Every so often (ok ok pretty often!) I get emailed asking what the difference is between the different diaper types and i usually retype this information off the top of my head. Really, I should sit down and write it out properly, but just quickly here and now..
For those of you who are starting cloth diapering or thinking about it, and are super confused about the options, here’s some quick definitions of most of the main types of cloth diapers:
Pocket diaper – 2 pieces – the pocket diaper itself (1 waterproof layer, 1 stay dry inner layer sewn together and with an opening between the layers) and the soaker / doubler / insert – all different names for the same thing (you put the soaker into the pocket between the layers of stay dry / waterproof).
* Note you MUST change the entire pocket diaper with every diaper change, you should not just change the wet insert with a dry one and reuse the pocket. That is because although the inner part of the diaper that touches the baby may feel dry, it is NOT clean, there is still pee residue there, which can lead to bacteria growth and rashes on your baby.
Examples – bumgenius, baby kanga, bouncy baby, rumparooz, GAD etc
AIO – All in 1 – all in 1 piece diaper, that means all the layers (waterproof, stay dry if any, soaking material) are all sewn together – no need to take apart or put together, you put it on and take it off just like a disposable. Some AIO can be really truly all sewn together (like Monkey doodlez) – those can take longer to dry, others are sewn so the soaker layers are like flaps for quicker drying (like the dream eze diapers)
Examples – Starbunz AIO, bumgenius Organics, Grovia AIO, Monkey Doodlez, Thirsties Duo AIOs
All in 2 – 2 piece diaper – the waterproof layer (also can be used as a cover), and a soaker which is detachable from the cover and can be changed while reusing the cover part
Examples – Grovia / Grobaby, Daisy Doodlez, Soft Bumz diapers
Cover – Only a waterproof layer – use it over a non-waterproof diaper in order to make it waterproof (e.g. use it over fitteds or prefold diapers)
Examples – Thirsties Duo Wrap, Wonderwrap, Bunnyfeet designs Cover, My Precious Baby by April covers
Fitted diaper – made of all absorbent material, can be used on it’s own without a waterproof layer if you want more breathability for your baby sometimes. Or use it under a waterproof cover
Examples – Kiwi Pie fitted, My precious baby by April fitted, bunnyfeet designs fitted, dream eze fitted
Prefold – 100% cotton (can be made out of other materials, but cotton is most cotton. Also can be available in Bamboo or Hemp / combination materials), sewn into a rectangle shape, with thicker layers in the middle. Requires some pinning / folding to put on baby. 1 step up from a lampin – much more absorbent than lampin and easier to use.
Wool Cover – can be made to be pull ups, or tie ons, or looks just like a PUL cover with snaps and elastics. Use for night time. very good breathability and also will help with absorbency. you only need to wash once every 2 weeks or so. You need to lanolize this (a very simple procedure to make the wool waterproof again) after many uses.
(also Fleece Covers – similar too wool, but fleece is a man made material, slightly less breathable, but does not need to be lanolized)
Examples – Disana Wool Covers, Fleece shorties, Llamajamas, many wool shorties / longies knitters on places like hyenacart.com / etsy.com .
Other definitions you’ll find helpful
PUL / TPU material – Waterproof part of most diapers, it is a material made out of plastics, not all PUL is equal though, there are better quality, there are also cheap ones that run the risk of “separating”
One size / Sized – one size really means from 3 months to about 2.5 years, depending on size of baby. Some newborns can fit some one size diapers though, it all really depends on the baby. Sized diapers mean you have to buy different sizes when the baby gets bigger, but most babies will be at the Medium size for most of their diapering lives (almost all babies go from XS to S to M to L in the first 9 months of their lives, but when they start moving and walking more at 10 – 12 months, they will go back down to a Medium or even small in some cases).
Snaps / Aplix – this is a choice for the closure of your diaper. Most day care centers will only allow Aplix to be used (snaps confuse some people especially for one size diapers). Aplix is definitely faster at night time and usually allows for a better fit as there’s infinite ways to close the diaper with aplix, BUT Snaps are more durable, and snaps are harder for curious babies to rip off. A lot of parents will use aplix for newborns and get medium size diapers in snaps as that’s the age when babies start figuring out how to remove their diapers. Careful of stiff aplix strips on the diapers though, they can cut baby “buddha bellies” as the edges can be quite sharp. Another negative about aplix is that it can start to lose it’s “stickiness” quite fast and have to be replaced.
Snappi – a plastic grip thing (think of those little claws used for bandages) that can be used to keep prefolds on instead of diaper pins.
Liners – you can get disposable or reusable ones – they are good for runny newborn poo if you don’t want to stain the inside if your diapers, or if your child has a sensitivity or rash it can be used against the child’s skin to keep the skin dryer. Not 100% necessary at all.