Cloth Diapers 101 : Types of Diapers


I get a lot of questions about cloth diapers, so I’m gonna do my best to share what I know.

I have had an interest in cloth diapering since we first started trying to get pregnant.  I knew I wanted to try cloth diapering with my first, but I didn’t know how it would go.  My parents used prefolds on me with rubber pants, and Dustin’s parents used prefolds as well.

A lot of family and friends tried to gently discourage us from cloth diapering or urged us to use a diaper service.  This drove me to pursue cloth diapering even more.  Buying disposable diapers that take 500 years to decompose was not an option for me.  A diaper service wasn’t economical either.  Not to mention there are some super cute cloth diapers out there that seemed really easy to use.  And cloth diapering saves money!

Cloth diapering has come a long way since our parents did it.  There are numerous types, styles, and sizes.  And you don’t have to use diaper pins (Although you could if you wanted!)

Lets go into the different types:

First, there are prefolds ( ) These double as great burp cloths.  They can be held in place with a snappi (a pretty cool invention that replaces a diaper pin! ( ).  You can use a diaper cover with snaps or velcro, or you could use a lanolin treated wool cover.  ThIs is a great option as you can reuse the covers until they are soiled!  I know a lot of people who use gdiapers with prefolds.  ( )   Thirsties and Flip covers are other great options with prefolds.

Next are hybrids.  Hybrids have a diaper cover that can be sized or one size.  Hybrids have removable inserts that either snap or lay in the diaper cover.  Some hybrids have a Eco friendly flushable/ compostable insert.  These are much like the prefolds in that you can reuse the covers till they are soiled.  However, you don’t have to fold a prefold.  They come with an insert. Examples of hybrids would be best bottoms, Flip, and gDiapers.

The next option is a pocket diaper.  Pockets are nice because you can stuff as many layers as you want to get the absorbency you want.  The inserts come out, so dryer time is less than that of an all in one.  However, you have to stuff the pocket diapers. For some people this is no big deal.  For others, time is money and why have the added step?  Rumparooz has an example of pocket diapers. Bum Genius and Thirsties carry pocket diapers as well.

The next option is an all in one diaper!  In contrast to the pocket diaper, the diaper is one piece.  You simply put diaper on and take diaper off.  Theres no stuffing (unless you want to add an extra layer for absorbency, like at night.).  Some all in ones take longer to dry, but really some don’t.  We use Bum Genius Freetimes as they are easy to use, don’t stain as readily as our others, and they dry fast in the dryer.

We also have Bum Genius elementals which are all in ones, but they take a lot longer to dry and have more stains (which go away when put in the sun).

Last are fitted diapers.  These diapers are designed for the best fit and absorbency making for a great night time diaper.  They look like all in one diapers, however you need to use a diaper cover with them.  Sustainably Babyish is a good example of this that people love.

How many diapers should you have?

12-24.  You want enough for a little over two days, as you should ideally wash a load of diapers every other day.   With prefolds and hybrids you don’t need as many diaper covers; but you want to have a stash of 12-24 prefolds or inserts.

To Be Continued…more on cloth diapering in the next post!



4 thoughts on “Cloth Diapers 101 : Types of Diapers

  1. Very timely post for me, looking at cloth diapering for the first time! I really really want to cloth diaper, or all these complicated options would probably scare me away. I am looking at prefolds because they are the cheapest option and they seem to be the easiest to wash and store, and the covers don’t have to be washed as much which may help with durability. PLUS, I have a friend willing to give me a stack of newborn prefolds, which is a nice boost. I just have to find some covers. How many diapers a day for a newborn?

  2. I haven’t used reusables yet but plan to once our second is born.
    Its very confusing though as some say you will use well over 12 a day and others say less.
    So would you buy bulk and go for 40 something diapers or stick around 24 with a newborn covering 2 days or does it depend on the type you use?
    Honestly I can just keep asking questions! Looking forward to the next post 🙂

    • If you are referring to buying disposables for the first two weeks: I bought one box and I went through them faster than I thought. A friend gave us some she had left over to hold us over for a bit after that. Then we switched to small gdiapers with prefolds or the flushable inserts until our daughter fit into the one size bum genius all in ones. The first two weeks are precious and such an adjustment to life as it is, don’t stress about not using cloth!

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