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cloth diapering :: types of diapers

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There are so many different kinds of cloth diapers. That was the first thing I learned back when I was still enormously pregnant and researching this whole cloth diaper thing! If you’re anything like me, it can be a little overwhelming at first. (Especially the way people throw around these abbreviations and whatnot on message boards. “I got a EUC BG3.0 OS for trade!” Whoa.) Once you learn the different types, and some of the most common brands, it all makes a lot more sense. I’m going to cover the types that I personally own here. There’s a great video that shows those and a few more that I don’t have and a delightful chart over here that compares the different kinds. I’ll also show a few of the accessories that go along with cloth diapering.

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Above is a prefold. It’s about the simplest type of diaper you can get. It’s also the cheapest, by far, and it’s the one that we use most often. It’s a rectangle of cloth that has a thicker, more absorbent strip down the center. They are usually made of cotton, but can be made from other materials, like hemp or bamboo. (I actually just bought two bamboo prefolds from the Maine Cloth Diaper Company at the Common Ground Fair and they are so soft. And supposedly very absorbent. We shall see!) There are different ways to fold them around the baby (I’ll get into that in another post) and you can fasten them with pins, Snappis, or nothing. They require a cover. Our favorites are the ones from Green Mountain Diapers.

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These are fitted diapers.

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They, like prefolds, require a cover. Unlike prefolds, they are contoured to fit more snugly and often have elastic legs. (Hey, as many elastic layers as we can get…better to prevent leaks!) They also generally come with some sort of closure – either snaps or velcro – so you don’t need to pin or Snappi them. The one on the left is a Mother Ease one size fitted diaper and has two removable liners, one of which snaps in. The one on the right is a Thirsties size XS (aw, those newborn days!) and the absorbent liner is part of the diaper.

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This is the type of cover we use. There are many different brands, but our favorite is the Thirsties Duo Wrap. They come in two sizes that are adjustable to fit your baby from birth through potty training. Here you see the size 2 cover snapped down to its smallest setting.

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And here it is unsnapped to its largest setting.

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The covers are used with any type of diaper that doesn’t have a built-in waterproof layer. We use them to cover prefolds mostly, with a handful of fitted diapers and some handmade pocket diapers that don’t have a waterproof outer layer. They close either with snaps or velcro. (We happened to choose the one-size option – there are many sized covers out there as well.)

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These are pocket diapers. They (usually) have a waterproof outer layer and a pocket on the interior that you can stuff an absorbent layer (or two…or three…) into. The main advantage to these is that you have some control over the level of absorbency and each component is separate so they dry faster after washing. For example, we sometimes use pocket diapers with just one regular insert when we’re on the go, out of the house, and we use pocket diapers with two inserts at night so we don’t have to change E in the wee hours. (From left to right – a Smartipants one size, a Fuzzibunz Perfect Size size small, and a handmade diaper I sewed from cotton flannel and fleece using this pattern.

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The handmade diaper doesn’t have a waterproof layer, so that one requires a cover. It also doesn’t have snaps or velcro (though they could easily be added) so we close these with old-fashioned pins.

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This is the SmartiPants and its accompanying liner.

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This is the handmade diaper with its accompanying liner. I made the liners from three layers of hemp fleece stitched together.

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This is an all-in-one, or AIO, for short. That’s it. That’s all there is to it! The absorbent layer is a part of the diaper itself and the waterproof layer is there as well. There are no pockets to stuff or covers to deal with. They are probably the easiest type of cloth diaper, but also some of the more expensive.

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I use these a lot when we go out, since they require minimal wrangling in public spaces. This one is a Thirsties. (And it looks like they don’t make these anymore? Someone correct me if I’m wrong…) The nice thing about these is that you can use them as is, but they also have a pocket so you could add an extra absorbent layer if desired. (We never have.)

And that’s all for the diapers! Now I’ll show you a few of the accessories that go along with them.

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A wet bag for traveling outside the house is useful. I love our Planet Wise wet dry bag.

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It has a main waterproof pocket that holds a bunch of diapers and a smaller outside pocket that I often stick extra wipes or other items into.

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Wipes!

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I sewed our cloth wipes using one layer of cotton flannel and one layer of terry cloth. I made somewhere around 30 and they rock.

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Pail liner!

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Also from Planet Wise and also awesome. It’s got a nifty elastic edge and fits a regular kitchen trash can that we bought at Target just perfectly. The trash can has a lid (just in case!) but we usually leave it open and have very few problems with odor.

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A pin. Yup. We still use pins once in a while, but only on the handmade pocket diapers.

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A Snappi! Most people think I’m saying something about snaps when I mention Snappis. Snappis are the coolest thing ever, when it comes to cloth diapering. They are little jiggly plastic devices for closing prefolds without pins. Yay! No poking! They have little plastic teeth that grab the fabric and keep it snugly around the baby. (Or your monkey.) Like so…

just practicing...

And that’s that! Hope that helps some of you out there. If there’s anything I didn’t mention that you wish I had, feel free to drop me a line!

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6 thoughts on “cloth diapering :: types of diapers

  1. I wish they had snappis when E was in diapers.

  2. Nice blog post! We use Fuzzi Bunz perfect size on O during the day and disposables at night (for my sanity!). We also have a huge Planet Wise wet/dry bag that we use as a laundry bag and I LOVE it.

  3. I love your site! It is beautiful! And your blog post is full of information that I did not know or understand previously. We use the gDiapers (when we have a washing machine that works) and that’s about the extent of my cloth diapering knowledge. lol Someone gave me a couple dozen of the prefolds as a shower gift, but I never knew how to use them. They have become burp cloths, napkins, and dish rags. Maybe I should give them another chance!

  4. Its very informative and interesting to come over your blog.

    All such instruction regarding cloth diaper is really good for everyone. Very clean writeup and thanks for discussing on such topic.

  5. What diaper pattern did you use for the handmade diaper?

  6. Hi Ana, I used this pattern. Thanks for asking!

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