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Image: Cloth Contour Diapers

Contour, Shaped Diapers
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Image: Organic Cotton, Bamboo and Hemp Fitted Cloth Diapers

Organic Cotton, Bamboo, Hemp Fitted Cloth Diapers
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Feeling Confused About Your Cloth Diapering Decision?

Not that long ago, all babies in this culture were diapered in cloth. It is just within the last 50 or so years that single-use diapers have appeared on the market. Now, many new parents have never even seen or felt a cloth diaper. Instead, they learn about diapering from prime time TV ads!

Parents often express concern about using pins. . . about how to fold a cloth diaper . . . what kind of diaper to buy and how many . . . and how to wash them. I hope the following information will prove helpful . . .


Cotton diapers come in several shapes, sizes, styles and fabrics. What they all share in common is they all begin with 100% breathable, 100% soft cotton fabric. Cloth diapers permit your baby's body to cool itself when heat builds up, since fresh air can circulate freely and moisture can evaporate (an important health concern!).

Image: Cotton Fleece Cloth Diapers

Cotton Fleece Diapers
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Image: Birdseye Prefold Cloth Diapers

Birdseye Prefold Diapers
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TERRY is considered the most absorbent. Terry fluffs up and softens with washing and drying in laundry machines. It doesn't shrink like flannelette, or break down as quickly. However, it is thick and bulky for double-diapering.

BIRDSEYE is tightly-woven fabric that is soft, absorbent and expensive to use. It is considered the most longest-wearing of all diaper fabrics.

GAUZE uses fuzzy, finely-spun, loosely-woven yarn to make a soft and absorbent diaper. Gauze is very comfortable to your baby's skin, and its porosity allows air to circulate easily. It is the most light-weight fabric.

FLANNEL is considered the softest to parent's touch, and comfortable to baby's skin. It is the most readily - available fabric, the most common fabric used in today's diapers.

HEMP FLEECE - flat knit on one side with a brushed surface on the other, similar to sweatshirt fabric. Often used as an absorbent layer with the brushed side towards baby's skin but sometimes the smooth side is against baby's skin. Hemp has natural antimicrobial properties and absorbs much better than cotton.

Image: Gauze Prefold Cloth Diapers

Gauze Prefold Diapers
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HEMP JERSEY - knit fabric similar to t-shirt fabric. Often used for trim inserts and absorbent layers.

Image: Bamboo Terry Fitted Diaper

Bamboo Terry Fitted Diaper
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ORGANIC COTTON FLEECE - Cotton fleece is thick and comfortable. Used for all layers of a diaper with either side towards baby's skin.

ORGANIC COTTON FRENCH TERRY - Similar to the fleece, but the loops are not brushed, making it trimmer than the fleece. One side of the fabric has loops like a towel. The smooth side is used towards baby's skin.

-- Lightweight microfleece - used next to baby's skin. It wicks away moisture and helps keep baby's skin dry.

-- Midweight/200 weight - water resistant. Used for covers or all-in-one outers, for moderate to light wetters. The fabric can wick thru diaper is compressed. Sweats if the diaper gets too wet.

-- Heavyweight/300 weight - very water resistant. Used for covers or diaper outers for most babies. More waterproof and thicker than 200 weight. The fabric can wick thru diaper is compressed. Sweats if the diaper gets too wet.

-- Windpro - comes in three weights, light, medium and heavy, offering superior waterproofness as well as breathability. Excellent covers, or diapers outers. Can sometimes wick when compressed, but not as much as the mid- and heavy-weight. Perfect for summer diapers and nightime covers thanks to the breathability.

Image: Flannelette Cloth Diapers

Flannelette Cloth Diapers
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BAMBOO FRENCH TERRY - knit fabric with looped face. Great for using a Snappi diaper fastener. The loops are a bit rough, so it is better for a hidden or outer layer. Absorbs better than cotton but not as well as hemp.

Image: Bamboo Velour Fitted Cloth Diapers

Bamboo Fitted Diapers
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BAMBOO VELOUR - knit fabric with velour finish. Absorbs better than cotton but not as well as hemp. Soft enough to be next to baby's skin. Does a nice job of helping to keep baby's skin dry.

POLY-URETHANE LAMINATED POLYESTER (PUL) - a thin polyurethane layer that has been laminated to a layer of stretchy polyester knit fabric in a high heat industrial process. Makes a highly waterproof fabric for diaper covers or outers, that is not breathable.

