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A Fast Break Down of Cloth Diaper Styles for the Busy Mom

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Ok, so before I start this, let me publish the fact that I am NOT a cloth diaper expert.  However, I've tried all the different styles, and I constantly have people asking me what the difference is.  But who has time to investigate EVERYTHING?  Certainly not me.  So here's a super quick breakdown of the basic differences of all the cloth diaper styles (that I could think of anyway).

And I know everyone wants to know: How much do they cost? Since that question is SO difficult to answer, since everything is based on brand, I've established the $ system.  One $ refers to the styles that are on the less expensive side of the cloth diaper spectrum.  While three $$$ means that this style can run up in the cost numbers.  Obviously, two $$ lies somewhere in the middle.

So here we go!

Prefolds and Covers: $

Quick Description: Basically, these work by putting a folded piece of material inside a cloth diaper shell to absorb the "dooty". When baby needs a change, you can just change out the piece of cloth, unless the shell has become dirty too.  You can also fasten the prefold around the baby using Snappis, Boingos, or pins.

Why we love it:  Most people love these because they're inexpensive, and you don't have to wash the whole thing.  You can use anything for a prefold too!  I've heard of cloth sacks, left over material, and all sorts of things to absorb the nastiness left over from your perfect child.  The cover holds it in, so you can be creative here!

Why you might not love it:  Some negatives here are that these just don't work for everyone.  Sometimes they can get bunched and move, creating problems with leaks and constant cover changes.  They anatomically just don't work for every baby, when you're laying them in the cover.  And if you choose to fasten them around the baby before adding the cover, it can take a little extra time.  Also, a Spray Pal is highly recommended with these.  Why, you ask?  Well, spraying off a prefold during teething can get messy!  If you don't know what a Spray Pal is, keep reading!

Prefolds and Covers are great for any Mom needing to save money. 

Pockets: $-$$

Quick Description:  Pockets are basically a diaper cover, with a piece of material sewn on top with one (or both) ends open, creating a "pocket" to place inserts or material within.  The whole piece (pocket and insert materials) has to be washed after every use, but these are great for keeping wetness off baby (the material can wick away) and for heavy wetters, since more inserts can be added within the pocket to absorb the pee.

Why we love it:  Pockets are what I started with, and they truly are a great option.  I loved being able to put more layers within for nighttime use, and they are pretty easy to fiddle with.  You can get the lining in different materials and there are a TON of different brands to choose from.  A great, inexpensive start is to buy from your local store (because we ALWAYS encourage you to support local, since it keeps our cities and towns running!) to get running, then maybe purchase in bulk if you decide you love them.  

Why you might not love it:  A drawback with pockets is the laundering.  You have to stuff before use, and then unstuff before wash.  This can take alot of time, so keep that in mind when buying.  This may not be the best for working moms, but I know many that do it!  Also, grandmas (and dads!) that are unfamiliar with cloth have been known to throw baby in a pocket, without an insert, resulting in disaster.

Pockets are also great for the Mom at home, with time to wash, but needing to save money.

All-in-One's: $$

Quick Description:  All-in-Ones are basically a diaper cover with thick, absorbent material sewn on top.  Many have one end open, creating the option for a pocket in case more absorption is needed.  Some even come with snap options of adding more to your diaper.

Why we love it:  All-in-One's are REALLY simple to use. As a matter of fact, they're the most simple that I've found.  You just put it on the baby.  No stuffing, no unstuffing.  No moving inserts around to fit well.  You just put the diaper on the baby.  When it's dirty, you throw the whole thing in the laundry, and put a new one on.  It's super easy and super simple.  

Why you might not love it:  I LOVED these, but ultimately went with something else, since it took FOREVER to dry these things.  I wanted to hang my diapers to dry to preserve their worth and use, and these things just never seemed to get all the way dry.  Even when I threw them in the dryer (which did happen alot in the winter!), it took at least 2 full dryer cycles to get ready.  So keep this in mind when buying.

All-in-One's are great for the working Mom, since they are super quick to put on and wash, and they are easy for other caregivers (grandma, daycare workers, etc.) to handle.

All-in-Two's: $$

Quick Description: All-in-Two's are basically a cloth diaper shell with an insert that snaps in.  Whenever baby gets dirty, you simply unsnap the inserts and put in a clean one, as long as the shell is still clean.

