Types of Cloth Diapers

Types of Cloth Diapers

In all the types of diapers listed below (except flats/prefolds) there are two different types. One-size and perfect size. One-size diapers are very adjustable with buttons and adjustable elastic in the legs designed to fit your baby from birth through potty training. One-size is what I use. I believe it saves the most money. The other is perfect size. They are ‘sized’ diapers, designed to fit your child at different ages. They range in sizes from xs-l. They still save you more in the long run that regular diapers, but are less cost-effective than the one-size diapers b/c you have to keep buying them when your child moves up to the next size.

AIO AI2 (all in one, and all in two)

An AIO, or All-In-One, is exactly what it sounds like. What you get is what you need. It is a type of diaper that functions completely on its own without the need for extra accessories. It does not require separate soaker material to absorb nor a separate diaper cover to contain leaks. All of the features are neatly packaged into one diaper. Many parents find this type of diaper to be the height of convenience since all they need is in one place. It also saves on space when traveling.

Advantages of AIO Cloth Diapers:

  • Functions like a disposable, except you don’t throw it away!
  • No separate cover required
  • No separate soaker or doubler required
  • Easy to use
  • Available in lots of cute colors and prints
  • Perferred by childcare givers

Disadvantages of AIO Cloth Diapers:

  • Longer drying times
  • Harder to clean effectively

If you like the sound of an AIO but worry about the longer drying and cleaning times, you may want to try an AI2. These diapers are All in Ones that allow for the removal of the inner soaker material, the part that absorbs. This makes cleaning and drying much faster. When the two separate parts are paired, they form one diaper.

Advantages of AI2 Cloth Diapers:

  • No separate cover required
  • Great for transitioning from disposables to cloth – easy to use
  • Available in lots of cute colors and prints
  • You can always get a new soaker or doubler if the original needs to be replaced

Disadvantages of AI2 Cloth Diapers:

  • Keeping soakers or doublers together with the rest of the diaper
  • Usually more expensive than other cloth diapering methods



Fitted cloth diapers are the next step up in the evolution of the cloth diaper, after the simple flat diapers or prefold diapers that were the norm many years ago. Fitted diapers are exactly what they sound like. Instead of the flat and shapeless diapers our parents may have used, fitted diapers are fitted and snug, usually with elastic gatherings in the legs and waist. This makes them a perfect fit for any baby. They usually have closures of some sort as well, either hook and loop (Velcro) or snaps.

Fitted diapers are not waterproof so you do need a diaper cover to put over them. But they are very easy to put on a baby and very easy to put under a cover without uncomfortable bunching. Some fitted diapers have also been known to contain a pocket for stuffing.

Fitted diapers come in a variety of materials. Some of the most popular choices are cotton knits, flannel, hemp, terry cloth, sherpa, bamboo, and velour.

Advantages of Fitted Diapers:

  • Fitted and snug for a good fit on baby and under diaper covers
  • Can be washed at high temperatures, separate from covers
  • Easy to clean
  • Can be very trim for day use or bulkier for nighttime use…your choice
  • Available in lots of cute colors and prints

Disadvantages of Fitted Diapers:

  • A cover is required to make the diaper function
  • Not as convenient as an AIO
  • Can be hard to wash and may have smell problems if there are too many layers


Diaper Covers

Covers come in many styles and shapes, but their function is to provide a waterproof outer layer for non-waterproof diapers (all except AIOs). They are often fitted with elastic and fasten with snaps or Velcro. Some covers pull-up, like underpants. Diaper covers are usually made from polyester, Polyurethane laminates (PUL), waterproof nylon, fleece or wool.


Flat and Prefold

Flat cloth diapers are the classic cotton square which is folded to fit baby, and secured with diaper pins or a Snappi.

A variation of the flat diaper is the Prefold, which includes extra layering in the center.

Flat and prefold diapers are the least expensive choice in cloth diapers, costing in the area of $15-$20 per dozen. These diapers require waterproof outer covers, so they are a three piece diapering system (diaper, cover, closure for diaper). Typically, these diapers are closed with either diaper pins or a Snappi. However, another option is to simply lay them in a wrap style cover and forgo the additional closure type.

Most of these diapers are made from birdseye or other gauzy fabrics. Some are made from velour or hemp. They are very absorbent, easy to clean, and quick to dry. Still widely used today, flat and prefold diapers are a very economical and simple choice for cloth diapering. But these cloth diapers have other uses as well. Fans of other diapering types often use flat or prefold diapers for doublers or pocket stuffers.

For a little fun with prefold or flat diapers, look at the many dyed or embroidered options available on the market.

Advantages of Flat and/or Prefold Diapers:

  • Absorbent
  • Very economical
  • Easy to launder and fast to dry
  • Can be used as diapers, doublers, pocket stuffers, burp cloths, or even cleaning rags.
  • Available in lots of dyed colors, and can be embroidered very easily.

Disadvantages of Flat and or Prefold Diapers:

  • A cover is required to make the diaper function
  • Must take the time to fold
  • Not as convenient as an AIO
  • Hard to use on squirmy babies
  • Pins and/or a Snappi can be hard to use
  • Runny messes are harder to contain with these diapers


Pocket (this is the type of diaper I use)

Pocket diapers are exactly what they sound like. They are cloth diapers that have a pocket. Most generally they have two layers, an outer layer and an inner layer, with a hole or pocket that separate the two at one point, forming an opening for the absorbent material to be inserted. The absorbent material that is inserted into the pocket is what absorbs the moisture when baby relieves himself. It can be removed later for more effective cleaning. Many moms believe that pocket diapers are the most innovative invention in diapering ever.

Pocket diapers can be two piece diapering systems with a waterproof outer layer that requires only a stuffer. They can also be a three piece diapering system with a non-waterproof outer layer that will require the use of a diaper cover.

Advantages of Pocket Diapers:

  • You decide what to “stuff” the pocket with…so you can find the right absorbency level
  • Easy to clean because they “come apart”
  • Can be very trim if absorbent stuffing is not bulky
  • Available in lots of cute colors and prints

Disadvantages of Pocket Diapers

  • A separate stuffer is required to make the diaper function
  • Can be bulky if to much stuffing is inserted

Thanks and credit to Cloth Diaper Jungle for the write-up of this wonderful info.

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