Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cloth Diapering 101: Tools of the Trade

Types of Diapers
(most definitions from

(pictured: prefolds from ) Pre-fold diapers are rectangular shaped diapers that are divided lengthwise in 3 sections. The outer sections usually have a thickness of 4 layers. The middle section can have 6 or 8 layers. This gives pre-folds absorbency where it is needed most, in the middle. You will often see prefolds defined as 4-6-4, 4-8-4 or more rarely 2-4-2. These numbers refer to the layers of cloth in each section from left to right. Pre-folds are the cheapest alternative in diapers. They can be enclosed in a velcro or snap fastened diaper or they can be pinned with safety pins or snappi fasteners.

Fitted diapers:
(pictured: Kissaluvs Fitted diapers, available at and other retailers)Fitted diapers resemble disposable diapers. They have a contoured shape and have gathered edges around the legs. Instead of tape, they are fastened with either velcro or snaps. A waterproof diaper cover is necessary when using fitted. Fitted diapers are more expensive than pre-folds ranging from $4 to $11 each. However they are much easier to use. If you purchase those with velcro closures, look for wide velcro strips.

Diaper covers: (Pictured: Thirsties cover available at and other retailers)
Like diapers, covers come in many forms. Like fitted diapers they may be contoured shaped and can fasten with snaps or velcro. Some covers resemble underwear. Either are made of polyester or vinyl to prevent wetness from getting on baby's clothing. These are ideal for covering your child's diaper during the daytime.
For the baby with sensitive skin there are also wool and polar fleece diaper covers. These too may be contoured shaped with snap or velcro fasteners. Others come in "boxer-like" shape. Some prefer these covers for night-time use because they breathe.

Pocket Diapers:
(pictured: Knickernappies 2G pocket diaper, available at and other retailers)
Pocket diapers are the newest type of diapers to hit the cloth diapering world. The first pocket diaper, Fuzzi Bunz created by Tereson of Mother of Eden in 1998. Pocket diapers are two piece diapering system typically with a piece of fleece that makes up the inner portion of fabric and a waterproof layer that makes up the outermost portion. An absorbent material is placed inside of the two pieces making the whole system act as an all in one system that keeps babies dry.

Inserts: (Pictured are the Knickernappies LoopyDo and microfiber inserts, available at and other retailers)

Inserts are the absorbent piece of a pocket diaper and are placed in the "pocket" of a pocket diaper to keep babies dry. Inserts are made of many materials, with the most common being microfiber and hemp.

All-in-one diapers: (Pictured is the bumGenius 3.0 All-in-one (AIO), available at and other retailers)

Also known as AIO's, all-in-ones are fitted diapers that have an outer waterproof layer and a built-in soaker (insert). These are the diapers closest to disposables, and will probably be the easiest to use for parents who are new to cloth.

Liners: (pictured are Bum Covered Fleece Liners, available at
Liners are thin material used between a baby's bottom and the diaper itself. Most liners are used to keep stool away from diapers for easy clean up. Many cloth diaper businesses carry flushable biodegradable liners which are the perect fit for this purchase. As an alternative you can use flat diapers to keep costs down and still keep natural soft fabrics against your baby's skin.
Another type of liner which is fast becoming popular is the polar fleece one. These are thicker than their paper/flat sheet counterparts and are great for keeping the baby's bottom dry.


  1. Very informative! I wish I would have seen something like this when I was first researching cloth diapers. It can be very overwhelming at first, but this would be very helpful!

  2. Thanks for the great information along with pictures.

  3. The pictures make a huge difference to us newbies! Thanks.

  4. I wish I had found your blog sooner! Great info (I came over from Coupon Mommy of 3's contest...glad she found you for us!)

  5. I came from Coupon Mommy of 3. Great post! I tried using safety pins to secure a prefold once...LOL! Umm...let's just say it was quite comical and the baby managed to pee through it before I was even finished. Probably because I couldn't get it fastened correctly during the 20 minutes that I tried. In the end, I stuck him in the pack and play nakie, lined with clean towels while I washed all the new AIO and pocket diapers I had just gotten. Needless to say...I've never gone back. They're so awesome! Easy and leak free.

  6. coupon mommy of two sent me :)