What’s the Difference Between a Reusable Diaper and a Diaper Cover?

Posted by Jason Rector on

The average newborn goes through anywhere between eight and 12 diapers per day. This means that in one year, a baby will go through 2,500 to 3,000 disposable diapers. Not only is the acquisition of so many diapers expensive, it leaves a huge mark on the environment.

Luckily, more sustainable options have become available. If you’re researching alternatives to standard disposable diapers, you’ve probably come across cloth diapers and diaper covers.

Both options can be practical and effective but to choose the right one for your child, you’ll need to understand the most important differences between the two products.


What’s a Reusable Diaper?

A reusable diaper is also called a cloth diaper and as the name suggests, it’s meant to be washed and reused.

The cloth diaper is what everyone used before disposable nappies became available. Luckily, the design of reusable diapers has been modernized to offer more convenience and a better fit.

Moth cloth diapers have two parts – an inner layer that has excellent absorption properties and an outer layer that’s waterproof to prevent leaks. The inner part can be made of various materials. Cotton and bamboo are both popular choices. They are natural materials that can absorb a lot of liquid and that can wick moisture away from the body.

When a reusable diaper gets soiled, it can be cleaned and sanitized in the washing machine. Once it dries, the diaper is good to go again. The lifespan of high-quality reusable diapers is excellent. Well-made products that are constructed from quality fabrics have a lifespan of at least four years.


What’s a Diaper Cover?

A diaper cover is a waterproof outer layer that goes over a fitted cloth diaper or a prefold.

Diaper covers are available in several varieties – wraps and pull-ups reminiscent of regular underwear are the two most common varieties.

This product can be used with a fitted cloth diaper as an extra layer of protection (for example – during the night). It also works really well with prefolds – rectangular cotton inserts that can be used to maximize the absorption properties of reusable diapers or that can be employed on their own alongside a cover.


How Are They Different?

Cloth diapers are a product that gives you everything needed to keep your baby dry and happy. You wouldn’t have to use inserts or any other diapering material with them. 

Covers, on the other hand, are the part that goes on top of a regular cloth diaper to prevent leaks. It’s waterproof and reusable. It can also be used with prefolds and inserts. 


The Pros and Cons of Cloth Diapers and Diaper Covers

As you can see, the differences between these two products aren’t that major. Still, the way each variety is used results in advantages and some shortcomings.

Let’s examine reusable diapers first.

Their biggest pros and cons are the following:


Pros and Cons of Reusable Cloth Diapers



Very sustainable, no waste is created

Higher upfront cost

Reusable, will save you a lot of money in the long run

You will have to wash cloth diapers after each use

Breathable and a lot more comfortable for babies than disposable diapers

You’ll need to dispose of the poop before washing the diaper

Many cute and practical designs available

Can be more inconvenient in daycare settings

You can choose the absorbency level – different materials and layers allow customization

Less absorbent than disposable diapers

Can be passed down to siblings


No dyes, perfumes, or chemicals used in their manufacturing



Now, let’s check out the most important advantages and disadvantages of choosing a diaper cover:


Pros and Cons of Diaper Covers



Lots of cute designs to choose among

Can’t be used on their own, you’ll need a cloth diaper or a prefold

Easy to put on

The absorbent piece has to be folded and pinned/attached inside

Very reliable, made of waterproof material

You’ll need some skill to change a diaper cover (not the most convenient daycare choice)

Can work with both fitted cloth diapers and prefolds

Some babies may be sensitive to the waterproof material the cover’s made of

Easy customization, depending on what you decide to pair a diaper cover with


A diaper cover doesn’t have to be washed between changes (unless a leak occurs)


Can be machine-washed, they dry quickly



What’s the Right Choice for Your Baby?

A typical disposable diaper takes about 500 years to decompose. The same study suggests that the average child will use about 7,000 diapers in their lifetime. That’s a lot of waste and the purchase of disposable diapers will also be costly. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, an average family will spend 936 dollars on diapers in one year.

Making the switch to cloth diapers reduces both the cost and the environmental impact of using disposables.

While there’s going to be a learning curve, most families are completely satisfied with the switch from disposable to sustainable.

To test out the possibility, get a few good sets of disposable diapers. Test them for different occasions – when going out for a walk, for nighttime use. Find out if your baby feels comfortable and pinpoint usage aspects you’re not that happy with.

If a regular cloth diaper causes leaks, for example, you can get a couple of diaper covers for better protection. The good thing about such sustainable products is that you can customize your experience. Exploring a couple of brands will also give you a good idea about how different designs and materials compare.

Choosing the right kind of diaper should be about comfort, convenience, and effective budgeting.

Take some time and do a bit of research. There are lots of options and it’s a good idea to consider them all before buying. Our portfolio, for example, contains an extensive range of cloth diapers, and diaper covers. Examine product characteristics side-by-side to understand the differences or get in touch to have your most pressing questions answered.

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