Once you make the decision to cloth diaper, you probably feel like you are all set. Then you start to look at all the different diapering options. You aren't so sure anymore. What are all these kinds of diapers? Fabrics? How do I know which ones need a cover? If you're overwhelmed by all the choices, you're not alone. I wavered in my decision to cloth diaper simply because I wasn't sure what I should buy. We'll get into fabrics next time. For now, here is a quick tutorial on the different kinds of diapers.
Prefolds: These are the diapers you may have seen in Babies R Us or other retailer. They are rectangles that appear trifolded. Many of you have used them as burp rags-I did! Prefolds are also great diapers. They are cost-efficient and made of natural fibers. You fold them around the baby, fasten them with a pin or Snappi (more on what this is another time) and add a waterproof cover so they don't leak. Prefolds are great for allowing plenty of air to your baby's bottom. To view prefolds, visit the prefolds section of my store. Prefolds seem like a lot of work at first, but after a while, many cloth diapering parents enjoy them!
Advantages: inexpensive, natural fiber, breathable, easy to wash
Disadvantages: least like disposables, can be tricky to fasten, need to master different folds, need liners to be stay-dry
Fitteds: Like prefolds, these diapers also need a cover. Many fitteds are made of natural fibers, but they can also be made with microfiber. Fitteds look like other kinds of diapers (all-in-ones, pockets), but are not waterproof. They can fasten with snaps or aplix (velcro). Many cloth diapering parents do not use a cover with fitteds because they are often too cute to cover! Instead, they are vigilant about monitoring the wetness of the diaper and changing often. This provides excellent air circulation to your baby's bottom, but is probably not recommended when you are out and about.
Advantages: breathable, absorbent, fairly leak-proof when used with a cover
Disadvantages: need a cover, can take a long time to dry
All-in-ones: This is the kind of diaper that many parents who want something "like a disposable" choose at first. Upon first glance, these diapers seem to have many advantages, and they do. True to their name, all-in-ones (AIOs) are one piece and easy to put on. They come with snap or aplix closures. They are waterproof and do not need covers. They are a favorite of dads, grandparents, and daycare centers.
Advantages: One piece, easy, most like disposables
Disadvantages: More expensive, long drying time, can be hard to get clean, can leak
Pockets: Pockets take what's good about an AIO and remove some of its negative features. Like AIOs, pockets are waterproof. They often have stay-dry inners to keep your baby dry. Instead of one piece, pockets have a pocket opening at the front or back of the diaper. You put an insert into this opening. Inserts can be made of hemp, microfiber, bamboo, the list is endless. Many parents stuff pockets with trifolded prefolds. The closures are identical to AIOs and just as easy to use.
Advantages: Can adjust absorbency, very much like disposables, waterproof, stay-dry, inserts are easier to clean and dry than AIOs
Disadvantages: Need to stuff pockets, is a more expensive option, can leak
Covers: Covers are what go over fitteds and prefolds to make them waterproof. They have snap or aplix closures. There are many different kinds and fabrics, so I'll cover this more when I go over fabrics.
There are a few other kinds of diapers (flats, all-in-twos), but these are the basic kinds. Take a look at the different kinds, and think about what's most important to you in a diaper. Remember that you don't have to use just one kind. We started out with just pockets and AIOs, and now use a little of everything! Different diapers are good for different situations.
Hope it's not so overwhelming now!