The different types of Cloth Diapers: How do I choose the right one?

The different types of Cloth Diapers: How do I choose the right one?

This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For more information, please see my disclaimer here.

So many moms looking into cloth diapers for their babies get so confused about all the different types available. And rightfully so! It can be so confusing trying to figure them all out. So, how many types of cloth diapers are there and what are they like?

Well, there are 6 different types of cloth diapers. Yes, exactly! That’s why you were getting confused ๐Ÿ™‚ Here they are:

  1. Flat
  2. Prefold
  3. Fitted
  4. Pocket / Modern
  5. All-In-One
  6. All-In-Two / Hybrid

If you are looking for an in-depth guide to cloth diapers, or if you are already using cloth diapers but struggling with leaky or smelly diapers and need help with some troubleshooting, then have a look at my eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Cloth Diapers โ€“ everything you need to know for a stress-free cloth diapering experience.

Or you can join one of my Cloth Diapers Workshops <- here!

1. Flat Cloth Diapers

flat cloth diapers

Flat Cloth Diapers are the original version of cloth diapers. They consist in a flat sheet of fabric, usually cotton, that you need to fold to fit around your baby’s bottom. You can then secure it with a pin.

They do require practice to get the folding right and they also require a waterproof cover.

I have personally never used these, but heard of many people using them with success. If you do want to give it a try though, they have some advantages.

Advantages:

  • They can fit any baby’s bum size. Other cloth diapers come in different sizes depending on your baby’s age. Whereas flat nappies will fit your baby no matter how big or small they are.
  • They are very cheap, possibly the cheapest cloth diapers you can find.

Disadvantages:

  • Who has the time for these anymore? Seriously, I would get frustrated having to fold these every time. I don’t think these diapers are intended for nowadays busy moms.
  • I hate the pin or the snappi fasteners! I used the snappi for the prefold diapers and it used to drive me nuts. Hook & loop or snaps are so much better.

2. Prefold Diapers

Prefold Diapers are the next step up from Flat Diapers. They are a rectangular piece of cloth divided into 3 sections. The middle section being the most absorbent one. These sections make it easier to fold the diaper around the baby’s bum, so that you don’t struggle like with the Flat ones. You then secure them with pins or the snappi fasteners. They do require a waterproof cover like the Flat diapers.

I have used these ones with my first daughter. Not a big fan to be honest! I still hate all the folding and using the fasteners. Takes too much time and they look bulky as ๐Ÿ™‚ That said, I did use them and found them to be convenient when she was very little, and all the other cloth diapers were too big. Even though the other diapers were one-size, I still found them to be too big for my little baby. But once I could use the other types, I started using my prefolds as birth cloths – perfect! ๐Ÿ™‚

However, what I have found out with my second daughter, is that when coupled with a Pocket diaper cover, they can be the best solution for nighttime! They are incredibly absorbent, so you can just fold them and use them as inserts.

Advantages:

  • They are still pretty cheap!
  • They also adapt to any baby’s bum size.
  • They are not as hard to fold as the Flat diapers thanks to them being divided into three sections.
  • They are very absorbent and can be used with other types of cloth diapers to provide an extra layer of absorbency, particularly at nighttime.

Disadvantages:

  • Extremely bulky.
  • Still takes too long to put them on. I prefer something quicker.
  • Again, I hate the pins or snappi fasteners!

3. Fitted Diapers

Fitted diapers still have two pieces: the absorbent part and the outer waterproof cover. The difference from the Prefold or Flat diapers is that there’s no folding involved. The fitted diaper (inside absorbent part) is ready to be put around your baby’s bum. It closes with either snaps or hook & loop.

The inner part is made of cotton, bamboo, synthetic or a combination of these. The waterproof cover is made of PUL (Laminated Polyester), fleece or wool.

I have personally never used these. I don’t really like the idea of such a bulky inner diaper, plus the waterproof cover. However, lots of people like this type of cloth diaper for its simplicity. They can also be the perfect solution for heavy wetters or nighttime, as they are incredibly absorbent. They absorb all the way around, not just through the crotch area like other diaper options.  And, of course, you can add boosters into a fitted diaper if you find you need to. 

Advantages:

  • Very “poonami” proof. They perform very well when babies are little and making huge poos so many times a day.
  • No folding required compared to Flat or Prefold diapers.
  • You can still reuse the outer waterproof cover if only the fitted nappy got dirty.
  • Incredibly absorbents, so perfect for nighttime or heavy wetters.

Disadvantages:

  • Still quite bulky. Once your baby is wearing the fitted nappy with the cover, the bum will look huge ๐Ÿ™‚
  • I prefer smaller inner inserts to the big fitted nappies.

For more details on Fitted Diapers and a review of the best Fitted Diapers on the market, click here.

