Cloth diapers 101 questions on your mind?
Perhaps you’re a soon-to-be mom. Or one who’s thinking about moving to using cloth but not sure if you have time.
Keep reading because in this article I’ll reveal my secret formula for figuring out if making the move to total eco-friendly poop/pee patrol is right for you.
The Joy of Cloth Diapers 101
I remember a while when my baby boy, Charlie, was so very happy in the crook of my arm.
Then the sputter of Chaz announcing a new diaper deposit. Yay for me:-).
It doesn’t sound especially fierce but a change is called for no matter how things smell. By the time I make it back to the bedroom in seconds, it is clear: everything is soiled and stinking.
His onesie and little overalls, worn for less than an hour, are destined for the laundry. “So which diaper gave us this joy?” I ask my husband Steve who only just changed and dressed little Chaz-meister.
He shrugged helplessly.
For us, raising babies has been dominated by ongoing research for the perfect cloth diaper, and we are now in a new cycle with Chaz.
We’ve reviewed no fewer than two dozen brands over the past few years. There have been so many leaks, gaps, misfits, and other trials that on this particular day Steve had already forgotten what he’d used.
While I’m happy to say that we’ve been able to weed out the bottom-feeders (pun intended), now with two different sized-bottoms to contend with our challenge continues.
Investing in Healthy Rears
As parents we feel justified in investing the time to make sure we’re providing the best for our children.
With diapers we go even further because what is more important than the comfort of our little munchkins’ bums? I can’t think of anything.
So to start, I’ll outline the top five performance features I expect from a cloth diaper. I don’t think I’m asking too much am I?
Cloth Diapers 101 – Our Must-Haves
- Effective fit. Yes, effective. A diaper should be snug enough around the legs and waist to actually contain a bowel movement. Duh! It needs to fit properly. Same goes for mongo absorption (not spreading) urine.
- Easy to use. I don’t have a lot of time and let’s face it—the kids never stops pooping and peeing. They don’t schedule it for our convenience.
- I want a diaper change to be quick, painless and borderline stinky-free.
- That means I prefer a diaper where the insert lies inside and touches baby’s skin, rather than a pocket diaper which needs to be stuffed beforehand. The one-opening kind at least needs to be “unstuffed” or shaken apart after the change.
- No, I’m not being redundant, I’m talking covers. The more changes a cover can be reused for, the fewer I have to buy and keep track of, and the less laundry I’m going to do.
- Again, pocket diapers don’t cut it. (We’ve been treating our pockets like regular shells with Chaz. We put inserts in them without bothering with the stuffing, and reusing them anyway if they’re not to sodden.
- This means that we can’t use straight microfiber as the insert (previously the most common insert we owned), as it is too rough to put directly on our baby’s skin.
- Shouldn’t a cover be good for more than one child? YES!
- We have found that many lose their elasticity, creating gaps around the legs that will allow baby’s hazardous waste to leak out.
- Some covers lose their moisture-proof qualities as the PUL fades.
- Flexible sizing. My goal is to be able to keep my newborn diapered without buying a tiny stash of only tiny diapers. I packed our first collection of diapers up into two sets— smaller- might fit right away – and larger-for later.
- I cycled through the smaller sizes on Chaz during his first month to see which ones actually worked on him. You can probably guess there weren’t many successes in this category.
It Always Goes Back To Leg Fit
Does the diaper fit securely on a newborn? Does it still fit securely on a slightly older baby?
It better or else:-(.
Now, with two little ones, I am on a quest to answer this additional question: If the diaper leaks like a broken water pipe is it because the elastic has given way?
Or is it because the diaper stretched as my little cutie-pie grew during the two years he wore it?
Often it can be both.
However, be smart. Make sure you graduate from cloth diapers 101 school by snugging that cover to the cute little thighs.
Ones That Didn’t Make The Cut
The following brands performed well at first. Kawaii and Econobum were among my early favorites. But we were disappointed by their declining quality as we continued to use them.
Kawaii – This diaper stretched out and lost form before Caleb was even done wearing them, elastic totally sagged out on one leg, which just kills the whole “frugal” benefit.
Econobum – Quickly loses elasticity as well which leads to leakage.
These are super cheap, so the name is appropriate. We’ll use this diaper if we’re totally out, but the cover has been retired.
One other positive, Econobum’s organic liners would be a good investment to go with other covers.
Bumkins – Just another two-opening pocket diaper.
They quickly developed some elasticity issues and leaks. I will note that using certain detergents with this diaper—currently Molly’s Suds cloth diaper detergent have helped. Bumkins should not be completely written off.
Grovia – At first blush they were the tightest fastener. But after some time and washes the fasteners got curly and struggled to sustain its grip. It is also has elastic problems around the legs that bring on leakage. Two thumbs down.
Somewhat Adequate, Certainly Not Great
Tiny Tush – A disappointing one-opening pocket diaper.
It’s on probation for leaking a few times, but that might be because I washed some diapers in the wrong soap. So far we can still use them on Chaz. The jury is still out.
Fuzzibunz – They’ve held up well and get big time points for fitting a small baby.
