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With so many cloth diaper types on the market, how do you know which one should you choose?
Which will make your life easier?
Flat diapers with a cover are the best choice when choosing quick-drying, affordable, trim, and environmentally friendly cloth diapers. All-in-one and pocket diapers are popular as well, praised for their convenience.
Best Quick-Drying Cloth Diapers
Flat diapers (affiliate link to Amazon) are the absolute winner when it comes to fast drying. If you have the luxury of air drying them on the line, you’ve probably noticed they can be dry in 2 hours if the weather is generous with sun and little humidity. It also makes them perfect for small apartments without a dryer because they’ll be dry in half of the day, especially if placed next to a source of heat or exposed to dry air (open window).
If you want to learn about how amazing flat diapers really are, make sure to read this post.
PUL covers will typically dry in a few hours as well.
If you want a more convenient cloth diaper combination, pocket diapers (affiliate link to Amazon) will be your best bet. Because you have to disassemble them before washing, you’ll hang them to dry separately, and the inserts will dry much faster than all-in-ones (affiliate link to Amazon). Use a pad-folded flat diaper or a microfiber insert for absorbency and boost it with thin hemp boosters.
Best Cloth Diapers for Heavy Wetters
Heavy daytime wetters will benefit significantly from fitted diapers (affiliate link to Amazon), which have a larger absorbent area than most other types. If necessary, supplement them with hemp boosters by placing them between the fitted diaper and the cover.
Bamboo or hemp blend preflats and flats will also go a long way. Add hemp boosters (affiliate link to Amazon) if you only have cotton preflats and flats or if you still need more absorbency.
I highly recommend using a fitted diaper made of hemp blend with additional hemp and bamboo inserts at night for overnight use. Bonus points if it has a little pocket for those additional inserts. A wool cover works very well over the fitted diaper.
Best Cloth Diapers for Daycare (Most Convenient)
The best cloth diaper systems for daycare or other family members that aren’t so keen on cloth diapers are the ones where they can take the diaper, put it on the baby and then take it off.
I wouldn’t recommend using wool as the waterproof layer if any poop gets on them. They must be cleaned very carefully, and the caregiver probably won’t have the time or knowledge to do it properly.
Pocket diapers and all-in-ones (AIOs) (affiliate links to Amazon) are the best choices for daycare, especially if AIOs have added pockets for additional boosters. Pocket diapers are especially great because you can fill them individually based on your child’s needs. They are usually also stay-dry by default, so your child won’t feel the wetness if the caregiver won’t notice immediately that the diaper is wet.
I explored the difference between all-in-one and pocket diapers in this post; check it out.
Best Cloth Diapers for Newborns
Newborns will benefit the most from newborn-sized cloth diapers, especially if they’re on the smaller size. Most will fit the babies for 2-6 months, depending on their size.
Whatever system you choose, keep in mind that you want something trim to not add too much bulk.
My favourite setups were newborn-sized AIOs and newborn-sized covers with the smallest available prefolds (affiliate links to Amazon) folded as a pad and booster with a thin bamboo booster if necessary.
Flat diapers were too bulky for my taste until the baby was two months old. After this age I started using them much more frequently.
Best Affordable Cloth Diapers
If you’re on a budget, your best bet will be flat diapers or flour sack towels (affiliate links to Amazon) paired with covers (affiliate link to Amazon). Some parents prefer prefolds (affiliate link to Amazon) that don’t need that much folding but aren’t that much more expensive.
If you prefer pocket diapers (affiliate link to Amazon), they can be pretty cheap as well. You can fill them with folded flat diapers, flour sack towels, or homemade inserts (e. g. sewn from old towels).
One of my favourite things about cloth diapers is that you can sell them after you don’t need them anymore, which also means you can get used cloth diapers for a fairly reasonable price, even pricier cloth diaper types, such as AIOs.
If you’re interested in the complete price breakdown of cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers, read this post!
Best Trim Cloth Diapers
To enable your child as much mobility as possible, you’ll need very trim cloth diapers, which will be the best approximation to being naked.
Many parents deemed flats, preflats, and hemp blend inserts the trimmest cloth diapers. You can check the whole post about the trimmest cloth diapers here.
Best Cloth Diapers to Use When Traveling
Some parents choose to use disposable diapers when on a trip, while others want to use cloth diapers all the time.
Flats and covers (affiliate links to Amazon) rapidly dry and will therefore be the most practical to dry quickly when washed. This is especially great because you don’t have to pack that many diapers and they are also not bulky, so they won’t take up that much of your luggage.
Nevertheless, bring some AIOs and pocket diapers (affiliate links to Amazon) if you’re using them when you need to change the baby very quickly or if the flat diaper unravels at the wrong time (when the baby can’t lie still).
Best Environmentally Friendly Cloth Diapers
Most environmentally friendly cloth diapers will be unbleached flat diapers (affiliate link to Amazon) made of organic cotton/bamboo that don’t use pesticides during their growth. If you’re not a fan of flat diapers, choose other absorbent parts made of organic fabrics.
To avoid plastic, choose wool instead of PUL as the waterproof layer. Wool needs to be washed only every 2-3 weeks (unless soiled), so you save on detergent and water. You will need only about four wool covers for daily use and two wool covers for nighttime use (affiliate link to Amazon). Wool also needs to be lanolized – check out this post before you lanolize wool covers, so you don’t end up with lanolin spots all over your covers.
No matter which type of cloth diapers you choose in the end, always check the manufacturing company and see how they’re ensuring as much sustainability as possible and are continuing to develop in this area.