All-in-One diapers (also referred to as AIOs) have a waterproof cover with absorbent fabric sewn in. Modern AIOs often allow the sewn in fabric to flap for efficient washing and drying. Examples of All-in-Ones include Swaddlebees Simplex, Grovia AIO, Kissaluvs Marvels AIO and bumGenius Elemental.
All-in-Two diapers are also referred to as AI2s or Hydrid diapers. The system includes a waterproof cover, often called a shell, and a form of absorbency which is placed or snapped inside. The soaker is usually stay dry, disposable (usually biodegradable), or cotton. Examples of AI2s include GroVia Shells (with snap in soaker or disposable placed in shell) and Flip covers (with soaker or disposable placed in cover).
Aplix is a brand name of a hook & loop style fastener for cloth diapers, just as Velcro is. When it comes to cloth diapering, Velcro and Aplix is convenient for quickly fastening a diaper. However, it does not tend to last as long as snaps, and it is easy enough for some babies to undo on their own.
Bamboo is known as a natural fiber which does not require pesticides or chemicals to grow. It is sustainable as a fast-growing, biodegradable, environmentally friendly fabric. It is more absorbent than cotton, and not as absorbent as microfiber. Bamboo is often used as the soaker or insert of a cloth diaper, and is favored by those looking for a natural, soft, absorbent option.
Bleached prefolds appear to be white due to the fabric being bleached before the prefolds are sewn by the manufacturer. Bleaching the fabric does weaken the fabric, so they may not last as long as unbleached prefolds. Bleaching also strips the natural oils out of the fabric. This makes bleached prefolds more absorbent from the start than unbleached prefolds. Unbleached diapers retain less moisture until the natural oils in the fabric wash out through several washings – then they reach their full absorbency.
These prefolds which are manufactured in China are known for being sturdy and long-lasting. Though more coarse than Indian prefolds, they hold up better due to the heavy duty stitching and sturdier fabric, which is usually twill.
Contour diapers are hour glass shaped to fit nicely. They are a step up from flats and pre-folds, and an economical choice compared to fitteds. Pins or Snappis are used to fasten them, and they require covers since they are not waterproof.
Waterproof layer to go over diapers that get wet, such as prefolds, flats, contours and fitteds. Wool is also an effective cover, but actually provides absorbency while insuring that wetness does not wick onto clothing.
Not as thick and absorbent as inserts or soakers, doublers provide an extra boost of absorbency in addition to that of the main absorbent fabric of the diaper.
What grandma used to use, these one layer sheets of fabric require folding. Flats may be secured using pins or Snappis, or they may simply be folded and placed in the diaper cover. Flats are usually cotton, though they can be made from other materials. Because flats are not waterproof, covers are necessary components.
Fitted diapers are form-fitted diapers that use elastic at the legs and often at the waist. Fitteds have fasteners, such as snaps, included as part of their design. Because they do not include a waterproof layer, a cover is required. Examples of Fitted diapers include Kissaluvs Cotton Fleece, Kissaluvs Cotton/Hemp and Blueberry Newborn Bamboo.
Fleece can refer to the thin synthetic fabric derived from polyester (microfleece) that is used in pocket diapers to allow wetness to go through to the insert while baby remains dry. Thicker synthetic fleece (such as polar fleece) can be used as the waterproof outer layer of a diaper, since it does not allow liquid to go through. Fleece can also refer to that which is made of natural fibers, and can be used for different components of diapers.
Hemp is a highly absorbent natural fiber made from the hemp plant. It is durable, coarse and naturally antimicrobial. On the positive side, hemp is trim and more absorbent than microfiber. On the negative side, hemp holds on to moisture so well that it is often the last thing in the dryer to remain wet while other fabrics are dry.
Hybrid diapers, also referred to as All-in-Two (AI2) diapers, include a waterproof cover, often called a shell, and a form of absorbency which is placed or snapped inside. The soaker is usually stay dry, disposable (usually biodegradable), or cotton. Examples of AI2s include GroVia Shells (with snap in soaker or disposable placed in shell) and Flip covers (with soaker or disposable placed in cover).
These prefolds are known for their gauzy softness, and they continue to get softer with use. Though they will not last as long as Chinese prefolds, they should last through one or two children.
Inserts refer to the absorbent fabric which is stuffed into the pocket of a pocket style diaper. It is usually sewn to fit the shape of the pocket, and is available in varying sizes to accommodate newborn to toddler. Inserts are made from a wide variety of fabrics such as microfiber, bamboo, hemp and cotton. Inserts allow for varying levels of absorbency, as some choose to use one for daytime diapers and two (or even three for heavy wetters) for nighttime diapers.
Liners provide a layer between baby’s skin and the diaper. They are often used to easily separate solid waste from the diaper, or to protect cloth diapers from diaper rash creams. Some liners are washable while some are flushable.
