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Best Cloth Diapers
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Types of Cloth Diapers
Flat Cloth Diapers
These are the originals that Grandma would recognize. They are large rectangular or square fabric, like bleached or unbleached cotton, hemp or bamboo. They once required safety pins to hold them together (ouch!), but now they can be fastened with Snappis diaper fasteners. They require a waterproof cover (wool, fleece or PUL—polyurethane laminate) on top, but they're a very economical approach to cloth diapering.
These come as rectangular pieces of fabric (options include cotton, flannel, hemp and bamboo) with 6-8 layers of fabric in the middle. You'll need a waterproof cover and (possibly) Snappis or safety pins. Generally, they come in three sizes: preemie (4-10 lbs), infant (newborn to 15 lbs), and premium/toddler (15-30 lbs). They're also very economical.
These are similar to prefolds, except that they're hourglass-shaped for a closer fit to baby's bum. Fabric options may include cotton fleece, cotton terry, bamboo or flannelette. They can be used with or without a Snappi inside a waterproof cover.
These are shaped like disposable, fitted diapers and have elastic at the legs and back, and they close with snaps or hook and loop (e.g. Velcro or Aplix). They tend to contain messes better than any of the options above, which helps to keep diaper covers cleaner for longer. Fabric options may include cotton, hemp, cotton fleece, cotton terry and bamboo. Generally, they dry faster than all-in-ones, saving energy and time, but they still need a waterproof cover.
Pocket or Sleeve Diapers
These are hourglass-shaped with elastic in the legs and waist. Pocket diapers consist of a waterproof outer layer (PUL or ProCare, fleece or wool) and a stay-dry inner layer (usually fleece or suedecloth). An absorbent insert gets stuffed in the middle, which soaks up the pee, leaving the fleece layer dry next to baby's skin. It fastens with hook and loop or snap closures, and no additional cover is needed.
Often referred to as AIOs, these are quite similar in shape and function to pocket diapers, except they don't need to be stuffed—the absorbent insert (or soaker) is generally either sewn into the waterproof cover or attaches with snaps. No additional cover is needed. Available as one-size AIOs (which typically fit from about 10-35 pounds) or sized AIOs, (which generally fit better, but for a shorter period of time). They are about as easy to use as disposable diapers, although with the exception of pocket diapers, they're more expensive than many other options.
As a guide, if you plan to do laundry every two days, you'll likely need about 20-24 diapers for a newborn to 4 months old, 16-20 diapers for a baby 4-10 months old and 12-16 diapers for a child older than 10 months, suggest the folks at Kelly's Closet, a Maine-based online retailer.
If you're interested in trying cloth diapers but are scared to commit, check out of the many trial programs available through cloth diaper retailers, which allow you to experiment with the diapers before you go all in. For example, Diaper Lab offers a two-week trial program for a $35 rental fee, and Jillian's Drawers offers a 21-day trial program for a $10 fee (you'll pay a deposit of $91.34 plus $10 shipping; you'll get $81.34 refunded, regardless of staining, should you return the dipes).
Hybrid Cloth Diapers
The Flip is a hybrid system, all-in-one cloth diaper system. Parents can choose between three different insert options: Stay-Dry, Organic Cotton and Disposable. The Flip provides high quality and a comfort fit. It's easy and straightforward to use with a lay-in insert. It's a financially friendly way to start your cloth diapering journey.
A super-duper, easy-to-use, all-in-one diaper, the GroVia AIO is a combination of incredibly soft organic cotton on the inside and water resistant TPU outside. It requires no stuffing or doublers, but a soaker can be snapped in for older babies or heavy wetters. It comes with stretchy tabs for a great fit and snaps adjust in three positions on the front rise as well as alongside the waist. It fits babies 10 to 35 pounds and is available in a handful of pastel colors and prints.
gDiapers Diaper System
One of the best-known hybrid diapers, gDiapers offer parents several choices within one system. The waterproof shells, called gPants, can be paired with snap-in liners (one is included with each little gPant); biodegradable gRefills (which can be composted if they're wet, flushed or tossed, if wet or soiled); or gCloth inserts. Flushing the inserts can be a bit complicated because it involves tearing the gRefill apart to ensure the absorbent inner core comes out, stirring with a swishstick to break up the contents, and then flushing, while tossing in the outer material of the gRefill at the end of the flush. Flushing is not recommended for faulty, older or non-standard plumbing. Unsoiled gPants can be re-used again and again until laundry day. They are available in tiny gPants (6-10 lbs) and little gPants: Small (8-14 lbs), Medium (13-28 lbs), and Large (26-36 lbs). They are available in a slew of vibrant solids.
All-in-One & All-in-Two Cloth Diapers (AIO/AI2)
BumGenius Freetime All-in-One
A terrific "no-stuff" one-size diaper, these bumGenius AIOs are about as easy to use as disposables, which makes them a great choice for reluctant family members or caregivers, and kids in daycare. The interior is made from organic cotton with six layers of absorbency, and the exterior is waterproof PUL. It includes three rows of snaps on the front rise and two full rows of snaps across the waist, which, when combined with the "stretch-to-fit" tabs, ensures a great fit. They are available in a range of pastel and bright colors, as well as this Lovelace design.
Thirsties Duo Diapers
This two-piece diapering system from Thirsties is another good one to add to your stash. It's made with a waterproof exterior with adjustable snaps on the front rise and a microfleece liner. It has two openings—technically making it a sleeve diaper instead of a pocket diaper—that allow inserts to come free from the diaper in the washing machine. The insert is made from two layers of microfiber terry snapped to five layers of hemp jersey. Only available with Aplix closures, Thirsties Duo diapers come in Size 1 (6-18 lbs) and Size 2 (18-40 lbs) and in eight bright solids and four prints.
Bummis Super Brite Wrap Cloth Diapers
The Duo-Brite Diaper Wrap from Bummis is an easy-to-use cloth diaper that comes in two adjustable sizes. Soft elastic at the waist and gussets at the legs help keep messes contained. These trim-fitting diaper covers can be used over prefolds contours or fitted diapers. Add a Duo-Brite Insert to make it an all-in-two diaper. It has snap closures and comes in Size 1 (8-20 lbs) and Size 2 (20-35 lbs).
Rumparooz are the only cloth diaper designed with two gentle internal gussets that channel each leg. Meaning that even the messiest No. 2s will be contained. Keep that cute outfit clean! They come with four size settings, offering a good fit from 6.5 to more than 35 pounds, and they are available with snaps or Aplix. The outer shell is made from a biodegradable TPU waterproof material instead of PUL, and the inner shell is 100 percent hypoallergenic with no-pill microchamois. It comes with the 6R soaker set, including a full-size micro terry insert with snap down setting and a contoured newborn micro terry setting, which combine to allow for six size/absorbency combos. They are available in a range of vibrant colors and incredibly cute prints.
FuzziBunz Elite brings you a cloth diaper line that is fun, functional and oh-so-funky and fashionable too. The FuzziBunz Diaper Talk line is digitally printed (not screen printed) on One Size Elite cloth diapers. These fun designs can be printed on cool background colors with contrasting colored snaps to boot! The designs will not peel or fade and will bring a splash of color and interest to the rest of the well-loved FuzziBunz color collection.
BabyKicks Premium Pocket
BabyKicks Premium Pocket Diaper is cloth diaper perfection. It's the only one-size pocket diaper that folds small enough to fit a newborn and will accommodate older, slender and chunky babies without compromising comfort or practicality. It has the convenience of a disposable diaper with a waterproof outer shell and the breathability of cloth from fleece leg gussets. The gussets allow airflow to help combat diaper rash and regulate temperature.