Choosing the Right Cloth Diaper
We’ve come a long way from the traditional fold-and-pin diapers – in fact, a first-time cloth buyer might be completely overwhelmed at the vast varieties available. One improvement you’ll immediately notice in all diaper types is the incredibly stylish and easy-to-use diaper covers. Easy Velcro closures have replaced the big, uncomfortable-looking pins, making fastening a cloth diaper as easy as a disposable.
So which one is right for you?
- One-size diapers are probably the easiest option for parents because they’ll grow from infancy to toddlerhood without ever requiring a bigger size or a different accessory. They’ll initially be a bit more expensive than traditional pre-folds, but you’ll never have to buy another set. (We like Gro Via and bumGenius.) You can find one-size diapers for all-in-one (AIO) diapers and pocket diapers, below.
- All-in-One (AIO) diapers are the easiest, most leak-proof option out there, especially for parents who like the open-and-go convenience of disposables. Since the diaper cover is sewn right onto the diaper, there’s no folding, stuffing or pinning required. Use it as you would a disposable, except you throw it in the wash instead of the garbage. (The aforementioned Gro Via is a great example.)
- Pocket diapers are a popular favorite among mothers who swear these are the most absorbent due to their inner insert and moisture-wicking fabric. (Check out bumGenius, FuzziBunz and Happy Heinys.) Some stuffing is required.
- Fitted diapers are similar to the AIO’s breathable, well-fitting design, except a diaper cover is needed. However, this is known to dry faster than AIOs, making it a great option for babies prone to diaper rash. (Kissaluvs, Mother-ease and Thirsties makes fitted diapers.)
- Prefold diapers are the most economical cloth diapering system you can choose, but they also require the most work. Similar to traditional cloth diapers, prefolds are pieces of cloth that have been pre-folded and sewn, requiring only a diaper cover. While it might be difficult to exclusively use prefolds, they’re an absorbent, affordable, multi-functioning diaper that can help round out your diapering system. Instead of spending close to $1,000 for some of these other types, an entire collection of prefolds will cost about $200 from birth to potty training. They can also be used as burp cloths, bibs or cleaning rags.
- Flats are even more traditional than prefolds, with a single layer of cloth that has to be folded and pinned.
- Hybrid diapers are a newer option in the Diaper Wars, hoping to be the middle ground between the two camps. Because sometimes traveling, an extra busy week or a case of diarrhea can make cloth diapers extremely inconvenient, certain companies (like gDiapers, Gro Via and Flip System) are offering flushable, compostable and biodegradable inserts – free of plastics and chemicals – to fit inside their reusable cloth diaper covers. It will probably be the least economical, but they’re fantastic options for anyone that wants a better supplement for cloth.