Want to use cloth diapers, but don’t know where to start? Confused by your options? Let’s make this simple:
This is the “old-fashioned” cloth diaper: flat, rectangular, with more absorbency in the center. You would fold this diaper and secure it with pins or a snappi. Since a prefold is absorbent, but not waterproof, you would have to add a waterproof layer – a diaper cover.
- Pros: Cheapest option. Fast drying. Can be used as burp cloths, diaper inserts, rags, etc.
- Cons: Requires folding and some practice – not good for babysitters, etc. Requires a diaper cover – more to organize and creates a slower diaper change. Absorbent layer is against baby’s skin – baby feels wet, can cause diaper rash, and absorbent layer will get stained.
Fitted or Contour Diapers
This type of diaper is like a prefold, but does not need to be folded. It is already contoured or “fitted” like a diaper. It closes with snaps or velcro. Since a fitted diaper is absorbent, but not waterproof, you would have to add a waterproof layer – a diaper cover.
- Pros: Cheaper than all-in-one diapers or pocket diapers. Easier than prefolds.
- Cons: Requires a diaper cover – more to organize and creates a slower diaper change. Absorbent layer is against baby’s skin – baby feels wet, can cause diaper rash, and absorbent layer will get stained.
A waterproof covering of plastic (PUL) or wool that goes over a prefold or fitted cloth diaper. Closes with velcro or snaps. Elastic at the waist and legs.
- Pros: Holds in messes very well.
- Cons: Slows down the diaper change. Wool covers must be washed separately from your diapers.
This type of cloth diaper has absorbent and waterproof layers sewn together into one fitted shape. Usually has a microfleece lining against baby’s skin. Microfleece allows urine to pass-through to an absorbent center, so baby feels dry. Closes with velcro or snaps.
- Pros: No separate parts to organize. Fast diaper change. Microfleece lining – baby feels dry, helps prevent diaper rash, stain-resistant.
- Cons: Harder to sanitize when washing because the absorbent layers are sewn flat, limiting agitation and waterflow to the absorbent center. Takes a long time to dry. Not very absorbent – may leak frequently.
Pocket diapers are my favorite type of diaper. They balance my needs for convenience, savings, reliability, and ease-of-care. Pocket Diapers have a fitted shape, just like disposables, and close with snaps or velcro. They have a waterproof outer, sewn together with a stain-resistant microfleece or microsuede interior so baby will feel dry.
Pocket Diapers are different from all-in-ones because the absorbent layer is not sewn into the diaper. Instead, there is an opening at the back of the diaper so that you can slide in an absorbent core. This design allows you to add extra absorbency when you need it, such as overnight. Plus, the absorbent core can be removed for washing and drying purposes for a more sanitary, fast-drying cloth diaper.
- Pros: Fast diaper change. Microfleece or Microsuede lining – baby feels dry, helps prevent diaper rash, stain-resistant. Adjustable absorbency – the most absorbent, reliable cloth diaper option. More sanitary than an all-in-one. Dries faster than an all-in-one.
- Cons: Adds one step to you washing routine – you must pre-stuff each diaper with an absorbent insert.
Here’s how I see it
If you want the cheapest options, choose prefolds and diaper covers. But keep in mind that your baby will not be as comfortable without a moisture-barrier, these methods aren’t very babysitter-friendly, and you’ll have to organize/put-on separate pieces. All-in-one diapers appear to be the most convenient option, but when you consider problems with sanitizing, increased drying time, and the tendency to leak, they really aren’t a good solution at all. Pocket Diapers like BumGenius One-Size Cloth Diapers meet my need for convenience, while protecting my child’s health and delivering huge savings for my pocketbook and the environment over time.