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Cloth Diapering 101 {Types of Cloth}

This is the second post in our cloth diapering series.  To view the first post in this series, click here. {NOTE} If you see a pink, bold word that means you can click it and you will be directed to another part of the website or to another website for a product or more information. 

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Finding all the necessary information for cloth diapering was very overwhelming. I started taking notes because so many people were asking me about them – is it a lot of work? how do you know what to buy? how do you wash them? do you touch poop? Blah blah blah. Writing everything down helped because I knew I’d eventually want a reference for myself – what did I do that one time, way back when….I have also stumbled upon some amazing articles, videos etc and knew I needed to save them somewhere in case someone asked. Since I started my note taking, I know there is a plethora of information floating around as well as new diapers to try. I have found a few methods that work for me though, so that is what I can speak on. I am happy to share the information that I have compiled and I LOVE answering questions regarding cloth diapering. I get this weird feeling inside when I’m talking about cloth diapers. It’s like when I got a Mini Cooper – I knew all these bizarre facts that normal people shouldn’t know, like the wingspan of the doors are the same length of the actual car.

After the question “do you touch poop” and after I tell them that they touch poop even with disposables, I usually get “what types of cloth diapers are there?” Here we go…

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What kind of cloth diaper?
I really suggest looking into a trial pack. In the same way that Pampers work for some babies and Huggies work for others, you just can’t predict which cloth diaper will work best for your baby. If you do a trial you will be able to find what suits you and your baby. Remember, just because you like a diaper doesn’t mean that your baby will like it or that it will even work for your baby, so its always best to give the diapers a real trial before deciding what to build your stash out of. A couple examples for what could go wrong – some babies break out from the microfiber, stay-dry material that some diapers have and other babies legs are too skinny or too chunky for others etc. If you are going to do a trial I suggest Jillian’s Drawers.

Someone also suggested I find a store that carries cloth diapers and go in and feel the diapers. Pockets are sooooo soft. You will never want that paper diaper on your babies bum again!

I knew that “pocket” diapers were the most user friendly so that is the system I decided on. I bought a couple different brands of diapers to see which ones I would buy more of. I bought: Fuzzi Bunz OS (one size) with snaps, Bum Genius 4.0 OS with snaps, Happy Heiny OS, Kawaii OS, Monkey Snuggles, Swaddle Bees, SunBaby…. reviews of all of them below. My personal favorite is definitely Bum Genius 4.0.

Keep in mind that most one size diapers will not fit your newborn right away. You can find some XS or S sizes for newborns if you plan to cloth diaper earlier on. Prefolds get good reviews for newborns too.

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Flats: The original cloth diaper. Usually a 27″x27″ piece of fabric (muslin, bird’s eye cotton, flannel), requires a cover and a snappi (the new ‘pin’). Your cheapest option.  Not waterproof (requires a cover).  Pros: Easy to clean and they dry very quickly.  Cons: Require a little more effort than some other options. Can be bulky.

Prefolds: Next-cheapest option.  Not waterproof.  Probably what your mom thinks of when she hears “cloth diaper.”  They are sheets of cotton that are “prefolded” so that there is extra absorbency in the middle.  You fold them around your baby and secure with a Snappi.  Pros and cons about the same as flats, except they don’t require as much folding as flats.

Pre-Fitted: Looks like a disposable diaper, but requires a cover and pins or a snappi.

Fitteds: Look like a disposable diaper, usually have velcro or snaps to close, but sometimes require pins.  Not waterproof.  Can be sized or one size adjustable rise, requires a cover. Excellent nighttime option when paired with a wool cover (more about that below).  Usually made predominantly from natural fibers; sometimes have microfiber or something else sewn into the core for absorbency.

