Different types of cloth diapers:

The following diapers are NOT waterproof and require some sort of fastener (i.e. pin or snappi):

Flat - 1-2 layers usually sewn or cut into a large square (27x27-34x34in).  This square has to be folded to fit the baby and either fastened with a Snappi or Pins.  It can also be laid in a cover or stuffed in a pocket.  A receiving blanket or dish towel can also double as a flat.

Prefold - Is a “Pre-folded” Flat. It is several layers of fabric with more layers in the center and is much smaller than a flat. These usually come in sizes from newborn to xlarge.  They also need to be fastened with a Snappi or Pins or laid in a cover/stuffed in a pocket.

Contour – This diaper has several layers of fabric and sometimes has more layers in the center. It is cut to baby shape (not square). The diaper does not have elastic on it and must be fastened shut with Snappi or Pins or laid in a cover.

Prefitted - is a prefold or contour that has elastic sewn in the legs (and often the back) to make the diaper “hug” the child better.   These still require some sort of fastener to hold them on the baby.

Mini-flat/Preflat- These are 2-3 layer “flats” that are the size of a prefold (and oftentimes means they are sized).  They’re often times made with Bamboo and/or Hemp.

The following diapers are NOT waterproof and do not require a separate fastener:

Fitted – These diapers are several layers of fabric with attached closures (snaps or “Velcro”) and elastic sewn in.  They oftentimes are trimmer because of their shape and ability to get a good fit on your baby.  They come in both sized and one-size styles.  These are the most versatile in prints, colors, materials, shapes, and absorbency.  They are NOT waterproof and do require a cover when putting them on under “regular” clothing.  People oftentimes put them on their babies coverless when at home to allow baby’s bum to “breathe”.

The following diapers ARE waterproof and do not require a separate fastener:

Pocket – These diapers have an inner layer (usually of suedecloth or microfleece) and an outer layer of PUL to make them waterproof.  They have a “pocket” where you insert a soaker (oftentimes of microfiber or hemp) helping to make them very absorbent.  Fasteners of snaps or “Velcro” are included on these diapers.

AIO (All-in-one) – These diapers are all one piece.  They are fitted to baby’s shape and have a fastener attached (snaps or “Velcro”).  They are waterproof on the outside (usually they have a PUL fabric on the outside) and have several layers sewn in.  They usually include a sewn-in “soaker” which is several pieces of fabric in the center for absorbency.

AI2 (all – in – two) These are exactly like AIO’s except the “soaker” part is separate from the main part of the diaper and usually snaps into the middle of the diaper as opposed to being sewn in.  This allows for a quicker drying time.

Different types of diaper covers:

PUL – PUL stands for Polyurethane Laminate.  It is basically cotton or polyester fabric that has been laminated to create a waterproof material.  PUL covers usually fit only over the diaper area (they are not usually made into clothing) so that you can put a non-waterproof diaper on under “regular” clothing. 

Wool – These covers come in several different types (knitted, crocheted, interlock, etc…) and styles (longies, shorties, soakers, etc…).  Wool is a natural anti-bacterial fiber that makes a breathable, water resistant cloth diaper cover.  This type of cover can have “compression leaks” if the diaper underneath is soaked AND the baby is sitting in one position for a long time (like on a long ride in a car seat).  Many people like wool because of its natural breathability and its ability to keep baby cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  The wool fibers used for these covers is VERY soft.  The larger the percentage of wool content the better the water resistance.   Wool covers are often used AS clothing and not under “regular” clothing.  Wool is also very easy to care for needing only to be washed when dirty or every few weeks.   For the best use of wool it also needs to be lanolized every couple of washes. 

Fleece – Fleece is a synthetic material that does well at repelling water (the thicker 100% polyester types).  It is not waterproof, but water resistant, and can have “compression leaks” if sitting with a wet diaper underneath for long periods of time.  Because of the polyester content it will not absorb the moisture and because of the weave of the material it will not allow it to go through the fabric.  It is because of this that it makes an excellent cover for cloth diapers.  It usually comes in the “soaker” version which fits just over the diaper area.  Fleece soakers are not usually recommended for use under “regular” clothing as they tend to be a bit bulky, but people tend to use them as the clothing rather than putting something over them.   There are a couple things that draw people to use fleece covers – they are easy to care for (just wash with your regular clothing) and they are relatively inexpensive. 

What our family has chosen and why:

We are a pocket/fitted, wool/fleece family.  J  We use several different brands of pockets for our “gone all day” diapers.  This means that we use these diapers under “regular” clothes when we will be gone for most of the day (i.e. – church, trips, family events, etc…).  They are easy to use, trim, great for babysitters and grandparents, and allow me to do what I need to do without thinking about changing a diaper.  However, we LOVE our fitteds and their covers.  We have found that our son seems SO much more comfortable with a fitted on than with the “plastic” of the PUL pocket diaper.  Plus, they are so cute!  And since we have been using them on a consistent basis there have been no rashes at all.  We also have found that they are so much easier than we first anticipated.  When we first started with fitteds we tried the PUL covers.  That quickly became too much hassle when trying to change diapers on a squirmy toddler.  There were just too many layers!  So we ventured out and tried fleece and wool.  Wow – they are both AMAZING!  And they are definitely cuter than any “regular” clothes, at least in my opinion.  They both work so great and we have never, ever had a leak using either our wool OR our fleece. 

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