There are so many different types of cloth diapers on the market today. I'm sure if the type of cloth diapers available today were available in previous decades, the disposable diaper industry wouldn't have grown as quickly and taken over the world like it has.
From all-in-ones that work just the same as disposables, except they go in the wash instead of the trash to the pocket diapers that work like the all in one, but have a pocket where you stuff in as much absorbent material as needed, there are cloth diapers out there that make the transition from disposables non-intimidating to the novitiate.
For those not concerned about the transition from 'sposie to cloth, there are fitted diapers that work like a regular diaper, but need a waterproof cover/wrap on top of them. And there are prefolds which are a multi-layer ultra absorbent cloth that needs to be folded or twisted and then pinned or snappied (what's this?) on to the baby, and also need to be covered with a waterproof wrap or cover.
It was all so confusing, choosing which types of cloth diapers to get, which would be most beneficial and worth the money. How could I possibly know which one to chose?
All-in-One diapers are a one piece diaper that closes either with velcro or snaps and are as simple to use as disposable diapers. After doing some research I outruled the All-in-One diapers. Aside for being the most expensive, these all in ones are comprised of many layers. They have many layers of absorbent material, often a fleece lining on the inside, and the outside is lined with a waterproof material called PUL. The same properties that cause these diapers to be ultra absorbent also make them retain water extremely well; they take a very long time to dry. As I am a line dryer, these AIO would not dry quickly enough for me to be useful and I would have to buy extra AIO to compensate for that fact. The long drying time and the fact that AIOs are the most expensive types of cloth diapers helped me make up my mind to not buy them, even if their use makes cloth diapering lots easier and less intimidating to the beginning cloth-diaperer.
Pocket diapers have many of the same advantages of AIOs. They comprise of a waterproof PUL layer on the outside and a fleece layer on the inside. They have a pocket in which you stuff absorbent materials. This can range from pre-folded diapers, old towels, microfiber cloths, diaper inserts, etc... The list is endless. Pocket diapers have all the ease of AIOs. If you stuff them in advance with absorbent materials as soon as they come out of the wash, when it comes time to change a diaper, you just put them on as you would AIOs or disposable diapers. You can stuff these pocket diapers with more absorbent materials like bamboo or microfiber or even just two prefolded diapers to make them night time diapers. When drying, you take apart the diaper so you the pocket diaper and the absorbent inserts drying separately; these diapers are very quick drying. Pocket diapers are also not so expensive.
The down side of pocket diapers is that after each use, both pocket diapers and the absorbent material needs to be washed, so you'll need at least 24-36 of them, depending on how frequently you want to wash them and how you plan on drying them.
Fitted diapers are also easy. They are like the AIOs but aren't waterproof so they need a waterproof cover on top of them. However, like AIOs, fitted diapers also take quite a while to dry.
Prefold diapers are probably the most complicated types of cloth diapers on the market today. They are multi-layered absorbent cloths, usually with 4 layers on each of the two side panels and 8 ply in the middle panel. You either fold these prefolds inside of a waterproof cover/wrap or you pin or snappi them on to the baby and then put the waterproof cover/wrap on top of it. There are many different folds out there, each of them with different degrees of difficulty and effectiveness. There are also many different fibers of which prefolds are made- anywhere from cotton to hemp to bamboo and they are available in both bleached and unbleached.
The pluses of pre-folds is that they are the cheapest cloth diapers on the market. Additionally, with the right fold, pre-folds usually have a much better chance of preventing blow-out baby poos and leaks as they are pinned on or snappied on to fit your baby's unique shape. These are also the quickest drying of all cloth diapers.
It can take some time to get a hang of using prefolds. Learning which fold works best for you and learning how to snappi and pin at first can be quite daunting. Once your baby starts being more active, it gets harder to snappi or pin a prefold onto a baby that won't still, and then once its on, adjusting it for a more perfect fit is also quite challenging when your baby is trying to run away from you. Of course, its hard to put any diaper on a moving baby, disposable, AIO or prefold, but prefolds are especially hard.
Waterproofing- Remember the plastic pants of the olden day diapers? They're not really used anymore. Instead, there are things that are more comfortable both to the babe and to the mom. There are so many different types of covers available out there, some with designs and some plain white, some made with PUL (waterproof synthetics) and others made natural waterproof fibers like lanolized wool. There are pants that you slide onto the kid; there are waterproof covers known as wraps that go on like a disposable, with snaps or with velcro. The choice is limitless.
With all these choices of diapers and covers, which type do I have and which type do I recommend?
Guess you'll just have to wait to find out.