Anatomy of a Modern Cloth Diaper

Posted on Posted in Cloth Diapers, Rants & Raves

Modern cloth diapers can seem quite daunting for new parents, heck even for veterans who have never used cloth diapers before. (that was me!!) Once you understand how a cloth diaper works it really isn’t that scary.

There are many styles of cloth diapers like pocket, fitted and flats. Each have different qualities that make them great options, the focus of this post will be on the most popular with new parents… the waterproof kind!!

So let’s break it down!



PUL (Polyurethane Laminate)

Modern cloth diapers have 3 basic layers, an outer waterproof shell, an absorbent layer (or two or,three!!) and a stay dry layer to keep baby’s tushie dry!! The outermost layer is usually made of Polyurethane Laminate. Polyurethane Laminate or PUL for short, is a knit fabric, usually soft or smooth to the touch on one side and shiny and plasticy on the other (the waterproof side). PUL or your cloth diaper can come in many different prints and solid colours for both boys and girls so you are not limited to the plain old white diaper that grandma used to use!!!


Absorbent Layer (Insert/Soaker)

Layer #2 is the absorbent layer. In most styles of modern cloth diapers this layer is inserted, sewn in or snapped in and is usually made of natural  fibers like cotton, bamboo or hemp, this layer is called an insert or soaker.

Some DIY’ers will suggest up cycling old flannel blankets, old towels or using microfibre cleaning cloths as inserts, all of which work but would vary on absorbency. I found that if you are going to make your inserts, using Flour Sack Towels is the best choice. You can check out the tutorial here.

Stay Dry Layer

Layer #3 is the stay dry layer, it would be against baby’s skin. Most store bought cloth diapers will have some type of minky velour or micro fleece layer, all of which will wick “moisture” away from baby’s bottom. I myself prefer to use athletic wicking jersey when making EOAM cloth diapers. It is lightweight and makes for a much shorter drying time.



There are 3 ways to keep baby’s tushie covered. The easiest method is velcro, also known as aplix in the cloth diapering world. Alot of new to cloth parents like this method because it is most like disposable diapers. However, we all know what happens to velcro after multiple washes. Lint, hair and a loss in stickiness!


Enter the snap. Snaps are my favourite method because they don’t lose their ability to seal like velcro and they add to the cuteness of modern cloth! Snaps may make it a little more tricky when getting the right fit for your baby but with a little practice and a hack or two, fitting  your cloth to baby is easy.

anatomyrisedrawingOne size cloth diapers come with waist adjustment snaps (or velcro at the waist) and rise snaps. The rise snaps help to make the crotch of the diaper fit your baby as she grows from birth to potty training age (about 3 years old).

So now that you have the rundown on modern cloth diapers, here is the tip before you buy… 

There are many styles of cloth diapers out there. Take the time to try different styles so you find the right ones for you and your little one! 


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