Cloth Diapering 101
New to cloth diapering?
Use this guide to learn the basics.
Cloth Diaper Terms
Sizing can be different from one manufacturer to another but will usually fall into one of the following categories.
One size diaper systems provide a customizable fit from “birth to potty”. One size diapers offer 3 to 4 rows of adjustable rise snaps to adjust as your baby grows. In an effort to maximize the affordability of cloth diapering your baby, Thirsties One Size Pocket Diaper and One Size All In One are designed to fit most babies from 8-40 lbs. Weight ranges for one size diaper systems do vary between manufacturers.
Two size diaper systems are designed to effectively diaper your baby from birth to potty in two sizes. Thirsties created its own Duo line of products to ensure an amazing secure customizable fit for babies of all sizes. Our size one is designed to fit babies between 6-18 lbs and size two is designed to fit babies from 18-40 lbs. Each of the two sizes in the Thirsties Duo Line features three rows of snaps to adjust the rise to your baby’s size and shape; it is like having three sizes in one.
Sized diaper systems offer a specialized fit for your baby, but each size covers a narrower range than that of a Duo or One size system. Thirsties Diaper Covers are part of our sized system and are available in four sizes; x-small, small, medium, and large.
Hook and Loop Closures
Hook and loop closures make diaper changes quick and provide an amazingly snug fit. Although hook and loop closures are the most convenient closure option, they tend to have a shorter lifespan than snaps. Thirsties hook and loop is often regarded as the strongest and most durable on the market.
Snaps are easy to use, are more durable than hook and loop and are strong deterrents to toddlers who prefer to be diaper-free. Snaps are also used throughout the Duo line and One Size Pocket on the adjustable rise.
Gussets are a crescent-shaped inserts added to the leg openings of many cloth diapers for added performance and expansion. Thirsties signature leg gussets move with your baby, providing advanced protection against leaks.
No stuffy plastic or rubber pants! PUL provides a very reliable, pliable, and breathable yet waterproof outer layer for Thirsties’ covers, wraps, and diapers. PUL stands for polyurethane laminate and is made from extremely durable polyester knit to keep your baby and his or her clothes dry.
A soft, napped wool-like fabric made from synthetic fibers. Microfleece fabric does not absorb, but rather allows moisture to pass right through, which is why it is often used as the layer closest to your baby’s skin. The microfleece layer provide a ‘stay-dry’ effect for your baby’s comfort. Microfleece can help to reduce diaper rash, resists staining, and is buttery soft to the touch.
Hemp jersey is as soft as your favorite t-shirt but is more durable than pure cotton of the same weight and absorbs 25% more moisture! By using hemp, you are able to gain a substantial amount of absorbency without adding a tremendous amount of bulk to your diapering system. Thirsties hemp jersey is one of the softest and most durable available in the market. It is used in Thirsties prefolds and inserts.
Our synthetic microfiber terry is used throughout our line as a soaker due to its performance characteristics of being highly absorbent and quick drying.
Organic cotton is soft to the touch, absorbent, and chemical free, making it an excellent choice for babies with allergies or sensitive skin. You will find organic cotton in the body of Thirsties Natural One Size all in one and Natural Newborn all in one Diapers as well as our Organic Cloth Wipes and Organic Cotton Doublers.
Our bamboo cotton is irresistibly soft, naturally organic and ultra-absorbent, able to hold 3 times its weight in water. This porous fiber is breathable and wicks moisture away from baby’s skin, leaving baby cool and dry. Bamboo cotton is used on Thirsties
Natural One Size Fitted Diaper and our Natural Newborn Fitted Diaper.
Types of Cloth Diapers
There are different styles of diapers to meet the needs of each individual family and baby. All babies are shaped differently and have different absorbency needs so one type of diaper may work better for your baby than another. In addition to fit and absorbency, many families may also compare convenience versus cost. For example, an all in one or pocket diaper may be more convenient, but a two piece system is typically less expensive and can be more absorbent.