  • Pros: Less work than flats or prefolds.
  • Cons: Still requires a cover, can sometimes take a long time to dry, bulky. They get “crunchy” if you don’t dry in dryer.
  •  I have a few of these that I use while we are at home. I like to use them because they are more breathable than our pockets. If I see a rash coming on I use these. Sometimes I will put a cover over it but other times I just feel the diaper every once in a while to see if its damp.

Types of Covers:  The best are made of PUL (polyurithayne laminate), and can be sized or one sized with an adjustable rise. Closes with snaps or aplix (velcro).

  • I have 3 PUL covers for when BB wears Fitted cloth diapers. Even if you choose to use Fitteds as your system, you wont need very many covers. You can just change the diaper, wipe the cover down and alternate covers throughout the day while the other one dries. Thirsties Duo are my choice for a cover. These are also great as a swim diaper!
  • PUL:  These are waterproof, usually have snaps or velcro, and are a trim option.
  • Wool: Popular for use at night with fitteds, but can be used during the day too.  Natural fiber, breathable.  These are very pricey and are usually found on Etsy.  If properly lanolized, they don’t require frequent washing.
  • Fleece: A cheaper alternative to wool.  They have to be washed after every use.
All In Ones (AIOs): The most similar to disposables. These diapers have a waterproof outer layer and are all one piece.  No stuffing the diaper with an insert – just put it on the baby and go.
  • Pros: Easy, trimmer than other options.
  • Cons: These take forever to dry, you can’t customize if you need extra lining at night for heavier wetters and are more expensive than pocket diapers.
All in Twos (AI2s): A waterproof outer w/ replaceable absorbent inserts that lay in or snap in. Looks like a disposable and closes w/ aplix or snaps.

*Pockets: Looks like a disposable, and can be sized or one sized. Closes w/aplix or snaps. Looks like a disposable, comes in two pieces: the shell, which has a waterproof outer layer (PUL) and usually a synthetic stay-dry inner layer and the insert, which can be made of microfiber, cotton, bamboo, hemp, etc.  The insert is stuffed into an opening in the shell (the pocket)  for absorbency

  • Pros: Dries quickly because the shell and insert come apart.  Waterproof.  Customizable – you can add inserts if you need more absorbency.  Trimmer than other options.
  • Cons: Some people complain of wicking around the legs and waist.  More expensive than other options.  Synthetic fabrics.
  • These are my favorite and the most user friendly in my opinion.
Hybrids: These are diapers that have two pieces – an outer, waterproof shell, and an insert for the inside.  They’re similar to pockets except you just lay the insert in the pocket.  The idea is that you just change the inserts and don’t have to change the covers except once a day.
  • Pros: Easy. Could be a good travel option.
  • Cons: I did not like these. The liner would bunch up, they leaked a lot and poop still gets on the cover so you use several covers a day.  They’re also expensive for what you get. An example of this is G Diapers.

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Brands (there are many more than what Ive tried. I’m constantly trying new ones.)
  • Fuzzi Bunz OS I like that the legs, hips and waist are adjustable
  • Bum Genius 4.0 OS These are my favorite! Micro suede can irritate some, but we have had no issues. My night diaper was a BG with the microfiber insert and a hemp insert underneath it because my daughter was a heavy wetter at night.
  • Kawaii OS I only have a couple but they are great! They’re a great price too. If you have a very heavy wetter at night, Kawaii Nights work great. These run bigger and will probably last longer for those bigger babies (eh hem, I may have a couple of those).
  • SunBaby – If you’re looking to be economical, these are $5 on Ebay. The seller is in China. Yep, China….a gal had them lead tested though so no worries in that department! She has ADORABLE prints. I really like my SunBaby diapers. I would compare them to BumGenius except that they definitely run a little smaller. The resale on these will not be high because they aren’t a name brand like FB or BG. While I do like these, they won’t last for multiple kids and the sizing is a little off. In the long run, you may end up buying more, therefore not saving as much money. I suggest investing in a better diaper such as Bum Genius.
  • Monkey Snuggles – Very cute prints. I like the diaper but they run small and wont last as long.
  • Happy Heiny OS – No complaints! I have the Velcro version of these and they work great.
  • Swaddle Bees– The inside is bamboo fleece which is why the diaper is a little more expensive. I like them but I wont purchase more.
  • Best Bottoms The idea behind these is great. Check out the website. There’s nothing wrong with best bottoms, they just aren’t my favorite now that I’ve tried so many. They are very Dad friendly though!
Velcro versus Snaps
  • Velcro is great, but will eventually wear out. I also don’t like a diaper chain when coming out of the washing machine and dryer. There are laundry tabs to hold the Velcro back but sometimes people (*cough cough*) forget to use them when they put the diaper in the pail.
  • Snaps – Last longer, better resale and your baby wont be able to take their diaper off themselves with snaps!
  • Whatever you decide on, if your velcro or snaps get bad down the road (like at least a year), you can replace the velcro on them easily.