4. Pocket / Modern Diapers

Pocket Diapers, also called modern diapers, are very popular. I personally like these and used them all the time with my first daughter. I also use them overnight with my second daughter. They comprise of a waterproof cover, which has a pocket for the absorbent insert to go in.

The inner liner of the cover provides a stay-dry diaper as the urine passes through it and gets absorbed from the insert. However, you can also use them by putting the insert outside the pocket, which is what I did! This way you can keep reusing the clean waterproof cover and just change the inserts. Nowadays, it’s easy to find inserts made of multiple layers, so that the urine goes through the outer layer and gets absorbed by the inner layers, leaving the baby’s bum nice and dry.

pocket nappy

Advantages:

  • They are usually made of synthetic material so they dry super quick.
  • Because the inserts are detached from the waterproof cover, they also dry pretty quick.
  • You can use any insert you prefer. You are not necessarily stuck with one brand.
  • Easy to customize for heavy wetters or nighttime by using different or extra inserts. When paired up with Pre-fold cloth diapers as insert, they make the perfect solution for nighttime.
  • Incredibly easy to put on and take off.

Disadvantages:

  • If you use them with the pocket inside, then the bum is in contact with the synthetic liner. If you want a natural fabric diaper, then this is not for you.
  • If you over stuff them with inserts to boost absorbency, they are likely to leak.

For more details on Pocket / Modern Diapers and a review of the best Pocket Diapers on the market, click here.

5. All-In-One Diapers

AIO diaper

All-In-One Diapers (AIO) are amongst the most popular diapers because they are so easy to use. They are just one piece (the liner is optional), meaning no need to juggle different parts.

I tried these with my first daughter and I was feeling guilty washing the whole thing every time, even if she made just a wee. I prefer having a waterproof outer that I can keep using until it’s actually dirty. However, I had to change my mind with my second daughter. She’s so wriggly it is incredibly hard to keep the insert in place if detached from the cover. All-in-one diapers solved the problem, they last forever and fit her so nicely!

This type of diaper can come in many different configurations, which could be a bit overwhelming. Some come with an insert that is semi-detached for faster drying, and this insert either folds within a pocket or just within the cover. Some have an extra booster that snaps to the cover, or a booster that snaps to the semi-detached insert. Essentially, all these configurations are designed to allow for faster drying. So, if you think this is the type of diaper that could work for your family, take your time to investigate all the different options.

Advantages:

  • So easy with just one piece to put on and take off! Very popular with dads and daycares or nannies.

Disadvantages:

  • Can take a longer time to dry, compared to other diapers. However, most of them now come with detached or semi-detached inserts that make drying faster.
  • Can be quite expensive because you are essentially buying a cover and the insert in one.
  • They are not as absorbent as other types of diapers, so not always ideal at night. That said, you can often increase they absorbency by adding an extra booster insert.

For more information on AIOs and a review of the Best All-In-One Cloth Diapers, read here.

6. All-In-Two / Hybrid Diapers

AI2

All-In-Two Diapers (AI2) or Hybrid Diapers are my favorite type of cloth diapers with All-in-ones. I have used them with my second daughter and I would be using again and again if I had another child (I wish!).

They are made of two parts: a waterproof outer and a detachable absorbent insert that either snaps to the cover or gets tuck in it.

Advantages:

  • You can keep using the same outer over and over again until it gets dirty or starts to stink a little bit. Now that my baby is on solids and doesn’t poo as often, I usually use only one outer a day and I keep changing the insert.
  • Can be quite affordable as you don’t need as many waterproof covers per insert that you buy. I would buy at least 5 inserts per outer.
  • You can actually use any insert you prefer. You are not necessarily stuck with one brand.
  • They are usually made of synthetic material so they dry super quick.
  • Because the inserts are detached from the waterproof cover, they also dry pretty quick.
  • Easy to customize for heavy wetters or nighttime by using different or extra inserts.

Disadvantages:

  • The insert can move, particularly if your baby is very wriggly. When that happens they can leak.
  • Not as absorbent as other types of cloth diapers. You could stuff them up with very absorbent inserts, but I find that if you do that, then they loose the nice fit around baby’s legs and leak anyway.
  • Because they are made of two separate parts, they can appear to be more complicated than other cloth diapers.

For more information on AI2s / Hybrid Diapers and a review of the Best All-In-Two / Hybrid Cloth Diapers, read here.

FAQs

How do you wash all in one cloth diapers?

It’s super easy! Have a read here: Top 10 Tips on How to Wash Cloth Diapers.

Do you really save money using cloth diapers?

Did you find this useful? Pin It!

Related Posts

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I used disposable diapers with my son but now that I’m trying to go green, I’m thinking of switching to cloth diapers. This post is a great comparison.

    1. Monica

      Yes you should definitely do it! I am glad you found this useful ๐Ÿ™‚

Leave a Reply