Basically, cloth diapers all fall into one of five categories (in order from least expensive to most expensive):
- Prefolds – these are the most economical choice. They consist of a large sheet (usually thicker in the middle) that is folded into thirds and placed inside a waterproof cover. (Example: Econobum One Size Diapering System)
- Contours – similar to prefolds, but they don’t need to be folded. These also require a waterproof cover. (Example: Kissaluvs contour diaper)
- Fitteds – these diapers are shaped like a disposable diaper and are fastened with snaps or Velcro. Usually these require a waterproof cover, but unlike with prefolds and contours, the covers get dirty less often, so you can use them multiple times before laundering. (Example: Thirsties Duo)
- Pocket Diapers – made up of a waterproof outer layer and an inner fleece layer with an absorbent insert that is stuffed between the layers. No additional cover is needed. These are as easy to put on as a disposable diaper – the only extra effort is in stuffing the insert (and of course, the laundry). (Example: Fuzzibunz)
- All-in-Ones (AIO) – similar to pocket diapers, except no stuffing required! The absorbent part of the diaper is attached permanently to the waterproof outer shell. No additional cover is needed for these as well. (Example: Grovia AIO)
In recent years, some “hybrid” diapers or “all-in-twos” (AI2) have begun to appear on the scene. Based on the ones I have seen, I would describe these as basically consisting of a waterproof outer shell and a replaceable absorbent liner that can be replaced multiple times before the shell needs to be laundered. In my experience, these hybrid diapers are comparable to fitteds or pocket diapers in price.
What are the Size Options?
There is also the question of whether to use a “one-size” diaper or a “sized” diaper. With sized diapers, you generally buy XS (newborn sized), S, M, and L sized diapers depending on how much your baby weighs and what their measurements are like (waist size vs. rise, etc). Sized diapers generally offer a better fit (more tailored to size/age of baby), but require that you buy X number of diapers (usually somewhere between 20 and 40, depending on how often you want to wash) in each size…which can add up fast!! One size diapers adjust to fit babies as small as 8 pounds up to around 35-40 pounds – which should take you from birth (or within a few weeks of birth) to potty training. The fit is less customized (and sometimes not as trim under clothing), but the benefit is that you only have to buy one set of diapers. Period.
And since I mentioned these diapers today...
Thirsties diapers now hosts a weekly giveaway on Thursday (fittingly called "Thirsties Thursday"). This week the prize is 2 Thirsties Duo Fab Fitted Diapers. Head over to their give-away site - Thirsties Thursday and enter to win!!