Just this morning I had a cute baby on my lap, typing away, when I heard the telltale putter of a BM in action.
It didn’t sound ominous at all, just average size, maybe even on the small end of the spectrum, not too forceful. Still, wise mama that I am, I wasn’t about to let him sit in it and ON it and risk having poop sneak out onto his clothes. I held him against my front, careful not to squeeze the diaper, and started to head upstairs.
Things felt awfully warm and wet on my belly, and a quick peek confirmed it – more out than in!
“What diaper do I have to blame for this one?” I asked my husband, who had changed a wet leak an hour before. Since we reviewed 24 brands of cloth diapers a few years ago, we’re constantly feeling out which ones lasted for the long haul for this next baby and which are giving up on us.
Apparently, he was so frustrated by the short time that cloth diaper had been on our 4-month-old that he put him in a disposable so as to avoid another leak.
I wouldn’t have been looking at a palm-sized poopstain coming through the back of a onesie if he had just stuck with cloth. (They have tighter elastic around the waist compared to disposables’ rather open top band, if you’ve not used cloth diapers recently.)
But I don’t blame him – we went through a LOT of leaks, confusion, and the quite hard work of keeping 24 diapers straight to test them out three years ago, and although it’s much easier this time for a couple of reasons, cloth still has sort of a scarlet letter on it around here.
I feel like I really have a view from above this time around, the big picture of the “best cloth diaper” question instead of being right in the trenches trying to figure everything out at once.
You can read a little bit more about our cloth diaper background and how I feel about cloth on newborns if you like, and in this post I’m going to finally answer the question of the ONE brand of diapers I bothered to buy more of to round out our stash for little Gabriel.
When you’ve tried over two dozen brands of something, you start to figure out what’s important after a while.
And when it comes to cloth diapers, here are the criteria I prioritize:
- Effectiveness – obviously, it’s pretty handy when diapers are tight enough around the legs and waist to actually hold in BMs and also absorbent enough to hold in urine.
- Ease of use – I want my diapers to be quick to put together, cover + insert, and easy to take care of after the change as well. That means I prefer the diapers where the insert lays inside and touches the baby’s skin rather than pocket diapers which need to be stuffed beforehand, and at least the one-opening kind need to be “unstuffed” or shaken apart after the change.
- Reusable – I’m not being redundant here, don’t worry. I mean that I want to be able to reuse one cover for multiple (wet) changes so I can own fewer covers and do less laundry. That again means no pocket diapers. (We’ve been treating our pockets like regular shells this go round, laying inserts in them without bothering with the stuffing and reusing them anyway if they’re not too soaked.) This also means that the inserts can’t be straight microfiber, which was the most common insert we owned, since the microfiber is too rough to put directly on baby’s skin.
- Longevity – will the cover last for more than one child? Lots of ours started wearing out at the elasticity level, creating dangerous gaps around the legs (dangerous for poopy leaks, not baby). Some of them began losing their waterproof qualities as the PUL gave out. Not so great!
- Flexible Sizing – I really wanted to be able to cloth diaper my newborn without buying a tiny stash of tiny diapers. I packed them up over a year ago in two bags, labeled “smaller – might fit right away” and “larger – for later.” It was an interesting experience trying all the “smaller” brands on Gabe that first month to see which ones actually worked. Have you guessed that there weren’t very many in this category?
I started trying to take pictures of each diaper on our little guy for you all, but just remember that I was still a recently-postpartum-mama trying to keep it all together, and the best I could do was usually on the changing table, sometimes with a flash at night, with a point-and-shoot camera. And he was starting to get older before I even thought of it, almost two months! You’ll just have to imagine the legs being quite a bit skinnier for that true newborn phase.
The big question with all these diapers is the leg fit:
- Does the leg fit securely on a newborn, or almost newborn?
- Does the leg fit securely on a slightly older child?
- If not, is it because the elastic is wearing out completely or perhaps because 2-year-old legs are just bigger than newborn legs and the diapers all got a little stretched out when John’s thunder thighs filled them up?
