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Deciphering the Types of Cloth Diapers

Cloth Diaper Terminology Cloth diaper lingo can get a little confusing! Here are some definitions for you:
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AIO ( All-In-One)
AIOs are essentially a fitted diaper and a cover sewn together. The outer layer consists of fabric that has a waterproof backing. These are similar to a disposable diaper since they are often a one-piece diapering system. The absorbent soaker material is often sewn into the diaper; it may also be detachable.
image of cloth diaper
AI2 (All-In-Two)
AI2s are very similar to AIOs with the exception that the absorbent soaker is not attached to the diaper in any way. The soaker is usually a second, separate piece that must be used in conjunction with the diaper. The drying time for these diapers is shorter than the AIO. Thirsties Duo Diaper could be one example of this.  
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Diaper Covers
The function of a cover is to provide a waterproofing layer for non-waterproof diapers such as fitted diapers or prefolds. They are often made with elastic around the waist and legs for a snug fit, and fasten with snaps or hook and loop closures. DSQ This stands for Diaper Service Quality. Diaper services use only the highest quality materials because their diapers must stand up to a lot of use and a lot of laundering. DSQ is usually used in reference to high quality pre-fold diapers.
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Doublers are a form of insert. They are oblong, absorbent soakers that can be added to a diaper to increase absorbency. Flats These one-layer diapers, generally made out of 100% cotton gauze, are the most “old-fashioned" choice. They dry quickly and fit a large range of sizes. Folding and pinning are required. Fitted Diapers Fitted diapers closely resemble disposable diapers. They are contoured and fitted with elastic around the legs and back. They fasten with hook and loop closures or snaps, and a waterproof cover must be worn over them. They are the next step up from flat pre-fold diapers and much easier to use. Hook & Loop – Other terms are Velcro and Aplix.  Inserts There are different types of inserts. There are inserts that are made to add absorbency to a diaper, and inserts that replace a diaper.
Hemp Inserts for added absorbency – day or nighttime use.
Doublers for added absorbency – daytime use.
Stay-Dry Duo Insertsreplace a diaper and lays into a cover.
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Pre-fold diapers are rectangular shaped diapers that must be folded into the shape of a diaper. They are similar to flats, but have multiple layers with more layering in the middle. They often have 2-4 layers of absorbent material on either side and 4-8 layers in the middle. The amount of layers varies according to the size you choose, generally ranging from preemie to toddler. You may see a pre-fold described as being 2x4x2. This describes how many layers there are in the outer and inner sections: 2 layers in both outer sections and 4 layers in the inner or middle section. Pre-folds are usually the most budget-friendly type of cloth diapers available. They must be used with a cover. Pocket Diapers Pocket diapers have a waterproof outer material, and an inner layer of a stay dry material, like micro fleece. They close with hook and loop or snaps. They have an opening or “sleeve” that allows for the absorbency to be stuffed in the pocket during use and then removed for laundering. Note that with the Thirsties Duo Diaper, there is no need to reach in and pull out the insert. The insert will agitate out in the wash due to the Thirsties Pocket design. The absorbency can be in the form of an insert that comes with the diaper or a pre-fold or doubler. Pocket diapers are quite popular since you can customize the absorbency. Snappi® A plastic three sided “claw” that fastens a prefold diaper. These are often used instead of diaper pins. Soakers The soaker is the layers in the diaper that absorb the moisture. Soakers may be sewn inside the diaper, partially sewn to form a flap, snapped inside the diaper, or simply laid inside the diaper.


Partially sourced from Written by Sonya Choron 3/18/10 Revised by Sonya Choron 4/18/11

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1 comment

  • Need to try the fitted diapers to see if the help with Ned wetting.

    Melissa Steiner on

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