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When I had my first baby, my only connection to cloth diapers (commonly referred to as “Fluff” in the cloth diaper world) was pictures of myself in Gerber prefolds (the ones you buy in a pack at Wal-Mart and usually use as burp cloths) and plastic pants. The thought of diaper pins and a squirmy baby is a little frightening to me. Little did I know how far cloth diapers have come! You can still get prefolds and covers, if that’s what you prefer (and some do). However, you can also get “All in One” diapers which are essentially the cloth equivalent to disposables. I have settled on pocket diapers (a waterproof outer shell which uses an absorbent insert) because they are trimmer, but dry faster than AIOs (All in Ones). With so many cloth diapers on the market, it’s hard to decide. I’ve used almost all of them and here’s my cloth diaper reviews of which are best for which use.
Different Mommy Opinions on Cloth Diapers
Everyone seems to have a different preference. So, I asked some of my cloth diapering friends what they used, what they liked/didn’t like and also what age, gender and shape their baby is to try to get good reviews of several different types of diapers. I don’t think anyone would claim that cloth diapering is easier than disposables (especially once you start solids!), but there are LOADS of benefits that, in my opinion, make it worth the extra effort. They are better for your baby’s skin (no chemicals), they are better for the environment, they are cheaper (after the initial start-up cost), and they are CUTE (and, let’s face it – that’s important too!) – JUST to name a few!
Pre-Folds and Covers
If you decide to go the route of pre-fold cloth diapers and the accompanying covers, I would recommend NOT just going to Wal-Mart and buying a pack of Gerber cloth. They are thin and not very absorbent. Chinese pre-folds and Indian pre-folds are much thicker and more absorbent. They usually come in a variety of sizes from newborn/infant (different brands give them different names) to “Regular” and “Premium” (again, different brands/sellers call them different things, but basically figure on small, medium and large ;)).
How to Keep Pre-fold Diapers in Place
If you use a basic prefold and cover, you will want something to hold the diaper in position. You can use pins (no thanks!) or a “Snappy” which basically just has little catches that grab onto the diaper. Snappies are quick and easy to get onto the diaper and not nearly as sharp as a regular diaper pin! As for covers, anything waterproof will work. Some are better and more user-friendly than others, but often it depends on preference.
My Experience with Pre-Folds
I used pre-folds and covers with Micah (my second child and now almost 8-year-old) and strongly preferred Bummis covers. The seemed to hug his thighs the best (he was pretty average size wise at the age I used these), so I had fewer leaks. I didn’t try the cheaper Gerber pull-on covers, so I can’t speak to those (in fact, I don’t personally know anyone who has used those).
The Economics of Pre-Fold Cloth Diapers
I will say that a good pre-fold will hold a LOT of liquid, so I think the quality of the prefold is much more important than the cover. The cost for about 10 good pre-fold cloth diapers is $15-$20 plus 4 covers for about $60. If you wash every other day, that would likely be enough, but it would be cutting it close! However, it is a very economical way to cloth diaper your baby. If you want to go the cheap, but effective route, this is the way to go! The biggest downsides are that this is a 2 step process while holding down a wiggly baby and they are bulky under clothes. Function wise, they are just fine!
If you are looking for something that can use a disposable insert with a cloth outer to cut down on waste, a hybrid diaper might be right up your alley. I have a few and do like them for travel. You can use a disposable insert (biodegradable, flushable and compostable!) or a cloth insert (I use cloth at home, disposable on the go when I use these). The covers are reusable as long as they don’t get soiled, so they also cut down quite a bit on laundry. They typically have either a snap-in liner or small pockets on either end that hold the insert in place. So you just slip the insert into the diaper and pop it on the baby. Easy peasy!
Hybrid Cloth Diaper Options
There are 3 main brands of hybrid diapers.
These are sized diapers, so pay very close attention when you order (You can even order these through Walmart.com or buy a starter box at many Babies R Us stores). I have 2 G Diapers and I have to admit that while I do use them, I don’t love the fit. My little guy is long torsoed and these diapers seem to run a bit short. They are also aplix (essentially velcro) versus snaps, so that may or may not be an issue for you (I prefer snaps, but the aplix is faster when I need to make a quick change. It, however, does not hold up as well.). These are mid-price range, so expect to fork out around $12 per diaper plus the cost of liners.
My preferred brand of hybrid diapers are Flips. These cost a little more than G Diapers, but they are snap (apparently they come in hook and loop now too) and they are one size diapers (8-35 lbs) which allows you to use them over a wider timeframe. I only have one of these because this isn’t my primary style of diaper that I use, but I think the fit is much better. And, while G Diapers have a plastic snap in liner, Flips just have small pockets on each end. Less fuss is easier for me! I have not tried these at night, but I have heard from others that these make a great overnight diaper because you can add as many inserts (of any style – disposable, bamboo, hemp, microfiber or a pre-fold) as you like to best meet you and your baby’s needs. An average day will take two covers and 6 inserts. You will pay about $50 per diaper. So, if you plan to wash every other day, that could be as little as a $100 investment and you’re set!
