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No Crunch, No Fluff; Here’s the Real Deal with Cloth Diapers

If you’re thinking about using cloth diapers on your newborn, baby, or toddler but don’t know where to start, you’re in the right place.

Choosing cloth diapers is becoming more common, but it’s still a difficult choice. Most of us can’t call on our “village” for advice because our mom’s didn’t cloth diaper, and even if our grandmothers cloth diapered they aren’t enthusiastic about it because they used olden-day cloth diapers that were loose, had to be covered in rubber pants, and soaked in weird blue liquid before washing (so gross).

So on one hand we have our mom’s and our consumer culture telling us that disposables are convenient way to diaper, but on the other we have a growing movement of new mom’s who are choosing cloth diapers anyway.

Here’s what the people choosing cloth diapers have figured out:

Why Cloth Diapers Might be the Right Choice for You

  • They save you money! With water, energy and soap factored in cloth diapers save a ton of money, even if only used on one child (though they can of course be used on multiple kids).
  • They respect your children’s future. There’s many things you want to leave your children with; but a pile of dirty diapers that won’t break down in that child’s lifetime probably isn’t on that list. Not only are cloth diapers responsible when it comes to the environment, they are financially responsible in that they lengthen the life of your local landfill, saving you tax dollars as well. 
  • They reduce your child’s exposure to harmful chemicals.
  • They completely eliminate the dreaded “blow-out.” Yes, cloth diapers can actually prevent the poop messes that come with the territory of disposables.
  • They save money.
  • They make your baby more comfortable (would you like wearing plastic and paper underwear?)
  • They can make potty training easier for you. Without all that “dry-core, stay-dry, pee-disappearing layer technology” of disposables, your toddler can feel when they wet, which can make it easier for them to figure out their body’s bathroom signals.
  • They can make you friends; because cloth diaper people love talking about using cloth diapers.
  • Oh, and did I mention you’ll save money!

So if you’re still reading, and all of that sounds good to you, let’s just jump right into how to find the right cloth diapers for you and your family.


Cloth Diapers 101

Let’s get started!

Cloth diapers come across as ridiculously complicated when you’re starting to look into them. It can feel like you’re learning another language when all you want to do is find out what to buy and how to use it.

But don’t worry, you really are in the right place because I’m going to tell you the basic concept behind all cloth diapers, which will help you work out exactly what you’re looking for, right now. 

The Basic Concept Behind All Cloth Diapers

All modern reusable cloth diapers, regardless of type, brand, material, or anything else, have two main components:

  1. An outer shell (or cover). This outer shell is the waterproof part that keeps your couch, bed, hands and everything else from getting wet, and keeps the mess contained. This is also the layer with all the cute prints and colored snaps (though it may not have snaps and have a Velcro/hook and loop closure or no closure at all). It is most often made of waterproof PUL material, but you can also find covers made from wool and other water-resistant materials.
  2. The inner padding. This is the part that absorbs the wetness, it’s the “guts” of the diaper. It may be made up of a million different combinations of microfiber, hemp, bamboo, cotton, fleece, etc. (every fabric type has some unique properties you can use for certain purposes, but don’t worry about that yet), but the point is that it’s the part that absorbs and holds the mess until you change baby. Inserts, prefolds, flats, fitted diapers, old t-shirts, flour sack towels, and really any other non-waterproof piece of cloth used as a diaper is used as this absorbent part of the diaper, which needs to be paired with an outer shell/cover.


That’s it.

It doesn’t matter if it’s an all-in-one, all-in-two, hybrid, pocket, or a combination of a cover and flats/prefolds/inserts, every cloth diaper you will ever put on your baby will be made up of those two parts. The only thing that changes is how the diaper is constructed, meaning how much those two pieces are stitched or snapped together (or not), and the types of fabric used (again, we’ll come back to that).

Special Note: The only exception to that is a swim diaper, which has a completely different purpose than a regular diaper. To explain, swim diapers, even disposable swim diapers, are made to let the water out and keep the poop in because holding in  the water could drown a baby. 

Now that you know how all cloth diapers are built, let’s look at how each type of diaper is stitched together, or not, so we understand why everyone is so hung up on the different kinds of cloth diapers.

Before we continue, if you have any questions that pop up for you, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I also invite you to join the Cloth Diapers for Beginners community on Facebook, a group of like-minded moms and caregivers who are all there to help each other succeed with their cloth diaper experience. Click here to request to join!

The Six Different Types of Cloth Diapers


1) All-in-One Diapers

All-in-one diapers get their name from the fact that all the pieces of the diaper—the waterproof shell, and the absorbent center—completely stitched together into one piece. 

More About All-in-Ones


2) All-in-Two Diapers

Just as all-in-one diapers are named for being sewn up into one piece, all-in-two diapers are so named because the complete diaper comes in two pieces: the waterproof or water-resistant cover, and an absorbent insert that attaches into it. 

More About All-in-Twos

3) Pocket Diapers


More About Pockets


4) Fitted Diapers
5) Flat Diapers
6) Prefold Diapers