As a cloth diaper advocate and blogger, I often get asked questions like, “what are the different diaper styles?” “what works best?” and “what brand should I use for my baby?” I’ll admit that it’s hard to sift through the hundreds of options out there. I have my own favorites but what might work for some, doesn’t work for others.
So where do you start? I decided to ask 70 real cloth-diapering moms — whose children range in age from newborn to 14 years old — for their methods and brands of choice to create a go-to resource based on individual needs. (Note: If you’re still skeptical about going cloth, here are some myths I debunked.)
Let’s first dig into the differences between the styles. These factors are important in deciding which diaper is best for you!
The Scoop on Basic Cloth Diaper Styles
Hybrid Diapers are popular for their versatility. Use their disposable inserts or the cloth variety that can be re-washed.
All-In-Ones (AIO’s) are the most similar to disposables. These diapers are all in one piece, no-stuffing or extra components required.
Pockets allow you to “stuff” them with whatever absorbent materials you choose, although pocket diapers frequently come with their own inserts.
Covers can be reused until they require washing. Simply replace at each diaper change. Choose to use covers with flat, fitted, and prefold diapers, along with soakers, inserts, and doublers (or a combination of any of the above).
Flats are known as “old school” cloth diapers. They are large, thin cotton squares that can be folded a variety of ways and fastened on the baby, then a cover is put on over them.
Fitteds look and fasten just like a regular diaper but aren’t waterproof so they require a cover of your choosing.
Prefolds are smaller, rectangular, cotton, and already padded/quilted/absorbent. Prefolds can also be folded a variety of ways, or tri-folded and laid inside a diaper cover.
Cloth Diapering Survey Results
Now let’s get our moms’ take on cloth diaper methods and brands …
Dueling Diaper Methods
Pocket diapers and diaper covers (i.e. covers over flats, fitteds, prefolds, etc.) tied as a favorite method among those we surveyed, with AIO’s close behind.
Those who preferred AIO’s hated pockets because they didn’t want to have to deal with stuffing diapers. However, some pocket diaper lovers hated AIO’s because they took way longer to dry and they could not customize their absorbency.
The most traditional cover diapering methods (particularly flip diaper covers) were also clearly a popular choice for parents of newborns and infants.
“A pocket has your back. And your front. Once that pocket is stuffed, the user-error possibilities go WAY down. No panels to tuck, no covers to wrap, no pieces sticking out … grab ’em and go.” — Stephanie, mother of 1- and 4-year-olds
Brands Leading the Pack
The most noticeably popular brand was bumGenius, followed by Thirsties, AppleCheeks, Blueberry, SoftBums, and GroVia. WAHM brands (aka diapers made at home and sold online) recommended were Binky D, Chelory, and RagaBabe.
“I love the adjustable legs, [the Softbums are] perfect for our little roly-poly. Being able to snap the insert and also stuff the pocket makes them great for overnight too, plus they’re so nice and soft.” — Brandi, mother of 5-month-old and 3-year-old
The truth is, REAL moms (and dads) like you choose to cloth diaper for many different reasons that dictate which styles you might prefer and which brands you might love.
Looking for convenience? An AIO or hybrid system might be your best bet.
Try Smart Bottoms Organic All In One, $29.00
On a budget? Diaper covers are probably going to be your FAVORITE style!
Most concerned with absorption? Fitteds with wool will rock your world.
Try Sustainablebabyish Fitteds and Wool, $26 and up
Looking for longevity? Try Made in the USA pocket diapers or all-in-one diapers, they might cost a few dollars more but their quality and warranty will make up for it.
Try the bumGenius 4.0 One-Size Pocket Diaper, $17.95
Not ready to commit to cloth full-time? Choose a hybrid system and switch between cloth and disposable inserts.
Just remember, there’s NOT one right way to cloth diaper — there are several! You can test the cloth diapering waters with your tippy toes by starting with one diaper or jump right in the deep end and BUY ALL THE DIAPERS. But be careful, the deep end’s pretty crowded! Wink, wink.More On