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Cloth Diaper Dictionary

Diapers and accessories

All-in-ones (AIO) are one piece diapers that have an outer waterproof layer and inner absorbent material. No additional covers or inserts are needed.
All-in-twos (AI2) are similar to a AIO’s except the inner absorbent material will separate from the waterproof outer. This is especially helpful during laundry time as it will dry much faster than an AIO. The shell is typically (though not always) reusable – it is often possible to use a new insert in the same shell several times before washing.
Diaper Covers come in many forms. Breathability in this section refers to the ability of the fabric to allow air to get to baby’s bottom (it’s a good thing).
  • PUL covers typically have a contoured shape and can fasten with snaps or aplix (velcro). Some PUL covers are pull-on style (like underwear). PUL is not particularly breathable, though it is better than vinyl. It is also a very trim option.
  • Vinyl covers are generally pull-on style and are the least expensive option. The major drawback would be its lack of breathability.
  • Fleece covers can be contoured like many PUL covers, but typically comes in a pull-on style. It does breathe really well, but it is also prone to compression leaks. It is also one of the bulkiest cover options.
  • Wool covers is a fabric made of fleece of sheep or lamb. Its water repelling properties and breathability are what make it popular for use as a diaper cover. While knit wool can be bulky, wool fabric (typically jersey or interlock) can make a cover that is not much thicker than a PUL cover. It is the most breathable of all the cover choices, and is the only natural material that can be used as a cover. Knit wool is an excellent choice for nighttime diapering. On the negative side, it does require special laundering (not in the washer!!). Wool covers come in many forms -
  • wrap style fastens with snaps or aplix and is typically made from wool fabric
  • pull-on style can be either knit or made from wool fabric (typically called as soaker)
  • longies/shorties/skirties can be either knit or made from wool fabric. This style of cover does double duty and also takes the place of pants, shorts, or a skirt.
Doublers are thick rectangular pads that can be inserted between your baby’s bottom and the diaper to provide extra absorbency. These are great for heavy wetters or for night-time use.
Fitted Diapers have a contoured shape and have gathered edges (elastic) around the legs and are fastened with either aplix or snaps. Fitteds are more expensive than pre-folds or flats ranging from $12 to $25+ each, however they are much easier to use. If you purchase those with velcro closures, look for wide velcro strips and laundry tabs. A waterproof diaper cover is necessary when using fitted.
Flat Diapers refer to the large, single-ply, square shaped diapers that resemble the diapers our mothers and grandmothers used. The types that you find in a mainstream store typically are not effective for use as cloth diapers but they make great liners, burp rags or cleaning rags. Flat diapers are still a favorite of many cloth diapering moms for its ease in laundering (even hand washing!).
Liners are a thin material used between a baby’s bottom and the diaper itself. Most liners are used to keep stool away from diapers for easy clean up or to protect your diapers while you use a non-CD safe diaper rash cream. Many cloth diaper businesses carry flushable biodegradable liners which are the perect fit for this purchase. As an alternative you can use cloth wipes to keep costs down and still keep natural soft fabrics against your baby’s skin.
  • Fleece liners are thicker than their paper counterparts and are great for keeping the baby’s bottom dry. Fleece has the ability to allow the urine to pass through and not penetrate back through.
Pre-folds diapers are rectangular shaped diapers that are divided lengthwise in 3 sections. It is essentially a flat diaper that has been folded and sewn so the center strip is thicker than the sides. The outer sections usually have a thickness of 4 layers while the middle section can have 6 or 8 layers. This gives pre-folds absorbency where it is needed most, in the middle. You will often see prefolds defined as 4-6-4, 4-8-4 or more rarely 2-4-2. These numbers refer to the layers of cloth in each section from left to right. Pre-folds can be one of the cheapest alternative in diapers. They can be enclosed in a velcro or snap fastened cover or they can be pinned with safety pins, a snappi, or boingo clips and then covered.
Pocket Diapers are two piece diapering system with a layer of fleece (or suedecloth) that makes up the inner portion of fabric and a waterproof layer (PUL) that makes up the outermost portion. An absorbent material (called an insert) is placed inside of the two pieces making the whole system act as an all in one system that keeps babies dry. The insert typically agitates out in the wash making it an easy to clean diapering choice. Unlike an AI2 shell, a pocket diaper can only be used once before it needs washing.
One Size Diapers have added snaps to provide a flexible fit typically from newborn through toddlerhood. The snaps are located just below the fasteners with tops and bottoms lined up vertically. This allows you to adjust the size of a diaper as the baby grows. This feature allows you to purchase fewer sizes than the regular sized diapers. While the regulars may come in 4 different sizes, One Size come in one or two sizes.


Cotton is
Hemp is a fiber made from the inner bark of the hemp plant. It it is durable, absorbent, and has natural anti-microbial properties. It has been the root of stinky diapers for some mamas.
Sherpa is knit terry fabric, just like a baby towel, that has been brushed and washed to raise the fibers and give a fluffy super soft feel. Many loops of the terry remain, and absorbency is not compromised. Generally the Sherpa Terry that is used in diapers has a high cotton content, and a small polyester content. Sherpa terry that is 75% cotton and 25% polyester, to 80% cotton and 20% polyester is most commonly used in diapers. The cotton content is found in the loops of the fabric, while the polyester content is found in the backing and lends durability to the finished product. Sherpa is absorbent but is also fairly bulky and is used less frequently in cloth diapers than in the past.

Other Cloth Diapering Terms

Aplix or hook and loop – another term for generic Velcro
compression leaks can happen when the absorbent material of the diaper is fully saturated and will soak through the diaper cover while baby is sitting in a carseat or other seat.
Soakers can refer to two different things. The soaker is the absorbent, middle layer of the diaper. Often this layer is made of a different fabric than the rest of the diaper, one that is more absorbent. Soaker is also use in reference to wool or fleece pull on style diaper covers.

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