Baby Care: How To Choose A Cloth Diaper

Learn which types of cloth diapers are cheaper, more absorbent and easier to clean, including the pros and cons of prefold, pocket, fitted and all-in-one diapers.

What type of cloth diaper will work best for you?

There are many types of cloth diapers available today. At times, the sheer number of choices can be overwhelming, particularly if you're just starting out with cloth. This article will help you sort through the choices available to you and find the best diapers to suit your needs.

There are four basic types of diapers available - prefolds, pockets, fitteds, and all in ones. Each type has benefits and drawbacks, and each is better for certain situations.

Prefolds and Covers

A prefolded diaper is essentially a square of absorbent cotton or hemp. It can be folded in many different ways and held in place with pins or a snappi. Alternatively, it can be folded into a cover and simply held in place with the cover.

Benefits: Prefolds with covers are the cheapest type of diaper available. They are easy to clean and they dry faster than other types of diapers. Covers used with prefolds can be re-used several times before needing to be laundered. Drawbacks: Prefolds can be intimidating at first since they look nothing like disposable diapers. Good for parents or others familiar with cloth diapering and every day use and travel. Not good for most daycares, babysitters, and grandparents.


Pocket diapers are made from one waterproof layer and one moisture wicking layer with an opening in the front or back (the pocket). The pocket is stuffed with a prefold diaper or a stuffer to absorb moisture. Once used, the absorbent "stuffer" is pulled out for laundering.

Benefits: Pockets are a nice compromise between an all in one's convenience and a pre-fold's affordability and ease in washing. Drawbacks: Pockets are more expensive than prefolds with covers. Pockets must be washed after every use. Good for reluctant dads and babysitters.

Fitteds and Covers

A fitted diaper looks and functions a lot like a disposable, but it must be used with a separate cover. Some fitteds fasten with hook-and-loop tape, some fasten with snaps, and some must be held in place with diaper pins.

Benefits: Fitted diapers can be less intimidating than prefolds because they look like disposable diapers. They are cheaper than pockets or all in ones. Drawbacks: Fitteds take a long time to dry because of all the absorbent layers. Good for every day use. Some daycares or babysitters. Not good for travel.


An All In One (AIO) diaper is just like a disposable diaper. The AIO has a waterproof layer on the outside and moisture absorbing material on the inside - it is a diaper and a cover all in one.

Benefits: An AIO is very easy to use and does not require a separate cover. Drawbacks: AIOs are the most expensive type of diaper. They can be difficult to get clean and take a long time to dry. AIOs also tend to wear out faster than other types of diapers. Good for babysitters and daycare. Not good for every day use unless you have a lot of money to spend on diapers.

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