All In One
All In One, commonly known as AIO, is the most similar type of cloth diaper to a disposable diaper. The one piece system consists of a waterproof cover with the absorbency sewn inside.
Thirsties One Size AIO comes with 4 total layers of absorbent microfiber terry, a microfleece liner and a reliable waterproof exterior. The soaker is topped with our stay-dry microfleece which keeps your baby feeling dry. An additional layer of terry lies between the microfleece and PUL body of the diaper providing a last line of defense.
Thirsties Natural One Size AIO This easy-to-use cloth diaper includes 11 thirsty layers of natural fibers: 3 layers of GOTS certified organic cotton in the body and 2 soaker pads with 8 layers of the same hemp/organic cotton used in the inserts and prefolds Thirsties customers have grown to know and love.
To use: Simply slide the diaper under baby and fasten with hook and loop or snap closure.
Pros: Convenient, easy, quick, daycare and sitter friendly, great for diaper bags, can be paired with insert for additional absorbency
Cons: May need additional absorbency for heavy wetters or extended, overnight use.
A pocket diaper is a 2 piece system consisting of a waterproof outer shell sewn together with stay-dry lining with openings on one or both ends. The sleeve or pocket that is created is used to stuff the included absorbent insert.
Thirsties One Size Pocket Diaper comes with a waterproof shell with a stay-dry lining sewn into it. The openings on both ends make for easy stuffing while allowing the insert to easily agitate out of the diaper in the wash. The inserts feature three layers of serged microfiber terry snapped together with five serged layers of hemp jersey; eight thirsty layers in all!
Thirsties Natural One Size Pocket Diaper Same design as our original pocket diaper but with natural fibers. The waterproof shell is lined with organic cotton instead or fleece. The inserts feature three layers of serged 100% GOTS certified organic cotton snapped together with five serged layers of hemp jersey, eight layers in all!
40% of our customers chose pocket diapers as their favorite type of cloth diaper. (Based on 2012 Thirsties Customer Survey of 720 cloth diapering families)
To use: Secure the insert within the tunnel or pocket, slide the diaper under baby and fasten with hook and loop or snap closure. You may find it easier to stuff the inserts into the diapers right after washing and drying, so that your diaper is ready for use.
Pros: Convenient, adjustable, daycare and sitter friendly (when inserts are pre-stuffed), absorbent
Cons: Bulkier than other diapers, need to stuff inserts into diaper after laundering
Fitted diapers are made from absorbent fabric that is tailored to fit, providing complete coverage around your baby. Fitted diapers require the use of a diaper cover to make it waterproof. The use of the fitted diaper and a cover provides two elastic barriers at the legs and waist to prevent leaks.
Thirsties Natural Fiber Fitted Ultra-absorbent and irresistibly soft, our Fitted diaper has 11 total layers of bamboo cotton – 3 layers in the body and 8 layers in the snap in soaker pads.
To use: Simply take the fitted diaper, slide under baby, and fasten hook and loop or snap closure. Repeat steps with the diaper cover.
Pros: Ultra absorbent, soft, comfortable, can be paired with insert for additional absorbency
Cons: Bulky, long dry time, higher cost, 2 piece system that must be paired with absorbent layer
Prefold and Flat
Prefold and flat diapers are what most people think of when cloth diapering is referenced. Prefolds are popular for their affordability and are the most common diaper supplied by cloth diaper services. Using prefolds or flats requiring folding the diaper and then covering it with a waterproof diaper cover. Snappis are a popular closure used to secure prefolds and flats.
Thirsties Duo Hemp Prefold’s revolutionary tunnel design provides a trim fit and is beneficial for better washing and quicker drying times. Our custom hemp jersey is incredibly soft and knitted right here in the USA. We do not recommend the use of diaper pins or Snappi fasteners with Thirsties Duo Hemp Prefolds as the fabric is knit and the sharp points on the fasteners may damage the fabric. We recommend trifolding our prefolds.
