Cloth Diaper Types:
The first hurdle of cloth diapering is figuring out the different types. Here is how I understand the different types:
All-In-One: 1 piece diapering system.
Baby wears the diaper once, it gets washed and dried…REPEAT
Pros: simple, simple, simple
Cons: depending on the brand, some take longer to dry and it *can* get expensive (or not!). When one part needs replacing, you need to replace the whole diaper.
Pocket: 2+ piece diapering system
With a pocket diaper, you have a cover and insert(s). Before baby wears the diaper, you put the inserts inside the pocket. Baby wears the diaper once, it gets washed and dried, pockets get stuffed again…REPEAT. This is one of the most popular CD options.
Pros: very easy to do and easy to customize absorbency by adding different inserts.
Cons: must stuff the diapers before using and in some cases, unstuff them before laundering (most inserts will agitate themselves out in the wash). Can get expensive depending on brand.
Hybrid: 2+ piece diapering system
Hybrid diapers basically come down to diapers which have both disposable and re-usable insert options which then go into a cover. Covers are designed to be re-used a few times before washing.
Pros: disposable inserts are great for daycare/babysitter use or when you will be away from laundry facilities for multiple days. Many of the disposable inserts you can find are environmentally friendly. When using just cloth inserts, this type of diaper can work out cheaper than a stash of all-in-one or pocket diapers, but that is of course dependant on brands etc.
Cons: disposable inserts tend to be more expensive than standard disposable diapers.
Pre-fold+Cover: 2 piece diapering system
Do not let the term pre-fold discourage you! It is simply a square of fabric layers (that have been pre-folded and stitched together). With this type, you either fold it around the baby and secure it with fasteners (and then cover it) or simply secure it with a cover. Alternatively (and potentially easier), you can fold it in thirds, lay it in the cover and put it on the baby. Baby wears diaper once, pre-fold goes into laundry to be washed and cover can be reused if it is not soiled.
Pros: cheap, cheap, cheap! This is one of the cheapest options for cloth diapering. Pre-folds start around $2 each and because covers can be reused a few times each (you will need 2-4 a day), you do not need as many. They are also known to dry faster.
Cons: more complicated to learn so babysitters may be overwhelmed at first. Folding around a squirmy baby can be a bit more difficult. You will typically need different sizes as baby gets bigger.
Flats+Cover: 2 piece diapering system
Flats are much like pre-folds, except they a bigger and start out as one layer of material that you must fold into the desired size. From there, they operate much like pre-folds.
Pros: cheap, cheap, cheap! You can get away with one stash of them because you simply fold them differently as baby grows (ie. you do not need to keep buying bigger ones). These will dry the fastest out of all the options.
Cons: more folding, more complicating.
Fitteds: 1-2 piece diapering system
Fitted diapers are diapers that are made mostly from absorbent material. They can work by themselves, but are not waterproof, so a cover is recommended. Many parents allow their children to go cover-less while at home to help air baby out and then use a cover if leaving the house (or overnight).
Pros: make a great overnight diaper. You can re-use the covers if they are not soiled.
Cons: two sets of snaps/velcro to secure everytime you change a diaper.
Cover: A cover is just that, the outside portion of adiaper. When it comes to pocket diapers, this is the waterproof part without the insert, or it can be a plain cover without inside lining which is useful in covering pre-folds or flats. They can be sized or one-size.
*MORE COMING SOON*