Help! Which Cloth Diaper is Right for Me?

There are a ton of options on the market today for cloth diapers, and this seems to be the most intimidating and confusing part of the cloth diapering journey. Especially, when you hear that there are at least 8 different types of cloth diapers. Yes, 8.  I know that might seem completely overwhelming, but I am here to help.

It helps to look at cloth diapers in two catogories, those that require a seperate waterproof cover and those that do not. All 8 cloth diaper types fit nicely into these two catagories. Those that require diaper covers tend to be more traditional, more affordable and have a higher learning curve, while those that do not require a cover are similar to disposables, but also more expensive.

Below I will go through all 8 types of diapers giving you the pros and cons of each as well as my own opinion. I will also give you some examples of some brands. However, it is best to find the style of diaper you want to try first and then look for brands you like. By the end hopefully you will have a better understanding of what will work best for you.

Requires a Diaper Cover to be Waterproof


A flat diaper consists of one layer of absorbant material, ususally birdseye cotton. These are the old school diapers that your grandmother probably used, and what most newbies think of when they hear, "cloth diapers." They must be folded correctly in order to provide absorbancy where your child needs it most.

-One size fits all when folded
-Easy to wash and dries very quickly
-MOST economical of all diapers
-Can be "tri-folded" and set in a cover when baby gets older
-Works as a cheap doubler
-Non-sythetic material

-Not daddy or babysitter friendly (Anthony never would have changed a diaper if I brought these home)
-Huge learning curve and requires lots of patience
-Not as absorbant as other diapers
-Requires waterproof cover and fastener (more difficult to put on a squirmy baby)

My Opinnion: 
For me these just require too much work to learn how to use properly. It is hard enough to change Grace now, without trying to fold a piece of cloth between her legs. I like to be able to drop my daughter off at a babysitter or leave her with daddy and know they will be able to change her messy diaper. There are some women who love these things, and I am not sure if they are brilliant or crazy.

Brand Examples: OsoCozy, Kushies, Disana


These are the most widely used diaper and consist of sever layers of material, usually cotton, sewn together. Prefolds are designed with three panels of varying layers of cotton, with the middle being the thickest layer. A diaper listed as 4x8x4 means that there is 4 layers of cotton on the outer panels and 8 in the middle. Prefolds come in several sizes to fit your baby and there is still minimal folding involved. If you choose to use a diaper service this is most likely what you will end up using.

-Second MOST economical diaper choice
-Good option for newborn poos
-Lots of organic options
-Non-sythetic material
-Dries fast
-Lots of different folding options, custom fit for baby
-Can be "tri-folded" and set in diaper cover
-Great for doublers and inserts

-Still not very dad or babysitter friendly
-Requires some folding, so there is a learning curve
-Sensitive baby skin may react from wetness as the cotton holds the moisture next to the bottom
-Some moms (this one included) don't think they are very absorbant
-Requires waterproof cover and fastener

My Opinion:
I only used prefolds as a last resort when Grace was a newborn and had gone through all her other diapers. While some moms love these, I never really liked them. I could never get the folds right and my squirmy baby was no help. Also Grace's bottom would get bright red from the wetness even if I changed her immediately after she wet. I never bought larger sizes. but I wonder if I would like them better now that she is old enough for a tri-fold.

Brand Examples: Green Mountain Clotheez (favorite), OsoCozy, Diaper Rite


A non-waterproof diaper similar to prefolds but shaped like an hourgass instead of a rectangle. This helps to provide a little less bulky fit. They still need to be folded and pinned.

-Costs more than prefolds, but still affordable
-Less bulky
-Quick drying, easy washing

-Some folding required
-Requires waterproof cover and fastener
-Little more dad friendly, but not great
-Hard to find

My Opinion:
Honestly, I have never used contours and never known anyone who has so my opinion doesn't really mean much. If you have used these, do you like them?

Brand Examples: Kissauvs


Fitted diapers are a step above contours, and have a shape similar to disposables, with elastic at the legs and back to help contain messes. They are usually made from cotten, hemp, or bamboo and can be closed with snaps, aplix, or fastener. There are multi-sized and one size systems.

-No folding required
-More convienant than prefolds
-Better overall coverage than prefolds
-Absorbant, decent nighttime option
-Holds messes well
-Fairly dad and babysitter friendly, if it has snaps or velcro
-Great for active babies and toddlers
-Most are made from non-synthetic materials

-Requires waterproof cover and fastener
-Takes longer to dry
-Can be costly

My Opinion:
I used these in my rotation with Grace when she was a newborn. They were easy enough that my husband could use them and the two part process (diaper and cover) wasn't difficult with an immobile newborn. I grabbed these when all of my pockets were gone, as Grace did not like the feeling of the wetness on her skin. I tried using them as nighttime diapers, but they were not absorbent enough for her and her bottom just got red.

