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Cloth Diapering Options – Diaper Types

July 21, 2010

Hey mamas (and dads?)! I was working on a LENGTHY post about cloth-diapering and came to the conclusion that I’m going to have to break it up into multiple posts (over multiple days). If you have a specific question about cloth-diapering, please leave it as a comment here or head over to the pureMotherhood Facebook Page and ask it there. I’ve started a specific “discussion” about cloth diapers, so ask away! (Don’t forget to *like* us while you’re over there.)

There are LOTS of options in cloth diapering. It’s a bit (ok, A LOT) overwhelming when you first start looking around. There are many different types of cloth diapers. There are even more brands. There are numerous websites selling all these diapers. And these are just SOME of the things you’ll have to figure out when you start. So kids, let’s get started on our first lesson.

DIAPER TYPES

Prefold (PF) – These are “your mama’s” cloth diapers. They are the old-fashioned flat cotton diaper with more layers in the middle than on the sides. Otherwise known as burp cloths in the non-cloth diaper community. **Wink, Wink** Do NOT attempt to use the prefolds you can buy at Walmart or other discount stores as diapers on your baby’s bum. They do not have enough absorbency. They truly work best as burp cloths. I love the prefolds from Green Mountain Diapers and Little Lions and so do a lot of other cloth-diapering families. The various sizes make them e-a-s-y. And you don’t have to secure them with pins anymore!!! There is this great new invention called a Snappi. You WILL need a cover with this type of diaper and no, I’m not talking about plastic pants.

  • Pros – Inexpensive, easy to get clean and I think they’re super cute
  • Cons – Definite learning curve to get a good fit (it took me about a month of full-time use but I am not known for my hand-eye coordination), a few more poop leaks than other types of cloth diapers (although the cover contains it 99% of the time), two separate parts – the prefold and the cover

Flat – A single-ply square (or mostly square) diaper that would be similar to something your grandmother would have used (or maybe your mom). They require quite a bit of folding to get them to fit properly. Use them with a Snappi or pins. This is by the far the cheapest way to cloth diaper a baby, especially since you can fold them various ways so that they fit from birth to potty-learning. A true one-size diaper. You can buy them at almost any cloth diaper website (or brick & mortar store if you’re lucky enough to have one near you). You must use a cover with a Flat. Read more about them HERE and HERE.

  • Pros – Very inexpensive, easy to clean and dries quickly
  • Cons – A big learning curve, two separate parts – diaper & cover

Fitteds/Prefitteds – An absorbent diaper with elastic around the legs and often at the waist. It is similar in shape to a disposable diaper. A fitted typically would have a snap or velcro closure. You would use a Snappi or pins to secure a prefitted. You must use a waterproof diaper cover with a fitted or prefitted diaper. Fitteds/prefitteds can be made of various materials ranging from organic cotton to microfiber to hemp to bamboo and more. There are a ton of different brands of fitteds and prefitteds. I’d tell you what fitteds we use but would you believe that none of them are made any longer?! If this is what you want to use, you’ll find lots of good options.

  • Pros – Easy to use, good at containing messes, prefitteds can be relatively inexpensive (although still more than prefolds)
  • Cons – Can be expensive, may not be easy to launder (look for a diaper with layers sewn together at one end only so they are easier to clean and dry more quickly), elastic can deteriorate over time, two separate parts – the diaper and the cover

Pocket – Just like it sounds. They consist of a waterproof outer barrier and an inner layer typically made from microfleece or microsuede (creates a stay-dry barrier). There is a *pocket* which you can stuff with various materials for absorbency. Most pocket diapers come with some kind insert. Inserts can be made from a variety of materials such as microfiber, cotton, hemp and/or bamboo. (Read more about those fabrics in a future post.) The most popular brands are probably Bumgenius and FuzziBunz. The Bumgenius pocket diaper is a one-size diaper. FuzziBunz offers sized and one-size diapers. I have only used Bumgenius 3.0’s. They JUST introduced the 4.0 and I would expect it’s a good diaper. Even if you don’t want to use them full-time it’s still great to have a few around. I have four. They have been used for church nursery, an easy diaper change for Grandma and for long trips (including flying across the country).

