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Diaper Doublers vs. Inserts

There can be a lot to keep track of when you begin cloth diapering. From inserts, to wipes, to diaper doublers, what does each component do? Are inserts the same as doublers? What are each of these items used for? By examining each part of your diapering system, you can become familiar with the nuances, details and proper usage for each component.

Inserts vs. Diaper Doublers
At first glance, both cloth diaper inserts and diaper doublers look quite similar. Both are generally made in a long rectangular shape and are comprised of absorbent materials to hold your baby’s waste. These two items do, however, have slightly different uses. Inserts are designed to fit inside of a pocket diaper to provide the sole absorbency for the entire diapering system. They may be shaped to fit a particular brand or style of diaper so that all parts of the diaper shell have absorbent capabilities. Inserts may also look similar to a prefold diaper so that they may be folded for customized absorption in your cloth diapers. Inserts are made with extremely absorbent natural or high-tech fabrics, such as microfiber. Cloth diaper designers often try to make inserts as trim as possible so that the diaper performs well, while still maintaining a trim profile on your baby.

Diaper doublers have a slightly different function. They are used as an extra layer of protection in another diaper. Unlike inserts, they are not intended to be the sole absorbent part of a diapering system. Instead, they add absorbency for times when you might need a bit more performance. Parents often use doublers for nighttime wear, sitters and when they are spending the day outside the home. Because diaper doublers often lay next to the skin, they may have special liners built in to protect your baby’s skin.

Using Diaper Doublers
How you intend to use your doublers will determine what design and features are best for your cloth diapers. If you use an all-in-one prefold or fitted diaper you will be using a doubler that will sit next to your baby’s skin. Many parents using this system favor doublers that have a wicking top layer. Popular wicking fabrics include lightweight polar fleece and suede cloth. This wicking material will sit on top of the absorbent layers and pull wetness to the inner layers of your cloth diapers.

For those that use a pocket style diaper system, diaper doublers can be placed inside the diaper shell, along with the absorbent insert. This allows you to customize your cloth diapers according to your immediate needs. If you do plan on using your doublers in a pocket diaper, you will not need to invest in a doubler with a wicking layer. However, you may want to have a few on hand just in case you want to add absorbency after your cloth diapers are already stuffed.

Purchasing Diaper Doublers
Most parents prefer to have at least two dozen cloth diapers in rotation at any given time. It’s a good idea to have at least one diaper doubler available for each cloth diaper that you regularly use. If you start using cloth diapers on your newborn, purchase a set of smaller doublers to reduce bulk. At Kelly’s Closet, diaper doublers are very affordable, ranging from $3-6 each.


  1. Jill said...

    We started using 2 doublers/newborn inserts along with the regular pocket insert for our bg's for overnight with our 16 month old. It keeps her sleeping a bit longer. We didnt know what a heavy wetter meant until recently. Is there another change coming soon, to increase even more? A topic post about differing absorbency at different diapering stages would be awesome!

  2. Brie H said...

    Thanks for the information! I use a pocket and always put one insert and one doubler for my 1 year old – it last him through the night so every diaper doesn't need it but my mom likes me to do it that way! 😀

  3. Michele said...

    I agree with Jill, I would love to read a post topic about the difference in absorbency for various diaper stages. Is there already a post like this?

    I'm new to this and did not even realize that inserts and doublers are two different things. Thanks for this post!

  4. Michelle Bryden said...

    Thank you so much for all the info, both about the inserts/doublers as well as everything else! I'm so new to cloth diapering and you make it sound so easy and straightforward! Thanks! Michelle Bryden

  5. Erin Houser said...

    I have all in one fitted diapers (hand made) for my newborn (due in 6 weeks!). They are very thick, and have been used on a previous baby. However, I did not ask the other mom, because I didn't know to until now, do I need to have a doubler on hand for these? Is it just a good idea to have it just in case?

  6. Katie said...

    We use a doubler and two prefolds for a nighttime diaper. It works wonders…without the doubler our baby wakes up more frequently.

    Question, is it safe to wash a microfiber insert with all cotton diapers/doublers?


  7. Lexi said...

    My baby girl is already two, so I don't see us being in diapers much longer. But I will definitely need some doublers for #2. I was always afraid of using cloth at night since she was a heavy wetter.

  8. Andrea said...

    This is great. I had fallen into the misconception that a doubler and an insert were the same because they look the same. Now I realize the difference. Thanks for clarifying!

  9. Hull2319 said...

    I really appreciate this inf! It was really useful fo me to read, especialy since I am just starting to use cloth diapers on my little ma. Sometimes the informaton out there can seem a little overwhelming and it is so nice to read specific blog posts or articles about the cloth diapering ins and outs!

  10. Hull2319 said...

    I really apprciated reading this article and found it helpful in my quest to make sense of all the cloth diapering info out there! I am new to cloth diapering and some of the terminology can be a little overwhelming and I found this article simpleand easy to help me figure out how diaper doublers could really help me! Thank you!

  11. dbassett said...

    Overnight I use a hemp insert instead of a doubler laid inside a fitted covered with a Stacinator fleece cover and most of the time, that protects my bed from my heavy wetting toddler 🙂

    Very informative post though 🙂

  12. The Eco Chic said...

    K8tmama: So long as the cotton inserts have been fully prepped (washed at least 6-9 times) then it's okay to wash micro-terry with cotton.

    Erin: Newborns don't typically need a significant amount of absorbency since you're changing them every 2 hours or so. Usually fitted diapers are just absorbent enough and you wouldn't need any doublers for a newborn. However, as your infant gets older you will find they will need more absorption as opposed to when they were newborns (usually around 3 months old).

    Jill/Michele: We'll try and work on a post about absorbency at different stages.

  13. Lisa said...

    I've started using hemp doublers with microfiber inserts. The doublers work great for the added absorbancy overnight or for long outings.

  14. The Novas said...

    So I'm confused about something…I've got the BG3.0 diapers and I can't find an answer to this – Do you put the inserts inside the diaper – between the fleece & the shell, or do you just place the insert on top of the fleece, next to your baby's bum? Clearer instructions on this would be appreciated!

  15. Crystal said...

    Good info! I wish I had had the opportunity to read this when I was purchasing my first cloth diapers. I ended up buying some small doublers I didn't really need when larger doublers or even extra inserts would have been more useful for my overnight diapering system. I found I didn't need doublers when my baby was a newborn, but now that she's older, I need super absorption during the night!
    aboverubies15 at yahoo dot com

  16. We will be cloth diapering in September when our baby is born. I have a LOT to learn about all of this! Thanks for the informative post! I'd have had no idea! LOL!

  17. Melissa said...

    I usually only use inserts at night, my daughter really isnt a heavy wetter!

  18. The Eco Chic said...

    The Novas: All pocket diapers, including the bumGenius One Size pocket diapers you are supposed to put the inserts inside the pocket opening. In fact, micro-terry fiber inserts should never come in direct contact with your baby's skin because it can potentially cause an adverse skin reaction.

    When the diaper becomes soiled you change the entire diaper.

    I hope this helps!

  19. Ashley Spurling said...

    I thought I ordered regular inserts and the receipt said doubles when I got them so thanks for verifying the difference!

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