Cloth Diapers – An Explanation

Oh man, you guys I have found a whole new world and it’s called cloth diapering. This is not just an economical way to catch your little one’s poop/pee, and help to lessen your impact on the planet, but now there are facebook groups and exclusive patterns and snaps AND SO MANY VARIABLES!.


My first experience with cloth diapering (CD) was around 17 years ago with my baby cousin. I thought it was great, and all that was really around were prefolds, flats, pins, and rubber pants to keep it all in. Imagine my surprise when nearly two decades later I went online to find that everything had changed. Here’s what’s up…


Prefolds and Flats – They still exist, but come in all cotton (bleached, unbleached, and organic), hemp/cotton blend, bamboo/cotton blend, and I’m pretty sure there are more variations, but let’s not nit pick here. I decided to use prefolds with Violet and they have worked well for us so far. Although, now she’s needing to go up a size and I just don’t want to spend the money to continue upping the size for the next year and a half, so flats it is!

A flat is normally just a large square of cotton cloth in a birdseye weave (although GMD has come out with a muslin one that I’ve purchased to test out. So excited) that you must fold to fit your baby’s tooshy. Some see this as a hassle, but I prefer to see it as freedom. With a flat you will always have a customized fit, regardless of chunky/slim legs or thick/thin waist (Win!). A prefold is very basically a flat that has already been folded for you so that the greatest absorbancy is in the center where it should be and all you need is some minor folding. They are more customizable than all-in-ones and even pocket diapers, in my opinion, but they are still less flexible than a flat.


This is a prefold…


This is a flat that has been folded to one quarter the size to fit into the picture.


Covers – These have replaced the rubber pants (hallelujah!). It’s a waterproof shell that fits over the exposed cloth to hold in leaks. They come in an array of sizes such as newborn, 1, 2, and one size. Newborn typically has a u-shaped dip in the front so as not to irritate the umbilical stump, sized diapers like 1 and 2 go off of weight, and the one size can change rise and waist to fit anywhere from 8-35 lbs typically. If you use flats/prefolds you must use a cover to keep from soaking through to clothing. Covers come in so many cuts, colors, and patterns that it’s really easy to find one you love. My stash is mostly Flip with one Planet Wise and I love them.

Covers come with either snaps or velcro and both have advantages. Velcro is great if your partner or caretaker aren’t keen on cloth diapering or think it will be too difficult. Velcro mimics the way a disposable works, so it’s simple for people to pick up and use. Plus, if the Grandparents have arthritis this is an easy option for them. Personally, I’m a snaps fan. Main reason why I like them? They aren’t velcro. I’ve had experiences with velcro snagging things in the wash, or even while it’s being worn. Velcro also wears out faster, but they are working on that and the quality has been much improved.

Planet Wise Strawberry Cloth Diaper Cover

Above is a cover from Planet Wise and I love the print. These are sized, though you can adjust the rise with the snaps so it can fit your baby longer. I wish I had bought the bigger size because Vi will only fit in this for another two pounds or so, but we are enjoying it for now. I got this at Green Pixie Baby in Franklin, Tennessee. It’s a small shop, but she does ship if you ask. If you are in the area I highly recommend you stop by because it’s a treasure. I believe it is the only shop anywhere in this area, so go support if you can. Hashtag SmallBusiness 😉

flip Cloth Diaper Cover

You can really see all of the sizing options in this photo, but do not let it intimidate you! This is only a diaper cover and you are definitely smarter than it is! I will be referencing direction based on how it appears in the image, so if I say “left side” I mean the left side of the diaper as it appears in the image and not as it would be on your kid. Ok so, the two columns of snaps on the left are used to adjust the waist, but simultaneously affect the leg holes. The rest of the snaps you see adjust the rise which means this cover doesn’t have to go all the way to your 8 lb baby’s armpits for them to wear it.

Flip Cloth Diaper Cover

On the inside you’ll notice flaps on the left and right sides, these covers can hold inserts made by flip, but they also fit an Osocosy size small (yellow edge) just fine. I’m not a fan of the pad style diapering because it tends to be bulky, but again, it’s down to you and your baby.

There are so many great prints out there now! I love the Flips because they say
I’m a genius” on them.

Did I mention how CUTE the patterns are?

You can also get wool covers, which  seem to be the holy grail in FB cloth diaper chatter groups (I hear they are awesome at containing, especially over night. They also seem to be a status symbol due to the cost, but that’s just silly). You have to lanolize them, but from what I’ve heard the prep work pales in comparison to how well these things work. I don’t have any to photograph and show you, but you can find them on most sites that sell cloth diapers.


