If you’ve made it here, there’s a good chance that you are at least interested in learning about cloth diapers. I’m going to share most of the different types of cloth diapers available with some explanation on how I feel about each kind. If you read my post Why We Chose Cloth Diapers, you know that I had 4 reasons to cloth diaper. Our cloth diaper choices came from the intersection of all these reasons combined. Hopefully sharing this post will help you learn what the different types of diapers are and offer some parent to parent insight on what some pros and cons to each type are (at least in my humble opinion!)
One Size Cloth Diaper
Before we talk about the different types of diapers, I need to tell you about sizes. There are all kinds of sizes. You can get a newborn size, and purchase the size your baby needs based on their weight as they grow. However, because of the reasons I wanted to cloth diaper, I didn’t want to get new sizes each time. It seemed expensive. Plus, my little one went from 6 lbs and some change to 20 lbs and some change in 6 months. It would have been a complete waste of money, because she would have blown through some of the sizes so quickly. Therefore, I am very happy with our decision and 100% recommend the one size cloth diaper. They fit from birth through potty training, depending on how you snap the diapers. The picture above shows you how you’re in control of changing the diaper shape and size to fit your baby.
The one size diaper has a lot of snaps, and it looks a little intimidating, but I’m here to break it down for you. If we’re looking at the diaper above, you can see that there are two row of snaps at the top of the diaper. There are also little white wings with snaps. You are going to use the snaps on your diaper wings to connect to the snaps on the front of the diaper. The top row is to tighten the waist, and the bottom row tightens around the legs. You tighten the legs first, and get a smaller version of diaper wings (see picture below.) You’ll use those to snap the waist and your diaper is ready to go! The last set of snaps that look like 3 vertical columns, are called your rise snaps. These are the ones that make your diaper shorter or longer. That’s how you’re able to get the different sizes to fit a newborn through a toddler. I kept the rises “pre” snapped when we needed to have a shorter diaper so I didn’t have 3 extra snaps to do at every diaper change.
Having your diaper too tight or too loose is a problem. Babies are naturally going to have some indentions from the diaper on their skin, but it should look similar to the indentions your pants leave on your waist or sock imprints on your ankles. If you get bright red lines that don’t go away fairly quickly, you’ve been making it too tight on the leg snaps. Don’t feel like the world’s worst parent if it happens. I cried and cried the first time I noticed it on her chubby little thighs. But, it’s okay! Just snap it differently at the next diaper change. These diapers are like a puzzle sometimes trying to get the right fit on your baby. And if your baby grows as quickly as mine did, the way you snapped it together on Monday could look different by Wednesday. Also, having them too tight can “compress” them and pretty much squeeze the pee out– don’t want that! Diapers that are too loose could also leak… but it’s more likely to leak out #2, yellow baby poo! So, just get comfortable playing with the snaps, and give yourself some grace if it’s not perfect the first few (hundred LOL) times!
Types of Cloth Diapers
Now I’m going to go through and share each of the different types of diapers that are available (at least that I’m familiar with!), and discuss briefly some pros and cons of each.
Prefolds and Flats
This is what most people thought of when I said I wanted to cloth diaper. My Mimi said she used them with safety pins when she was a cloth diapering Mama herself. The style of diaper is still around, but now they have the tool in the picture called a “Snappi” that clings to the cloth and holds it in place. These are going to be the cheapest option if you’re looking to do cloth diapers the cheapest way possible. You can use cheap flour sack towels with a snappi and viola! Diaper on your baby’s butt! Prefolds, like in the picture, are pre sewed in the middle to make it thicker for absorption. If you’re handy, you can even sew your own. For me personally, this was just a little too complicated for me. There’s lots of pictures that show you how to fold them up and put them on your baby if you’re wanting to give these a shot, but for me, I wanted a simpler system. You will still need to find a shell/cover to go over top of what you’ve folded to keep things “waterproof.”
Both friends of mine that cloth diapered used pocket diapers. The Cover/Shell of the diaper has a “pocket” where you can stuff inserts to absorb the pee. These are the second cheapest way to cloth diaper. The picture shows two different inserts. The white one came with the diaper, and the black bamboo ones were bought separate. You “stuff” the diapers with as many inserts as you need based on how heavy of a wetter your baby is. Had I not found Lil Helper diapers, I would have likely been using lots of pocket style diapers. There’s a lot of cute prints and you can usually find them pretty cheap. One down side is that you have to wash the inserts several times to prep them for use.
All in One (AiO)
These are the simplest of all the cloth diapers. We have 6 of them that we use if we’ve dirtied up too many of our Lil Helper diapers and she needs a diaper to wear while the stash dries. They’re exactly how the name describes them. They’ve got these two giant pieces of cloth that are sewn into the diaper. All you do is lay the pieces flat and snap the diaper on. There’s no stuffing, snapping, pinning, guess—nothing. These are typically more expensive, but you can’t beat the simplicity of them. My biggest complaint about AiO diapers comes when it’s time to clean a poppy diaper. I will be expanding on this in another part of the series on cleaning cloth diapers.
All in 2 (Ai2)
The last diaper is the All in 2. It’s the hybrid between pockets and AiO diapers. These are the type of diaper that Lil Helper diapers falls into. I love Lil Helper diapers. I will be telling you all the reasons why in a separate post. But, the main reason is because of the diaper style. Like pocket diapers, they have inserts, but these inserts snap onto the shell/cover. So, if your baby only pees a little bit, you can snap the dirty inserts off and just put in a fresh set of inserts without needing a new cover (1 time, it’s not recommended to do more than once.) Adalind always seemed to explode poop all over the inserts and covers so I got used to just using them once. My husband and I will sometimes pre-prepare all the diapers and we put them in the diaper bag or store them just like disposables. The turn off for some people with Ai2 diapers is pretty much the same as AiO– they are more expensive. But, a pretty cool thing about Lil Helper is that they will let you have a trial diaper for super cheap to try it out and see what you think. Read more about why I love Lil Helper here.
There may be some additional diaper types that I didn’t cover. Please feel free to share your experience with any of the ones I talked about here or with ones I didn’t introduce in the comments below. Check out the next post in the series, where I share all about cleaning cloth diapers here!