Cloth Diapering Baby: Which System is Right For You?
With so many modern cloth diapering options available today, which diapers will work best for your unique situation? There are four primary cloth diapering systems available today: flats or prefolds, absorbent fitted diapers, customizable pockets, and easy all-in-ones. Each system has its own benefits and disadvantages. I’ve tried them all after nearly 10 years of diapering my babies in cloth, and below I’ll share my experience with each system.
Ease of use: DIFFICULT
This system utilizes a flat cloth layer or folded inside a diaper cover. Flat diapers are pieces of birdseye cloth that can be folded in various ways to form a soaker layer for baby. These are the diapers that good ol’ grandma used to employ.
These are then layed inside a cover made of laminated knit fabric, wool, or fleece. Flat diapers are the most time consuming diapering option, but they are by far the cheapest and easiest to wash. Prefold diapers are constructed of layers of cotton sewn in a rectangle with extra layers in the middle for maximum absorbency.
These diapers don’t need to be folded as painstakingly as their flat diaper counterparts, but they do generally require a quick folding before using on baby. Just like flat diapers, prefold diapers must be overlaid with a diaper cover. Prefolds are more expensive than flat diapers, but are the second most economical choice. If I had to pick just one way to diaper, prefolds would be my choice. They are so versatile and soft.
Ease of Use: MEDIUM
Fitted diapers are comprised of layers of absorbent material that have already been sewn into a diaper shape. They are then snapped or velcroed onto baby and a cover (made of laminated knit, wool, or fleece fabric) is then affixed over the top of the fitted diaper. These diapers are great for nighttime, road trips, or when a high level of absorbency is required. One of the biggest negatives to these diapers is that they can take a long time to dry, depending on how much absorbent material they contain.
Ease of Use: MEDIUM
Pocket diapers consist of a cover sewn onto a layer of fabric, with an empty pocket created in between the two layers. The pocket is then stuffed with inserts consisting of various natural or microfiber which have been sewn into an elongated rectangle shape. These type of diapers are highly customizable. One or more inserts of various fibers can be used to customize the absorbency based on the circumstances. Pocket diapers are by far the most popular style of cloth diaper used today. Parents appreciate their middle-range price and their customizability. My only complaint with these diapers is that the inserts don’t always agitate out in the wash (depending on your washing machine). When this happens, the inserts need to be manually pulled from the diapers before washing, or after the first rinse.
Ease of Use: EASY
Cost: VERY HIGH
All-in-one diapers are by far the easiest cloth diapers to use, most closely resembling their disposable diaper counterparts. Made up of layers of absorbent fabric sandwiched in between a waterproof outer layer and comfortable inner layer, these diapers are snapped or velcroed on baby just as with a disposable. Quick and easy, the only only downfalls of these types of diapers are the high price, lack of customizability, and long drying time. I’ve found these to be my diaper of choice with my fifth, as they really do afford me more free time. I don’t have to search for inserts, or stuff pockets, just grab a diaper and go.