Mommying BabyT

Mommy T's adventures; bringing up Baby T

Cloth Diapers 101 – Types

Hey there! I know I’ve kept you waiting a long time since my last post on #ClothDiapers. Well, life and Mommying happened as they say. Have you ever noticed how just as you plan to do something major on your blog or in your personal sphere, things are thrown out of gear by a new baby growth spurt or teething or just general mood off? Well, that’s what happened here too. But we have kind of defeated that and here I am to talk about Cloth Diapers.

There are many kinds of people. Book people. Coffee People. Horror Movie people.

And then there are Cloth Diaper kind of people. Even within that, there are the pre-folds people, flats people, pockets people and whatever suits them kind of diaper type of people. There are also people who want to try it all (Me!). Bottomline is that cloth diapers are not a one size fits all solution. A lot depends on the individual’s comfort and convenience and baby’s needs too. But let’s make an attempt here to simplify it and tell you, realistically, about the kinds of cloth diapers that you will most likely use and want to have in your stash. So here goes…

This post shows you the various types of cloth diapers out there –
  1. Flats
  2. Prefolds
  3. Pocket Diapers
  4. Cover Diapers
  5. All-in-one Diapers

flats, flat diapers, flat nappies, square cloth, nappies, nappy cloth, modern cloth diapers, advanced cloth diapers, superbottoms, cloth diapering india, cloth diapers india, cloth diaper shopsFlat diapers come close to the traditional nappies we were diapered in. They are square pieces of cloth that can be folded in various ways to hold baby pee/poo. They most usually need pins and other fasteners like a Snappi or Boingo to hold them in place.

Most commonly available as Flour Sack Towels (FSTs), birdseye cotton, muslin, Terry. (In order of pic above, starting with the bottom printed cloth)

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Various ways of using flat diapers

Pros:
  • Economical
  • Endless possibilities: use them folded/ shaped in various ways to customize absorbency for girl or boy babies
  • Easy to use – simply pad fold to give multi-layers. Easy to clean too.
  • Dry very fast as they are thin & can be opened up
  • Can be made out of any absorbent cloth, even old clothes/ bed sheets/ towels from around the house.
  • Can be put to various uses around the house once you are done diapering.
Cons:
  • Can be a hassle to use – folding them can be a pain during emergencies
  • Low absorbency when used on its own – won’t last more than an hour or so if used on its own.
  • Not waterproof – will need the addition of a waterproof cover
  • Baby will feel the wetness – these don’t give a stay dry feel.
  • You will need a ton of these.

The best way to use these:

By far the simplest and easiest way to use a flat diaper is to pad fold it and use with a waterproof cover like a cover diaper or a pocket diaper. You can also combine multiple flats to add absorbency.

My Brand Recommendation: 

  • TinyCare Muslin Flats (come in various sizes).
  • Mothercare Muslin Cloth.

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Prefolds are multi layered, stitched rectangular pieces. They are stitched such that the centre panel has more layers of absorbency than the sides.

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Like flats, pre-folds also can be used in various ways. They can be wrapped around the baby like a traditional nappy and held in place with a fastener or simply pad folded.

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Pros:
  • Usually made of very absorbent, natural fabrics like organic cotton, hemp, bamboo. This makes them hold a lot of liquid.
  • Makes for an economical method of diapering.
  • The pre-folds can be put to multiple uses once you are done diapering.
  • Can be used for day or even night-time diapering.
Cons:
  • Usually require a lot of pre-use prepping to bring them up to full absorbency.
  • Shrink upon prepping
  • Need fasteners to hold them in place
  • Not waterproof – will need the addition of a waterproof cover
  • Baby will feel the wetness – these don’t give a stay dry feel.

The best way to use these:

By far the simplest and easiest way to use a pre-fold diaper is to pad fold it and use with a waterproof cover like a cover diaper or a pocket diaper.

My Brand Recommendation: 

  • OsoCozy Organic Unbleached Cotton Prefolds

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Pocket diapers are by far the most popular type of cloth diapers used in the world. It consists of a waterproof shell and a stay-dry fabric lined inner. It has a pocket like opening on one side or both and allows you to stuff an insert of soaker pad inside. The most commonly used insert in a pocket diaper is micro fibre which is a synthetic fabric. However, inserts can be made of various materials – natural fabrics like bamboo cotton, hemp, organic cotton or synthetic like charcoal bamboo, bamboo rayon etc. They all have their own set of pros and cons and it greatly depends on the care giver’s preference as much as it does on baby’s comfort.