To use: Fold the prefold into thirds, and lay into a trim waterproof cover such as the Thirsties Duo Wrap or Thirsties Diaper Cover, and fasten hook and loop or snap closure. For added absorbency in the front for little boys fold the prefold down on top and then trifold.
Pros: Very absorbent, durable, soft, versatile, affordable
Cons: Takes extra time to fold
All in Two Inserts
Thirsties All in Two Inserts Need a lightning fast absorber that wicks away wetness? Try our Stay Dry Duo Insert constructed of two layers of fast-absorbing microfiber terry and topped with our stay-dry, stain-resistant microfleece snapped to 5 layers of our super-absorbent 55% hemp - 45% organic cotton jersey. Want an all-natural option? Check out our Natural Duo Insert constructed of three layers of organic cotton snapped to 5 layers of our super-absorbent 55% hemp - 45% organic cotton jersey. Searching for a natural option that still wicks away wetness? You’ll love our Stay Dry Natural Duo Insert constructed of three absorbent layers of organic cotton topped with our stay-dry, stain-resistant microfleece snapped to 5 layers of our super-absorbent 55% hemp - 45% organic cotton jersey. No matter which option you choose, you can’t go wrong with a Thirsties AI2 Insert!
To use: Lay the insert into the diaper cover, slide the insert and cover under the baby, and fasten hook and loop or snap closures.
Pros: Easy, quick, absorbent, affordable
Cons: Less coverage than a prefold or fitted diaper
Cover and Wrap
Covers and wraps are waterproof barriers that are used over fitteds, prefolds, all in two inserts, or flat diapers. The laminate inside of the diaper can be wiped clean between uses, allowing you to use the cover for 3-4 diaper changes before washing.
Thirsties offers our Diaper Cover and Duo Wrap as waterproofing options for your cloth diapers. The Diaper Cover comes in 4 sizes, has a generous cut, and the x-small features an umbilical cord cut-out. The Duo Wrap uses the duo sizing system and offers a trimmer fit.
To use: With the absorbent layer fastened on baby or placed inside the cover, slide cover under baby, and fasten with hook and loop or snap closure.
Pros: Economical, Light and pliable, double leg gussets, easy to use
Cons: 2 piece system that must be paired with absorbent layer
Sized specifically with the needs and comfort of a new baby in mind, newborn diapers are convenient, trim fitting and many include an umbilical cord snap-down or cut out feature.
Thirsties offers newborn sizing in our newborn all in one, natural newborn all in one, natural newborn fitted and diaper cover.
Pros: Trim fitting, umbilical cord cut out
Cons: Babies can grow out of them quickly
Cloth Diaper Accessories
Inserts are used to add absorbency to a diapering system. Inserts can be placed between the diaper and cover or stuffed into the pocket or sleeve. Click here and here to view Thirsties insert options.
It is very important to choose a baby ointment that is cloth diaper safe. Many traditional diaper ointments contain petroleum or other ingredients which coat fibers and cause diapers to repel. Click here to see Thirsties diaper ointment.
Are a great alternative to disposable wipes and can save you up to $500. Pair with a baby wipe solution for the best results. Click here to view Thirsties wipes.
Baby Wipe Solution
When using reusable wipes you will want to purchase a baby wipe solution to properly cleanse and moisturize your baby’s skin.
A great accessory for your diaper bag used to either enclose clean or soiled diapers. Wet bags come with a closure system to keep odors from escaping. Click here to view Thirsties wet bag.
The use of a diaper pail is necessary to keep odors at bay while storing your baby’s soiled diapers until laundry day. 52 quart garbage pails with a lid are a popular choice but any large container with a closure will work.
Washable liners are designed to fit your diaper pail and be thrown in the wash with your soiled diapers. Pail liners are waterproof and designed to keep odors sealed within. Click here to view Thirsties pail liner.
A hose with a nozel that is attached to the plumbing of your toilet and is used to cleanse poop from soiled diapers. Diaper sprayers aren’t typically necessary until your baby begins to eat solids.