Another popular brand of hybrid diaper is GroVia. I have never used GroVia diapers and actually don’t know anyone who has, but they sell well, so they must be okay! They do come in some pretty cute prints, so the cuteness factor is there! They are about $16 for the shell and another $18-$19 for an insert. Using the same 2 cover and 6 inserts formula, that comes to about $140 for one day. So, clearly these are pricier than some of the other options.
The Benefits of Hybrid Diapers
Regardless of which you choose, the benefits of hybrid diapers are evident.
- You get the best of both worlds for on-the-go cloth diapering by being able to toss the insert in the toilet and re-use the cover.
- They are also very trim diapers compared to covers and pre-folds.
- No chemicals so safer for your baby.
- Will not go to the landfill, reducing your carbon footprint.
The Negatives of Hybrid Diapers
- The down side is that if you go with disposable liners, your expense will be higher than with 100% cloth. However, it will likely still be cheaper than disposable diapers (especially if you only use the disposable liners while out and about) and you save the landfills and your baby’s skin!
Fitted Cloth Diapers
Fitted diapers are like pre-folds, but shaped like a disposable and with some sort of snap or Velcro to keep them closed. There’s no need for pins or a snappi to keep them on your baby, but you will need a cover. Fitted Diapers are a favorite nighttime diaper for many because they are quite absorbent, but easy to change. They are also snug fitting, wick away moisture better than pre-folds, and you can choose what type of cover to use in order to customize absorbency.
What Will I Need if I Want to Use Fitted Diapers?
Because you need both the cover and the diaper itself, they can get a little pricey. You can reuse the cover, so that is helpful. The brands that seem the most commonly used and raved about for fitted diapers are Kissaluvs, S’bish (sustainablebabyish), Blueberry and Thirsties. These range in price anywhere from $15-$35+ depending on materials and prints. If you’re looking for nighttime, you will likely want a good quality fitted (S’bish are highly recommended nighttime diapers. They also have an added benefit of planting a tree for every diaper sold.
I know when you think of wool, you think of itchy sweaters. But, I assure you that good wool diaper covers are soft and extremely absorbent! I WILL also tell you, though, that if your baby has sensitive skin like mine does, wool is not the greatest option because it traps moisture AND heat so well. We live in Southern Georgia where heat and humidity are in abundance. Trapping in heat and moisture spelled disaster for my guy. He didn’t get a traditional diaper rash, but had the tell-tale bumps of a heat rash brewing by morning. However, many people have had amazing luck with this combination. Since he didn’t leak at night, I’d have to say I agree on the absorbency benefits! I haven’t found another combination that didn’t leak over night. Etsy is a great place to look for wool covers for trying out. There are great ones made by cloth diaper companies that are probably softer and better “prepped” for cloth diapering, but wool is extremely expensive (up to $50 for a cover), so unless you want to invest a lot of money in a few great overnight diaper combos, I’d try Etsy first and save yourself a lot of money (you can get them as low as $10-$15 shipped).
Fitted Cloth Diaper Cost Breakdown
If you decide to exclusively use fitted cloth diapers, your cost will be a little higher than with the previous options. Again, you can reuse covers for more than one diaper change, so plan on two per day on average and 6 diapers. With 1 daytime cover and one nighttime cover, your total cost will be in the range of $200-$250 (and that’s conservative. Most people will want at least 1-2 extra day time covers). If you want really absorbent diapers, this is a great option and keep in mind that a $250-$300 investment will still be MUCH cheaper than buying disposables week after week.
Pocket Cloth Diapers
We finally come to my diaper of choice! Pocket diapers, to me, are wonderful because they go on like a disposable, are one size diapers so you won’t have to buy more diapers every couple of months (Not ALL brands, so watch this. And, they do NOT fit well on newborns, typically, unless they are 9+ lbs) and you can customize your absorbency. Popular pocket style diapers are Fuzzibunz, Sunbaby (what I use- and you’ll probably get the most discussion from me about since that’s what I am familiar with), BumGenius, and Kawaii. These are also the easiest to find on websites such as ebay in “off brands” made by moms looking to bring a few extra dollars.
How Pocket Cloth Diapers Work
They work just like they sound like they’d work- a waterproof shell/cover with a pocket to put an absorbent insert(s) into. You also have the option to use them without using the pockets and just lay a pre-fold inside; however, keep in mind that without folds to hold the diaper in place, you may get uneven absorbency due to slippage. They go on like a disposable and are closed with either snaps or Velcro as well.