Pocket Diapers – Like the name suggests, this diaper is basically a cover that has a lining with a hole in the back so that you can stuff it with inserts/soakers for absorbancy. These are very customizable once you find the diaper that fits the shape of your baby. The pocket allows you to adjust absorbancy for day vs night and for young babies vs older babies which is great. I have one of these and it is one of my most favorite prints and the cut is so good on Violet, but the fleece lining gives her a a rash. I think the rash is down to heat, but she has sensitive skin so there’s just no telling. This diaper is by a work at home mother and it is beautifully made and if it were a cover instead of a pocket my stash would be nothing but her work. Seriously, excellent craftsmanship.

Honey Buns Cloth Diaper

This is a one size diaper (notice the rise options )

Honey Buns Cloth Diaper

The pocket opening is on the left side. One thing to consider when deciding on a brand is the size of the pocket and the size of your hand because you do have to reach into the diaper.


I love this print and love the fit. If you are into supporting work at home moms you won’t be disappointed with Honeybuns!


Inserts/Soakers – Ok, so I can’t talk about pockets and not explain what you put into them. The truth is that you cans stuff anything absorbent into the pocket and your diaper will work…it just may not work very well. You can use prefolds and flats so that they are sure to fit perfectly into whatever pocket diaper brand you are using because you can customize the size, or you can purchase inserts which are basically pads that can be used on their own or layered. Below is a soaker I got to use for overnight. I love this one, it’s by Babee Greens and so sooooo soft! I got the organic cotton, but they have a hemp/organic cotton blend that people love.


They come in all shapes and sizes, but I prefer contoured ones because they are less bulky between baby’s legs. I have tried normal rectangular ones and it’s just not love. Oh, one more thing, an insert or soaker can be used against baby’s skin instead of in the pocket, but never do this with microfiber as this material will keep the wet on baby’s skin and cause irritation.


All-In-2(AI2) – I’m still working on understanding this one, like I said I am definitely old-school when it comes to diapers. It’s basically a cover that you can snap inserts into so they don’t slide around. Each company has their own insert that fits their diaper, so it tends to be more of a proprietary thing though I believe that some companies do overlap. As far as laundry goes, these dry the same as an insert and a cover…because that’s what they are, but with snaps. These are great if you use mostly one brand, but if you want to be able to have prints from different companies it may become a hassle having to match up inserts with covers. However, people do use these and love them, so it all comes down to what you like best! This is another one I don’t own, so there won’t be a photo of it.


All-In-1 (AI1) – You may be able to guess how these work based on the AI2 description, but here’s the low-down. This thing is basically a pocket diaper with an attached insert. This diaper most mimics the disposable because the caregiver only needs to put it on the baby, and voila! To do the wash you just pull the insert out of the pocket so it can be thoroughly cleaned, but it’s all attached, so no digging around looking for inserts. They do take longer to dry, but if you are looking for something that is as easy as a disposable, then look no further.

Bambino mio cloth diaper

These diapers are fixed a lot like the others I’ve mentioned, adjustable rise, adjustable waist settings, etc.


This is what it looks like when it’s ready to put on your baby…

Bambino mio cloth diaper

And here it is ready to launder, with the insert out.


Fitted Diapers – These are pretty great, I must say. It’s as if you made a diaper in the shape of a disposable (shape and able to snap, velcro, pin, etc. together) out of an absorbent material. Just look below to see what I mean.

Babee Greens Fitted diaper

This one is by Babee Greens and I love using it for overnight with a couple of the inserts I mentioned earlier. These have washed very well and are almost as soft as my baby’s skin. We were having a problem with rashes from overnight wetness, but not with these and I’m hoping it stays that way.

Fitted diapers come in lots of shapes and sizes and materials, so you are sure to find one you like. They can be priced anywhere from $7-30 (or more…) so they can be fairly budget friendly. They typically fit a range of sizes so no need to purchase all new diapers with each growth spurt. If I could afford it, I would probably choose fitteds with covers, but my desire to have as much of Violet’s belongings be organic means that some sacrifices are necessary, and organic flats are cheaper by far (To be clear, I call it a sacrifice, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these setups. Just find the one that fits you and your baby’s needs best!).


Ok, that’s it for now. I find that if you read too much at once about cloth diapering it can be way overwhelming, so do yourself a favor and go get a cup of tea and relax out in the sunshine for a while. I will do more posts later because I enjoy writing about this kind of thing and it was very helpful to me to read other mom’s experiences on blogs when I was doing early research. I hope you’ve found this useful.


If you currently cloth diaper or have in the past please leave me a comment about any info you found useful that I didn’t mention above.


If you’ve never cloth diapered let me know which setup you think you’d prefer to use!

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