Types of Cloth Diapers

A quick start page to the different types of cloth diapers. 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.   

Buy the pretty cloth diapers. 


This is the part of the diaper that absorbs pee, or poop, and is most often seperate. Absorbency could be a fitted diaper, insert, prefold, flat diaper, or booster.

Pockets & Covers

Absorbency needs some sort of exterior shell to keep clothing dry and poop where it belongs.

There are two main types of cloth diapers responsible for this task – pocket diapers and covers.

All In One Diapers

The ultimate cloth diaper? Perhaps, the All In One diaper is a diaper with sewn in absorbency. This is everything you need in one bundle, no extra’s needed.

Different Types of Cloth Diapers? How does this work?

We used to just use cotton sheets wrapped around baby’s bottom and call it a day, but in 2020, innovation called and developed a wide array of diaper types and styles. These can be broadly categorized:

  • Absorbency – Prefolds, Flats, Inserts
  • Fitted Diapers
  • Cloth Diaper Covers
  • Pocket Cloth Diapers
  • All In One Diapers
  • All In Two, Snap In One, Hybrid

Within each of these types are many different variations, sizing, and options. Not all diapers function the same and each brand has a unique twist on the product. Many brands even have patents to protect the creativity in their design features.

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. 

Example of an AIO Cloth Diaper

All In One Diaper

The simplest cloth diaper in the idea that everything is sewn together and there’s no need to assemble the diaper. An All In One Diaper is a one step diaper. 

These are one of the most expensive diapers, can be challenging to wash because of their multiple layers of absorbency, and have a wide array of fit and function.

Not all AIO diapers are one step, some diapers are marketed as an AIO diaper but rather more a All in Two or Snap In product. Watch out for this is you are not looking for that.   

Example of a Pocket Cloth Diaper

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.

These are 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.


Example of a Cloth Diaper Cover with Inserts
Example of Wool Cloth Covers

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 

Example of a Cloth Diaper Cover with Inserts

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.

Example of a Cloth Diaper Cover with Inserts

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.

take the quiz

The Cloth Diaper Quiz is designed to guide you to a recommendation based on lifestyle, budget & a few other factors. It provides the best suggestion, most of the time but you don’t have to do what I say – do what you want to do. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn How it Works!

Which Cloth Diaper Type 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. 

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

Which Cloth Diaper is Most Expensive

A stash exclusively of fitted diapers and wool covers. 

Why more than one type of diaper

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.

Which Cloth Diaper is Best For hand washing

Flat Diapers. 

If you have a finicky washing machine, or might need to handwash, consider using flat diapers.

You can simply padfold and add to your favourite pocket or cloth diaper cover.

which cloth diaper is best for babysitters

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 brand do I buy?

Ask for recommendations from your friends, retailers, or bloggers.

Start somewhere, with whatever diaper captivates your heart.

Every cloth diaper has a fan group.

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. 

Next: learn to wash diapers simply

A simple three step approach to cloth diaper laundry to get you started today without feeling overwhelmed. The best way to wash cloth diapers, is one that works for you. Forget everything you’ve been told and find a sustainable solution. 

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Cloth Diaper Membership

Coming Soon, membership programs to support you with cloth diapering.

Cloth Diaper Book

Learn to cloth diaper with the ultimate guide to diapering, available on Amazon or your fav online book shop.

About the Cloth Diaper Podcast

The Cloth Diaper Podcast is a regular podcast sharing stories from cloth diaper parents, brands and retailers from around the world. 

The Cloth Diaper Podcast is not affiliated with any school of thought of diaper laundry but instead focus on the power of peer-to-peer story telling to empower you to make your own cloth diaper journey. 

Cloth Diapering is not this or that, but rather many different experiences. 

Contact Us

Email: bailey@clothdiaperpodcast.com
Cloth Diaper Podcast is located in Northern BC, Canada on the traditional territories of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nations. Black Lives Matter. Every Child Matters. & We are strong advocates for radical change as requested by those who experience social injustice. Listen first. 


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