  • Pros – Easy to use, good at containing messes, easy to get clean, short dry time in the dryer
  • Cons – Stuffing them before every use or after laundering, relatively expensive, moisture can wick or leak onto clothing if buildup occurs on the inside stay-dry lining

All-In-One (AIO) – Similar to a pocket diaper but all of the components are sewn together. Some of these diapers also have a pocket so you can add absorbency. I’d venture to say that Bumgenius makes the most popular AIO.

  • Pros – Easy to use, good at containing messes
  • Cons – Relatively expensive, moisture can wick or leak onto clothing, can take a long time to dry, elastic can deteriorate over time

Hybrid – I have to admit that I’m not too familiar with this category as it was introduced after I found a system that works well for us. I’m doing my research but I’m just not an expert here yet. In general, hybrid diapering systems include a reusable cover and an absorbent liner (some disposable, some reusable). Some of the more popular (and maybe only) Hybrid options are: Flip, Econobum, GroVia (previously Gro Baby) and G-Diapers. If I wasn’t already invested in a system I’d probably try the Flip Hybrids.

  • Pros – Can be a relatively inexpensive option, easy to use, easy to clean and dries quickly, good at containing messes
  • Cons – Poop tends to get on the cover

Covers – Most are made of PUL (polyurethane laminated fabric), some are made of nylon. Want to learn everything you ever (didn’t) want to know about PUL? Click HERE. You can get them with velcro or snap closures. Popular PUL brands are Thirsties Duo Wraps, Bummis Super Brite, Super Whisper or Super Snap Wraps and Flip or Econobum One-Size Covers. Dappi and Bummis make pull-up nylon covers (I happened to like the trimness of the Dappi pants on E. Haven’t tried them on P yet). Wool is another option. I won’t go in to all the benefits of wool right now (and some or most of you are probably thinking that using wool as a diaper cover sounds crazy BUT it’s not). A future (near-future) CD’ing post will have more info on using wool in CD’ing.

**One other note about all these diapers. This isn’t the most pleasant thought, but I think it’s easiest to dunk a poopy prefold or flat in the toilet than any of the other diaper types to get sticky “peanut butter poo” off.**

We are a prefold family for the most part. Remember I said one of the (main) reasons we started CD’ing was to save money?  Well, that’s why we started using prefolds. Even if I had more money to spend I probably wouldn’t use a different type of diaper. I like them because they are incredibly economical, trim, easy to wash and I don’t have to fold any extra laundry. I just lay them all flat and put them in a drawer. I also happen to think they look adorable. We use Snappis, not pins (although I have tried pins). All our prefolds are from either Green Mountain Diapers or Little Lions. My favorite covers right now are the Thirsties Duo Wraps (we have four in Size 1 and four in Size 2). I also like wool although I used it much more with E than with P. P’s legs are much skinnier than E’s were at the same age so the wool covers we have aren’t fitting him real great and I haven’t bothered to buy more.

So, this post has taken me FOREVER to write. And there is so much more to tell you! We’ll get there. In the meantime I’ll be posting links to other blog posts I find interesting and relevant. Again, if you have questions, ask away!

Subscribe to my blog, “Like” my Facebook page and/or add me on Twitter to get blog updates. I’ll be posting more on cloth diapering over the next few days!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 21, 2010 11:57 PM

    Great post! Very informative!

  2. Disposable Diapers Wholesale permalink
    July 22, 2010 3:11 AM

    I switched to cloth diapers and I use California Baby Diaper Wash.

  3. Leslie V. permalink
    July 22, 2010 1:10 PM

    Great post! I CD Cora for the most part (75%). I still use a disposable at night and when we travel (or when I’m too lazy to wash laundry or just plain forgot because I had a million other things to do).

  4. July 22, 2010 2:22 PM

    LOVE the idea of saving money. SHUTTER thinking about cleaning these. I’m looking forward to learning more! My economical heart is right there with ya on CD’ing… my gag reflexes on the other hand…

  5. July 22, 2010 2:32 PM

    Stay tuned I’m going to talk about cleaning them in my next post!

  6. Emily Elizabeth permalink
    September 27, 2010 3:59 PM

    We cloth diaper full time and LOVE it! So much easier never having to remember to pick anything up at the store! LOL! We use GroVia diapers and love them…. after trying too many others first….

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