How, When, and What Cloth Diaper Fasteners to Use

By April Duffy •  Updated: 08/06/21 •  6 min read

What are Cloth Diaper Fasteners?

Cloth diapers have a lot of moving parts and it can be confusing to know what things are and if you actually need them or not. If you’re here, you’ll know that cloth diaper fasteners are one of those things.

First, let’s answer the question,”‘what the heck is a cloth diaper fastener?” A cloth diaper fastener is technically anything that’s used to secure a cloth diaper around the waist of your baby. This can be safety pins, a tie, the snaps you see on cloth diaper covers, etc. It’s anything that keeps the diaper from falling off your baby’s waist. But more often it’s a term that’s used for three specific tools used to fasten diapers: diaper pins, Snappis, and Boingo’s.

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I’ll talk about each of the three cloth diaper fasteners below, but first, it’s important to know that depending on your chosen system or style of cloth diapers, fasteners may not be needed at all.

What Cloth Diapering Systems Require Pins, Snappis or Boingos?

There are many different cloth diapering systems available today, including:

AIO’s, Ai2’s, pocket diapers and many (but not all) styles of fitted diapers come with snaps and/or velcro to secure them around your baby’s waist.

Here’s a picture showing how snaps secure a diaper around baby.

A baby wearing a cloth diaper

Prefolds, flats and some fitted diapers do not have snaps or Velcro attached.

These styles of diapers do require a diaper cover to be placed over them, which will have snaps and or Velcro, but many times parents find it helpful to fasten the diaper around the baby before putting the cover on.

Fastening the prefold, flat or fitted diaper under the diaper cover helps to keep it on a baby that may move a lot, and also helps contain messes.

Here’s a picture of a flat diaper folded around a baby and secured with a diaper fastener (in this case a Snappi).

Snappi being used to fasten a cloth diaper.

Do Cloth Diapers Need Pins, Snappis, or Boingos?

Truely, you don’t NEED to use pins, Snappis or Boingos even with your prefolds, flats, and fitted diapers. Often wrapping the diaper around baby and holding it on while you secure it with a diaper cover is enough.

But once again, fastening the cloth diaper before putting the cover on will add protection from messes and keep the diaper from shifting around inside the cover.

How Do I Fasten a Cloth Diaper with Snappis

As you saw from the last picture above, a Snappi is used by securing two of the three parts to each side of the diaper, and the middle part to the part of the diaper that folds between the legs.

One downside of the Snappi is that it’s one piece so that the sides of the diaper must come in close enough for the Snappi to be able to grab onto. This can be difficult with narrow prefolds or chunkier babies. Snappis do come in two sizes, but even then it can be difficult to get the diaper in enough on both sides.

This is all pretty vague, but I have a full post with information about Snappis, including video and illustrated instructions showing you step-by-step how to put them on correctly, here for you; so please check that post out to become a Snappi pro.

How I Pin Cloth Diapers With Diaper Pins?

Unlike Snappis, diaper pins can only secure one part of the diaper at a time. Most of the time, you’ll use two pins, one on each side of the diaper, but if the baby is small enough or if the diaper is wide enough, you may be able to get away with one pin, if it’s large enough.

Diaper pins need to be large because they need to be pushed through all of the fabric layers of the diaper and back out again before being secured at the head. The thicker the diaper fabric, the more layers it needs to work through.

Here’s a picture to illustrate fastening a cloth diaper with one pin, and with two pins.

When using pins with cloth diapers, make sure to choose pins designed for use with diapers and not standard safety pins. True diaper pins have a locking head to keep them from coming loose. Not only will a loose pin possibly lead to a mess but it may also poke your baby.

How Do I Fasten a Cloth Diaper with Boingos?

If the Snappi and diaper pin had a baby, it would be the Boingo.

Boingos are made of the same silicone and plastic that Snappis are made of, with similar grippy teeth to hook onto the diaper material, but like a diaper pin, they are one size, often used in pairs, and can secure diapers even when the sides don’t fold all the way around the baby.

What Cloth Diaper Fastener is Best?

I really love Boingos because they can be put on one-handed and they fit any sized baby or prefold, but there are pluses and minuses to each style of diaper fastener. Here’s a quick chart to help you decide which diaper fastener will be best for you at the changing table:

Snappi– Harder to lose (one piece)
-Comes in two sizes and can be difficult to fit onto baby if the ‘wings’ of the prefold don’t fold over to the right place
-More fragile than the other two options
Boingo -Small and easy to lose
-Priciest option
-Can fasten any size of diaper or baby with the same set
-Easy to use one-handed
Diaper Pins-Small and easy to lose
-Can be dangerous if baby gets one
-Cheap and available in most baby aisles
-Can easily poke a wiggly baby at the changing table without practice
-Impossible to put on one-handed
-Very durable and long-lasting

Where Can I Buy Cloth Diaper Fasteners?

Cloth diaper pins can be found in most physical stores like Walmart, Target, and pharmacies, but Snappis and Boingos are a bit harder to locate since they are so cloth diaper specific.

You can find all three on Amazon for reasonable prices though; here are those links again.

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April Duffy

April is the founder of Cloth Diapers for Beginners and author of The Cloth Diaper Wash & Care Handbook. Since 2015, April has helped well over 75,000 parents and caregivers cloth diaper their children through this website, her book, her YouTube Channel, and the Cloth Diapers for Beginners Facebook Group.