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How to... know Cloth Diaper Lingo

When you start researching cloth diapers and how to use them you will come across a mountain of abbreviations, terms and descriptions you may never have heard before.

Sometimes different countries and regions use different terms for the sam

e thing.

This glossary will hopefully grow to add more terms as we come across them.

If you find this useful, please consider buying us a virtual coffee so we can create more cloth diaper resources!


All-in-One - A cloth diaper that is very close in function to a disposable. There is nothing to add to it. Absorbent material and waterproof wrap are all in one diaper.


All-in-Twos. This one consists of 2 parts: the waterproof wrap and the absorbent insert. This is usually snapped in, sometimes it's put in with hook & loop. It usually only fits that brands inserts. But they are not "2 parters".


All-in-Threes. As the name suggests, these consist of 3 parts. An outer cotton jersey holding it all together. This outer is not waterproof. Then a waterproof pouch that snaps into the shell. And an absorbent insert that lays in the pouch.


or Outer or Wrap or Cover. A waterproof material that covers absorbent diapers, such as prefolds, muslins and other flat diapers or fitted diapers. Shell sometimes also means a pocket diaper (for example use this term on their website) but without the insert. How can you tell what is meant? Well only by looking at the inside of the Shell - Pocket diapers have another fabric on the inside - usually stay dry fleece or AWJ - and a pocket opening where you can insert absorbent fabric.

Pocket Diaper

Pocket Diapers are made up of a waterproof Outer and another inner layer. The inner layer varies and is most commonly microfleece, AWJ or suede cloth to provide a stay dry layer. They always have some sort of opening to put your absorbent fabric in between the Outer and the inner layer (the "pocket"), some have 2 openings. Some have it in the middle some at the front or the end. Some come with inserts, some don't and you can use any absorbent material that fits inside the pocket.

One Size

or One-Size-Fits-All or One-Size-Fits-Most or Birth to Potty. This refers to the size of the diaper. Most one size diapers have a system to make them smaller or larger to fit your baby - either through rise snaps or adjustable elastics or other novel ways.

In general a One Size diaper is unlikely to fit a new born, especially if they are on the smaller side. Each brand is different in fit so it's best to be guided by their weight range when choosing. You can also find sized diapers.


see "One Size"

Sized Diapers

Sized Diapers are similar to disposables in the sense that as your baby grows you simply buy a bigger size version. Sizing descriptions and weight ranges vary by brand. Some brands size from XXS to XL, others from size 0 to size 4, some use newborn, small, medium, large, toddler. It's generally best to be guided by the weight ranges.


This can refer to a variety of things, but generally is an absorbent piece of fabric. Most often used in connection with pocket diapers as inserts make up the absorbent part of that type of diaper. But you can also use inserts to boost (increase) absorbency in other diapers such as fitted diapers, flat diapers.


In a strict sense a booster is a piece of fabric that will increase absorbency on top of what is already available in the diaper you are using. In practical terms it's just another absorbent piece of fabric. You can use it as the sole absorbent piece of your diaper if it works.

Fitted Diaper

A fitted diaper is made out of absorbent material - usually cotton, bamboo or hemp. they can be lined with a stay dry material and some have pretty prints on the outside, too. It usually has elastics at the legs and back and some also have elastics at the front. A fitted diaper normally requires a cover. Some fitted diapers have a sewn in waterproof or water-resistant layer but if you are unsure, use a cover or ask the maker if you can.


A 2-part or Two Part diaper system can be a few things. But it always consists of an absorbent part (Prefold, Flat diaper, Fitted diaper) and a waterproof cover (can be PUL or wool). It's technically not the same as an All-in-2 because with AI2s you normally have to use the branded inserts with the cover and you cannot fit the insert around the baby by itself (like you can with a fitted diaper or flat diaper). This term is mostly used in the UK, Australia and NZ and other commonwealth countries. It's not used too much in North America.


Diaper fastener made of plastic and silicone in the shape of a T with small teeth that grip onto the fabric. It's considered a safer way than pins to fasten diapers such as fitted diapers and flat diapers onto your baby.


Diaper fastener made out of silicone and plastic with small teeth that grip onto fabric - similar to what you use to fasten bandages.


Liner has different meanings for different people. In general a liner is a layer closest to your baby's skin. If they are made of microfleece, microsuede or suedecloth or AWJ then they have a stay dry effect, these are reusable and washable. There are also liners made of silk or wool. Some liners are disposable and are there to "catch" the poo so you can easily dispose of it in the toilet. Some retailers however use liner to mean an insert. You can usually tell because they are made of absorbent material such as cotton, bamboo or hemp.


Athletic Wicking Jersey is a type of stay dry layer similar to sports jerseys. It lets liquid through to the absorbent part of the diaper but does not let it back through to the skin, keeping it dry.

Cloth Wipes

reusable and washable alternative to disposable baby wipes.

Flat Diapers

or Flats. A square piece of absorbent fabric that can be folded in a variety of ways to fit around your baby or simply folded into a rectangle and used as an insert.

Some can be made of stretchy material = stretchy flats. Some are made out of towelling material = Terry towels but these tend to be less common in North America.

You will also see the terms e-flat, preflat, half flat, tailfin flat, contour flat and similar. They are all made out of absorbent materials but have different shapes to make them easier to use or more versatile.


A type of flat diaper that is pre-folded and then sewn together. This gives more layers in the centre column of the rectangle and less on the 2 side columns. Can be folded around baby in a variety of ways or folded into a rectangle and used as an insert.


A type of flat diaper. Muslin describes the fabric type - it's thin and woven and after washing and drying will get a wavy or bubbly appearance.


Absorbent fabric made out of plastic fibres. Microfibre absorbs quickly but can also "give back" any liquid easily by being compressed. Microfibre should not touch the skin as it can cause drying of the skin and rashes.


Absorbent fabric made out of natural cotton fibres. Cotton absorbs relatively quickly and retains liquid well and does not give it back as easily as microfibre when compressed. Cotton can go against skin but will feel wet.


Absorbent fabric made out of bamboo plants. Bamboo absorbs slightly slower than cotton but can hold more liquid. Retains liquid well and does not give it back as easily as microfibre when compressed. Bamboo can go against skin but will feel wet.


Absorbent fabric made out of hemp plants. Hemp is fairly rough to the touch so is usually blended with cotton to make it softer. Hemp absorbs slowly but can hold more liquid than cotton or bamboo. Retains liquid well and does not give it back as easily as microfibre when compressed. Hemp can go against skin but will feel wet and may feel rough, depending on the type you are using.


Polyurethane Laminate. Normally a knit fabric made from plastic fibres that is bonded with a plastic waterproof but breathable film. Some PUL is chemically bonded, but most PUL nowadays is bonded by heat. There are some brands in the EU that use PUL made from recycled plastic bottles.


A bag that has a PUL waterproof layer inside or is made of PUL entirely. Usually used to store wet or dirty diapers before you wash them. Also useful for swimming gear to keep the wet stuff from the dry stuff.

Diaper Pin

Safety Pin used to fasten flat diapers or fitted diapers. Some diaper pins are curved to make it easier to use them. Some also have a lockable head which helps keep them secure.

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