I’ll be updating every single diaper at the massive review post with the “will it last for two kids?” update summary, and I’ll dish out on what we experienced here too. Ready? Here goes!
I’ll review them in reverse order of how much we like them now, ending with our ultimate favorite.
Not Worth Beans
Never liked them, still don’t bother with them (have given or thrown away for the most part):
- Hiney Liney
- Oh Katy!
- Ones and Twos
- Itti Bitti Tutto
Remember that you can see my thoughts on all of these in the post where I first reviewed all those cloth diapers, which includes 6-month and one-year updates to share how each diaper fared over time.
Used to Like it, but Stuff Happened
All of these were initially very good diapers, Kawaii and Econobum among my favorites, but they all had serious sustainability problems:
- Kawaii – got all stretched out before John was even done with it, elastic totally played out on one leg, which kind of kills the whole “frugal” benefit.
- Econobum – started losing elasticity as well and is on probation for probably leakage problems. These are super cheap, so they might still be worth it, but it’s frustrating not to be able to use them for two kids. It’s the last one we grab if we’re totally out of diapers, but I need to retire the cover, really. (However – Econobum’s organic liners would be a good investment to go with other covers!)
- Bumkins – just another two-opening pocket diaper. It showed its age quite a bit with some elasticity issues and leaks right through the PUL (which might be my fault because of detergent, but it’s retired nonetheless). We’re using Molly’s Suds cloth diaper detergent from one of our current sponsors right now and I’ve been really happy with the results. (Use the code kitchen for 20% off your order.)
- Grovia – once the tightest fastener out there, Grovia’s aplix got curly, so it struggles to sustain its grip nowadays. It is also having elastic problems around the legs and leakage:
Grovia, above: this is baby at two months old, so the legs are certainly starting to fill out. See the big gap above the leg though? You can also see how the fastener is pulling away from the diaper; it just won’t stay flat, so not enough of the aplix is touching the surface. We’re using it, but we know if he has a BM in it, we’re in trouble! So I wouldn’t invest in this brand, personally.
Just Fine…but Nothing Groundbreaking
- Tiny Tush – just another 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 a few years back.
- Fuzzibunz – has held up well and gets bigtime points for fitting a small baby! However – it falls over on the other end and doesn’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. Longevity = great because you could replace the elastic; the diapers even come with an extra set.
- Bum Genius – just another one-opening pocket diaper. The quality remained very good, so I have nothing bad to say about its construction, and it sized down well to a mid-sized baby, about 2-3 months, but too bulky for a newborn.
- Go Green – I want to love this one because it’s a two-opening pocket diaper that will agitate its own liners out, works fine with the liners just laid in, and also sizes wayyyy down and wayyyy up to fit even a 4yo at night.
Fuzzibunz, above: You can see that the trim fit of Fuzzibunz, which is super annoying when trying to stuff the inserts, works well on a new infant. The ‘sizing down’ is done by elastic with buttons around the legs and waist, which is harder to adjust than the snap-downs but more effective on getting the right size. However, it’s not as easy to adjust as my favorite…
Bum Genius, above: There’s a little gapping at two months, but in reality it’s not as bad as it looks (i.e. BMs don’t run down the leg like crazy. In the front view you can see how it sizes down with the snaps, although you can also tell it’s pretty darn bulky on this little guy.
Go Green, above: You can see in the photo on the right how huge the diaper really is, and it looks a little silly on a tiny baby, but it’s amazing that it’s not really gapping on the leg! It’s having some leaking problems however, and it still has 3 snaps (harder for other people to put on for sure) and hasn’t stood out from the crowd enough.
Like it Better Now than I Sounded in the First Review!
Thirsties (found on Amazon) – I started out loving Thirsties and their double gussets, then turned on them because they looked like they were showing their wear so fast, and the aplix was coming off my bigger guy – the diaper would even fall off inside his pants! But for a newborn, the Thirsties fit surprisingly well around the leg within the first month, and although they were bulky on him, they held in what they needed to hold in. (Gabe is about 2 months old in the photo, and his thighs are obviously getting lovably chunky, but they really did fit well at one month – the double gusset is the key.)