Brand Examples: Green Mountian Diapers Workehorses (recommended), Grovia Kiwi Pie (recommended), Kissaluvs, Thirsties, Tots Bots Bamboozle, Motherese

No Diaper Cover Needed


These are the most popular style of diapers for newbies. Pockets are a two-part system consiting of an outer waterproof shell made of PUL and a stay-dry inner layer often consiting of a wicking material such as micro-fleece, suede-cloth, or minky. Between the two layers, normally in the back, lies a pocket in which you can stuff absorbent inserts. Most pockets comes with microfiber inserts, but you can use bamboo, hemp or even prefolds.  This pocket system creates a barrier between the wet inserts and the baby's skin. These can come in numerous sizes or as a one size design. They come in aplix or snap.

-Works similar to a disposable, NO folding necessary
-NO need for a diaper cover of fastener, both incorporated in diaper
-Easy to use and put on baby
-Daddy and babysitter approved
-Washes and dries better than all-in-ones
-Can adjust the absorbancy by adding more inserts
-Trim fit
-Comes in fun colors and patterns

-Need to unstuff soiled diaper before washing (if you have a sleeved diaper, openning in front and back, no need to unstuff. The insert will come out in wash.)
-Need to be restuffed before every use
-Made with synthetic materials

My Opinion: My favorite diaper, and the majority of my stash. Anthony has no problem using them and they fit Grace great without being too bulky. I love how they are always ready to go making outings easy. I know some moms have elaborate systems for nighttime diapers, but I just use a pocket stuffed with two microfiber and one bamboo insert. On laundry days it only takes me 10 minutes or so to stuff them while I watch tv. TIP: While aplix might seem easier, buy the snaps. They last longer, and little fingers have a harder time undoing them. (Grovia and Rumparooz may be the exception)

Brand Examples: bumgenius 4.0 (recommended), Applecheeks (recommended), Rumparooz (recommended), Thirsties, FuzziBunz, Alva Baby (affordable), Kawaii (affordable)

All-In-Twos (AI2s)

These are very similar to pockets, but instead of placing the insert in between the layers you snap it in or lay it on top of the waterproof cover. There is often no barrier between the insert and the baby's skin.

-Easy to use
-Dries fairly quickly
-No cover needed

-Must use same brand insert as diaper
-Can't add inserts to make it more absorbent

My Opinion: We don't own any of these and that is simply because Grace does not like any wetness next to her skin. I look forward to trying them if my next child is less picky.

Brand Examples: Flips and Grovia


Most all-in-two's can also be used with a disposable insert making them a hybrid. You simply lay a disposable pad into the outer waterproof shell. At each diaper change the insert needs to be changed, but you can use the diaper cover over and over again. If your child poops at the same time everyday you can lay down a disposable liner at this time in the hopes of having one less mess to deal with. Many people also use these with a reusable insert at home and a disposable insert when travelling or going out.

-Easy to use
-Dries fairly quickly
-Great for travel

-Can easily cost as much as disposables
-Can't increase absorbency

My Opinion: Since saving money was one of the main reasons I chose to cloth diaper, we do not use hybrids. If you only buy disposable inserts you will spend as much as you would with disposables and still have added laundry. I have also never heard anything great about hybrid diapers.

Brand Examples: Flips and gDiapers

All-In-Ones (AI1s)

These are the easiest to use and the most similar to disposables. They incorporate a waterpfroof cover and absorbant material into one single piece that is easy to take on and off. They are offered in both snaps and aplix and can be found in microfiber, cotton, bamboo, and hemp varieties. AI1s come in sized and one size versions.

-Work just like disposables
-Nothing to stuff
-Easy to put on moving baby
-Fun colors and prints

-Must wash after every use
-Takes a long time to dry (mine can take days)
-Most cannot be customized to add more absorbency

My Opinion: My husband loves these, and I highly recommend them for the cautious new diapering mama. These were my go-to when I was a new mom. I was so busy trying to adjust to my new life that it was nice not to worry about getting a fold right or even finding time to stuff diapers. Now that Grace is older I do have an issue with absorbency, especially with BumGenius Freetimes.

Brand Examples: BumGenius Freetime and Elementals, Blueberry Simplex, Grovia All-In-One (All recommended)

Are you still unsure which diaper will work best for your family? Try a diaper trial. For around 100 dollars you get to try several different types of diapers for a month. If you like them, keep them. If not return them and get a refund. There are many compnies that will do diaper trials, but here are a couple: Sweet Bottoms Baby and Jillians Drawers.