Once you have a basic understanding of the various types of cloth diaper systems available, you’ll begin to notice that there are some helpful features that can be found across the different systems. This list of cloth diaper features is loosely ordered starting with the most common and working down to the least common.
Rise snaps are a grid of snaps on the front of a cloth diaper to allow its length to be adjusted as a baby grows – a common feature of “one-size” cloth diapers. For someone unfamiliar with modern cloth diapers, looking at the front of a diaper with adjustable rise snaps can be intimidating due to the number of snaps. However, keep in mind that once you adjust the rise setting to fit your baby, you leave it that way for quite a while – usually at least a few months – until your baby has grown enough in length that you need to let it out by one setting. You don’t have to un-snap the rise when you wash the diapers. Rise snaps are typically laid out in two to three columns and two to four rows.
Leg gussets are crescent-shaped, elasticized pieces added to the legs to provide extra protection from leaks. This feature is particularly appreciated by parents of babies who are not yet eating solid foods and may be prone to the occasional explosive diaper event.
A tummy panel is a narrow piece of waterproof material – PUL or TPU – on the top inside panel of a pocket or all-in-one diaper. This strip of waterproof material may help prevent leaks at the tummy, particularly for tummy-sleeping babies. Depending on how it is sewn, it may also help prevent inserts from bunching up at baby’s waistline.
Tummy elastic provides extra leak protection for tummy-sleeping babies. Although elastic in the waist at the back is common to all cloth diapers (which is what makes them so much more effective at preventing blowouts than disposables), elastic at the tummy isn’t quite as common.
Crossover snaps allow for a very small waist setting because the waist tabs can be cinched up tightly and fastened one over the other, similar to how most hook & loop closure diapers can be fastened. This is a particularly helpful feature in one-size diapers, allowing for a good fit on young babies.
Side snaps are a variation on the usual style of diaper fastening. On most diapers, the wings of the diaper wrap around from the sides to be fastened on top of the front panel (as shown in the above photos of crossover snaps). Side snaps, however, work so that the front of the diaper fastens over the wings, making a smooth front panel on the tummy. Some say that this can make it easier to pull pants over the diaper, which may be true if baby isn’t wearing a onesie. The downside to this construction is that it may take a little more finesse to fasten the diaper properly on your child, as you can’t easily see what you’re doing!
Adjustable elastic can be found in the legs or back of some diapers. Adjustable elastic allows for a truly customizable fit, preventing leaks around the legs for skinny babies and red marks from too-tight elastic for chubby babies.
Are you with me? We’ve talked about the benefits of using cloth diapers, the different types of diapers, and some of the features that make them awesome. Now let’s talk about all the wonderful materials used in cloth diapers!