With so many breeds of cloth diapers available, choosing a style can become overwhelming. Here we will take a close look at PUL covers, fitted diapers, pockets, all-in-two diapers, and all-in-one diapers so you can better decide what would suit you best.
PUL Covers are the most basic of the modern cloth diapering movement. PUL is permeable to air but not liquid, meaning the fabric is breathable while still keeping clothes dry. PUL is not absorbent, and so covers must be paired with something that does absorb. You have a wide range of choices for absorbency: prefolds, flats, inserts, and fitted diapers are common. Frugal cloth diaper users might use old t-shirts, cotton pants, or sweatshirts. Prefolds and flats can be pinned onto baby or folded into the cover. Inserts are laid into the cover. Fitted diapers snap on just like a PUL cover, and then the cover is put over that. Especially for newborns, any diapering system employing a cover is the most surefire way of avoiding leaks. Prefolds and PUL covers is one of the most cost effective cloth diapering options. Though it is less convenient than some of the other choices.
Fitted Diapers are made from absorbent materials with no waterproof layer. They can be used with a cover to make them waterproof, or without so you know when your baby goes and can change immediately. Monster Pants fitteds feature a stay dry fabric and pocket opening. The stay dry layer keeps baby from feeling wet; the pocket lets you customize the absorbency for a diaper that is as useful all day as it is at night. Also quickens drying time!
Pocket Diapers are a waterproof diaper with a stay dry liner. Absorbent inserts are stuffed into the diaper’s pocket, and the diaper is easy for anyone to use, even if they are unfamiliar with cloth diapering. The entire diaper must be changed each time (unlike an insert & cover or AI2, where only the insert is changed) but the pocket can be stuffed with anything absorbent. Microfiber is a popular choice for use in pockets because it is inexpensive and trim. Since microfiber has strong wicking capabilities, it cannot be used in a diapering system that puts it against baby’s skin. It wicks moisture so effectively, it will wick moisture right out of the skin, leaving baby chapped. Other easily accessible, affordable inserts for pockets include washclothes and old towels or t-shirts that have been cut up. Of course, bamboo and hemp inserts made for pockets are also fabulous choices!
All-in-Two (AI2) Diapers are a waterproof shell with snap-in absorbent inserts. The insert can be swapped out until the shell becomes soiled, usually giving you 2-4 changes for one shell. Since inserts cost less than shells, this can help make convenient cloth diapering more affordable. If you don’t have enough snap-in inserts, you can use the AI2 shell as though it were a PUL cover. But the snap-in inserts maximize the convenience of this diapering system.
All-in-One (AIO) Diapers are the height of convenience, though they aren’t necessarily everyone’s favorite. These can have a lot of variety depending on the brand, so I will highlight features of the Monster Pants AIO (we call them All-in-Pockets here). These have a stay dry lining and an attached insert. The insert will usually shake free during washing, but since it is attached the diaper stays in one piece (unlike a pocket diaper, where the insert and pocket are two separate pieces that must be reunited). Tuck the insert back into the pocket opening and snap it onto the nearest little monster. These are very easy to use, even for people who are unfamiliar with cloth diapers. The Monster Pants version is called an all-in-pocket because it has a pocket that adds versatility to the diaper. The attached insert is there to stay, but you can add an additional insert, flat, or prefold for added absorbency overnight. So why are they not the unanimous favorite? Primarily because they are the most expensive. They also tend to take a little longer to dry than diapering systems that use completely separate inserts. The Monster Pants AIP improves this flaw slightly, but even so the AIPs in my personal stash take about fifteen minutes longer in the dryer than AI2’s and prefolds.
Cloth diapering has so many options it can feel overwhelming! The good news about having so many choices: There is an option that fits your budget and lifestyle. If you’ve read through all of this and are still not sure where to start, ask me! I love to talk cloth!
What is your favorite diapering system?