Pocket Diapers also give the user the freedom to actually use anything inside the pocket. You can use ready to use inserts or any other material pad folded to fit into the pocket. You can even add multiple inserts inside the pocket so as to make it last longer. When its time to change the diaper you have to replace the entire system – insert and diaper shell.

When it’s time to change the diaper you have to replace the entire system – insert and diaper shell. Thus a pocket diaper lasts only for 2 hours on average with the regular stuffing. Addition of a booster may increase its holding capacity.

Pros:
  • Versatile – can be used with a variety of inserts stuffed into the pocket. The essence of the pocket diaper is the stay dry inner layer and so anything that you use inside the pocket is fine. Baby will get a stay dry feel.
  • The pocket diaper itself does not require any prep. One wash and you are good to use.
  • Dries fast after wash even in the Indian monsoon
  • Value for money – usually the most affordable amongst all the diapers available

Cons:

  • Cannot be reused. Have to change the entire diapering system if soiled or full
  • Can sometimes seem bulky, especially if you are stuffing multiple inserts inside it.
  • Can sometimes be a hassle when you have a fidgety baby on hand and you need to stuff the diaper with the insert. A good idea to counter this is to keep the insert stuffed into the pocket while storing.

The best way to use these:

Stuff the insert inside the pocket and store them until use. This will save time.  You can also add a trim natural fibre booster inside the pocket in addition to a regular insert in order to increase the time the pocket will last for.

My Brand Recommendation: 

  • Superbottoms Pocket Diapers

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After having cloth diapered for a 1.5 years and using virtually all types and the most advanced types of cloth diapers I am drawn back to the simplest of all – cover style cloth diapers.

Cover Diapers essentially refers to the water proof shell only. But they provide a great deal of versatility in terms of what you can use inside the covers. Pictured above are a few of the options – Pre-folds, Terry cloth shaped into a nappy, pad folded flats, or special inserts meant for cover diapers. Cover diaper inserts need to be customized to have a stay dry layer on top, especially in the case of microfibre or natural fabric inserts.  These materials are not meant to be used next to baby’s skin (MF) or don’t have an inherent stay dry quality.

I love the Cover diaper and Soaker system from Superbottoms The soakers have a special feature which means they can be snapped into the shell to keep them in place. The material is high-quality microfibre which usually lasts me around 3 to 4 hours on its own.

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Superbottoms Cover Diapers – newborn & regular sized.

The best part about a cover diapering system is that you can simply replace the soaker/insert once full, wipe down or air dry the shell (unless soiled with poop) and add another fresh soaker. Basically, you get to reuse the shell (cover) over and over until it needs a wash. This makes it a very economical cloth diapering system.

Pros:
  • Versatile – can use anything inside the covers, specific cover diaper inserts or home made nappies.
  • Gives multi-uses as the cover can be reused by replacing the soaker/ insert
  • Dries in a jiffy even after a full wash cycle.
  • You will need only a few sets of the cover diapers and can just keep buying the inserts, if you intend to diaper using this system.
Cons:
  • You need special inserts if you prefer to give baby a stay dry feel. (But mostly they come with the cover diapering system.)
  • Using cloth diaper inserts inside a cover can lead to bunching, shifts and leaks as not all inserts have snaps to hold them in place.

The best way to use these:

Use soakers with snaps which will help keep them in place inside the cover. While replacing the soaker, wipe it down with a cloth dampened in hot water and air dry it for a while, before reusing it.

My Brand Recommendation: 

  • Superbottoms Cover Diaper & stay dry soakers

The All-in-one diaper is the one that comes closest to a disposable diaper, in the sense that it can be just fastened onto baby without the need to add any other inserts/ soakers. It usually also lasts much longer than most diapers.

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All-in-ones as the name suggest contain all the diapering parts – waterproof shell and absorbent insert built into the cloth diapers system. You just put the entire diaper on and are good to go.  As such they are convenient and less hassle. Most All-in-one type diapers are made of very absorbent materials and so will last for a much longer duration. This makes them a favourite for night time diapering. You can also add more absorbency to these diapers to increase their hold time.

