Intro to Cloth Diapers: Terms and Materials Guide

Size Options:

One Size: This diaper is a “one size fits most” and should fit babies between-8-13 pounds up to 30-40 pounds.

Sized: This diaper only comes in sizes (XS, Sm, Med, Large, or XL in most cases).

Dual Size: This diaper has 2 versions, usually referred to as Size 1 and Size 2.  It either comes just as these sizes or has adjustments within those ranges on the diaper.

Newborn: This diaper is a newborn size which should fit babies at birth.  Most newborn diapers begin fitting between 4-6 pounds and go up to 9-16 pounds depending on the brand.

Sizing Details:

3-Step Rise: This one size diaper uses a snap down rise system with 3 size settings.

4-Step Rise: This one size diaper uses a snap down rise system with 4 size settings.

Sized: This diaper only comes in sizes (XS, Sm, Med, Large, or XL in most cases).

One Size Elastic Adjustable Button Elastic: This diaper is sized using button hole elastic in the legs (and sometimes also in the waist).  Video tutorial

free size elastic with toggleFree Size Elastic: This diaper is sized using elastic in the waist that is tightened or loosened with a toggle and held in place.  Video Tutorial

Free Size: This diaper has no sizing system but fits babies of multiple sizes.

Internal Snap Down Rise Adjustment: This diaper uses a snap down rise system located on the inside of the diaper to adjust the rise.

fold over riseFold Over Rise: This diaper is sized by folding the front of the diaper over then securing the closure (snaps or Velcro) to control the rise.  Sometimes this system is in conjunction with rise snaps.

Dual Size: This diaper has 2 versions, usually referred to as Size 1 and Size 2.  It either comes just as these sizes or has adjustments within those ranges on the diaper.

Diaper Type:

All-in-One: This diaper is one piece and most like a disposable.

All-in-Two: This diaper is a 2 part system that usually has a waterproof shell and an absorbent soaker or disposable insert.  The shell can be reused multiple times, the dirty soaker can be replaced with a fresh one.

All-in-Three: Diapers in this category can usually be used in many ways, as an All-in-Two or as a pocket or cover.

Pocket: This diaper is usually a waterproof shell with a lining into which an absorbent insert can be stuffed.

Cover: This diaper is just the waterproof shell that has to be used over a non-waterproof diaper.

Fitted: This diaper is not waterproof.  It needs to be used with a cover.

Prefold: This is a rectangular piece of absorbent material (usually cotton, but can be hemp/bamboo/or others) with more layers in the middle.

Flat: This is a rectangular or square piece of material that can be folded in many ways to fit around a baby or laid in a diaper cover.  It is usually only 1 layer (most common material is birdseye cotton) so it dries quickly.

Sleeve: This diaper functions like a pocket and an All-in-One.  It has an opening on the front and back.  The insert will agitate out in the wash but needs to be re-stuffed when clean.

Tongue-Style All-in-One: This diaper has an insert that is only attached at one end.  It will still need to be stuffed after washing but the insert stays attached.  You do not need to un-stuff before washing.

Snap-in-One: This diaper is often referred to as an All-in-One, however the soaker snaps into place.  You can usually leave it snapped in to wash.  Also usually has options for more inserts.  Faster drying than true sewn in AIO’s.

Hybrid: this diaper has a re-usable shell but can be used with disposable inserts.

Insert Material:

Microfiber: A material made from polyester, commonly used for cleaning, that is ultra absorbent (can hold 8 times its weight) and inexpensive.  It is also relatively trim and dries quickly.  This is the most common insert material for cloth diapers.

Cotton: Diapers with cotton inserts or soakers are not as absorbent as certain other materials, but have the boasting rights to being a natural fiber that is less likely to have build-up or stink issues.

Bamboo:  As a material, bamboo has to go through processing that essentially makes it the same as Rayon, so it is usually referred to as Rayon from Bamboo Fibers.  Bamboo is a fast growing crop and very absorbent.

Hemp: This material is ultra trim and very absorbent, making it perfect for the heavy wetter or for overnight diapers.  It is often blended with cotton to make a hemp jersey that is softer than plain hemp inserts or soakers.  Since hemp cannot be grown in the US all hemp is imported.

Micro-Terry- Another name for Microfiber.

 

Lining Material:

Microfleece- This material is synthetic and made from polyester.  It wicks moisture away from the baby’s skin.  After many washes it often pills up (like a sweater.)  It has a tendency to attract build-up.

Suedecloth- This material is synthetic and made from polyester.  It wicks moisture away from the baby’s skin.  It remains smooth after many washes. It has a tendency to attract build-up.

Bamboo Fleece: Fleece derived from bamboo.  It does not stay as dry as a synthetic fleece.

Bamboo Terry- looped terry derived from bamboo fibers.

Bamboo Velour- Velour (tiny fur like hairs that feel soft and buttery) derived from bamboo fibers.

Cotton Velour- Velour (tiny fur like hairs that feel soft and buttery) derived from cotton.

Hemp/Cotton- A Hemp/Cotton blend.  It doesn’t wash up as soft as others on this list but is natural and has anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties.

Outer Materials:

PUL- Ooga Booga PrintPUL- Polyurethane Laminate has one layer of polyester (facing the outside of the diaper) with a laminate on the inside which makes it waterproof.  This laminate is shiny when exposed, like in many diaper covers.  More information on PUL.

TPU-RumparoozTPU- Thermoplastic Polyurethane.  TPU is manufactured in a way that makes it more environmentally friendly than PUL as well as making it biodegrade faster than PUL.

Fleece: Usually derived from polyester, sometimes made from recycled plastic bottles, this material is waterproof in most conditions.  It is breathable and inexpensive.

Wool interlockWool:  This material is used for covers and soakers and can be handknit from wool yarns, factory knit, or made into an interlock (tightly woven) material and sewn into covers.  Wool is waterproof, breathable, and able to be used many times before washing because it is “self cleaning.”  It will need to be lanolized (what is that?) to maintain waterproofness.

Minkee- Minkee (or minky) is a super soft fabric made from polyester (microfiber) than is often places over TPU or PUL but not always.  It often comes in vivid colors and prints.

PUL with Cotton Knit: Sometimes diapers are made with PUL but covered in decorative cotton knit fabric.  This makes for a very colorful and decorative diaper but depending on the quality of the sewing, it can lead to wicking (moisture moving from the inside of the diaper to the outside cotton material.)

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  • This is awesome. I have figured out much of this but I LOVE that you have it all collected in one spot. Have you considered giving examples of diapers that use the different types of fabrics. For example, does BG use suedecloth and Kawaii microfleece? Thanks.

  • Thank you so much for this! I was at a loss when I first started thinking of using cloth diapers. i could never understand all the differences and it took me months to figure it out. Thank you for spelling it out!

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