Cloth Diapering 201: Getting Down to the Details

Cloth Diapers: Getting Down to the Details
Last time, I talked about types of cloth diapers. This time we’ll talk about even more choices to make – sizing, closure type and materials.


Each manufacturer’s sizing is different and weight and age ranges are just a guideline. It’s best to compare rise and thigh measurements to make sure you will get a good fit.
Diapers are either sized (Newborn, Small, Medium, Large and sometimes Extra-Large or Toddler) or “one size.” The term “one size” can be confusing to a diaper noob since it’s really a multi size diaper. Fitteds are usually “one size” via a fold down rise with an extra set of snaps, it’s basically two sizes. More common on pocket diapers is a snap down rise. Sizing is usually small, medium and large, though some have a medium short or extra small as an extra size.
Inserts for one size pocket diapers can sometimes be adjusted by snaps, or they would need to be folded to fit. Pocket diapers usually come with a smaller insert referred to as a doubler or newborn insert. It can be used on the small setting for a new baby, or can be used to boost absorbency on larger settings.

Be cautious and read specs and reviews since the size and age ranges of all diapers vary greatly based on your child’s size and build. Most one size diapers claim to fit anywhere from 6 to 8 pounds all the way up to 30-40 pounds. I didn’t start cloth diapering until over 4 months and my son is a small at 12ish months now, so I can’t speak too much on the sizing, however, I’ve heard many people say that most one-size diapers don’t fit well until the baby is close to 10 pounds and didn’t always last through potty training.

Cloth Diapers snaps

Velcro or Snaps?

I tend to refer to all hook and loop closure diapers as “Velcro” but there are several brands/types including touch tape and aplix. Apparently they are softer than Velcro, but it’s all Velcro to me. I love this type of closure because it is so simple to use, but they tend to form “diaper chains” in the wash and eventually tabs curl and need to be replaced. They’re also pretty easy for babies to figure out how to remove!
Snaps can be easy or annoying. I like snap arrangements like the Smartipants, Rumparooz, Blueberry or Kissaluvs where there are just two snaps on each wing. My husband does OK with those as well, though he prefers Velcro. There are others that have three snaps on each wing, the Fuzzibunz have three in a wacky triangular pattern. I end up snapping, unsnapping, re-snapping and it really annoys me.

Another option is a closureless diaper. With these you would need to pin them or use a Snappi.


For a waterproof diaper the outer will be PUL or Fleece. Here and there I have heard of people whose babies were sensitive to PUL. Outers of diapers that aren’t waterproof can vary from wovens, flannel, cotton and much more. Look into the fabric type and the maker’s pre-washing/shrinking to learn how it might wear.
Inners can be microfleece or microsuede, both of which are very soft and wick moisture away from baby’s skin. They can also be Rayon from Organic Bamboo Fleece (OBF), Rayon from Organic Bamboo Velour (OBV), cotton, organic cotton and blends.

Soakers can be made from cotton, OBF, OBV, microfiber, hemp, zorb and more. Microfiber, and zorb should be within the soaker and not touching the baby’s skin.

My favorite is probably hemp. It’s super absorbent, but also naturally anti-microbial and doesn’t have the stink issues of microfiber. Hemp and microfiber together in an insert (ala a Superdo or Loopy Do from Knickernappies) combined with a stay dry diaper inner can keep a baby dry for quite a while!
Next, read Getting Started – some common questions like how many diapers you need, what to do at night and what to do when you leave the house!


  1. 1

    I actually have 2 questions for you (and the rest of the village):

    1. What is your take on bamboo (maybe as opposed to hemp)? I have heard that anything made of rayon has the same properties as bamboo-based rayon. I'm curious to know if you have found that bamboo absorbs the same way as hemp…or whether it has any stink issues.

    2. I'm new to cloth diapering. I'm pre-new, even, as my babe is still in-utero! I know about synthetic fibers providing a "moisture-wicking" ability so that babies are not sitting in their wetness. But I've also heard about "wicking" in a negative light, too. How can that be a negative thing? Can someone explain to this newbie?

    Thank you so much!

  2. 2

    I will get the resident diaper expert who wrote this to answer you back shortly!

  3. 3

    Bamboo is one of those things that has been “greenwashed” a bit by some companies. There was a big stink a while ago because companies weren’t disclosing that their “bamboo” was from rayon.

    I, personally, do not are for bamboo as an inner because my son’s skin stays quite wet. It is very soft, though it needs a tumble through the dryer to not be stiff.

    As an insert, I find it to be incredibly absorbent. I have not had any stink issues.

    You want an inner to wick moisture away from baby’s skin, into the insert. Wicking is bad when it wicks moisture from the inner into the outer of the diaper. Wicking most often occurs with a cotton outer.

    I hope that clears things up a little bit! :-)


  1. […] “shorties” or “skirties” (soaker with a skirt attached) as a cover. Next, read “Getting Down to the Details” to learn about sizing, closures, materials and […]

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