Microfiber is a highly absorbent synthetic fiber often used in pocket diapers. Channels in the fibers of the microfiber fill with liquid, where it is trapped. The positive side of microfiber’s construction is its ability to absorb a lot. The negative side is how challenging it is for clean water to enter during the wash cycle because polyester is resistant to wetness and the channels are already soaked with urine. This can lead to issues with odor, especially that of ammonia. Since microfiber can be drying to the skin, it is recommended to use it in a pocket or to top it with a soft fabric as a barrier.
One Size diapers are designed to take baby from newborn to potty training. Most are designed with rows of snaps, for setting the rise of the diaper as necessary. FuzziBunz are designed uniquely with adjustable elastic, which can be replaced when it wears out. Most One Size diapers do a good job within a certain range. For example, FuzziBunz One Size diapers fit small newborns to medium toddlers well, while Blueberry One Size diapers fit large newborns to large toddlers well.
Pins are an economical choice when it comes to securing pre-folds, flats and contours. Many opt for Snappis, which are a safer, more convenient choice.
Pocket diapers have a waterproof cover sewn together with a layer of (often stay-dry) fabric with a pocket. Inserts provide absorbency and are stuffed into the pocket. Examples of pocket diapers include FuzziBunz ELITE & Perfect Size, Blueberry Minky One Size Pocket, Blueberry One Size Deluxe Pocket, Econappi, Swaddlesbees Simplex, Thirsties Duo, bumGenius 4.0, Rump-a-rooz G2 One Size, Happy Heiny’s One Size Pocket and Mommy’s Touch Easy Clean One Size.
A step up from flats, pre-folds are rectangular sheets of fabric sewn folded with the thickest absorbency in the center. Pins or Snappis may be used to secure them, or they may simply be folded and placed in the diaper cover. Pre-folds are usually cotton, though they can be made from other materials. If a pre-fold is designated as 4x6x4, then the middle section of the pre-fold has 6 layers of fabric, while the outer sides have 4 layers. 4x8x4 is considered the ultimate pre-fold. Pre-folds can be bleached or unbleached, organic or regular, Chinese or Indian, just to name a few options. Because pre-folds are not waterproof, covers are necessary components.
Polyurethane laminated (PUL) fabric refers to the shiny, highly waterproof cloth made from bonding polyurethane to polyester knit. PUL makes a great outer layer for cloth diapers, cloth menstrual pads, and wet bags. It holds up to many wash and dry cycles, even at high temperatures.
Waterproof layer component of hybrid diapers, in which soakers are placed inside for absorbency. The shell can be re-used many times before washing, by replacing the soiled soaker with a clean one. Any absorbent fabric can be used in the shell, including organic soakers, stay dry inserts, and pre-folds.
A safe alternative to pins, Snappis are used to secure pre-folds, flats and contours. Snappi’s work best with terry cloth diapers, cotton prefolds (Indian or Chinese), and other cloth diapers with a loose enough weave for the Snappi to hook into. They do not work well with tightly woven diapers, as they may cause them to run or tear.
Snaps are a durable option for fastening a cloth diaper. They usually have a much longer lifespan than Velcro. In addition, they are harder for babies to undo on their own, which can be a plus when it comes to babies who like to take their diapers off.
Soakers are the absorbent portion of the diaper which may be laid in, snapped on or sewn on to the diaper. The term is also used to describe a wool diaper cover.
Unbleached prefolds appear to be a natural color because the fabric is not bleached before the prefolds are sewn by the manufacturer. Because they are left unbleached, the fabric is sturdier, since chlorinated bleaching weakens fabric. The downside is that because the natural oils remain in the fabric, rather than being stripped from bleaching, the fabric takes longer to reach its full absorbency. After being washed several times, the natural oils wash out and the unbleached diapers reach their full absorbency.
Velcro is the most popular hook & loop style fastener for cloth diapers. The name is often used to describe all hook & loop fasteners, just as the term Band-Aid is used to describe all adhesive bandages. When it comes to cloth diapering, Velcro is convenient for quickly fastening a diaper. However, it does not tend to last as long as snaps, and it is easy enough for some babies to undo on their own.
Wool has many wonderful properties, such as being highly absorbent, breathable, antimicrobial, warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. Though it is highly absorbent, it does not wick moisture onto clothing next to it, which makes it an excellent diaper cover. The lanolin in the wool is what makes it water resistant and antimicrobial so that the wool prevents odors and does not leak. Washing is not required, even when it is soaked with urine (cloth diapers) or breast milk (breast pads). Rather, the wool needs to be set aside to air dry while a new wool item is worn. Once dry, the wool is clean and ready to use again. After 2 to 4 weeks, when the wool starts to feel stiff or has odor, it is ready to be washed, or rather “lanolized,” using a wool wash such as