Cloth Diaper Types and Options

There are many types of cloth diapers – you have options – a lot of options!  From standard prefolds fastened every which-away, to fitted diapers, to pocket diapers, to AIO’s, AI2’s, or even flour sack towels, there are almost endless options.  I’ll cover several options on this page to help you start your search for a great diaper 🙂

one type of cloth diaper - these for nighttime

Prefold Diapers

The standard prefold diaper has been serving babies and families for quite awhile! It’s a versatile option that doesn’t take long to master. Prefolds can be tailored to meet your baby’s needs fairly easily and have the added advantage of being low-cost.

a stack of prefold diapersWhen you shop for your prefolds, be sure to choose Diaper Service Quality diapers (DSQ). DSQ diapers are thick, quilted, and very fluffy. They’re hard-working and absorbent diapers and last through several children. After you kids’ diaper days are done, they serve as cleaning rags around the house!

To fasten your diapers you can use pins, just as mothers have been using for decades. Today you can get super safe pins with locking heads. When you pin your baby’s cloth diaper put your hand between the diaper and baby’s skin and you’ll have no chance of poking her.

You can also use an original little gadget called a Snappi to fasten your diapers. The T-shaped fastener grips the diaper in the three areas and holds it closed. Snappis are flexible and strong.

You can also use a diaper cover to hold your prefold in place. Some diaper covers are designed just for this purpose.

Diaper Covers

Speaking of diaper covers – there are a lot of different types! Modern day covers are a far cry from the “plastic pants” your grandmother used. Most covers today are made with soft waterproof laminates that breathe to keep baby’s skin safe.

two plain diaper covers
These snap-on covers are simple but effective. You can also get covers with cute colors and prints. Use a cover with prefolds, fitted diapers, and flour sack towels.

You can use covers that have a hook and loop closure (Velcro or Aplix) or a traditional pull-on cover made of a waterproof nylon that breathes. Some parents prefer covers that snap (these have always been my personal favorite).

Another option not to be forgotten, especially if you want to be a natural as possible with diapering is the wool cover. Wool covers can absorb up to 40% of their weight in wetness and your baby never feels wet!

Felted wool provides maximum absorption. Wool that has not been stripped of its natural lanolin properties is actually self-cleaning and removes urine odor so that your baby stays clean and fresh between washings. Many parents swear by wool covers for nighttime diapering.  We also love wool covers 🙂

Wool “longies” or “shorties” are knitted wool pants (longies) or shorts (shorties) that have been lanolized to make them waterproof.  You pull them up over your baby’s diaper and they serve as both a diaper cover and a cute pair of pants!

Fitted Diapers

Fitted Diapers are diapers that are contoured to fit your baby’s shape. They usually have snaps or hook and loop closures (some have ties). The’re a great choice for parents who don’t want to use pins and prefolds. These simple diapers need a cover.

You can get them in many different fabrics, from soft cotton to hemp or bamboo.

Pocket Diapers

Pocket Diapers are very popular. These cloth diapers have a waterproof outer layer and a soft inner layer that wicks moisture away from your baby’s skin. You “stuff” the inside of the diaper with whatever absorbent material you’d like to – most come with an absorbent micro-terry insert.

a newborn pocket diaper
This is a newborn pocket diaper. You can see a bamboo liner just behind it.

Pocket diapers are fitted and close with either snaps or hook and loop closures. Some are “one size” diapers and others are sized for your baby. I prefer snap diapers because the snaps hold up better through multiple children, but many newborn pockets come with velcro/aplix (newborns fit their diapers for so little time that getting a custom fit from velcro/aplix is worth it).

Liners are available in other fabrics, such as hemp or bamboo, or even blends of two fabrics. We use bamboo liners.

They’re great for outings – stuff your cloth diaper at home and go!


A really nice concept!. These fitted diapers have a variety of snaps to help you customize the diaper to whatever size your baby is. You don’t need multiple sets of diapers. The front folds down and snaps neatly for a small baby, and unfolds and snaps neatly for your walking tall cutie! You can also find one-size pocket diapers.

One-size diapers are my favorite because they last throughout most of the diapering days.  We used newborn diapers with our last baby (for about 8 weeks), but with all the others we’ve started one-size diapers very early and they always worked well.  Newborn diapers are a nice splurge but not necessary if you don’t mind a little extra padding on your newborn’s bum.

Some moms find their babies do well with a particular brand of diapers, so be open to experimenting a little 🙂  Gently used cloth diapers are a good way to try several styles before you commit to one.


A similar diaper to the fitted and pocket diapers are All in One Diapers (AIO). These are a favorite for using when going out. All-in-ones have a fitted cloth diaper inside and an attached cover. They usually close with a hook and loop closure.

all-in-two sized down for a newborn
This All-in-Two (AI2) is sized down for a newborn.

They’re as convenient as disposables; you just wrap them around baby and fasten them quickly. Many parents like to keep several all-in-ones around for going out, or in other situations where they don’t want to use a diaper with a separate cover.

All-in-one diapers do tend to take a long time to dry because the cloth is all sewn together.

A variation is the all-in-two (AI2), where the inner, absorbent layer can snap in and out.  The advantage of these is that they tend to wash and dry much quicker and you can re-use the outer cover on many brands (just snap in a new liner).

I prefer all-in-two’s since they dry quicker and I like that the liner agitates well in the washer.  On the whole, however, I prefer pockets because once stuffed, they have all the advantages of an all-in-one and the ease of washing that comes with an all-in-two!

Diaper Services

You can also use a cloth diaper service. Your service will deliver diapers to you on a regular schedule and you just leave the dirty diapers out for them to pick up. It’s very convenient. You’ll be able to use whatever diapers the service provides. Some services provide covers and others require that you use your own.

Diaper services pride themselves on their service. They wash their diapers according to set protocols to ensure that the diapers are all clean and sanitized. In fact, the diapers usually go through many cycles in hot water before they are pronounced “clean.”

A diaper service can be a good option for many families. Whether you choose to purchase diapers to use at home, make your own diapers, or use a diaper service, cloth diapering a great choice for you and for your baby!

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