They 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. So I would tentatively recommend Thirsties again, perhaps leaning toward snaps for longevity.
Ummm…Totally Lost These
- Flip – I have a feeling I’d still love the Flip…but I have no idea where it is. Maybe it was a casualty of the wrong detergent or I lent it to someone. ???
- Tuck and Go – I also loved the Tuck, except that it had super scratchy Velcro on the outside that hurt babies’ tummies. Where it is now, I don’t know!
- 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 them after all that chlorine in pools. BUT the fabric really holds up so 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 very much recommend the brand.
Has Some Very Redeeming Qualities That Put it Ahead of its Peers
- all fitteds we reviewed (Kissaluvs and more) – There’s still nothing like a fitted with a Marvel cover to contain everything.
- Marvel cover
The fitted diaper (left) holds a lot and can even make up for some of the leg gappage in other covers. The Marvel cover (found on Amazon) is amazing and has double gussets (see them there on the right?) which are like a suit of armor for poops. The Marvel is pretty large, so I had to wait until about 3 months to get it out. The only potential problem is if a grandma puts a fitted diaper on and doesn’t realize it needs a separate cover because it looks like a diaper already. That may have happened recently. It doesn’t work all that well!
Thank goodness we had Branch Basics (new formula, even better!) (product being reformulated, check back later!) 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.
My old review surprised me by saying that the diaper was leaking through the PUL, because we really haven’t had significant problems with it. Perhaps smaller infants urinate so much less that it wasn’t a problem, yet? I would recommend this cover/fitted combo for overnights for sure!
The Motherease is a beast of an all-in-one, humongous and takes two days to dry if you hang it, but it’s worth machine drying this one because it holds. in. everything. It’s a great overnight diaper, and I stand by that, although a bit of a pain for daytime because the snaps are hard to fasten. For some reason I don’t have new photos of these two; maybe because I had to wait for both to get them out.
The BEST Cloth Diaper for Newborn to Toddler
This diaper has it all together, truly:
- Effectiveness – It rarely leaks, even at the newborn stage. Either kind of insert, bamboo or “soft-touch” microfiber, 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 IMO and to make it fit just right. Because you can snap in the inserts, you can have diapers prepped and ready 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, no biggie. 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, practically luxurious. 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).
I’m not a gusher, people. I take great joy in pointing out the downfalls of products I review so that you don’t have to deal with problems.
But Softbums are really, really making me happy lately!!!
(That’s a lot of exclamation points for me. I’m talking serious here.)
It brought such a level of clarity to just be a regular person, not always reviewing everything, and trying cloth on a second child. When I was just a mom using these diapers, it was so clear which ones I wanted to buy more of, and when a really great deal from Softbums landed in my email during December, I jumped at it. (You might want to get on their email list to watch for sales and coupons.) The diapers aren’t cheap, but in my experience they’re worth the cost because of how well they hold up and how versatile they have proven to be.
If you’re in the market for cloth diapers, I highly recommend Softbums. You can shop around for pricing below, although prices for covers seem to be the same across the board, $21.95 per cover everywhere. Watch for coupons! I got a package with a few covers and 6 inserts, which is a great idea. I love the bamboo inserts but couldn’t quite stomach $10 more per insert, but shop around because prices do vary on those.
- Softbums main site ($2.95-8.95 pods) and their money-saving packages
- Sweet Bottoms Baby ($2.95-15.95 for the various pods)
- Squishy Tushy ($4.25 Bamboo Mini Pod, $8.95 Large Bamboo Pod)
- The Green Nursery ($3.95-11.95 pods)
- Amazon (Not seeing single inserts on Amazon)
I’m happy to answer any questions you have about any of these diapers, and remember that there’s a very, very long review of all two dozen brands (with videos of each one so you can see them in action!) right HERE. That post will be updated with the info from here later, but for now, I’m off to play with my kids!
If you appreciated the balance and depth of the review you just read, you will love my resources page, with REAL products that have passed my rigorous testing enough to be “regulars” in the Kimball household, plus some other comprehensive reviews. Updated at least once a year to boot the losers and add new gems!