If you are new to cloth diapering, you may be a little confused by all the terminology and abbreviations. There are many styles and types of diaper, meaning there are many ways to misinterpret the kind that you order. This diaper definition guide will help you comprehend many of the diaper meanings and acronyms used daily. Here are some common terms that you may see on our site, in product reviews, or around the web.
AI2: AI2 Diapers are also known as “All in Twos”. An AI2 diaper has a set of snaps that attach the absorbent layer (like an insert) to the inside of the diaper. When changing an AI2 diaper you can either replace the insert with a clean insert; reusing the same shell; or replace the entire diaper if needed. AI2 diapers can help stretch your diaper dollars. Examples of AI2 diapers include the our favorites from GroVia!
AIO: All-in-Ones. An AIO diaper consists of only one piece. The absorbent material (insert) is attached to the outer shell. AIOs are the only diapers that don’t require “stuffing” and are super easy to use. Some AIO diapers take slightly longer to dry. These diapers are considered the easiest style to use and are very popular for dads, day care, and anyone hesitant to try a cloth diaper, meaning more happy babies! There are many AIO diapers including the GroVia ONE and GroVia AIO, Smart Bottoms Organic AIO, as well as the Bum Genius Elemental and Freetime.
AP: An abbreviation for Attachment Parenting, a common term in the CD community.
Aplix: Usually referring to the type of closure on the diaper. Aplix is commonly known as Velcro or Hook & Loop type of closure. Easy to attach; just like a disposable diaper. Each brand may vary in the strength and type of aplix that is used. GroVia offers a H&L Snap Shell for example.
BF: An abbreviation for breastfeeding. Also seen: bfing
CD: An abbreviation for cloth diapers. Many moms refer to themselves as CDing moms.
Cloth Wipes: Cloth wipes are reusable and washable fabric squares (or rectangles) used to clean up a soiled baby bottom. Cloth wipes are usually made of micro-terry, velour, hemp, bamboo, or flannel cloth. You can pre-moisten the wipes (using a wipes warmer or similar container) or wet them at the time of use to wipe baby. Wipes can be washed along with the rest of your cloth diaper laundry. Wipes can be moistened with water or other wipes solution.
Contoured: Similar to a pre-fold or flat, except they are contoured to fit baby (usually with an elastic leg casing). Most contoured diapers require a cover.
Diaper Cover: When using a pre-fold, flat, or fitted diaper you may want to use a diaper cover to keep wetness contained. Covers are usually made of plastic, vinyl, waterproof polyester material, fleece or wool. Diaper covers are budget friendly and work great for many families. Diaper covers may be one-sized or sized.
Diaper Sprayer: A diaper sprayer is used to rinse a dirty diaper over a toilet and attaches to most toilets in just a few easy steps. Diaper sprayers work similar to kitchen sink hose attachments. Using a diaper sprayer will prevent you from getting poop in your washing machine. Simply flush away the poop after spraying. We currently promote and sell the Spray Pal Diaper Sprayer!
Doubler: A doubler is similar to an insert that can be added to “double” the absorbency of your diapers. A doubler may be used with any type or style of diaper for added absorbency. Doublers can be helpful for nights, naps, and heavy wetters.
EBF: A common abbreviation to refer to a baby that is exclusively breastfed. EBF poop does not need to be rinsed prior to washing because it is water soluble and will rinse clean in the laundry.
Fitted: A fabric diaper with no waterproof layer is referred to as a fitted diaper. Fitted diapers are usually cotton (or other natural fiber like hemp or bamboo) that goes on your baby with snaps or safety pins (depending on the brand). A fitted diaper requires a diaper cover to contain wetness and is great for nights, naps, or heavy wetters. Unlike other cloth diapers a fitted diaper is absorbent all over the diaper and not just in the “wet zone.” Some brands of fitted diapers may have stay-dry liners to keep your baby feeling drier.
