(updated because silly ol' me forgot a kind of diaper!)
Types of Cloth Diapers
This is an overview of the different types and styles of cloth diapers. Currently Teal Elephant does not carry every type of diaper. If you are interested in a type we do not carry, please feel free to contact me and let me know!
1. Sized/One Size
You can choose between sized diapers (XS, S, M, L, XL) or one size diapers. There are benefits to both.
Sized diapers have weight ranges as well as age ranges. I think it is best to always go by weight ranges. However, keep in mind that two children can weigh the same and look totally different. We started with sized and I loved them but my chunky monkey daughter quickly outgrew them. But if my friend would have cloth diapered her daughter she would still be in a small so they would have worked longer for her.
One Size are much different than one size fits all clothing that you are familiar with. One size diapers come with snaps for sizing up and down. They come with several different snap configurations to fit any size baby! Most one size diapers can fit a baby from birth to potty training. However, I should note that sometimes at birth even a baby who is in the weight range of the diaper might have fit problems because of the shape of the baby. Give it a couple of weeks and then your baby should fit just fine in them.
All-in-ones (AIO) are exactly what they say: they are everything in one piece. All you have to do is wash, dry, and put on baby. They include a sewn in absorbent pad (aka soaker) that absorbs the wetness while the liner wicks it away from baby’s skin. They are fast to put on because no stuffing is needed. They have a waterproof outer cover so no need for covers. They are most like a disposable so they are a favorite of dads, daycares, babysitters, and nurseries. (Some AIO do come with a pocket that you are able to stuff for extra absorbency when needed.)
All-in-Twos (AI2) are similar to an AIO with an extra step. They have a liner that lays on top of the diaper or snaps onto the top of the diaper. No stuffing required, just lay it in place and snap. AI2s typically have inserts designed for that specific diaper but you can use anything as a liner. AI2 also have a waterproof outer cover so their is no need for extra covers.
Pocket cloth diapers have a pocket for you to insert the insert! (Hence, their name!) They consist of 3 layers: the waterproof outer shell, the attached liner, an insert (the absorbent layer of your choice). These require stuffing and you get to determine the amount of absorbency needed.
Flat cloth diapers are what most people immediately think of when you say cloth diaper. They are what we clean our windows with and dust with! Or as burp cloths. They are usually a square so sometimes they are also called Squares. So when someone says Flat or Square they are referring to the same thing. These diapers need to be folded in order to fit your baby. You will also need to fasten them with a pin, snappi (this is a really cool invention that holds the diaper in place with no pins), or simply just place the cover on the diaper. A cover is needed for this kind of diaper.
Prefolds are flat cloth diapers with extra absorbent material sewn into the middle of the diaper. They still need to be folded in order to fit on baby and also require pins or a snappi, and a cover.
Even if you don’t choose to just use these as your form of cloth diaper, they are good for emergency liners!
Fitted or contoured diapers are simply called fitteds. These have elastic in the legs and snaps or velcro-like closures. These diapers require a cover.
Covers can be any form of waterproof layer. Most are made from PUL (polyurethane laminated) which is durable and waterproof. Wool is another common material for covers. Wool is waterproof and natural as opposed to manmade.
Hybrids are a type of diaper that give you options. They are a hybrid between disposables and cloth. They consist of a reusable outer layer (shell) with the option of using a disposable liner (that can be biodegradable) or a cloth liner. This is a favorite of many parents when they are traveling because you can simply toss the dirty in the trash. Since some of these liners are biodegradable you don't have to feel guilty about contributing to 250-500 years of landfill. Once baby goes potty you can either replace another disposable liner into that same diaper they are wearing or use a cloth liner. They make cloth liners specifically for these diapers or you can use a flat or prefold as the liner. These liners come in direct contact with the babies skin so make sure it is nice and soft.