So you have decided to go with a diaper that needs a cover—fitteds, flats, or prefolds. You’ve decided between pins, Snappis, and Boingos. You have precisely plotted out the exact day and time your child will hit the next size up and stored your stash accordingly (note to first time parents: good luck with that). Now you just need to pick a cover to go over the diapers. But what to get?
There is an exponentially large number of combinations of covers, possibly somewhere in the vicinity of the number of stars in the universe. You can choose from a gigantic rainbow of solid colors, a plethora of prints, hook and loop closures, snap closures, one sized covers, sized covers, cheaper covers made overseas, expensive covers made in the USA, nylon covers, PUL covers, wool covers, and, finally, either pull-on covers or wrap-style covers. Let’s explore the differences between those last two choices.
The modern cloth diapering parent, upon beginning their diaper cover research, will probably run straight into a (soft, brightly colored, and waterproof) wall of PUL wrap-style covers. They are easily the most popular cover style on the market today and are not even known as wrap-style covers anymore because of how commonplace they are. They are “wrap-style” because you place the cover under your baby, pull the center up over his or her crotch, and then wrap wings on the left and right sides around your baby’s hips to fasten in the front. Nearly every big brand of cloth diapers sells this type of diaper cover. It’s easy to see why they are popular; you have your choice of fastener—hook and loop or snaps—and as they are commonly made of PUL, a laminated, waterproof fabric that comes in countless colors and prints, covers have many, many options in terms of designs. Some like the sterile, simple look of an all-white stash, others go crazy over cute prints. There are options for everyone.
The older style of cloth diaper covers come in the form of pull-on covers. When Grandma reminisces about “rubber pants,” it’s not some weird 1950s style, she is referring to the vinyl pull-on diaper covers of the day. These covers are still around today, but are most often made out of PUL with soft binding around the legs. They commonly come in bright colors and occasionally fun prints. Wool covers are most often made in the pull-on style as well. These covers, as you might guess from their names, pull-on rather than wrap around the baby. You simply pull them over your baby’s legs like a pair of pants. This makes them nearly foolproof to put on; there is no messing with snaps or Velcro that won’t stick anymore. Because there is only one layer of waterproof fabric, they are thin, so even if they look poofy when on the baby, they will smush down very trimly underneath clothing.
Naturally, both covers have their downsides as well. Many parents dislike fussing with the hook-and-loop or snap closures on wrap-style covers, or for physical reasons cannot manipulate such fasteners. Wrap-style covers are also more expensive, running from around $10 to $17, regardless of whether they are sized or one-size. While PUL pull-on covers are cheaper, generally under $8 per cover, I do not know of any pull-on covers that are one-size. This means you must have a full set of larger sized covers every time your child grows out of his current size. If your child’s diaper leaks, you may end up smearing the mess all over your child’s legs as you pull down the cover.
Like all cloth diapering products, what is best is what works for you! I have both styles of covers on hand for when I feel like switching things up. What do you prefer to use?