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Here are the 5 most common cloth diapering systems for beginners.

cloth diapers on clothesline

So we are on the last day of the 7th annual flats and hand-washing challenge, sponsored by Cloth Diaper Revival and I have received so many questions regarding the how to's in cloth diapering. I decided to give blogging a try to help out my fellow moms and dads. I hope this blog gives you the knowledge and motivation to begin cloth diapering!

First things first, I want to state that I am learning this cloth diaper business as I go, sometimes completely guessing and hoping for the best. I have a 16 month old son and a 2 1/2 year old daughter, both in cloth. We have been successfully cloth diapering, full time, for 1 whole year!

There are a few different cloth diapering systems on the market today. I am going to break each system down for you in hopes to clear up any confusion. The cloth diapering world is, at first, super intimidating and overwhelming and I hope I can help.

Covers and Flats, Flour Sack Towel Fitteds or Prefolds:

This system is by far the cheapest system on the market, closely resembling the diapers your grandparents and their parents used. It is often referred to as "old school". A flat (see here) is a large, single layer, piece of fabric that you fold and either place into a cover, or wrap around baby and pin or snappi (buy here) closed. Here, you can see some of the most common folds for flats. A flat can be a flat specifically, but it can also be a receiving blanket, a flour sack towel (here), a t-shirt even. A prefold (see here) is a rectangular piece of fabric with numerous layers of cotton, bamboo, or hemp. The middle section, or wet zone, has extra layers of fabric. This is much smaller than a flat, but can still be wrapped around baby and fastened with a snappi or pin or folded and placed inside a cover. A fitted diaper is a contoured prefold like diaper (see here). This either just wraps around baby, velcros or snaps in place. It is designed to be extra absorbent and works best for overnight. A cover (see here) is the most cost efficient because the same cover can be used all day long, unless baby pooped. This is a diaper with exposed PUL (the waterproof part) and a tiny overhang of fabric to tuck in the flat, fst or prefold.

This is exceptionally great if you are on a budget, don't want to wash as often, or want to coordinate an outfit with a diaper cover. You just pull out the soiled insert and add a clean one. These come in newborn and one size, depending on brand, with velcro or snaps. Super fast drying time.

Cost: $3.80+ for covers

$4.00+ for package of prefolds

$4.34+ for flour sack towels

$1.00+ for package of flats

$5.00+ for fitted diapers


This system is my favorite system. There are so many ways in which to use it. Pocket (see here) diapers are diapers with an inner wicking fabric to keep baby's bum dry and an outside PUL layer as the waterproof layer, stuffed with inserts to absorb the waste. The reason I love these is that I can use my flats folded in a pad fold as the absorbent inside. You can also use microfiber inserts (most common), bamboo inserts, or hemp inserts. You also have more control about how absorbent you need the diaper to be. This is a one and done diaper. As soon as diaper is wet, the entire diaper has to be replaced. These come in newborn or one size, depending on brand, with snaps or velcro.

These can be super affordable and go up to quite pricey. It's why I love using my cost efficient flats. Fast drying time.

Cost: $5.00+ for pocket diapers (I've seen some pocket diapers as high as $45+)

$0.00+ for inserts {some pockets come with an insert)

AIO (All in one):

This system is the most convenient system, closely resembling a disposable diaper. This is a one step diapering system. In an AIO (see here), the insert is sewn into the diaper, therefore, the diaper is all set to go, no stuffing of any sort. Once the diaper is soiled, just change like you would a disposable.

It is more costly than the above mentioned and the drying time is much longer, however these are great for family or friends who may be watching your child and don't feel comfortable dealing with cloth. These diapers come in newborn or one size and with either velcro or snaps.

Cost: $16.00+ for AIO

AI2 (All in Two):

This system is a two step system where an absorbent cloth layer is snapped into the waterproof PUL layer of the diaper. AI2 (see here) is also sometimes referred to as a hybrid diaper. This is because you can take the reusable cover and use disposable, biodegradable liners as the absorbent layer.

For those who like the ease of a disposable but want to be more eco friendly, this is the choice to go with.

Cost: $14.00+ for AI2