There are so many options when picking out what type of cloth diaper to buy. When I was buying my first fluff, my biggest (and hardest) decision was which variety of diaper to go with, and therefor what brand. Luckily, we live in a time when Google is readily available!
Here's a few of the many options available to a cloth diaperer. It's important to remember you don't have to pick only one type. Mix and match as you choose!
Flat/Prefolds- Flats and Prefolds are probably what comes to your mind when you think of cloth diapers. Flats are basically a cloth square which is folded around baby and secured with pins or other such means. A Prefold is simply a Flat with an extra layer of cloth in the center for more absorbency. Flats are a good choice if you are trying to stay on budget, as they are easily the cheapest diapers available and can be used as burp cloths, rags, etc after their diapering life is over. They also tend to dry much faster after a wash than their counterparts. There is a downside though. This type can be difficult to secure on a squirmy baby and requires a cover. Even with a cover, they tend to be pretty leaky.
Pockets- Pocket diapers are exactly what the name says, a pocket. Basically, you have a diaper with a pocket in the crotch which you then stuff with your choice of insert. There are many benefits to this type of diapering system. For one, all you need are the diapers and inserts. No pins or separate covers necessary. Also, because of the material used in most pocket diapers, they tend to pull the moisture away from the baby's bottom and into the insert, thus preventing diaper rashes (which occur much less often in cloth diapered babies as a whole). The problem I (and many others) have with Pockets is the fact that you have to pull a soiled insert out before washing. I prefer the re-usability (is that a word? oh well!) of All In Twos. But more on that later!
All In Ones- All In Ones are probably the closest to disposables you can get without actually using them. These are very user friendly and daddies tend to love them the most! Use simply requires you grabbing a fresh clean diaper and doing the switch-out. AIOs, like Pockets, don't require a separate cover. They come in one piece, which makes storage simple but drying anything but! They can have the longest drying time, meaning more diapers necessary if you plan on doing cloths full time. They do come in many cute patterns and varieties though!
All In Twos- All In Twos, or AI2s, provide the simplicity and variety of an AIO without the ridiculous drying times. This type consists of the diaper itself and an insert that usually snaps into it. One major benefit of AI2s is, if only the insert is soiled, you can simply replace the insert during the diaper change instead of having to use a whole new set. This really helps with laundry and the amount of diapers needed! Many brands that offer AI2s also offer it in a hybrid version, consisting of a disposable insert instead of cloth for travel or other times when carrying around a soiled diaper is less than ideal. While, in my opinion, the most practical of diapers, AI2s can also be the most expensive. That seems to be the biggest downfall to choosing this type.
If you can't tell by now, I am an AI2 lover. They're just so simple to use! Not to mention the variety of adorable little patterns available! What can I say? I am a sucker to anything cute and baby bottom related. When making your choice, it is important to take into consideration what you are looking for in a diaper and what kind of lifestyle your family lives (including how often you wish to do laundry!). No matter what type you choose, there is no doubt that the benefits of cloth diapering way outweigh those of disposables.
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