Types of Cloth Diapers

Why are there so many different types of diapers? Every inventor describes ‘easy’ a little different, and over the past few decades, the industry as diversified as it is. For some, this diversity of diaper choices is amazing, but for others it can be incredibly overwhelming. I have a cloth diaper quiz at the bottom of the page that can help guide you to an answer for your family.

Every cloth diaper has a fan group, every cloth diaper is designed to support you in diapering, but not every diaper is the best choice for you. It’s okay to just buy the pretty diapers, or the diapers that make you happy. 

the best diaper for you is sustainable for your lifestyle, budget & needs.

The best way to cloth diaper is the way that works for you and your family – and is sustainable for you. That means you can cloth diaper part time, full time, wash once a week, only on vacation, or maybe once a day.

Cloth diapering doesn’t have to be strict rules and policies. It can be a laid back strategy that works for you. Trust in yourself. 

The All In One Diaper (AIO)

Typically touted as “the simple cloth diaper” or “most like a disposable” the All In One Cloth Diaper features a waterproof exterior with sewn in absorbency. It’s everything in one little package, or one step cloth diaper. There are a lot of All In One Diapers on the market that meet a wide variety of needs, including tackling some of the most common misconceptions. This is a more expensive product, and can be more difficult to wash because of it’s multiple layers of absorbency. 

Pocket Diaper

This a two step diaper consisting of a diaper shell with a pocket and inner liner (most often micro fleece for stay dry) and inserts that needed to be added to the pocket. The Pocket Cloth Diaper is one of the most popular diapers because of easy they are to source. Pocket diapers tend to be a cheaper product and people like them because once assembled it’s a simple-easy-to-use diaper package. 

Big disadvantages for many families is stuffing the pocket cloth diaper and subpar inserts – whether that’s microfibre or poor performing bamboo. Many families upgrade their pocket diaper inserts with better quality materials.

Cloth Diaper Covers

Covers are another two part cloth diaper. A cloth diaper cover is just the water resistant exterior shell of the diaper. You use a cloth diaper cover with inserts or prefolds, or place them over a fitted diaper. Cloth diaper covers are made from PUL/TPU or wool/fleece.

They are loved because one cloth diaper cover can be reused 3+ times during the day, and can be a way to create a more budget friendly diapering experience. 

Different cover variations exist including internal snaps that allow you to snap in an insert. When an insert is snapped in this can be more functional for  external childcare providers as it begins to function like a pseudo AIO diaper 

All In Two or Hybrid

And in some parts of the world, this is called a Snap In One diaper.

These are either pocket diapers or cloth diaper covers, sold under the disguise of multi-function. They have snaps or natural fibre inserts that allow you to use the product in untraditional ways.

These are great products because of the high quality design and you can use them in many different ways. You’ll find reviews for them lumped under the diaper they are most like: pocket or cover.

Fitted Cloth Diaper

A fitted diaper is one step in a two step diapering system. You will need a cover to make it waterproof. The entire body of the diaper is absorbent and typically features a fastener and inserts. Fitted diapers are one of the more expensive diapering systems because of the textiles and materials used.

Fitted diapers are often used for nights and naps because it offers all over absorbency for maximum absorbency.


With so many different types of cloth diapers, we could easily do a 201 class on navigating this part of cloth diapering.

But at it’s core, every cloth diaper is designed for beginners and for you to have success. If you’re struggling, see if you can find a way to sign up for a class, or visit a retailer with a cloth diaper selection. 

Which cloth diaper is the cheapest?

The one you get for free?

Pockets & Covers tend to be the cheapest types of cloth diapers.

You can use one cover for every three inserts/flats/fitteds – so that reduces some of that cost.

But, if you have a childcare centre where you need a new diaper every change, this is a mute point.

Many families find cheap pockets for $6-10 a pocket. They may come with cheap microfibre that can be easily replaced with prefolds, repurposed flats, or t-shirts. 

What cloth diaper brand is the best?

Ask for recommendations from your friends, retailers, or bloggers. Every cloth diaper has a fan group.

Start somewhere, with whatever diaper captivates your heart. Consider listening to previous episodes of the Podcast. 

Best for daycare?

Simple AIO diapers (no loose tongues or extra piees to adjust) or assembled pocket cloth diapers are best for babysitters or childcare providers.

You can teach anyone anything. 

Which cloth diaper is best for beginners?

That’s a really good question… you can learn to use every cloth diaper. I think it’s more important to find a diaper that supports your lifestyle or fits your budget.

They are all easy with right support

Should I buy different types of diapers?

You should try more than one type of cloth diaper to broaden your cloth diaper experience.

If AIO are too difficult to wash, or pockets make you angry, then you have a back up – and hopefully a diaper you don’t hate.

It also gives you an opportunity to have different types of diapers in your stash for different uses. I sent pockets to the babysitters, fitteds for nights, and covers at home.

What about inserts?

Cloth diaper inserts offer a wide array of functionality and absorbency.

Available in different textiles and sizes, you get to choose what will work for your family and lifestyle.

I personally prefer prefold diapers for their ease of use and stuff them in pockets and covers. But, many families check out inserts variations to get the absorbency they need.

Whether you make a big switch like cloth diapering or make small changes like swapping Kleenex for cloth wipes, Lil Helper has the products and resources to help your family make sustainable and environmentally friendly choices in 2022.

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