Here is just a quick run down of the different types of diapers out there. We thought it might be helpful for those out there just starting out, and for those who would like to try a different type of diapering. Let us know if there is anything we missed or need to add. We’re all learning together!
Flats: Your cheapest option. Not waterproof (requires a cover). Flats are a large, single-ply sheets of cotton that you fold up into different configurations to diaper your baby with. Secure them with a Snappi or pins.
Pros: Easy to clean and they dry very quickly.
Cons: Require a tiny bit more effort than some other options. Can be bulky.
Suggested Brands: OsoCozy Flats
Prefolds: Next-cheapest option. Not waterproof. Probably what your mom thinks of when she hears "cloth diaper." They are rectangular diapers with more layers in the middle and fewer on the sides. Typically folded around your baby and secured with a Snappi or pins, though you can lay them into a wrap style cover and use that way.
Pros and cons: About the same as flats, except they don't require as much folding as flats.
Suggested Brands: Green Earth Prefolds, Bummis Organic Prefolds
Fitteds: The next step up in the world of cloth. Usually having elastic gatherings in the legs and waist. This makes them the perfect fit for any baby. Looking like a disposable diaper, they usually have velcro or snaps to close, but sometimes require pins or a snappi. Not waterproof. Excellent nighttime option when paired with a wool cover (more about that below). Usually made predominantly from natural fibers; sometimes have microfiber or something else sewn into the core for absorbency.
Pros: Less work than flats or prefolds.
Cons: Still requires a cover, can sometimes take a long time to dry, bulky.
Suggested Brands: Monkey Snuggles, Bunky Fluff, Kissaluvs, Tiny Tush, Thirsties Duo Fitted
Pockets: Looks like a sposie, comes in two pieces: A shell, which has a waterproof outer layer and usually a synthetic stay-dry inner layer; and the insert, which can be made of microfiber, cotton, bamboo, hemp, etc. The insert is stuffed into an opening in the shell (the pocket, hence the name) for absorbency.
Pros: Dries quickly because the shell and insert come apart. Waterproof. Customizable - you can add inserts if you need more absorbency. Trimmer than other options.
Cons: Some people report wicking around the legs and waist. More expensive than other options. Synthetic fabrics.
Suggested Brands: Thirsties Duo, Fuzzi Bunz One Size, Rump-a-Rooz, Knickernappies OS, Bum Genius 4.0, Apple Cheeks
All-in-Ones (AIOs): The most akin to disposables, these diapers have a waterproof outer layer and are all one piece. Just slap it on and go.
Pros: Easy, trimmer than other options.
Cons: Takes a long time to dry, not customizable, more expensive than other options.
Suggested Brands: Bummis AIO Easy Fit, Bum Genius AIO
Hybrids: These are diapers that consist of two pieces - an outer, waterproof shell, and an insert for the inside. They're kind of like pockets except there usually isn't a pocket to put the insert in - you just lay it in. The idea is that you just change the inserts and don't have to change the covers except once a day. They can also include disposable inserts for those who do not want to fully use cloth.
Cons: I've not used them myself, but I understand that the way they work, poop will still get on the cover, so you generally use several covers a day. They're also on the pricey side.
Suggested Brands: Flip, Grovia
Wool: Popular for use at night with fitteds, though many also use it during the day. Natural fiber, breathable. Expensive, though, if you don't know how to knit your own. If properly lanolized, they don't require frequent washing.
Suggested Brands: Monkey Snuggles Wool Longies
Fleece: A cheaper alternative to wool and be easily sewn yourself. They have to be washed after every use, though and can be washed with normal laundry.
Suggested Brands: You can find many WAHM brands on Etsy.