What happened to the Gerber Prefolds and the plastic panty? When I first started researching cloth diapers (and I'm glad I did), I learned that the world of cloth diapering has evolved since the days of our parents and grandparents. I was pleasantly suprised to see that the diapers had pretty colors, velcro, and did not require a class in oragami to try to save money. Nor did it require pins, a strong selling point to my better half. But I was also very, VERY overwhelmed. What in the world were AIO, Pockets, AI2, Sposies (okay, so upon later reflection I realized this one I knew, it was my pregnant overwhelmed brain that really confused me), and a whole host of other 'kinds' of diapers. I thought this was going to be an easy decision. I'd get my cloth diapers and be done with it. Boy was I mistaken.
My best piece of advice, find a good support group, one with experience. That way you can ask your questions and have a place to find information. The internet is loaded with groups of women who not only possess the keys to your diapering success but are very crafty. They can not only tell you where to get the best diaper deal, a coupon, or what is the latest trend in diapering/laundry (yes that is another weird obsession I will discuss on a later date), but they can save you money on making yourself diapers, soakers, and inserts. They'll even sell them to you or help you to make your own!
So what are all these kinds of diapers? Let's try to demistify them.
AIO. This stands for All in One and is exactly what it sounds like. It is the disposable diaper of the cloth diapering world in a sense, though you do spend far to much on these to throw them in the trash once they've been christened. They have an outer waterproof layer also known as PUL and an absorbant inner layer, often boasted that it is made of hemp or bamboo or some other super absorbant material. They close with snaps or velcro (also called Aplix or Hook and Loop, it took me forever to figure this one out, but trust me it's what us commeners call velcro). You put them on your baby's bum, change them like you would any other diaper, but instead of tossing them in the trash you toss them in your laundry pail. And your done, ready to repeat in 5 minutes when your little one decides he or she wants to poop because they just weren't finished yet.
Pockets. This works very similarly to an AIO. The only difference is that after you wash them you need to stuff the absorbant layer back into the diaper. That's it. The absorbant layer is either pulled out by you before being tossed into your pail or it claims to fall out in the wash. The benefit of this is that the drying time is reduced because you don't have all these layers stuffed into a PUL where air can't circulate around them.
AI2. All in Two. This is a pocket diaper meets a disposable diaper. You get to choose whether you want to use cloth or a disposable insert in these diapers. Many ladies like to use these so that they can use cloth at home and throwaway when out traveling. Why not buy some Pampers for when your going out of the house? Well then no one but you would get to see the cute bum, and the pretty diaper that you spent all of your tax return on. There are a couple different models of these and all have their pros and cons, as with any diapering system. I will say that this and prefolds and covers is most of my collection. I am in love with both the g-Diaper and the Flip. They fit my little man so well, and I haven't had many leaks at all (One that was so bad it required an outfit change for me and him, and it was on the first day I tried out that particular system).
Prefolds/flats: These are the diaper squares that you are familiar with. The ones that everyone thinks require the dreaded pins. Yes. They do require some folding. And yes, they do require a cover. But I will say this is by far the cheapest way to diaper. And the covers...well...we'll get to those. The difference between the 2 is the amount of folding. With prefolds your work is done, they have the absorbant layer and your only task is to get it adequately over your baby's cute little tush. With a flat you need to do the oragami and get it folded to a point where it can go around said tushie. Sound scary? And what about securing them? Well. Some swear by their pins. I'll be honest, these scare me to death. I tried them a few different times and ended up jabbing myself and having moments where I picked up J and had the diaper fall off (just like the movies). I'm more of a snappi girl. My husband will even change these with a snappi. It works like an ACE wrap. No needles, no fuss. There are a host of folds to chose from as well, and I'll save those as well for another day. We also use this method right now as J is still a newborn. And trust me it is far easier than it looks!
Fitteds: These are prefolds with the folding done. They look like a diaper, AIO or AI2 only without the PUL. Some fit with snaps or velcro already secured some require pins or snappi (diaperer's prefrence).
Covers. These are your plastic panty. Only you are not limited to a plastic panty any more. They are pretty, with colors and patterns and velcro or snaps to make putting on and taking off easier. They are made from a fabric called PUL (the same thing that is in the AIO, fitteds, and AI2). Many times you can take your prefold and place it in the cover and then just cover the bum.
Are you lost yet? That's it. Most all diapers fall into one of these categories. The biggest task is finding the diaper or system that works for you and your family (or the one you can convince your husband to let you use). No matter what system you buy it is an investment. You can buy new or used (though I will say I'm a buy new girl. I wouldn't buy some stranger's used underwear, why would I buy that for my son) and can save a lot of money on the used. You can even sell yours once your little one out grows it or save it for future children, the choice is yours.
Well, J is awake and getting shots today. Time to go put him in a g-Diaper with a cloth insert and get him and myself ready to see the doctor.