Making sense of diaper styles

     I distinctly remember my first experience at a cloth diaper store.  I walked in thinking I knew what I was looking for, pocket diapers.  When I hit that wall of fluffy goodies though, I was totally thrown back!  There was a sea of diapers in front of me; fitteds, pockets, prefolds, snaps, aplix, wool, hybrids!  Hybrids?  Now I was lost for sure and I no longer had a CLUE what I was doing.  Even after speaking to the wonderful ladies in the store, it was just too much info to take in all at once.  I hope for those of you out there that are new to cloth diapering or are thinking of making the switch this post gives you a little hand in understanding the sea of diapers out there!


     These are the most basic diaper available and also the most economical.  People love flats because they're versatile, easy to wash and dry and inexpensive.  A flat is one layer of fabric (usually cotton) that measures around 30"x30" depending on brand.  It can be folded in many ways to customize for a girl, boy, night-time, etc.  These diapers require a snappi or pins and a waterproof cover.  I personally haven't ever tried flats but I've heard lots of people who really enjoy their ease of use and care.

Average cost/diaper:  $2.00 per flat, $10-20 per cover


                               (A prefold, trifolded into a cover and the cover done up)

     Easy to use, versatile, easy to clean and durable.  Prefolds are essentially rectangular pieces of fabric (usually cotton but you can also buy them in hemp and bamboo) that have more layers in the middle and less on the sides, placing the greatest absorbency where you need it most.  They come in either the 'cadillac' 4x8x4 or a thinner 4x6x4 (# layers on one side x # layers in middle x # layers on other side).  I've always used 4x8x4's and love them.  The thinner ones will dry faster which is a pro, but if you have a heavy wetter, it may not be absorbent enough.  There are lots of ways to use prefolds; pinned, snappi'd, trifolded (like in the picture) in a waterproof cover.  They're also great stuffed into a pocket diaper.  You will need enough prefolds to last one day, and about 3-4 covers per day (you can reuse them as long as they're not soiled).  Prefolds also have lots of other great uses such as burp cloths, change pads, etc.  When you're done diapering, you can also use them as fantastic cleaning cloths!
Average cost/diaper: $3-4 per prefold, $10-20 per cover

           (Motherease Bamboo Sandy's fitted diaper)
     Taking the prefold a step further, you get a fitted diaper.  Fitted are diapers made completely of absorbent fabric such as cotton, hemp or bamboo and do NOT have a waterproof cover.  They'll have snaps or aplix to fasten them around baby (instead of pins or a snappi) and then are wrapped up in a cover. They're great if you want a natural fiber on baby's skin but don't want to fiddle with pins, etc.  If paired with a wool cover, fitteds provide a very breathable diaper which is great to fend off diaper rash.
Average cost/diaper:  $10-20

                                                       (Fuzzibunz Perfect Size pocket diaper)     
A pocket diaper has a waterproof exterior and an inner layer of usually a stay-dry fabric such as microfleece or suedecloth (some don't have a stay-dry lining but use a natural fabric such as bamboo, etc. like the Blueberry Bamboo Deluxe diaper).  There is an opening at the front or back of the diaper that is stuffed with an absorbent insert to catch and hold the baby's pee.  These diapers are very customizable to your absorbency needs and come in sized as well as one-size options.  Since they're waterproof, they don't require a separate cover.
Average cost/diaper:  $15-30
All-in-One (AIO):

                           (Grovia All in One diaper)
     Usually the most expensive option, AIOs are the closest thing to a disposable diaper.  The waterproof layer, absorbent layer and stay-dry layer (in most but not all) are all sewn into the diaper so all you need to do is put it on and then take it off and throw it into the laundry pail.  There are lots of different options for AIOs but they all follow this basic structure.
Average cost/diaper: $25-30
Hybrid diapers:
    Hybrid diapers allow you to use a reusable cloth insert or a biodegradable insert that can be thrown or flushed away.  Usually the inserts snap into a waterproof cover, or some have a pocket for when you want to use the cloth and when you want the biodegradable insert you would just lay it into the cover.  These are getting popular because they offer the convenience of a throw-away insert for travelling, etc while being able to use cloth other times. With this diaper, you can have enough liners for 2-3 days but only need 3-4 covers (the covers can be re-used as long as they're not pooped on!).
Average cost/diaper:  $20 for the shell/cover, $5-10 per cloth insert, $8-10 per 20 pack of biodegradable inserts
    When shopping there are A LOT of options but I hope this helps break them down.  These are also just the most common styles of diapers, I'm sure there are others out there and for each style there are lots of variations on small details.  For most people, there's no one perfect option.  If you check out "What's in my stash" on the right hand side of this blog, you'll see I like to have a little of it all :)  

1 comment:

  1. wow! this is great info... I always wanted to cloth diaper, although I never know what to do with the dirty ones until I collect enough to wash... :/

    Thanks for stopping by Emma's Lunch and congratulations on your trilingual child! Isn't it such a wonder! :D I'm your newest follower.