Cloth Diapers, an Introduction

I’ll be honest, I love diapers. Cloth ones specifically. Of every color, type and size.

In the two years since A was born, I’ve gone from using basic pockets to using pretty much every diaper under the sun. There are an overwhelming amount of diapers on the market, when I started diapering I did a ton of research and chose one of the more popular brands. It worked out great for us, but knowing what I know now, I’m not sure they would have been my first choice.

Here is my overview of modern cloth diapers, I hope that my experiences can help you choose diapers that will work for you. (This is also a work in progress and I will update it as time goes on.) 

Flats: These are your mom’s cloth diapers. They are the most “complicated” as they require folding and covers. They are typically made of birdseye cotton, but can be made of cotton, hemp or bamboo and any type of fabric from flannel to fleece. The price ranges from $1 to $10 per flat.

Prefolds: These are prefolded flats. They are not as adjustable as flats, so you need to buy several sizes. They do not require folding, but do require a cover. They are typically made from cotton, but can be made of cotton, hemp or bamboo. The price ranges from $2 to $10 per prefold.

Fitteds: These are shaped like a standard disposable diaper. They may have snaps or Velcro for fastening, or may require pins, a snappi or a tight fitting cover. They do require a cover. They can be made of cotton, bamboo or hemp.


Pull On: These are the old school plastic pants, they tend to be lower quality and do not contain messes well.

Wraps: Wrap covers are adjustable and snugger fitting than pull on plastic pants. They have become the standard in modern cloth diapering.

All-in-Two (AI2): These are diapers that are 2 part systems, a shell and an insert. The shell is a reusable waterproof cover, the insert may be a lay in or snap in soaker and is the absorbent part of the diapers. The inserts come in a variety of fabrics, from microfiber and cotton to bamboo and hemp.

All-in-One (AIO): This is the closest diaper to a disposable during use. The cover and absorbent layer are sewn together, making it a simple diaper change. These tend to be pricier than other diapers and take a long time to dry.

Pockets: This is becoming the standard diaper among modern cloth diapering. This is another two part stabsystem. The cover has a pocket that an insert can be stuffed into for absorbency. The outer shell cannot be reused.


Microfiber: This is the standard for inserts. It is cheap and widely used. It cannot be used directly against the skin so is found sewn in to AIO or used for pocket diaper inserts.

Cotton: Cheap and highly absorbent. It is used in many fitteds and most prefolds.

Hemp: More absorbent than microfiber or cotton. However it absorbs slower and is typically used in conjunction with cotton or microfiber. It is slightly more expensive.

Bamboo: Most expensive and most absorbent material. It is heavier than cotton or hemp and can become stiff. It is used very often for overnight diapers or for inserts for heavy wetters.


Fasteners: Pins and Snappi’s. Snappies are a quicker and safer alternative to safety pins.

Wet Bags: Wet bags are a staple for cloth diapering. Pail liners can contain a few days of dirty diapers before they go in the wash. Other wet bags vary in size from able to contain a single diaper to a day’s worth. These are very useful for trips to the store and day trips.

Cloth Wipes: While some cloth diapering families continue to use disposable wipes it is much easier to use cloth wipes as well. Since you are doing the laundry they can just be thrown in to the dirty diaper pail and washed with the diapers.

Wipe Solution: When using cloth wipes there are many different solutions that different people use. Typically they are warm water and any combination of the following: Tea Tree Oil, Vitamin E, Baby Soap, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, essential oils, etc. We use a solution of warm water, a small amount of vitamin E, and a few drops of Tea Tree Oil.

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