There are various types of All-in-one diapers. But these are the most common:

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Left: The absorbent part is stitched into the inner shell of the diaper. (TotsBots)

Centre: Flap style inserts (Superbottoms Plus)

Right: Snake style insert which can be folded as per your preference.  (Smart Bottoms 3.1 )

All-in-one diapers are a big favourite with people who prefer less complicated diapering. It is a wear and go kind of system. This also makes it easy to be carried on vacations or while out of the house.

Pros:

  • Simple and easy to use.
  • Usually have great capacity so can be used for longer durations. This makes them great for baby naps, local travels or even vacations
  • Less number of spare parts – great when travelling out of home.

Cons:

  • More absorbent also means thicker and so these diapers tend to be a little bulky
  • They also take more time to dry
  • Tend to be expensive
  • Some All-in-one diapers still need you to add extra absorbency.

The best way to use these:

Buy All-in-one diapers which are trim and promise to hold long hours. This way you can get away without adding any additional boosters/ inserts.

My Brand Recommendation: 


The Hybrid or All-in-Two diapering system gives the user a little more freedom with its usage.

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Typically a hybrid or AI2 diapering system consists of a waterproof cloth diaper shell or cover and an insert for the absorbency. The cloth diaperer has the option of using either the special snap on reusable cloth inserts that are designed for the shell or disposable, biodegradable inserts. One can actually even get away with using other insert types like flats, pre-folds etc within the shell.

Technically any cover diaper/ shell + customized insert diapering system also works under the same principle as a hybrid/ AI2. You can use any insert within the shell – customised reusable, own inserts or even disposable inserts.

Pros:

  • Gives greater flexibility to the user.
  • Is convenient especially when traveling out of the house – the insert can be discarded if using a disposable one.

Cons:

  • The shell usually has a mesh or suede inner which can get messy to clean when soiled
  • The shell is not reusable unlike a cover diaper (which comes close to the shell + customised insert/ soaker system)
  • Some shells offer the use of only the specific inserts which can be snapped on. One cannot use any other inserts with the system.

The best way to use these:

They are great for travels when you have no access to a wash and clean facility. You can simply dump the insert without feeling too guilty for harming the environment.

My Brand Recommendation: 

  • Grovia Hybrid diapers

Have you entered the big, beautiful world of cloth diapers? Which type of cloth diapers did you start with and what are your favourite types? What is the one element of cloth diapers that you struggle with?

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40 Comments

  1. This is great information. I will surely share this with my friends.

  2. This is a much needed post. Helpful for new parents to understand the various types.

  3. I think cloth diapers must be better for our environment if they are reused. Your list is a great reference for parent who want an alternative.

  4. My sister uses cloth diapers, they are a lot of work but so much better for the environment. I really didn’t know there was so many options out there. I’m always terrified of pinning the child instead of the diaper but you have a neat little clipper shown!

  5. Anything you can wash and reuse I am all for. I’m not a fan of instantly disposable products. I even still use a handkerchief haha. This is great!

  6. I wish I had this post before my 1st was born! I had to read so many different blog posts to learn about all the different cloth diapers.

    I’m with you, I like them all. I like to have a combo just because. After trying them all, I found like I prefer prefolds around the house and AIO when traveling and out and about.

    Also, I too come up with big blog plans and then get to them months later. I recently bought two new domains, worked on them for a few weeks, and then remembered I was pregnant and couldn’t handle 3 websites. Life!!! Blogging sure is fun though! I’m so happy I found your blog. Consider me a new faithful reader!

  7. What an informative post! I’ll be honest and tell you that we didn’t cloth diaper with our last baby (although I considered it) because I had no idea what each one did, how it worked, what would work for us, etc… This is a great post and definitely worth the wait!

  8. Diapers aren’t exactly cheap and the best way to save is still using cloth diapers. There are so many in the market though. So it’s really nice to know which work great!

  9. Cloth diapers are all my parents used back in the day but I rarely see them anymore. I havent seen them in years in my neck of the woods. I’m used to just the plain white ones. These are lovely!

  10. I totally love the list and the comparison of different options. Thank you for this informative post about alternative diaper that we can use for our little one.

