Types of Cloth Diapers -  descriptions, costs, pros and cons, and a tutorial video

Choosing the Best Cloth Diapering System for You

View this short video or read the descriptions below to learn more about the different types of cloth diapers.

*ONE-SIZE DIAPERS: With the exception of prefold diapers, all of the other diapers listed below are available in 'One-Size'. This means the diaper can be adjusted to fit your baby from 10 to 40 lbs. The benefit of one-size diapers is that they save you in the long run because you won't have to purchase multiple diapers for the various sizes of your baby. The downside to one-size diapers is that they are very bulky on newborns and don't truly provide a good fit until baby is about 10 to 12 lbs.

  Prefold Contour Fitted Pocket AIO AI2 Hybrid
Avg. Price per Diaper $1 - $2 $5 - $8 $10 - $20 $15 - $20 $15 - $25 $20 - $25 $15 - $25
Daycare Friendly? NO NO YES YES YES YES YES
Drying Time Short Short Average Short Long Short Varies
Good for Nighttime YES YES YES NO NO NO MAYBE
Additional Accessories Needed Cover
Cover NONE NONE NONE Inserts


These are about as close as you’ll get to what grandma used to use. They’re cloth pieces that must be folded into the shape of a diaper. They are often layered with 4 layers of cloth on either side and 8 layers of cloth in the middle for added absorbency – in which case, you’ll see the pre-fold described as being 4x8x4.

PROS: Very affordable. You can cloth diaper your baby from birth to potty training for about $200.

CONS: The fact that they require folding may be a deterrent to dad and other caregivers.


Contour diapers are like pre-fold diapers but shaped like an hourglass instead of a rectangle. Like pre-folds, they must be folded and pinned onto the baby.

PROS: The contoured cut of this diaper will give a snugger fit on your baby versus a pre-fold.

CONS: The fact that they require folding may be a deterrent to dad and other caregivers.


What it is:
Fitted diapers are one step above contour diapers. In addition to having a contoured cut, they also have elastic in the legs and don't require pinning. These diapers close with either snaps or velcro.

PROS: No pins required. The elastic legs contain poop explosions better versus pre-fold and contour diapers.

CONS: They still require the extra step of a diaper cover - sometimes a deterrent to caregivers. Pocket Pocket diapers are waterproof diaper covers with an opening (or pocket) that can be stuffed with an absorbent cloth material called an insert or doubler. You can use any type of insert you want for your pocket diaper. You can also add additional inserts to the diaper to make it more absorbent.

PROS: No pins or diaper covers required. This is a very easy cover to use for caregivers.

CONS: Re-stuffing these diapers after washing will lengthen the time you spend doing laundry. AIO (All-In-One) AIO diapers are similar to pocket diapers except instead of stuffing a pocket opening with an insert to make it absorbent, the insert is already sewn into the diaper. Some AIO diapers are called Hybrid AIOs. This means that the absorbent layer is sewn in, but the diaper also has a pocket opening for adding an additional insert if added absorbency is needed.

PROS: This diaper works exactly like a disposable diaper - making it very easy to use for caregivers.

CONS: Because the absorbent layer is sewn in, this diaper takes a long time to dry.

AI2 (All-In-Two)

AI2 diapers are similar to pocket diapers except instead of stuffing a pocket opening with an insert to make it absorbent, the insert snaps into the diaper - next to baby's bottom.


PROS: Like an AIO, this diaper is very easy to use. Unlike the AIO, this diaper dries very quickly.

CONS: You must use the same brand of insert as the diaper. Also, you can't add inserts to this diaper to increase absorbency.


Hybrid diapers are a mix (or hybrid) of cloth and disposable diapers. They come with a waterproof cover made with Polyurethane Laminate (or PUL). The cover is contoured to hold either a disposable liner, cloth liner or a pre-fold diaper folded in thirds. The disposable liner looks similar to a really thick maxi pad. When you change baby, you simply remove the liner, wipe the cover clean (if necessary), and a fresh liner to the cover. Disposable liners can be tossed, flushed or composted. Cloth liners and tri-folded pre-fold diapers are washed.

PROS: You can re-use a diaper cover multiple times before it must be washed. Disposable liners are just as absorbent as disposable diapers and make clean up a breeze when you're away from home.

CONS: Disposable liners contain Superabsorbent Polymers (SAPs) - the same ingredient formerly used in tampons that caused TSS. Additionally, their ability to biodegrade is extremely compromised if they end up in a landfill because there is not enough oxygen to help break them down. It's recommended that you compost them for a better planet. Finally, the average cost of a disposable liner is 7 cents more per liner than the average disposable diaper.

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