Why we love it: All-in-Two's are also REALLY simple to use. It reminds me of a quick prefold and cover option.  No need to attach the prefold to baby, or adjust it perfectly within the cover.  Just go with an All-in-Two that snaps in, and off you go!

Why you might not love it:  My only struggle with these was an anatomical problem with my children.  The insert always seemed to be bunched, which allowed the shell to get dirty often.  I really WANTED to love these, and they're an amazing idea, so they might work for you!

All-in-Two's are great for pretty much anyone that has a baby of whom this style fits.  They're easy to use for caretakers, and great for the working Mom, since diaper changes are so quick.

Fitteds and Covers: $$-$$$

Quick Description:  A Fitted is a diaper that is all cloth.  There is no PUL lining available, so a cover of some sort must be used to keep baby's clothes dry.  When the fitted is soiled, mom would simply change out the entire fitted and put on the same cover.  This is like a combination of a prefold and an All-in-One:  you can JUST change the fitted (no need to change the cover), and you can throw the entire thing in the wash.

Why we love it:  These are truly my favorite.  If I could do it all over again, I would stick to just fitteds and covers.  Fitteds with a wool cover breathe well for babies with rash issues.  Wool covers are costly and have to be washed in a special way, but they are great for a variety of reasons.  Wool covers are warm in the winter and cool in the summer.  They only need to be washed when stinky (like once a month, for us); and they are WONDERFUL for keeping leaks in, especially for heavy nighttime wetters.  If a wool cover is too much for you, fitteds can also be paired with a normal, PUL cover that is less expensive.  Fitteds are usually really soft (which I LOVE), and can be bought in a variety of materials, including natural fibers.

Why you might not love it:  The biggest drawback here is cost.  These can get pretty expensive, especially if you decide to go with wool.  Also, you need to change the entire fitted after soiling, so it can take a little extra time too.

Fitteds are great for moms that want only natural fibers on baby, or for babies that are dealing with rash problems.  They're also great for moms like me that just love to have soft things on baby's booty.

Other options:

Combinations: You can totally pair many of these options together, like putting a prefold in a pocket diaper, or using pockets during the day and fitteds at night.  What's wonderful about cloth is that we're in a NEW age, where there are many options for all different kinds of moms.  Do what's best for you!  I have a friend who used pockets, but put a Viva paper towel on top to gather the poop, making it easy to throw out the poop and keep going.  Not to mention, lots of brand names combine these as well, check out the Grovia One Diaper.  It's pretty much a combination of everything.


Truly, there's a ton, but let me highlight a few of my favs:

1.  Diaper Sprayers:  I don't touch poop.  Which is why I recommend one.  And, of course, I recommend the qdSpray. It offers hot water to melt off the poop, can be disconnected easily to keep the little ones from spraying down the house, has the EASIEST installation of any diaper sprayer, and can travel.  Yep, it's awesome.  Totally get one.

2. Splatter Shields:  These are a must with a diaper sprayer.  You can make your own with a bucket, and some clothespins, but I recommend taking a look at the Spray Pal and the Diaper Dawgs Collar.  Spray Pal is great for home use, and WONDERFUL for spraying off cloth wipes.  The Dawg Collar is great for travel, since it collapses, and is great for home too!  (Not to mention, both of these we bundle with!!)

3.  Pail Liner: Pail Liners specifically for cloth diapers have a PUL within them to keep leaks from occurring.  I used a trash bag for a while, but the stickiness within my pail (literally a Lowe's bucket) and the smell pushed me towards a cloth diaper specific liner.  These are great!  I would highly recommend them!

4.  Laundry Detergent:  If you're new to this whole cloth diaper thing, know that you can't just use any detergent on your fluff, since it can build up on them and cause repelling.  I would recommend checking to see what detergents are recommended for your diapers.  This can literally make or break your cloth diapering success.  Get some good detergent, and get a good wash system.

Whew!  That's all I can think of right now.  I hope that this is helpful, for I know that there are a TON of different brands and styles out there for you to look at.  Don't get discouraged, just jump right in there and give it a try!  Special thanks to my friend, Courtney, from Diaper Wrecker, who helped me out on some "oops" moments on this post.

WARNING!:  Cloth diapering is highly addictive and can cause low bank accounts, increased internet time due to shopping, and an eagerness to show off fluff resulting in poorly clothed children.

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