Ok! Part two of our cloth info. This time I'm going to tell you about the basic types of cloth diapers. There are a bunch. I probably won't get crazy in depth about all of them, so if you have questions about anything, don't hesitate to ask!
1. Pre-folds and flats- These are the old-school diapers that probably pop into your head when you think "cloth diapers." You either tri-fold these and place them into a cover (which is a must with this kind of diaper) or you fold it around your baby and pin it, or use a snappi. This kind of system is easily one of the most economical. You just change the pre-fold when it gets soiled, and as long as the cover is clean, pop in a new one. You can get by with around 6-8 covers and about 24 pre-folds or flats. If you are planning to simply tri-fold and lay in the cover... this will get you by. Otherwise all you really need is a few snappis and you're in business. For some more info on the different types of pre-folds and flats, you can look here. To learn about snappis go here. To learn about the basic "angel wing fold" go here. You can get pre-folds for about $2.00 each, snappis for around $4 each, and diaper covers for around $13 each. So for a start-up cost you are looking at about $150 or so. Not bad, right?
2. Pocket diapers- This is one of my favorite types of diapers because they are so versatile. You can make them as absorbent as you want. They come in a sized style (s, m, l, etc) option or a one-sized option that you can adjust smaller or larger with snaps or velcro as your baby grows. These diapers have a water-proof outer shell, and a fabric inner sleeve that allows you to stuff your absorbent material between them.
There are a bunch of different materials that are used to make the inner sleeve. There are natural fibers like bamboo and cotton which many people love, but keep in mind that these materials do not wick moisture away from baby's bum. The moisture will stay close to their skin. They are however, natural materials and you wont have many chemicals to worry about.
The typical stay-dry materials you'll find in diapers are micro-fleece and suede-cloth, both of which wick moisture away from baby's skin and pull it into your absorbent insert that you stuffed in the pocket.
Inserts can be made from minky, microfiber, hemp, bamboo and cotton. Microfiber is the typical standard insert material, and it is absorbent, but you have to make sure that it doesn't touch baby's skin because it will pull moisture out of the skin. Minky is kind of the new kid on the block, but it's my personal favorite at the moment because it doesn't get stinky, it's super soft and easy to stuff in your diapers, and its trim. You just have to try them all and see what works for you.
Pocket diapers are a little more expensive- they are usually in the $15 to $25 range, but they are easy to use and once they're stuffed, they function a lot like disposables. Some brands to check out are Thirsties, Fuzzibunz, Bumgenius, Rumparooz, Tots Bots... and there are TONS more. Browse around, read some reviews, and try several brands, because you never know what will work best for your baby until you try it. Something to consider is a trial program once your baby is born, so you can figure out what will work best for you.
3. All in One diapers (aka "AIO's")- These diapers are some of the easiest to use, and take the least amount of effort. They look a lot like pocket diapers, but the absorbent "inserts" are sewn right into the diaper, so there's no need to stuff them. You have the option with some AIO's to add extra absorbency by adding inserts to a "tunnel"in the diaper, or by laying a pre-fold or insert right on top of the inside of your diaper. I've got several AIO's, and I really love them. The only real con is that they take a lot longer to dry, but that's not a big enough con to deter me. The convenience factor makes it all worth while.
4. All in Twos- These are a lot like pocket diapers, but the insert sits inside the diaper right next to baby's bum. They have a waterproof outer, and soft inner.
5. Hybrid Diaper Systems- These are basically AI2's that let you use disposable liners OR cloth liners. Systems like Flip, Little G Diapers, an Gro-Via let you choose, and it can be a great option for times when you travel, because you can simply flush or throw away the bio-degradable disposable liners and wash the shells.
So what type will work for you? I'd say that it all depends on what you think will fit your budget and your lifestyle best. I've got everything from prefolds to pockets, to AIO's, and I like them all for different occasions and different reasons. You've just got to try a couple different types and see what you like!
Tune in next time for info on how to prep and care for your cloth diapers! Let me know if any of that is unclear, or if you have any questions!