Pros and Cons of the different types of Cloth Diapers

Posted by Chris Cox on

Now that you know the basics about the different types of cloth diapers, lets talk about why you might choose one over the other. 

 

These ratings are based on my own experiences and what I’ve learned from others in the cloth diapering community.  Depending on your baby, your washer/dryer setup, and which brands you’re using your mileage may vary. Ratings are from 1-5 with 5 being the best score.

 

All-in-One (AIO)

PRO:  These are the simplest cloth diapers to use, they go on just like disposables.  This makes them great for babysitters, grandparents, dads who rarely change diapers, or anyone who is cloth diaper phobic.  They also save you time – they can go out of the laundry and straight onto your baby’s butt with no stuffing, snapping or folding. 

 

CON: Having all of the layers sewn together and inside the diaper makes them harder to get fully clean, and over time you may end up with stink issues.  They will also take the longest to dry.  Sizing is not customizable so if the particular diaper you are using isn’t a good fit on your baby you will have leaks.  Finally, these are typically the most expensive option.

 

Ease of use – 5

Your time - 5

Bomb proof factor - 4

Washing – 1

Drying – 1

Cost - 1

 

All-in-Two (AI2)

PRO: Because the absorbent part of the diaper and the cover are separate pieces they are easier to keep clean.  You can re-use the same cover multiple times, which equals less laundry (yay!).  Once they are assembled (snapped or tucked) they go on quickly and easily. 

 

CON: Depending on the system, the insert may shift.  You will have to assemble them either on laundry day or as you go, and unsnap/untuck when you take them off.  Other caretakers may not want to take the extra steps necessary to re-use covers.  AI2 systems can be expensive.

 

Ease of use – 4

Your time - 3

Bomb proof factor – 3

Washing – 3

Drying – 3

Cost - 2

 

Pocket Diapers

PRO:  These have the same benefit as the AI2’s for cleaning, because the insert is separate from the cover.  Pockets give you the additional benefit of customizing the absorbency.  You can choose to stuff the pocket with one, two, or even more inserts.  You can also choose what type and material of insert to use.  Pocket diapers are also great for keeping your baby’s butt dry, as most have a stay dry layer between the baby and the insert.  They are generally affordable, depending on the brand.  Once they are assembled they are as easy to put on as an all-in-one.  The price point, ease of use and durability make these a top choice for daycare diapers.

 

CON:  You’ll be spending a good bit of time stuffing the inserts into the pockets.  This can get old, fast.  You will also need to remove the inserts before washing. 

 

Ease of use – 4

Your time - 2

Bomb proof factor – 4

Washing – 3

Drying – 3

Cost - 3

 

Fitted Diapers

PRO:  Fitteds tend do be super absorbent, making them a favorite night time solution.  They’re great for heavy wetters any time.  The combination of a fitted and cover will hold in pretty much anything your baby can throw at it.  They are simple to put on.  Fitteds can also be worn coverless around the house, letting your baby’s butt air out to soothe and prevent rashes.

 

CON: These require a cover to be waterproof, making diapering a two step process.  Depending on the brand they may be quite expensive.  Fitteds often take a long time to dry.

 

Ease of use – 4

Your time - 4

Bomb proof factor – 5

Washing – 3

Drying – 3

Cost - 1

 

Prefolds

PRO: Prefolds are wonferfully affordable!  If you are cloth diapering to save money (or even if you’re not) they are an excellent choice.  If put on correctly and paired with a cover they do a wonderful job of holding everything in.  There are many options for how to put them on and fasten, so you can find a method that works best for you and your baby.  They are relatively easy to wash.

 

CON: There is a slight learning curve to putting them on.  By the end of one day of diaper changes you’ll be a pro, but other caregivers may balk.  Folding, securing and putting on a separate cover will take a little longer than other options. (Note – you can simplify the process by trifolding, but you won’t be able to reuse covers as often and may have leaks.)

 

Ease of use – 3

Your time - 4

Bomb proof factor – 4

Washing – 4

Drying – 4

Cost - 4

 

Flats

PRO: Similar to prefolds, these are an excellent choice if you’re on a budget.  Not only are they affordable, you’ll only need one or two sizes from birth to potty training.  There are an endless variety of folds which can be fun to learn and experiment with.  Because they are a single layer of material flats are by far the easiest cloth diapers to get clean and require no special care.  They also dry super fast!

 

CON: You’ll need to fold them into a diaper either out of the wash or as you go, which can be time consuming.  Don’t expect occasional caregivers to be excited about these.  Depending on the material they are made of, you may need to add a doubler for heavy wetters.    

 

Ease of use – 1

Your time - 2

Bomb proof factor – 3

Washing – 5

Drying – 5

Cost – 5

 

Wool Covers

PRO: Wool makes for a super breathable diaper cover to keep your baby rash-free.  A great choice for nighttime diapering, it will absorb a flood of pee before feeling wet.  Although individual pieces can be expensive, you only need a few.  If you use longies or shorties the wool can double as your baby’s cloths. 

 

CON: It can be difficult to pair wool with normal baby clothing, making the choice to exclusively diaper in wool something of a lifestyle choice.  Even though you don’t need to wash wool often it does take some time (and additional supplies) when you do.  Wool is susceptible to compression leaks and can leave a carseat or baby carrier damp.

 

Ease of use – 4

Your time – 1

Bomb proof factor – 4

Washing – 1

Drying – 1

Cost – 3

 

Fleece Covers

PRO:  Fleece is both breathable and easy to wash, so it’s a great alternative to wool for night diapering.  Like wool, fleece is not waterproof but will absorb a lot before feeling damp.  It’s also quite inexpensive!  If you use shorties or longies the cover can double as your babies clothing.

 

CON: Fleece is often very bulky.  Like wool, it’s generally difficult to use fleece with regular baby clothes. Fleece may not provide enough absorbency for heavy wetters, and it is susceptible to compression leaks.

 

Ease of use – 5

Your time – 5

Bomb proof factor - 3

Washing – 5

Drying – 5

Cost - 5

 

PUL Covers

PRO: PUL is the standard choice for cloth diaper covers and there are lots of affordable options to choose from.  Paired with a well fitting diaper underneath PUL works great at holding messes in. 

 

CON: Some babies are sensitive to PUL if it touches their skin (whether this happens or not depends on the type of diaper you are using underneath the cover).  While more breathable than a disposable diaper, these do still trap in heat and can leave very sensitive babies rashy.  If routinely dried in the dryer, PUL may wear out quickly. 

 

Ease of use – 4

Your time – 4

Bomb proof factor – 4

Washing – 4

Drying – 3

Cost – 4

 

There are lots of choices, so try a few and see what you like best!

-Kate K


Share this post



← Older Post Newer Post →