Choosing the Right Cloth Diaper

by Kayde Foster

baby with all-in-one diaperThere is no doubt that cloth diapers are becoming more popular with families today. They have come a long way over the last few years and most of the styles are as easy to use as their disposable counterpart. Many are choosing cloth diapers because they are not as rough on babies skin and they leave behind less waste than disposables.

There are several different options when it comes to cloth diapers and shopping for them can be overwhelming. You should consider purchasing a couple different styles so that you can find out which ones work the best for you. The choices range from a complete all in one to the old fashioned pre-fold with a cover. The absorbency layer (insert) of cloth diapers can be found in cotton (regular or organic), fleece, micro-fleece, a microfiber terry/hemp combo, and a hemp blend. All brands are different and offer different insert options.

All in One

The AIO diaper is also just as it sounds and is the closest to the disposable diaper. It contains an absorbent inner layer that is integrated into the waterproof outer layer. AIOs are a one step cloth diaper and need to be washed after each use. Although they are the closest to a disposable, they are the hardest to maintain. Over time they may begin to retain odor that is really hard and time consuming to remove. You may need to start hanging them out in the sun for hours to try and get rid of the odor. Another downfall is that they are expensive; ranging from around $15 to $27 a piece.

All in Two

The AI2 is similar to a hybrid with the difference being the liner is a reusable pre-fold instead of a disposable one. With an AI2 the pre-fold gets folded into thirds and placed into the center of the waterproof diaper cover, and then is put on like a traditional diaper. There is no folding around the baby and fastening with pins to keep the absorbent layer in place. Diaper covers can be wiped off and used again with each changing as long as it doesn't get soiled. The great thing about the AI2 is that the layers (pre-fold and cover) come apart for washing which really helps with the odor. AI2 diapers are also more reasonably priced than the AIO option, ranging in price from $10 to $20 a piece (includes cover and insert).

Pocket Diaper

The pocket diaper is almost like an AIO; the only difference is that the absorbent layer has to be added into the "sleeve" of the diaper. This means that you can make the diaper more or less absorbent. Pocket diapers are also one use; needing to be washed after each diaper change. They are great in the fact that they come apart for washing, but inconvenient in that you have to pull the used insert out of the dirty cover. Prices ranges from around $15 to $20 a piece (insert and cover).


Pre-folds are contoured or flat diapers, both are rectangular shaped with the flat pre-fold requiring a bit of folding and the contour pre-fold being designed to fit the "contours" of baby without folding. Pins are optional to hold together the fold of the flat diaper. Both types of pre-folds require a diaper cover for a leak proof system. Diaper covers can be wiped off and used again with each changing. They are a little tricky to get the hang of, but definitely possible. The great thing about pre-folds is that they have a better fit for newborns and they are not as bulky as the others options. They are also the cheapest of the cloth diapers. Ranging in price from $10 to $16 for a package of six pre folds, $4 for the snaps, and around $11 for the cover.

Training Pants

Training pants are designed just like pocket diapers with the insert added into a sleeve in the diaper. The only difference is the snaps to close the diaper are on the sides so that toddlers are able to pull them on and off themselves which gives them the feel of real underpants. Again you have the downfall of pulling the insert out of the dirty diaper but they are really the only option for kids needing that under pants feeling. Prices range from $16 to $20 a piece.

Kayde Foster, Director of Sweet Pea Baby Planners of Northern Colorado, has a background in writing, research and green/non-toxic living. Katie moved to Colorado four years ago with her oldest son; since then, she and her husband Tom have welcomed another son and daughter into the world of blue skies and snow capped mountains.

Copyright © Kayde Foster. Permission to republish granted to, LLC.