WOOL - makes a wonderful diaper cover, especially at night! Treated with lanolin, the fatty substance acts as a natural waterproofing agent, wool can be a great addition to your cloth diapering collection. Wool covers do not have to be washed unless they get soiled. Just air-dry and re-use.

WOOL/LYCRA INTERLOCK - a knit blend of wool with a small amount of lycra. Almost as soft as a flannel, but warmer and more substantial. If you're used to wools that itch and bother, or think you're allergic to wool, this fabric may surprise you! Can also be machine washed on the gentle cycle.


FLAT DIAPERS - A large rectangle or square of one thickness of flannelette, terry or gauze. A series of folds are needed to make this type of diaper fit your baby. But by folding them yourself, they become the most versatile. You can put the thickness where your baby needs it most. This is more time-consuming, but many parents like them better because they are the quickest to dry and the most economical!

Image: Changing Diapers - The Hip Moms Guide to Modern Cloth Diapering

Changing Diapers: The Hip Mom's Guide to Modern Cloth Diapering
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Image: Diaper Changes: The Complete Diapering Book and Resource Guide, by Theresa Rodriguez Farrisi (Author). Publisher: M. Evans and Company; 3rd edition (October 6, 2003)

Diaper Changes: The Complete Diapering Book and Resource Guide
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PREFOLDED DIAPERS - Rectangular- shaped diapers, with several layers of padding stitched down the centre for greater absorbency. They require little or no folding, and are the most common style provided by commercial diaper services. These are the easiest standard diaper to use with Velcro® closing covers, or they may be fastened with pins or a Snappy diaper fastener.

SHAPED or CONTOUR DIAPERS - Generally hour-glass shaped which allows for an easy, comfortable fit around you baby's bottom. Little or no folding is required and, since they fit perfectly in side a Velcro®-closing cover, they often require no pins or other fasteners.

FITTED DIAPERS - Custom-designed to fit your baby like a pantie, with elastic at legs and waist, fastening with Velcro®, snaps or ties. Similar in style and ease of use as a disposable diaper.

POCKET DIAPERS - A two layered diaper cover that has an opening for a folded prefold diaper or specially designed insert to be placed inside the opening. This makes it a two part cloth diapering system. A pocket diaper cover will need to be washed after every use. It may fasten with Velcro® or snaps.

ALL-IN-ONE DIAPERS - Custom-fit diapers incorporating a waterproof outer cover with an absorbent inner layer of fabric - in one convenient, easy-to-use unit. They are generally fastened with Velcro® or snaps. These are the easiest diaper to use, and often the most expensive. Because of their waterproof backing, they tend not to allow as good air circulation, clean as easily or dry as quickly as two-piece systems.

ALL-IN-TWO DIAPERS - This style combines the ease of an all-in-one diaper with the economics of prefolds and covers. Instead of changing the entire diaper for each diaper change, only the inside soaker/pad needs to be replaced. Since a soaker/pad is less expensive than an entire pocket diaper or All-in-One, using 2-3 soakers/pads per cover/shell, makes the system more economical. It may fasten with Velcro® or snaps.

ONE-SIZE DIAPERS - The one-size diaper grows with your baby - fitting form newborn to training. No need to buy several sizes, and if you have two (or more in diapers) these diapers can be used with both children.

SWIM DIAPERS - Similar to disposable swim diapers, but are washable and reusable. They are not designed to absorb wetness, but will stop unexpected accidents from leaking into the pool. No additional diaper cover needed, can be used alone or under a swimming suit.


This article compliments of Born to Love.

The Diaper Facts column:

How Do I Get Started With Cloth Diapering?
Cloth Diapering With A Diaper Service
How Do I Wash Cloth Diapers?
Expensive to Wash Cloth Diapers?
The STINK on Stinky Diapers
Why are my cloth diapers and covers stinky?
Here's my Stinky Diaper Solution!
Why are my cloth diapers and/or diaper covers leaking?!?
How Do I Make My Diaper Covers Last?

Other articles that might be of interest:

How to Choose the Perfect Cloth Diapering System
Feeling Confused About Your Cloth Diapering Decision?
Diapering Expert Shares Secrets!
Do Cloth Diapers Seem Too Expensive?
Frugal Diaper Washing
Frugal Diapering
Frugal Baby Tips: Make Your Own Baby Bum Sweaters!
Your Choice Does Make a Difference!
What's Wrong With 'Disposable' Single-Use Diapers?
Environmental Concerns - What Do They Mean For You and Your Baby?
Environmental Concerns II - Looking at Both Sides of the Issue


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Born to Love articles are written by

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Last updated - February 8, 2017