All About Pocket Diapers

Cloth diapering your little one is simple, but the options can be overwhelming. The Changing Table has been teaching cloth diapering classes since 2009. Visit our various blog posts for expert tips and tricks. Attend our cloth diapering classes for hands on instruction and one on one discussions.

What is a pocket diaper?

The primary characteristic of a reusable pocket diaper is that it literally has a pocket in it between the waterproof outside cover and the inner fabric. In a pocket diaper, the inserts are intended to be used inside the pocket, between the outer and inner layers. When the inserts are “stuffed” it looks like it is one piece and is meant to be used one time between washing. A pocket can be sized or one size (OS). rumparooz_diagram

The stuffable pocket is usually located near the back of the diaper but can also be located near the front or in the middle. Rumparooz has a pocket located near the back. Thirsties has a “tunnel” pocket with an opening at both the front and the back. AppleCheeks has a pocket located in the center of the diaper.

Most (not all) pocket diapers are purchased as a set which includes a waterproof outer shell and inserts. Some pockets (like AppleCheeks) have the outer shell sold separate from the inserts. While inserts are made from many types of fibers, the majority do come with microfiber inserts. At The Changing Table we carry pockets with varying types of inserts. Of our brands noted above, Rumparooz comes with two microfiber inserts, Thirsties has a combination of a microfiber insert snapped to a hemp/cotton blend insert, and AppleCheeks has bamboo inserts. We have something for everyone.

Benefits of a pocket diaper:

  1. Adjustable absorbency – When a pocket diaper is stuffed, it looks like an all-in-one cloth diaper. These are easy to use and easy to transition from disposable to reusable diapering. The absorbency can be easily adjusted in a pocket diaper. Do you need more overall absorbency? Simply switch out the microfiber insert for a natural fiber insert. Need more absorbency in targeted areas? Simply fold your insert to provide an extra layer in the front for boys or an extra layer in the middle or back for a girl.
  2. Stay dry – Most pocket diapers have a microfleece or similar inner. Microfleece is a synthetic fiber that is safe to put next to baby’s skin. Urine will go through the microfleece to soak into the insert and remains dry next to baby’s skin. It is a good option for baby’s who are sensitive to wetness.
  3. Dries quickly – The inserts must be removed from inside the pockets before washing. Because of this, pocket diapers also wash easily and dry quickly.

Disadvantages of a pocket diaper:

  1. More time consuming – Before washing a pocket diaper, the insert must be removed. After drying, the insert needs to be stuffed back into the pocket. This process is slightly less convenient and more time consuming than other types of reusable diapers. However, it really only takes about 15 minutes to stuff a full load of pocket diapers. It becomes a bit more tedious with multiple children in diapers. AppleCheeks and Thirsties can be exceptions to this rule. Depending on your washing machine, the inserts may not need to be removed and can agitate out in the wash because of where the pockets are located.
  2. Stuffing can be difficult – With a pocket diaper, the insert must fill the entire pocket to prevent leaking. This means you will need to pull the insert all the way to the front of the diaper and make sure they are laying flat. Pocket openings vary in sizes so you will want to choose a pocket that you can easily get your hand into. This is where going into a store to examine the diaper in person is important. Don’t forget to buy where you try!
  3. Unstuffing can be messy – As stated earlier, inserts need to be removed before washing. This is typically not a big issue but can be a little messy on your hands if poop or urine is near the pocket opening.
  4. Synthetics next to the baby’s skin – The stay-dry aspect of a pocket diaper can be a benefit as noted in #2 above. However, if your baby or any family members have a history of being sensitive to synthetics fibers pocket diaper would not be the best option. Even if there is not a sensitivity, microfiber inserts should never be placed next to baby’s skin. Always place these inside the pocket.

When I first started cloth diapering, I primarily used pocket diapers. I worked 60 + hours a week, had a child in daycare, and washed diapers every few days. Pockets were a good option for our daycare provider, but a daycare (usually) will not unstuff the pockets for you. On wash day, I would open three days of wetbags and have to unstuff my pockets before washing. Frankly, digging around in 3 days of wet and dirty diapers is kind of gross, so we switched to all-in-one diapers which was a better option for us. Ideally, I should have unstuffed the diapers each day and also washed more frequently, but that did not work for my busy lifestyle. They may, however, work perfectly for your individual situation.

What is your favorite type of diaper?


Elizabeth has diapered three children (one in disposables and two in cloth), collectively using over 60 brands of cloth diapers and is familiar with many more due to her work with Cloth Diaper Oklahoma. Elizabeth is on the Board of Directors for the Real Diaper Association, a national non-profit dedicated to the support and use of real diapers. She has been teaching cloth diaper classes to hundreds of Oklahoma families since 2009.

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