Cloth Diapering: A Primer

Cloth Diapering: A Primer


Cloth Diaper Types and Styles Primer

Flats // Big squares of fabric, usually cotton but also hemp or bamboo blends, that can be folded in myriad ways to create a diaper to fit any child at any time. A YouTube search for “folding flat diapers” provides an afternoon of education and entertainment. The Kite and Origami folds are some of the more common. Flats generally require pins or a snappi and a waterproof cover. Flats are easy to make at home. Brands include: Green Mountain Diapers, Hemp Babies, Sustainable Babyish


  • The most cost effective and “greenest” option since they are cheap, wash clean and dry quickly
  • They are a true OS (one-size) diaper though you will likely need different sized covers
  • Usually made of sustainable materials
  • DIY with little or no sewing experience


  • A bit of a learning curve to get the hang of the folds
  • Daddies and Grandmas can be taught, but often daycares won’t diaper with flats
  • Tough to diaper a wiggly toddlers and can be prone to newborn blowouts
  • These tend to be bulky on a smaller baby, and may require extra absorbancy for older babes

Prefolds //Absorbent cloth folded into layers and sewn together in a rectangle. Prefolds are made of cotton, hemp or bamboo. Despite the name they still require folding before they go on Baby. Again, a YouTube search for “folding a prefold diaper” will teach you more than you ever wanted to know. The Angel, the Bikini Twist, the Jelly Roll and the Newspaper Fold (also known as tri-folding) are some of most common. Prefolds generally require pins or a snappi and a waterproof cover unless tri-folding. Diaper services use prefolds and often sell them second hand. Brands include: Bummis, Green Mountain Diapers, Osocozy, Econobums, Baby Kicks


  • Pretty basic, they wash and dry easily
  • Inexpensive
  • Shallower learning curve than flats
  • Out grown sizes work double duty as inserts or doublers
  • DIY with little or no sewing experience


  • Require several sizes
  • These can be bulky
  • Can be prone to newborn blowouts
  • Sometimes a no-go with daycares

Fitteds + Contours // Fitteds don’t require any folding and usually go on and off like a disposable. They are cut to fit baby and usually attach with Velcro or snaps. They have elasticized legs and waists to help contain. Contours are like fitteds but lack elastic or closures. Both fitteds and contours require covers to be waterproof. Brands include: Kissaluvs, Motherease, Goodmamas, Roots, Sustainable Babyish


  • Fitteds with elastic around the legs and waist are great at containing messes
  • In general these wash clean and dry well
  • An excellent choice for going coverless
  • Many with a OS option
  • DIY with some sewing experience


  • May need more than one size
  • Can be bulky
  • Not all covers and fitteds are compatible

All-in-Ones // AIOs are the easiest diaper to use as they go on and off just like a disposable and fasten with Velcro, snaps or even hooks. Everything is built in, absorbent pad, fasteners and waterproof cover, all in one piece. These are one of the more expensive option. Lots of style variations including sized or one-size, stuffable for extra absorbency, and semi-attached inserts for better cleaning and drying, natural or synthetic interiors and PUL or fleece outers. Brands include: BumGenius Freetime + Elemental, Thirsties, GroVia, TotsBots, Rumparooz Lil Joeys


  • Super easy! Daddy, Grandma and daycare approved
  • Good for outings and overnight for light wetters
  • Great no-fuss option


  • One of the more expensive options
  • One size AIOs fit most but rarely newborns and may be bulky
  • These don’t wash clean as easily and can take a LONG time to dry

Pockets // Pockets are like AIOs, but the absorbency is removable and customizable. This makes for easier washing and makes it possible to add extra absorbency for nighttime or long outings. Stuffing and unstuffing can be a pain, especially for Daddies who usually have larger hands. The covers can only be used once before washing. Brands include: Fuzzibunz, BumGenius, Happy Heinys, Blueberry, Apple Cheeks, Rumparooz, Charlie Banana


  • Generally less expensive than AIOs
  • Customizable absorbency is great for nighttime
  • They wash cleaner and dry faster than AIOs


  • Can be expensive
  • Insert + covers for every change means more laundry
  • Can be a pain to stuff and unstuff

Hybrids/AI2s (all-in-twos) //Hybrid refers any cloth diaper with a disposable insert. AI2 refers to a diaper system similar to a pocket diaper but without a sleeve. Inserts are simply placed or snapped into a cover and then put on Baby. The covers are reusable as long as they remain clean and the small inserts make for less laundry. Tri-folded prefolds or flats placed in most wrap style covers are a low-tech alternative. Brands include: Flips, GroVia, Econobums, and Gdiapers


  • Wash and dry fair
  • Less laundry
  • Reuse covers
  • Many work with disposable inserts or prefolds
  • Trim under clothes


  • Can be expensive, especially with disposable inserts
  • Hard to mix with another system

Covers //Flats, prefolds and fitteds all require covers to be waterproof, while pockets and AIOs have covers built in. AI2s have special covers, which fit their specific inserts. Covers come in any combination of the varitaions seen below. Brands include: Thirsties, Bummis, Blueberry, Imse Vimse, Flips; Sustainable Babyish, Diasana for wool.

Some of the many variations include

  • Pull-ons + Wraps
  • Aplix/Velcro + Snaps + Hooks + Ties
  • One-size + Two-size + Sized
  • PUL + Wool + Fleece + Nylon
  • Gusseted + Ungusseted

Accessories & Extras // None of these items are necessities, but they can go a long way to making cloth diapering easier, or more effective.

  • Pins or Snappis
  • Cloth Wipes + Wipes Solution
  • Dry or Wet Pails
  • Wet Bag
  • Diaper Sprayer
  • Disposable Liners
  • Boosters
  • Swim Diapers
  • Reusable Trainers
  • Dryer Balls

Mini Cloth-Speak Tutorial

Diaper forums and websites are rife with acronyms. Here are a few to get you started:


  • AIO // All-in-One
  • AI2 // All-in-Two
  • OS // One-size


  • PUL // Polyurethane Laminate
  • OBV // Organic Bamboo Velour


  • AC // AppleCheeks
  • BG, BGOS // Bum Genius, Bum Genius One-size
  • FB, FBPS, FBOS // Fuzzibunz, Fuzzibunz Perfect Size, Fuzzibunz One-size
  • GM // Good Mama
  • ME, MEOS // Mother Ease, Mother Ease One-Size


  • DH, DD, DS // Dear Husband, Dear Daughter, Dear Son
  • WAHM // Work at Home Mom
  • EBF // Exclusively Breast Fed
  • PT, PL // Potty Train, Potty Learn
  • NB // Newborn
  • GN // Gender Neutral

Buying + Selling

  • EUC, GUC, UC // excellent used condition, good used condition, used condition
  • FSOT, FSO // for sale or trade, for sale only
  • IHA // I have available
  • ISO // in search of
  • PP // PayPal (sometimes “funds”)
  • PPD // postage paid domestic (price includes shipping)

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