This was one area that confused me to no end while I was pregnant. Every time I went online to try and decide which diapers to buy, I was completely overwhelmed with the now endless choices I was given! It is crazy to me how just sixty years ago, cloth diapers were the only option available, and there was only one kind. Even the more traditional style of prefolds and covers available today are light years ahead of what our grandparents used! I knew I wanted something easy, convenient, modern and fun. What’s the point of cloth diapering if it isn’t going to be fun, right?! I loved all the colors, prints and styles offered, but far be it from me to know what an AIO was! What the heck was a “pocket” and how was it different from a “AI2." Which diapers needed covers? Which needed inserts? I had no idea where to start.
I was using All About Cloth Diapers as a starting reference and the reviews there were really helpful. Being a hands-on person though, I was disappointed there weren’t any pictures to go along with the reviews; what I really wanted was to see all the options and go through them all myself. After some more research, lo and behold I found out there was a cloth diaper store only 25 miles from me! And they had “Cloth Diapering 101” classes. Score. So one Saturday, my husband and I ventured out for the class and it was impressive. They went over all the different kinds of diapers they carry, the different kinds, how they’re different, pros and cons of each – this class was perfect for me. I had way too much fun dressing the model teddy bears in Softbums, Fuzzibunz and GroVias. While playing around I loved the Softbums and the ability to snap in an insert, stuff it like a pocket or just lay in a prefold. Unfortunately at nearly $23/diaper, it was out of our budget.
Here is a breakdown of the different types of diapers for those who were too overwhelmed with all the information as I was!
Pocket Style: From what I’ve seen this seems to be the most popular style available. This type of diaper has an opening at the back of the diaper (sometimes the front) between the PUL front cover of the diaper and the inner fleece of the diaper for you to stuff an insert. I like this style; it’s so easy to adjust absorbency. Since my son tends to be a heavy-wetter, it works great for night-time because I can put as many inserts as will fit. Popular brands of this style are the Bumgenius 4.0's, Fuzzibunz, and Rumparooz. For the budget-minded, the cost of this style is all over the board depending on the brand you get. I was able to purchase my pockets stash for about $14/diaper.
AIO – or “All in One” is the diaper that most resembles the ease of a disposable. You don’t have to stuff, snap or cover. The insert is sewn right in so it requires nothing other than for you to put the diaper on the baby, then later take it off and just toss it into the diaper pail. Of course I love this diaper! It’s so easy and my Gro-Via AIO is my trimmest diaper too. Budget-wise, these tend to be the most expensive style. They are usually $20+ per diaper. Some popular brands of this style are also Bumgenius, Grovia AIO's and Thirsties.
Prefolds: The more traditional style of cloth diapers, has a thick multiple layer middle, and two thinner sections on the sides. A prefold has to be folded and placed inside a cover on the baby. This is one style I have little experience with. My sister uses prefolds for her son and likes it just fine. But it’s a little too involved for my taste. I enjoy the ease of the other styles. It happens to be the least expensive cloth diapering option available. Prefolds are very inexpensive and can often be purchased for as little as $1/prefold, and covers for the prefolds can be as little as $8 ranging through about $15 per cover. Some popular brands of covers are Thirsties, Bummis, and Econobum.
AI2 – or “All In Two” is an option where you can snap in an insert as opposed to stuffing it like a pocket. Prices are in the midrange. There isn’t much ease to this diaper compared to some of the others; it requires you be hands-on with your diapering, which is one thing I prefer not to be “hands-on” about! I personally have some Gro-Via AI2’s and I only use them when I’m out of the other diapers. However, one great advantage to AI2's is that you can use a disposable biodegradable insert instead of a cloth insert as well, another advantage being that you can usually reuse the same cover for the whole day so you need fewer covers. They also dry a lot faster than AIO's because it's two separate pieces. Popular brands are Gro-Via Hybrids, G Diapers and Softbums.
Fitted/Contour is similar to a prefold in that it needs a cover, but it’s an actual diaper. It doesn’t have a waterproof outer, so it requires a cover. This style can be expensive because fitteds are priced comparably to other diapers, plus you have to purchase a cover as well. Fitteds work really well as a night-time diapering solution. I came to the point where pockets weren't able to hold enough absorbency to last 12 hours overnight, and fitteds are a feasible option. Since many use it mainly as a night time diaper, it doesn't have to be expensive because you'd only need 2-5 diapers. Kissaluvs, Blueberry and Eco Posh are some popular fitteds brands.
Hybrid - this is basically an AI2 but you also have the option of using a disposable insert instead. I bought a few of these thinking it would make for easy travel. This tends to be a very expensive version however, if you plan to only use disposable inserts. The inserts themselves are more than even a high-end diaper like Seventh Generation, plus you have to buy all the covers. You will end up paying more for this system than you would for disposable diapers, so this system tends to be one that parents choose only for environmental reasons, as opposed to budget reasons. The brands G Diapers, Flip and Gro-Via offer this style in addition to cloth inserts. One advantage to this system was that I was able to use Gro-Via's with cloth inserts at home, and while we were out, I could use the GV's with the disposable inserts instead of buying a new pack of disposable diapers.
There are so many options, so many accessories and terms that I wish I could cover, but I’m trying to keep it as underwhelming as possible for those just starting with the cloth diaper system. My favorite diapers tend to vary by the day. But for the most part, our collection of diapers is pockets. I loved the trimness of my Gro-Via AIO’s when Baby Squiggles was younger, but in the end the Bumgenius were by far my favorite diapers. I hardly ever had any leaks and they fit great.
Cloth Diapering part 5 of 111. Cloth Diapering by parenting
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3. Easy Cloth Diapering by Mrs. Superhero
4. How to choose a cloth diapering system by Mrs. Superhero
5. Cloth Diaper Styles by Mrs. Pen
6. Cloth Diapering Diaries by Mrs. Sketchbook
7. Confessions of an (Ex) Cloth-Diapering Mom by Mrs. High Heels
8. They really are genius! by Mrs. Tea
9. Who, What, Why, and How: Cloth Diapering by mrs. tictactoe
10. On Cloth Diapering at 4 Months by Mrs. Stroller
11. Real Registry: Diana's Cloth Diaper Registry by Real Registries