However – they don’t fit large babies well and it’s also nearly impossible to stuff.
We just lay the liners inside the cover now and it’s a happier situation. I also give them a decent longevity rating because the elastic can be replaced—it even comes with an extra set.
Bum Genius – Just another one-opening pocket diaper. The quality remains very good, and it sized down well to a mid-sized baby, about 2-3 months. But it is too bulky for a newborn to wear.
Go Green – I want to love these because they’re a two-opening pocket diaper design. Also a great fit.
Ummm…Literally Lost These
Flip – I think I’d still love the Flip diaper…but I have no idea what happened to mine. Maybe it was a casualty of the wrong detergent or I lent it to someone.
Tuck and Go – I also loved the Tuck, but it has disappeared on me. I will say that that it had super scratchy Velcro on the outside that hurt babies’ tummies so it already had shortcomings.
Sprout Change – We used Sprout as swim diapers for a year or two after we quit cloth with number two…so I didn’t feel like it would be a fair fight to use and compare them after all that pool chlorine. But I can say that the fabric held up nicely; they still look like new. They adjust with elastic and buttons much like the Fuzzibunz, so I imagine they would fit the legs great and would still recommend Sprout Change on its own.
Has Redeeming Qualities That keep it Competitive
Thirsties (found on Amazon) – I started out loving Thirsties and their double gussets, but they quickly wore out. The aplix began coming off with Baby #1 – the diaper would even fall off inside his pants! However, for a newborn, Thirsties fit surprisingly well around the leg within the first month. They are bulky but hold in what they need to hold in. (Caleb is about 2 months old in the photo, and his thighs are obviously getting lovably chunky, but they did fit well at one month – the double gusset is the key.)
Thirsties might not look gorgeous, but the elastic has held up better than 50% of the other brands, and the fasteners are fine on a younger, not-so-active baby. I can tentatively recommend Thirsties again, perhaps leaning toward snaps for longevity.
All fitteds we reviewed (Kissaluvs and more) are certainly worthy – There’s still nothing like a fitted with a Marvel cover to contain everything.
Marvel cover – I found this one on Amazon. It’s amazing, with double gussets like a suit of armor for poops. The Marvel sizes pretty large, so I had to wait about 3 months before using it. The only drawback is if a grandma puts a fitted diaper on but doesn’t realize it needs a separate cover since it already looks like a diaper. I think this happened with us recently, and it doesn’t work all that well!
Thank goodness we had Branch Basics on hand, a natural cleaner that can get the smell out of fabrics that can’t go in the washing machine. :/ They’re a current sponsor, and if you’re a new customer you can get 20% off your order with the code KS20.
Motherease – This diaper is a beast size of an all-in-one, and it takes two days to dry when hung out but is worth machine drying. It. Holds. In. EVERYTHING. I stand by my statement that it is a great overnight diaper. Daytime wear can be a little inconvenient because the snaps are hard to fasten.
For some reason I don’t have new photos of these two; maybe because I wasn’t able to use them when we first got them.
And now: THE BEST Cloth Diaper for Newborn to Toddler
Of the two dozen brands of cloth diapers we’ve reviewed, I have come down to the most effective, easiest-to-use, most reusable and longest-lasting, and with the best sizing flexibility. Here are how I rate it using my Five Performance Features:
Effectiveness – It rarely leaks, even at the newborn stage. It has two kinds of insert, bamboo or “soft-touch” microfiber, and both absorb wonderfully.
Ease of use – Choose aplix or snaps, both are super. The diaper has a little stretch to it, so it’s easier to put on and off and to make it fit just right. Because you can snap in the inserts, you can prep diapers for babysitters who might not be used to cloth, but you don’t have to take time to stuff pockets because you can also just grab and go without snapping. All the inserts can touch baby’s skin because the microfiber ones have a side that is soft for bums.
Reusable – We’ve had great luck hanging them to dry and reusing over and over.
Longevity – The fabric is still gorgeous on our old ones. The aplix fastener has held up probably the best of any that I received three years ago, and the elastic is fantastic.
Flexible Sizing – They come with short and long inserts, so it sizes down to newborn great on the inside. But it’s the slide-2-size that really makes it special. You just use a little pinchable resizing thing (see below) to quickly tighten and loosen as baby grows. These diapers definitely went right down to newborn size and were the only ones we loved using in the first few weeks (other than the few newborn covers that we borrowed, which were almost too small to contain the inserts they came with).
Our Favorite Cloth Diaper for All Ages: Softbums. It fits my chunky toddler AND my newborn baby, and the fabric has held up effectively for four years.
I’m not just gushing, people. I take great pride in pointing out the downfalls of the products I review so that you can skip the trial and error frustration yourself. And Softbums really, really make me happy! Seriously, this diaper is an incredible performer and it sizes well from newborn to toddler.
Beyond comparison for review, when I am being just a mom using Softbums diapers, these are the ones I want to buy more of. They aren’t cheap, but they offer the very best value for the features that are important to me. In December a Softbums email came offering a really great deal and I jumped at it. I advise that you get on their email list too and watch for sales and coupons.