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Different Types of Cloth Diapers: Cloth Nappy Systems Pros and Cons

Parents interested in using cloth diapers for whatever reason - environmental concerns, cost effectiveness, health benefits, or fashion - may be both surprised and overwhelmed by the wide range of cloth possibilities. It is advisable to become familiar with the pros and cons of each type of cloth diapering system. With the proper education, parents can best select the cloth diapering method that suits their family's needs and budget the best.

All-In-Ones (AIOs)
AIOs are just what their name implies- a diapering system where the soaker material and waterproof outer layer are combined into one piece. They go off and on with the same ease of their disposable diaper counterpart. Other than the obvious difference that AIOs are made from cloth, the other difference between disposables is that they may fasten with snaps or a hook and loop closure like Aplix or Velcro.
  • Pros: AIOS tend to be favored by daycare workers and fathers who want a diaper that is easy to change. They can come in cute designs and a wide range of colors. Depending on how the AIO is designed, it may be trimmer than prefolded or fitted diapers.
  • Cons: Because of the nature of the nappy coming in one piece, AIOs have a much longer drying time. The increased heat exposure may affect the overall wear-and-tear, particularly of diapers with a PUL (Polyurethane Laminate) outer shell. Though still much less expensive than the long term cost of disposable diapers, AIOs are not the least expensive cloth option.
Popular Types of AIOs - Bum-Ware Easy All-In-One and bumGenius!™ Deluxe All-In-Ones

All-In-Twos (AI2s)
Quite similar to their AIO brother, AI2s differ in that the inner soaker material can snap in and out of the outer shell. This cuts down on drying time and allows the cover to be reused throughout the day as fresh soakers replace the soiled ones.
  • Pros: AI2s have the same benefit of AIOs with the added benefit that they require less drying time. With proper care, AI2s can last as long as other cloth diapering systems. Speaking in terms of finance, because of the snap-in design, they are more economical than AIOs and have a great resale value. AI2s can come in a wide range of fabrics and designs, including plush minky material that is luxuriously soft.
  • Cons: AI2s are also more expensive than other cloth systems. Because of the two-part nature, sorting the covers and inserts after laundering may be a bit more of a hassle.
Popular Types of AI2s: JamTots Berry Plush

Pocket Diapers
Again, the name describes the key feature of these innovative diapers. The waterproof outer is sewn to a synthetic liner, creating a pocket where the soaker material is inserted. These diapers may also fasten with hook and loop closures or snaps. New popular One-Size designs allow parents to customize the rise to fit babies from birth to toddlerhood.
  • Pros: Parents can adjust the absorbency by selecting different inserts, and depending on what inserts are used, the diaper may be very trim. They are very easy to change. The synthetic liner often made from thin fleece or suede cloth, wicks moisture away and keeps the bum dry.
  • Cons: Pocket diapers tend to be sensitive to detergent build up which can temporarily decrease the effectiveness of waterproof barrier. Unlike AI2s, the waterproof layer cannot be reused throughout the day after the first soiling. When potty training, the synthetic stay-dry liner may prevent the child from learning to use the potty since he cannot sense he is wet.
Popular Types of Pockets: Happy Heiny's, bumGenius! One-Size, Fuzzi Bunz

Diapers and Covers
Cloth diapers paired with a cover are a very popular and economical choice. Covers come in a wide range of materials - fleece, wool, PUL. The various materials used for the inner soaker has also expanded from the old birdseye flats to include fabrics such as hemp, bamboo, flannel, cotton, organic fabrics and more.
  • Pros: A huge pull of diapers and covers is that they can be the least expensive option, particularly prefolds and covers. Covers can be reused all day unless they become soiled, further cutting the cost. Laundering is fairly simple, with quick drying times and less issue with detergent build up. There is greater versatility with diapers and covers as parents can adjust the materials used to increase absorbency and breathability. On uneventful days, babies can forgo a cover over fitted diapers to increase air circulation to the bum. Pins are no longer a necessity as diapers can be fastened with an elastic-like Snappi or worn under a snug-fitting cover with no fastener.
  • Cons: These diapers tend to be a bit bulkier than the above mention systems and may require the child to wear stretchier knit pants or wear a larger size. As baby grows and has difficulty sitting still for changes, they may be more difficult to use. Because they are slightly more complex, dads and daycares may not prefer this type of diaper.
Popular Types of Diapers and Covers: Kissaluv Fitteds, Prefolds, Bummis Super Whisper Wrap Cover, Prorap Cover

As old-fashioned as cloth diapering may seem, parents can be assured that innovative designers have revamped and modernized cloth. These diapers are extremely efficient, economical, environmentally-friendly, and beneficial to the child's health. By understanding the wide variety of options, parents may select the diapering system to match their needs.

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