The more old fashioned style is what people think of first when you mention cloth diapering. They are exclusively made of cloth, fastened to baby and paired with a separately purchased cover to make it waterproof. The four main groups are fitteds, contours, prefolds and flats.
Fitted diapers are fastened with hook and loop (velcro) closures or snaps and has elasticized gussets (the part which goes around the thighs) to help keep messes in. They have layers of fabric inside to absorb wetness, do not need to be folded in any way and use a diaper cover.
|Example of Kissaluvs fitted diaper.|
Contour or shaped diapers are a fusion between contours and prefolds/flats. They are designed in an hourglass shape ie. are 'contoured' trimly around baby's curves. Some have an absorbent center flap of fabric called a doubler and usually don't need to be fastened with anything. They are a cheaper alternative to fitteds.
|Example of a Kissaluvs contour diaper.|
Prefolds are the most basic of diapers, but they can also be complicated for beginners. A prefold is a flat rectangular piece of cloth composed of different layers of fabric. There are many different types and variations of this diaper and if you'd like to read about them, this is a good place to do so. There are a few ways to fold this type of diaper and they can be fastened with pins, a 'snappi' or laid into a well fitting cover.
|Example of OsoCozy unbleached prefold diapers.|
Flat diapers are the forerunner of prefolds.The main difference is that prefolds have more layers of fabric in the center, while flats do not. They are the cheapest type of diaper you can buy and though they are considered less absorbent than prefolds, it can be folded specifically to remedy that.
|Example of Bumkins flat diapers.|
Though they may seem a bit old-school, all of these types of diapers are just as effective as the more modern ones and many people use and love them. I have a selection of prefolds to use in rotation with our pockets and AI2s. There's a bit of a learning curve at first (though not so much with the contours and fitteds, they are pretty cut and dry), but it's worth it for their versatility and inexpensive price tag!