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Types of Cloth Diapers

There are MANY different types of cloth diapers and for each type of diaper, every brand does it a little differently. We’ve included a handy chart of some of the pro’s and con’s at the bottom of this post. All of these diaper styles come in a variety of one-size options and sized variations. 

Wondering how many cloth diapers you need? Check out this post.  


Cloth Diaper Cover

A cover is just a waterproof cover made out of TPU (or PUL). 

Covers go over top of absorbency, or have absorbency laid into them. It’s important to note you need to purchase absorbency of your choice. See the note below. 

Check out Nuggles Cloth Diaper Cover: The Tuck-Wrap-Go Cover. This is a two-size cloth diaper system for newborns and baby/toddler. It’s designed to be used with pad folded prefolds and fitted cloth diapers.

Cover’s can be reused numerous times in one day. When a cover becomes soiled or damp or starts to smell it is time for a new one.


Pocket Cloth Diaper

A pocket cloth diaper is a diaper with a pocket opening for putting absorbency into. 

An exterior waterproof shell keeps clothes dry, while an inner layer of material, typically stay dry, lines the inside of the diaper. An opening between the two layers can be found at the top, bottom, or both, for inserting absorbency. 

Pocket cloth diapers are typically sold with insert(s).

Pocket diapers are used once and then stored until laundry day, when laundered. 

Check out the Nuggles Simplee which is a pocket-style cloth diaper. 

All in Two Diapers

An All in Two style diaper varies between brands. Here, at Nuggles, our AI2 Diaper is also a pocket cloth diaper. Some brands market covers as an AI2 diaper. 

All in two diapers give users the functionality of more than one style of diaper. They typically have snap in inserts. Snapping in inserts gives the diaper the functionality of an all in one diaper. 

They can also be pocket cloth diapers sold with natural fibre inserts. Natural fibre inserts can go against baby’s skin. 

The Simplee, for example, can be used as cover. Simply place the inserts on top of the fleece instead of inside the fleece. Purchase additional inserts, or prefolds, and swap out dirty inserts as long as the fleece remains relatively dry and unsoiled.

All in One Diapers

An All in One (AIO) is a diaper with sewn in absorbency. This can present itself in a variety of ways from sewn right in, to long tongues of material that need to be folded into place. These diapers are marketed as simple grab and go styles without additional steps on laundry day. 

AIO diapers are one of the most expensive products on the market. 

Nuggles does not sell a one size all in one cloth diaper. We do provide a newborn variation, the Nuggles Bittees. 

Swim Diapers

Like a cloth diaper cover, a swim diaper does not have any absorbency. Swim diapers are specifically designed for that. There’s no extra bulk to accommodate a prefold or fitted diaper. They’ve been built to hold close to baby’s body and keep poop from escaping into the pool.

Check out the Nuggles Swimsees for one way that a swim diaper can save the day at the pool for swimming lessons or your next family vacation.

Absorbency

I say absorbency because there are so many options you can choose from. Just because you are using a pocket doesn't mean you have to use inserts. You can be creative or thrifty. 

You can choose a prefold, a flat, an insert, or a fitted cloth diaper. These types of absorbency all do one job: absorb pee; and then, they need some sort of water proof cover so clothing stays dry. 

A lot of times we call out different types of diapers for being more absorbent or less absorbent than other types. Absorbency varies from brand to brand more than type to type. All cloth diapers types can be boosted with additional absorbency. Sometimes this means adding a prefold to a pocket diaper or an additional booster to a fitted or AIO.

Flats & Prefolds

A flat is a single layer of absorbent material (cotton, bamboo, hemp), and a prefold is multiple layers of absorbent material (cotton, bamboo, hemp) PRE FOLDED into a smaller rectangle for use. 

Prefold diapers vary. 

There are more traditional variations made with gauze. These come in a variety of shapes intended to be folded onto baby and fastened, or to be pad folded into thirds. A traditional prefold will usually have three sections across it and 4x8x4 layered set up. 

Modern variations, such as the Nuggles BambooLUXE prefold, are smaller rectangles with 2-3 layers of high quality denser material. These are intended to be pad folded for every-day use but can be folded on for use. 

Prefolds are inexpensive compared to the cost per ounce on inserts or fitted diapers. They dry wash up easily. Flats dry quicker than prefolds. .

Inserts & Boosters

Inserts are even smaller rectangles than a prefold. There is no folding required with an insert and these 2-6 layer pieces of material are traditionally stuffed inside of pockets. They can be made of any sort of material and absorbency varies. 

There are full size inserts and newborn sized inserts. Some inserts snap together or into diapers and some don’t.

We have a simple bamboo terry insert that snaps together. 

Boosters, also a doubler, is a small 1-2 layer insert that is added to cloth diaper system. Boosters are not used on their own but instead act as additional absorbency, to boost, the diaper. Need a booster? Try the Signature Stay-dry bamboo booster. 

Inserts and boosters are a higher cost per ounce. They are less absorbent than fitted diapers and prefolds. 

Fitted Diapers

This is an absorbent diaper. It is a piece material sewn into the shape of a diaper with fasteners. There’s no folding onto baby and holding material into place like with a flat diaper. 

This gives full absorbent coverage for babies who need it most because of naps or nights. It’s a great way to distribute absorbency for a trimmer fit and function. 

Fitted Diapers are typically sold with inserts and boosters to accommodate different needs. For example, the Nuggles BambooLUXE Fitted Diaper is sold with one insert, and additional night time boosters are available if needed. 


There are even more terms such as preflats, contours, and more in the cloth diaper community. The terms listed above give you the basics about navigating the types of cloth diapers out there. Each type varies between brands in price point and absorbency. Each type works for different families for different reasons beyond the basics explored today. 



Need some help or clarification? 
Feel free to reach out to us online or in our Facebook community. 
We’d love to work with you one on one to find the best type for your lifestyle.


Bailey Bouwman
Contributor

Bailey is a mom of two young and wild children living in the cold tundra of Northern BC. She fell in love with cloth diapering where she continues her passion here at Nuggles as the Director of Happiness.  Bailey loves social media, chewy candies, and chasing waterfalls.