Flat: A flat diaper refers to a large flat piece (usually a single layer) of fabric (usually cotton, hemp, or other natural fiber) that can be folded and used as an insert in a cloth diaper. Flats are similar to pre-folds but without the thicker middle layer and often referred to as “your Grandma’s diapers” because they are similar to what the old-fashioned cloth diapers looked like. Flats are very budget friendly and great for traveling or camping because of their ability to easily hand wash. Flats can be used in emergency situations (natural disasters) if you run out of clean diapers. You can buy flats pre-sewn in packages or you can create them from found fabrics such as towels, receiving blankets, or t-shirts. A diaper cover is required to contain wetness and a diaper pin or snappi may be needed to attach the flat around your baby.
Fleece: One of the most common fabrics used on the inside of cloth diapers. Fleece allows wetness to pass through while still feeling dry to the touch. This helps to keep your baby’s bottom dry. You can also purchase small sheets of fleece to lay between your baby and a natural fiber (like cotton or hemp) to keep them feeling dry in pre-folds, flats, or fitteds.
Fluff, Fluffy Mail, and other Fluffy terms: Referring to cloth diapers. Example: I am addicted to fluff! (Fluff-a-holic) My fluffy mail is on the way.
Hook & Loop: Hook and loop is a type of closure also referred to as Velcro™ (brand name) or aplix. Hook & loop closure is the most similar to how a disposable diaper goes on and is easy to use. It is often considered to be daddy-friendly or day care friendly.
Hybrid: A diapering system that can be used like a cloth diaper or as a disposable diaper. A hybrid diaper consists of a waterproof shell or cover that can be reused and washed with either a cloth insert or disposable insert. Popular hybrid diapers include the Flip or GroVia
Insert: Inserts are the absorbent part of the cloth diaper. They are usually rectangular-shaped and fit inside a pocket diaper, cover, or shell. The most popular material is a microfiber/microterry material (a synthetic). Inserts may also be hemp, bamboo, organic cotton, or minky. Microfiber/microterry should not be placed directly next to your baby’s skin (instead it may be placed inside a pocket).
Lanolin/Lanolized: Wool covers (longies and shorties) need to be lanolized to waterproof them for use as diaper covers. A natural wax-line material comes from sheep once wool is harvested (animals are not harmed in the extraction of lanolin). Lanolin can also be used by nursing mothers for cracked, dry, and rough nipples.
Minkee/Minky: A popular synthetic material in the cloth diapering community that is super soft. Minkee can refer to the super soft (almost stuffed animal like) feel of the outside of diapers (itti bitti is the most popular brand of minkee diapers) and to the newer technology that is used to create inserts (similar to a microfiber only softer) like the most recent FuzziBunz and Tots Bots inserts.
One-Size: Used to refer to a diaper that fits most babies from birth through potty training. This is an adjustable diaper, meaning they’ll accommodate shapes and sizes of babies from 7lbs to 40lbs and more. To adjust most one-size diapers use snaps or elastic and can easily adjust to fit your growing baby at any size.
Pail Liner or Diaper Pail:A diaper pail is used to store dirty diapers between washings. These reusable bags are waterproof and can be used alone or placed inside a small trashcan. The diaper pail or liner can be washed along with your dirty diapers. Some diaper pails hang on hooks or door knobs for a more fashionable look. See also wet bag.
Pocket: A Pocket-style diaper has a pocket opening between the outer shell layer and the inner layer that touches baby’s skin. You can place the absorbent material (insert) inside this pocket opening. According to our 2nd Annual Cloth Diaper Pulse Survey results, pocket diapers are the #1 choice style for cloth diapering families. We LOVE AppleCheeks Cloth diapers in this style!
Pre-fold: Pre-fold diapers are rectangular pieces of cloth that have a thicker middle layer. Also referred to as “your Grandma’s diapers” because they are the type of diapers most commonly used before the invention of the modern cloth diaper. Pre-folds are another budget friendly diaper and require a diaper cover or plastic pant (yes, they still make those too) to keep wetness contained. Pre-folds may be tri-folded and used like an insert or may be folded and pinned (or Snappied) to secure onto your baby. Most pre-folds are made of natural fibers like cotton, organic cotton, hemp, or bamboo. The newest pre-fold by Oso Cozy has a layer of stay dry material sewn on top of the standard pre-fold to keep your baby drier.