Misc Diaper Related Questions: 

How many?

If you start in the newborn phase, I suggest 30 of whatever system you choose. We started cloth diapering once we were settled in Las Vegas. I wanted to make sure DH was comfortable before I dropped the cloth diaper bomb on him.  We started off just doing it part time until I had a full stash. I bought slowly as to not shock the bank account (aka hubby).
The amt you have is really dependent on your child. How many times do you normally change their diaper? I am usually an every 3-4 hour girl unless the baby is poopy. I wash my CDs (pockets) every 2 days. If you’re wanting to do every 1 ½-2 days, 24-36 is about right.  If you choose to use something that needs a cover, you will of course have varying numbers. We have about 30 which means I can wash every 2 days and if I slack on stuffing the pockets, I still have some in the drawer. I always slack on stuffing the diapers! Always….when I stuff, I sit in front of the TV and its really relaxing to me. I get really excited to do my cloth diaper laundry. I know, I’m really really weird….

How often?

  • Depending on how heavy a wetter you have, you typically change the diaper every 3 hours. This is what I was doing with disposables so it wasn’t a big change for me.
  • Pockets you can usually go the longest because of the “stay dry” feel. Fitteds can last from 30 minutes to 2 hours. The whole diaper gets wet so the baby will feel very wet.
  • We use 7th generation disposables. It’s easier with traveling and not having to worry about doing a load of laundry. 7th Gen doesn’t use bleach in their diapers so I’m ok with it. You don’t realize how great cloth diapers are until you have to use disposables. We always end up having at least one blow out. Plus, I think disposables smell really bad and sometimes little white beads come out of the diaper. Ick!

I hope you found this information useful. The next post will be about how and where to store your diapers and how to wash them. I will also include some photos of my personal stash as well as a how to video. I would have loved to have posted the video in this, but its 10pm and I just now thought about doing it. My kids asleep and I’m not about to wake him up!


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  1. Melissa says

    My stash was 24 BG 3.0 & 4.0s. Worked well for me and I washed every 2-3 days.

    Bum Genius has a warranty for one year so just before one year, I returned any of my original 3.0s that had not good velcro and got brand new 4.0 snaps back. Good to remember if yours are not working appropriately within a year. And it wasn’t really the velcro that went as much as it was the stitching that kept the velcro attached to the diaper that came unsewn. But…LOVED cloth diapering. And resale value was amazing. It cost so little in the end!

    • Ashley says

      That is a GREAT tip Melissa! Would love any others that you have since you’re a cloth diapering veteran.

  2. Melissa says

    Thanks for all the good info, Ashley! When’s the next cloth diapering post? My BG is almost 4 months now, so I better get organized soon if I’m gonna try this cloth diapering thing!

    • Ashley says

      No problem! I’m glad you’re finding the info useful. Im hoping it’ll be in the next couple weeks! Anything in particular you’re curious about?

  3. flora says

    have you ever tried Babycity or Happy Flute? I am looking to start CD, but am on a limited budget and found good deals on these online.

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