaper is a flat diaper that has been pre-folded and sewn to create a more absorbent area in the middle. You can fold a prefold diaper around a baby and secure it with pins or a Snappi to create a diaper, or fold it in thirds to use as an insert.  If your mom cloth diapered, this is probably what she used.

A fitted diaper is a prefold that has been sewn into a diaper shape. It looks like any other cloth diaper, diaper, but it doesn't have a waterproof layer, so needs to be covered with a cover to become waterproof.  The one above is snapless and needs a Snappi or pins to close it, but they can have snaps or velcro as well.

Diapers That Do Not Need Covers
These diapers have the waterproof layer included and don't need a separate cover.


All in one diapers are just what the name says: all in one. Everything you need for the diaper is included - both the waterproof outer and the absorbent layer. All sewn together in one big happy package!  These are great for dads and daycares, as they are essentially just like disposable diapers, except instead of throwing them away, you put them into a wetbag or diaper pail.  On the downside, they usually take a long time to dry.


All-in-two (AI2) diapers can be confusing, as there are essentially two types of all-in-two diapers, and they are quite different.  However, they are all named for the fact that there are two parts: the waterproof outer and the absorbent layer, and these two parts are separate.

  • Hybrid all-in-two diapers are waterproof shells (covers) that can be used with different types of inserts, for instance, with a disposable insert or with a reusable insert. 
  • Snap-in or lay-in all-in-two diapers are all-in-one diapers that come in two parts.  Rather than having the absorbent layers sewn into the waterproof outer layer, the absorbent layers are separate and can be snapped in or lain into the waterproof cover. 


Pocket diapers are a waterproof cover and a liner sewn together, with a pocket opening at the front or back (or both). The diaper on its own has no absorbency, but when you place absorbent inserts into the pocket of the diaper you have a complete diaper. This allows you to customize absorbency and wash and dry the diapers quickly.


While not types of diapers, these are important components to some types of cloth diapers:

Covers are placed over non-waterproof diapers like pre-folds or fitteds to create a waterproof layer. Covers are commonly made of PUL, TPU, wool, or fleece. 

Inserts, soakers, and doublers are layers of absorbent material that are placed into covers or pocket diapers or are part of an AIO or AI2 diaper. They are commonly made of hemp, bamboo, microfiber, or Zorb. Liners are thin pieces of fabric that are placed between the diaper and the baby to help with disposing of poop, to create a stay-dry feeling for the baby, or to protect the diaper from a non-cloth-diaper-safe rash cream.

Double Gussets

Double gussets are additional rows of elastic at the legs of the diaper to help contain leaks.

1 comment:

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