  11. I’ve always wanted to know more about cloth diapers. I’m always looking to be more environmentally conscious, so I’ve definitely considered it for the future. Thanks for all the helpful info!

  12. One of my favorites were the pocket disperse. They were easier to use so my husband didn’t mind changing them at all. The others scared him hahap

  13. I had no idea there were so many types of cloth diapers. Like seriously! Wow! But this is good information. Honestly, we always did disposable diapers and even when I did research cloth diapers, I found nappies. Then I saw some diapers that look like ones you have mentioned too. But I really could not figure out which is better and why and what type of cloth diaper will be better for my needs. I wish all that info was compiled in one place the way you have done now. This is gonna be really helpful for new moms and moms-to-be.

  14. I love the prints of Cloth diapers. I am in a phase to just stop using diapers now. But after looking at the pictures will love to buy some.

  15. Very valuable information. Helpful too.

  16. Wow, I wish I had known this much about cloth diaper in detail when I gave up the idea post using it for a couple of times. I bought a couple of cloth diaper and had a really bad experience, after reading your post I realized I chose the wrong ones😑😑😑 …..sharing this post 😊👍

  17. So much information will surely help all mothers to choose the right one. I like the way I can see the product and then relate to it. Thanks !

  18. This post is going to be super helpful to new CDing parents. Looking forward to reading more in this series.

  19. Thats a really awesome review on cloth diapers. I really like these colourful diapers as they can be reused. This is the best part which i love about it. This will less the expense which we spent on other diapers

  20. This is super informative post for mom’s like me who had no idea so many varieties of diapers are available.. I like the printed all-in-ones the most 🙂

  21. Oh my!! There’s so much I didn’t know! For teh first time in my life I saw what flats and prefolds are 😛 But I still love my covers and pockets!

  22. Wow! I never knew all this about diapers. This is such a detailed information about different types and I liked the pocket diapers the best.

  23. I never used cloth diapers. I wish I’d read such a detailed post before, that could’ve enabled me to take an informed decision.

  24. I simply adore this one. I never used cloth diapers for my baby. And this post has everything I want to know about cloth diapering. Thank you so much for this detailed post.

  25. This is a great breakdown on all the different kinds of cloth diaper options out there… I bet it’s really overwhelming when you first start to think about it!

  26. Wow such an informative and elaborate post. I had used the flat nappies when G was younger but switched to disposables later. Now at two when he is potty training I am really tempted to try a cloth diaper. Which one would you recommend to begin with ?

    • mommyingbabyt

      July 27, 2017 at 12:59 am

      Aww So glad to hear you would want to give it a shot before you are done. You should try training pants ideally if your objective is to potty train. But if you want to get rid of disposables from night time or time out of home then I would highly recommend an all-in-one type of diaper.

  27. That was a great collection. Nice post.

  28. Wow this is definitely the mother of all posts on the topic!
    I did use nappies for my kiddos, but the simple old school ones!
    Wish this post was available then 🙂👍🏻👍🏻

  29. Wow, what a wonderful and detailed post. You have written about each and every style of cloth diapers covering each and every aspect. This information is much needed by new parents.

  30. So many kinds !! I never knew these many existed. I never used then for Zu, but I will surely pass this blog to my soon to be mumma friend!

  31. Wow I’m amazed at how you have covered the minutest of the details about various types of diapers in this post… I’m sure all new moms would benefit from this

  32. That was some great information on cloth diapering. We are using pocket diapers and AIOs and loving it so far.

  33. Can never be a better explanation and information provided than this post !! Thank you for sharing

  34. Thats phenomenal !! The hard wrk you put in this piece is quite visible. you’ve covered every bit of information required to start cloth diapering. Very informative post.

  35. Such a detailed post. I wish I had read something like this when we started with cloth diapers a year ago. We now use AIO and pocket diapers and are very happy with them.

  36. i was not guided enough tried my hands on but then had no clue and left it ..if I plan a sibling for N then I am coming back to this post ..its a complete guide and so nicely written

  37. This is such an informative post. Shall surely pass this infor to new moms.

  38. You have worked so hard in drafting this post. I used plenty our flat diapers from our oldies dhoties and then switched to all in one diapers. 😃

  39. Wow this is such a great effort on the information. I wish I knew so much when it was diapering my little one. But i am sharing this across for all. Y friends and new mums.

    Allthatsmom

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