Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What's What Wednesday: Cloth Diapers-Beyond Prefolds and Pins

Cloth Diapers have come a long way since the days of pins and rubber pants. (Although if you really want them, they can still be found!) Some modern cloth diapering families choose to keep it simple and stick with just one type of diaper, while others run the gamut of options, choosing different types for different purposes or circumstances. If you're new to cloth diapering, all of the options can be overwhelming, so I'll do my best to break them down and simplify the whole thing without showing my bias too much. ;)

Prefold diapers are usually the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions cloth diapers. These are the "old fashioned" diapers that people associate with pins and rubber pants. Prefolds are rectangular pieces of fabric sewn with more layers in the center (as opposed to flat diapers, which needed to be folded to make the center section more aborbant-this is where the term "prefold" comes from). They are typically made from natural fibers like cotton or hemp, and can be purchased bleached, un-bleached (my personal preference), or even dyed in a variety of colors or patterns! Prefolds come in a variety of sizes to fit babies of all ages and shapes and are a very versatile. As the least expensive cloth diapers out there, they are a very economical choice. Prefold diapers require covers, and most people prefer something with which to fasten the diapers. Snappis are a popular choice, but I'll go into more detail about accessories like these next week. Here's a photo of Delilah in a prefold diaper with a Brookie Baby cover over it:

Like prefolds, "Fitted" diapers are usually made from absorbent natural fibers and are not water proof. Fitted diapers are designed to be used without having to fold them; they are "fitted" to the shape of a baby and are more similar in shape to disposable diapers. There is much more variety with fitted diapers in terms of colors, prints, and absorbency. Most fitted diapers are made with snap or velcro closures, although some can be fastened with Snappis or pins for a more customized fit. Many parents prefer fitted diapers for newborns since they contain messy newborn poop a bit better than prefolds do. Fitted diapers come in both sized and one-size-fits-most options. (I'll explain more about the difference in those next week!) Fitted diapers cost more than prefold diapers, with a range from a few dollars each to upwards of $30 each for high-end diapers. Since they aren't waterproof, fitted diapers usually require a cover. That said, I go without covers when Delilah isn't wearing pants over them and find them to be remarkably absorbent. The diaper she is wearing here is a Goodmama fitted diaper without a cover:

All-in-one ("AIO") diapers are so named because they are constructed with a water-proof outer layer, absorbent inner layer(s), and snap or velcro-type closures. Since they do not require covers or fasteners, they are "all in one"! All-in-two ("AI2") diapers usually have a snap-in or lay-in insert which simplifies laundering and reduces drying time. AIO (or AI2) diapers are very similar to disposables in form and function, and are often the diaper of choice for babysitters and daycare providers. They are available in a variety of different styles, colors, and materials and come in both sized and one-size-fits-most options. AIOs are a pricier option than prefolds or basic fitteds, but have the advantage of not requiring additional accessories like covers or fasteners. We've had good luck with Bottom Bumpers and Imse Vimse all-in-one diapers. Here's itty-bitty 2 month old Delilah in a Bottom Bumpers AIO:

Last but not least, Pocket diapers usually have a waterproof outer layer, a stay-dry inner layer, and a "pocket" between the two layers to stuff with an absorbent insert. Pocket diapers are a popular choice for ease of use and because the pocket allows for customizable absorbency since it can be stuffed with multiple inserts if necessary. (We stuff with two for overnight.) Like AIOs, pocket diapers do not require a cover or fastener and are very similar in form and function to disposable diapers. They are available in a wide range of price points, sized or one-size-fits-most options, and in a variety of colors, prints, and materials. You already know how in love I am with Knickernappies One Size pocket diapers, but just in case, here is a recent photo of Delilah wearing one:

Modern makers of cloth diapers are constantly improving on the design and ease of use of cloth diapers. With so many options available that fit within any budget, cloth diapers are truly an economical choice that doesn't have to be any more difficult than using disposable diapers!

--This is the second in a series of cloth diapering related 'What's What Wednesday' posts. Last week, I explained why we chose cloth diapers. For all posts in this series CLICK HERE!


  1. Great series! I will be passing them along :)

  2. We did the basic prefold/plastic pants with #1 and are now doing Pockets and Covers with #2 with great success!

    But I still find myself feeling rather dumb sometimes so the descriptions here were awesome. Just yesterday I was asking someone the difference between flat and prefold and the difference between chinese and indian!

  3. We still haven't tried covers since we went with mostly one-sized pockets. I remember my mother making The Face when I told her we'd be using cloth, but she's an even bigger convert than I am now.

    Still working on those cloth wipes, though.

  4. Hi,

    Cloth diapers can seem complicated at first the various types of covers, shape of a baby and more similar in shape to disposable diapers is best for your child, etc. Thanks for your more information.

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  6. Such a lovely post. I have learn all the things you have shown in your post. I have used cloth diapers exclusively with my kid. I have never hand washed the inserts, but I have hand washed the covers. bambo luiers

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