In this post, I’ll be covering 6 different types of cloth diapers and their component parts that I think are the most common. More might be out there since I am not covering it all, and things always change.
I have been using cloth diapers since my daughter was six months old. I can’t tell you how overwhelmed I was when I started researching about it. Ultimately I ended up not choosing any and started my newborn in disposables, which were fine for that moment.
Well, after six months of using disposables and wanting to try cloth, I finally took the plunge and bought my stash.
Cloth diapers do not have to be and are not as confusing as they seem.
6 Different Types of Cloth Diapers and Their Component Parts
What are the basic materials and parts the diapers are made of?
There are different styles of cloth diapers, but they are all made from these basic materials and share similarities in the way they are presented. Besides, they all have the same function.
The inner layer can be microfleece or bamboo. They are different materials, but their function is the same, which is keeping the moisture away from the skin.
Bamboo has an amazing thermoregulatory property. It will adapt to whatever environment it is exposed. For instance, if baby is wet and it is cold outside, it will adapt and become warm, thus not so uncomfortable for baby. The opposite holds true too.
Half of my stash is made of bamboo inner layer and the other half microfleece.
The waterproof material, known also as outer layer, can be TPU, minky and even wool. They provide the waterproofing qualities so sought after in a diaper system. I only have experience with TPU.
The shells are usually made of one inner lining sewed to an outer lining, unless it is a diaper cover that is made only of TPU or wool. I am not very familiar with wool so I can’t tell you much about them.
The inserts can be microfiber, bamboo or cotton.
Microfiber inserts can just be used as an insert and shouldn’t touch the skin. Microfiber will dry the skin if in contact with it.
In comparison with the other inserts, microfiber tends to hold more odor, but it does the job well. It is also bulkier than bamboo and cotton.
Bamboo inserts are much less bulky when wet in comparison with microfiber. It can touch the skin with no problems.
Cotton “inserts” can touch the skin too. They are in truth flat or prefold diapers used as an insert. They are very absorbent but do not keep the moisture away from the skin as well as bamboo. And they do not retain the same amount of liquid as bamboo and microfiber because they soak a bit faster.
6 Different Types of Cloth Diapers
Pocket diapers are one of the most common kind of cloth diapers. I’ll start with this one just because this is my go-to diaper, and I’ll soon tell you why.
This diaper features a pocket, which is an opening between the inner layer and outer layer.
The opening can be in the front or back depending on the brand – mine is in the back. This opening gives the shape of the so called pocket. It is in there that the inserts will go to stuff the pocket and give life to an assembled pocket diaper.
Pockets weren’t my first option. Instead I was really drawn to the all-in-ones because they seemed so practical. But practicality comes with a cost, so I ultimately chose the pocket diaper because of its affordability.
This system is perfect for me for a few different reasons.
First, as I said before, pocket diapers are more affordable because of the extra steps to get it all ready to use. The steps aren’t an inconvenience for me – but they might be for you. It pays off in costs and maintenance as time goes on.
Second, pocket diapers are amazing because they have two parts. One part is the diaper shell, and the second part is the inserts.
This feature will allow you to wash the diapers and inserts separately! This will clean them thoroughly and make it easier to remove the diaper from the dryer sooner. This will help to keep the lifetime of the elastics on your diapers longer.
In truth, some people do not like this feature. They think that there are too many steps to get the diaper ready to use. But here is the thing: This is the one feature that makes me appreciate this system. Especially if you are thinking about using the diapers for a second child.
These are diapers that have the inserts attached fully or partially through sewing to the diaper shell. They are also a good option for those who are looking for a system that resembles the performance of a disposable.
I have just one of this kind, and mine is the type where the inserts overlap each other.
This system was my first option of all, but I decided that I had to move on from it. It didn’t seem to me that it would last longer because I had to wash and dry all the pieces together. That way I didn’t have any guarantee that my elastics would stand that routine and last long.
You have the option to hang dry these diapers, but I personally do not like to do that. Since the inserts are attached to the shell, this system takes longer to dry.
My experience hanging it to dry inside the house ended up with them holding on some odor. It might not happen if you dry it in the sun. I think the dryer would be the best way to go if you do not use the sun.
Flat diapers are the simplest diaper system to understand. It is just a square piece of soft cotton cloth. You can use it with a pocket diaper or diaper cover because it is not waterproof. I have a few flat diapers that I use as an insert.
And yes, moms all over the place also use flour sacks as inserts because they are very inexpensive. However, they can be bulky. I particularly do not like to use them.
This system is the least expensive choice that parents use to diaper their newborns and toddlers.
Flats are very easy to clean and dry. They will dry well, fast and thoroughly when hanging. But this system is a bit more work because it involves folding prior to use.
Prefolds are flats sewn together. There are prefolds in different sizes depending on the brand you choose. They are a good option to use with newborns. You have to use them with a diaper cover, and you can use them as an insert for pocket diapers as well. They are very easy to use and perhaps more practical than flats because they are prefolded.
This system will probably be the one I use with my second baby from the beginning.
Prefolds are also an inexpensive option if budget is an issue. If I use them, Ill try to buy only one size and then use from newborn to toddlerhood since babies outgrow their newborn size in a heartbeat.
I imagine that if you buy prefolds in different sizes it will add up in costs, unless you use them for future children.
Fitted diapers are the ones where the diaper itself is all made of cloth, and it has the shape and structure of an all-in-one diaper. I have never used them. Based on other parents’ experiences, this diaper absorbs well, but it requires a diaper cover so they won’t leak.
This diaper is sold in different sizes so you can buy accordingly as your baby grows, or you can buy one size fits all. See which one will fit your needs best.
It seems to be really gentle on baby’s skin. It also has been a favorite choice for parents to use with their newborn.
All-in-two diapers have the inserts attached to the shell through a snap. Some of them will have a pocket as an additional feature to stuff by the partially attached insert.
This system is also called hybrid because it offers the flexibility of using it with a cloth insert or a disposable liner/insert. It seems to be less bulkier than pockets.
The disposable insert can be a good option if nana is taking care of baby or if you are out and about. You may also just prefer to use it out of preference instead of a regular insert.
They also last longer like a pocket diaper since you can wash the parts separately. However, they cost more than pocket diapers.
Make it easy on yourself while looking for your cloth diapers. To help you out a bit with it, read how to choose your cloth diaper faster!
What is your favorite diaper system? Which ones are your favorites? I would love to know!
Share your experience with us in the comments below!
See you around the blog!