The only real different between these and hybrids is that the insert goes inside, giving you more options on materials for your insert (it is not suggested that you put microfiber directly against your baby’s skin as it often causes irritation). Microfiber inserts are absorbent and cheap, so being able to put them under a layer of fleece is a great option for people like me who want to be able to cloth diaper, but do it on the cheap. 😉 If you pre-stuff the pockets, these are very daycare and daddy friendly diapers (although some people hate having to stuff a diaper and don’t like that you have to change the entire diaper when they are wet/dirty)!
And, unlike fitted cloth diapers, you get to see the cute prints you can purchase these in. I often use mine in place of shorts because they are so darn cute! Most are one size fits all, but some do come in either one size or sized if you prefer a more custom fit.
SunBaby Pocket Cloth Diapers
Sunbaby diapers come in a Size 1 and a Size 2. My baby is pretty average – 50% in height and weight – and can wear the Size 1s just fine. Babies/toddlers with chunky thighs will likely need a Size 2. A friend of mine who also uses Sunbaby diapers said her toddler son, who is now in a 4T, can still wear the Size 2 Sunbabies and has needed them since he was in a 2T. I have some of each and they all fit fine on my guy. I don’t notice a huge difference, honestly. Maybe it’s more subtle since I still have to use the 2nd smallest setting since my guy’s thighs are far from chunky!
The Cost of Pocket Cloth Diapers
Prices on pockets vary from $4.50 per diaper all the way up to about $20 per diaper. Inserts are often included with the diapers, but are not always the highest quality. If you prefer a pre-fold or a bamboo insert, you will often have to buy those separately (although some brands do include them). My 24 Sunbaby diapers WITH microfiber inserts (and they’ve worked just fine for us) were only $108, including shipping. That is more than enough assuming you wash every other day. I went about 8 months without really buying more (I did buy a Flip and a few G Diapers for travel, but not by necessity.) and, I only bought more because I liked the new prints they came out with. It was not because I needed them. Whether they will last until potty training remains to be seen, but they seem to wash well. There is some staining, but that doesn’t affect the use of them. For an entire stash of Fuzzibunz (and we’ll go with 12, not 24, since you can get by with 12 using the 6 diapers per day rule), you will pay closer to $250 if you buy new. However, these diapers will stand the test of time. I have some well used Fuzzibunz that I bought for my newborn since they have sized diapers. I bought 6 well used diapers for $40 and, while they looked ROUGH, they worked just fine. I am pretty certain these diapers have been through several babies. I am not certain my Sunbabies would stand up to that test. So, if you plan to use your diapers on more than one baby, it may be more worth it to make an investment in the more expensive diapers.
All in One Cloth Diapers
The Blueprint of the All in One Diaper
If you want the closest diaper to a disposable, these are the ones for you! They are the easiest for daycare use. Popular brands of All in Ones (referred to as AIOs) include BumGenius AIOs, Thirsties, Kissaluvs, and GroVia. They are a one piece diaper with an insert incorporated into the diaper, so no separate inserts to stuff. For ease of use, nothing can beat them. They seem to be very absorbent and more trim under clothes than the other types of diapers.
The Downside of All In One Cloth Diapers
The only downside I have found to AIOs (and the reason I have sold all of the ones I had – I had Kissaluvs) is that they are VERY slow to dry. The moisture seems to get trapped in the folds and hangs on. I hang my diapers to dry as much as possible and these could be hung out on a sunny morning and STILL not dry by the evening. I am sure this varies by brand, but I tried all in one diapers with Micah (my almost 8-year-old) years ago and had the same problem even though I used a different brand (Happy Heiny- I had a lot of leakage, BUT I wasn’t washing them correctly! I know better now!!!). If you can deal with a longer drying time, these are a great option. As with almost everything in life, convenience comes with a price.
All in One Diaper Cost Comparison
AIO diapers range from $15-$30 a piece, so they are not the cheapest option. No matter how you look at it, though, even if you have to invest $250-$500 up front (depending on how many you want to buy), they will last you until your baby potty trains if you care for them properly. Disposable diapers cost, on average, $800 a year. That’s not hard math. 😉 It’s pretty clear what the cheaper option is. If user-friendly is key to you, your argument regarding cost shouldn’t be too hard!
Cloth Diapers In Review
I think that’s enough info for one blog! If you’re still with me, I commend you! I will go into care (and the cost of the care) for cloth diapers in my next entry. Stay tuned!
What Kind of Diapers Do you Use?
Let me know which diapers you have used and what you loved and hated about each. You reviews are very important to keeping it real on this blog so help a girl out! 🙂 And, read on to learn more about your natural baby options and my adventures!