I remember how overwhelming it was when I first began cloth diapering. There were so many choices (and SO many more now!) and I had no idea where to start.
The one thing I did know was disposable diapers are gross (I thought so anyway) and I needed something else. I refused to compromise my child’s health any more (the gel crystals all over his private areas was the stick that broke the camel’s back!).
I want to help you get off to a smooth start. But, plan for bumps in the road. No one cloth diaper will work for all babies. No one laundry detergent will work for all households. However, as long as you stick to your convictions (why you began looking into cloth diapers) then you’ll ensure success in the long run.
You may have noticed that there are different kinds of cloth diapers. Some need a cover, others need inserts and then there are those that need nothing added to them. The following is a condensed explanation of the different cloth diaper systems. (Click => How to Make Cloth Diapers for links on how to make many different types of cloth diapers.) Check here for our recommendations on our favorites of each!
An AIO is generally viewed as a diaper that needs nothing else and is very similar to a disposable. The soaker is either sewn internally or externally (referred to as a quick dry soaker) and can close with snaps or Velcro (Velcro is a trademark but there are two other similar products: aplix (softer, long life, doesn’t roll in like touchtape can) or touchtape (stronger stick and available in a variety of colors) ).
An AIO does not require a cover. An AIO with an internal soaker will have a longer drying time because the air cannot circulate around the hidden material.
An external soaker, referred to as a Quick Dry (QD) soaker, allows for air to circulate around the soaker when drying, therefore quicker dry time. The addition of a pocket to an AIO makes it a Stuffable AIO.
An AI2 has a snap in or lay in soaker . The name All in Two arose from the ability to get two uses out of each diaper. When your child pees, theoretically you can remove the soaker and replace it with another if the shell did not get wet. AI2s also have a much faster drying time because the soaker is external.
A pocket diaper usually does not require a cover. The exception would be a fitted that has a pocket. A pocket can be made with a PUL (polyurethane laminate) or fleece outer.
The outer can also be any material backed or lined in PUL. Minky is lusciously soft and many makers offer this fabric for their pocket diapers.
The inner material choices for a pocket include: microfleece, suedecloth, velour, athletic wicking material, minky, cotton or bamboo. Different materials will feel different on the baby when wet. Of the fabrics listed above, microfleece, suedecloth and athletic wicking material are considered “stay dry”. This means baby feels dry after a pee.
A pocket diaper is 2 layers of material sewn together on 3 sides leaving an opening for you to insert the amount of absorbent material you desire. The insert can range from a very trim microfiber towel to a bulkier infant prefold. Another popular insert material is hemp. Hemp is a natural fiber that is antimicrobial and extremely absorbent as well. Infant prefolds do double duty as an insert as well. Simply trifold the prefold and stuff the pocket. For added absorbency wrap the prefold around one of the above inserts.
A fitted diaper is a diaper that contains no waterproof layer therefore requires a cover. Fitted diapers are the easiest to make on your own because they can be made from any material you have laying around your house.
Fitted diapers can be made from cotton, hemp, fleece, velour, bamboo, knits, various types of terry cloth, kitchen towels, old t-shirts, sweatshirts and many other scrap fabrics you may have laying around. Fitteds are kind of like quiche…toss in any leftovers and out comes a great product!
Without a cover the pee will soak through and get you or the furniture wet. If you are just hanging out at the house for the day a cover isn’t necessary. Just make sure to consistently change the diaper before a leak occurs.
You will undoubtedly stumble upon fitted cloth diapers and ask yourself the same question everyone asks at one time or another, “why are fitteds so expensive and cute when you just have to cover them up?” Many factors go into the answer but just think of it like a good wine or expensive pair of shoes…you often get what you pay for.
Prefolds are an absolute staple that every mother should have in her basket. They are amazingly durable and versatile. A prefold diaper is a rectangular piece of cloth divided into 3 sections. The outside layers contain 4 layers of fabric and the middle contains either 6 or 8 layers. The middle layer is the absorbent layer. You will see the prefolds described as 4x8x4 or 4x6x4. This describes the number of layers in the sections. It does not always mean the 4x8x4 are more absorbent. It is the weight of the fabric that indicates absorbency.
You will find some variations to the number of layers especially if you are purchasing specialized prefolds made with bamboo or velour. In some cases there may be 2 layers of bamboo with an extra layer of hemp in the middle.
Bamboo is a highly absorbent material, therefore needing fewer layers than cotton prefolds. This allows for a trimmer fit as well. It comes down to what you want to pay and how soft a fabric you desire.
Prefolds generally come in three sizes-
- Preemie (4-10pounds),
- Infant (newborn to 15 pounds) &
- Premium/Toddler (15-30 pounds).
There are different types of prefolds out there and many abbreviations for them.
- DSQ simply means that it is Diaper Service Quality versus the type of diaper you would find in your discount store. They are more absorbent than the Gerber brand and are the type that you would pay money for from a diaper service company.
- CPF stands for Chinese Prefold
- Another option for prefolds are Indian Prefolds. Indian prefolds are said to be softer than the CPF and are made of gauze rather than twill.
- There is also the choice of bleached or unbleached. Bleached prefolds are not whitened with bleach but rather with peroxide. Unbleached are in a natural cream colored state. Unbleached do require extra prep time to remove the natural oils in the fibers.
Prefolds can be pinned or snappied on your baby or you can fold it in 3 (trifold) and lay it in a cover. If you choose to use a different system prefolds can still be used as pocket stuffers or doublers. They are an investment worth making.
Flat diapers are large squares of single-layer material; typically made from Birdseye weave cotton. They can be folded a number of ways in order to fit your baby and require fastening with either pins or a Snappi. Check this out for a few of my favorite posts on flats.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask. When you read posts always read the comments. There is a wealth of information found in the comments!