PUL: PUL stands for polyurethane laminate. PUL is the waterproof material used to make outer shells of many popular brands of diapers and diaper covers. PUL requires a chemical bond to attach to the back of fabrics. It can feel shiny or sticky. See also TPU.
Raw Silk Liners: Silk is the only 100% natural wicking material able to help keep babies bottoms drier. Silk has anti-bacterial properties that may keep yeast and diaper rash away. Silk is very thin and won’t add any bulk to the diaper, meaning a more comfortable baby! May be used with any brand or style of diapers; especially effective when used with natural fibers.
Sized or Perfect-Size: Sized diapers come in sizes (vs. one-sizes, which are adjustable). Sized diapers have the ability to fit babies slightly better but will need to be replaced with larger sizes as your baby grows. Sizes typically include XS, S, M, L and XL.
Snappi: Snappis are a brand name diaper fastener that can easily fasten a pre-fold or flat diaper without the use of pins.
Soaker: The term soaker is used to describe the middle, absorbent layer of a diaper. This layer is often made of a different material than the rest of the diaper.
Stash: Referring to one’s collection of cloth diapers. Examples: I have 30 diapers in my stash. My stash is primarily made up of pocket diapers. I have stash-envy of Susie who has over 100 CDs!
Stripping: No, stripping isn’t what you might think at first!! In cloth diapering, stripping is a way to remove built-up residue from cloth diapers. Individuals who strip their diapers should check with their manufacturer for details on how to properly “strip” their cloth diapers. (As a cloth mama, I feel this is an extreme LAST LAST LAST option)
TPU: TPU stands for thermoplastic polyurethane. TPU is the waterproof material used to make outer shells of both GroVia and Rumparooz diapers waterproof. TPU requires a heat bond (instead of a chemical bond like PUL) and is claimed to be biodegradable. It feels softer and less plasticky as compared to PUL. Caution should be used when washing TPU; it is recommended to wash/dry on med/low heat instead of hot.
Wet Bag: A wet bag is a small reusable bag used for storing soiled diapers. Wet bags can be used at home or when on-the-go and come in small to large sizes. Wet bags are waterproof and are sealed with either a zipper or drawstring closure to keep the messy stuff inside. You can wash wet bags with your diapers when you get home.
Wicking: You have probably heard this term used and scratched your head in confusion. Wicking simply means the transfer of moisture from one surface to another. I’m going to refer to the easiest explanation I’ve found on the internet to help you understand wicking (the good and the bad) as it relates to cloth diapers. Thank you Autumn Beck (AllAboutClothDiapers.com) for your explanation.
Wicking is the transfer of moisture from one place to another. It is good when moisture is wicked away from baby’s skin through a stay-dry fabric like microfleece, suede cloth, microchamois or athletic wicking material.
Wicking is a bad thing when moisture finds a weak spot or exposed area to leak out of. For example, if your pocket insert isn’t fully tucked in the diaper the wet insert will wick (transfer) to clothing or the outer fabric of the diaper. Or if the inner fabric around baby’s legs isn’t rolled in moisture will wick to clothing, sheets, furniture…
Another very common instance of wicking occurs during oversaturation of the soaker material. This crosses over into more of a leaking issue, but the same concept occurs.
At this point the moisture can transfer freely to the stitching and then outer fabric. All of this is easily visualized when considering how the capillaries in our body work or if you have ever performed carnation and dye experiment.
How do you prevent wicking? Make sure everything is tucked in nice and neat to the waterproof cover and change baby often.
Wool: Wool is often referred to as bulletproof in the cloth diapering community. Wool is used to make diaper covers, longies (long pants), and shorties (short pants or skirts) to go over pre-folds, flats, or fitted diapers. Wool is a natural fiber that is extremely breathable and is commonly used for nights, naps, and for heavy wetters. Wool coverscan be hand knit or purchased. Some popular wool brand you may recognize would be Sustainablebabyish or Sloomb. Wool needs to be lanolized in order for it to have that superior waterproof characteristic and extreme care should be followed (check with the manufacturer) when washing to prevent shrinking your wool.
You've officially learned a new language <3