Prepare yourselves for some brutal honesty here: I don’t like cloth diapering.
(waits for sky to fall on head)
Since I’m still here, I guess I get to tell you more.
For me, cloth diapering has been “one more thing” to add to a very busy household and scattered, out of balance schedule. I don’t love the extra laundry. I don’t love that every time I get caught up and stuff/pair up all my diapers, it’s back on the to-do list 24 hours later.
I miss being able to say, “He’s just medium squishy,” which, with disposables, meant the diaper had something in it but wasn’t full and could probably wait an hour for a change. Finally, I don’t love the thought investment.
By “thought investment,” I mean that, like so many things in the natural living/real food lifestyle, cloth diapering is not something you can do by rote without any conscious thought. You need to troubleshoot leaks, figure out washing details, get diapers into the sun to get stains out, and, as you saw in the cloth diaper rookie post from yesterday, there’s a pretty steep learning curve.
I am a person who appreciates knowledge and seeks to be a lifelong learner, but sometimes my brain gets tired. It must be said that disposables are much simpler than cloth: put on, take off, throw away, order/buy more.
It is also true that I applaud our tiny garbage bags each week, and I used to be uncomfortable knowing how much I was throwing away with ‘sposies. Disposable diapers are absolutely horrible for the earth, with the non-biodegradable waste and the toxic human waste combined. They don’t belong in landfills, and it was truly silly that I’d go to great pains to reuse plastic bags, recycle every 2×2″ piece of paper I wrote notes on, and avoid disposable tissues, while still throwing away a half dozen diapers every day.
I know cloth diapers are the better way to go.
I know this is an important practice for the earth and for my children’s and grandchildren’s generations.
That’s why I’m still doing it, and I’ll keep it up – I’m too darn stubborn to let the fact that I hate it get in my way.
Don’t let me scare you off now…there are many, many women who absolutely love cloth diapering, who find a sort of calm solace in hanging their diapers to dry, who love seeing those cute fluffy buns on their babies.
A little part of me loves the “fluff” too. That part is going to take over the post now and put the cranky part in time out so we can talk about what diapers you should really buy and why!
Reviewing 25 different diapers from about 20 brands is totally crazy. I’m going to do my best to distill the options into a few best choices for certain situations/budgets today, and I’m also going through the cloth diaper review post thoroughly to make sure I was fair and consistent on my scoring.
Click HERE to get the newest eBook on cloth diapering, Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert!
KS Cloth Diaper Resources
Here’s what we’ve covered so far:
- Cloth diaper review: 25 styles/brands evaluated with videos for each one!
- 7 Tips for the Cloth Diapering Newbie
- A Cloth Diapering Rookie’s First Steps: The Routine, The Vocabulary, The Laundry
- Wet Bags and how much I love them
- How to Make Cloth Diaper Wipes
- Cloth diaper absorbency tests: how much do all those materials hold?
I’ve updated this post (9/2012) with a 2-week leak observation, tracking every single diaper change and what happened. Some of the final numbers have been changed as a result!
These are the diapers I would be willing to spend money on and would want in our stash; they are rated the highest on the scale I used to review (clicking on any of these links will take you to the review for that diaper or category at my massive review where you’ll find a full description, review, video, and leak report.):
Softbums, Omni (29)
Sprout Change (29)
Kawaii Green Baby bamboo diaper (pictured above) (26 or 27…but perhaps demoted because its elastic played out at just about one year)
Tuck and Go (25)
Kissaluvs fitted diaper (organic) (25)
Go Green! (25)
Kissaluvs (cotton fleece) (24)
Since I get to add my own commentary and not just go by the numbers, I will. These are definitely all my favorites, but the two that I’m a bit more skeptical about are the Omni and Go Green. I’m surprised the Omni ranked quite so highly; it is a very good diaper, but I don’t have quite as much emotional attachment to it as the others. The Go Green seems to leak more than I’d like, but perhaps I need to double stuff like I do most pockets. So there. My very subjective opinion.
UPDATE 9/2012: The Go Green does leak too much at night with the preschooler. The Omni is a true favorite, but its counterpart, the Echo, had a sizing slider malfunction that doesn’t make me happy. After re-evaluating every diaper and keeping track of leaks for 2 weeks meticulously, the Econobum brand moved up 4 points, well deserved.
Making Your Stash
Ten kinds of diapers is way too many, so let me explain how to narrow those recommendations down for your purposes:
We’ve always had “night-night” diapers at our house – when we used ‘sposies, it was Target brand during the day and Pampers at night. We cosleep, so nighttime leaks means big sheets to wash and change and a huge pain in the tushie. I put a bassinet-sized waterproof pad under John’s lower half, but I breathe easier if I know he’s wearing one of the diapers I save for nighttime:
- Any fitted: either Kissaluvs or Wooldins are about equal, always with an extra hemp/cotton doubler and sometimes a small liner as well, with the Marvel cover from Kissaluvs or the Econobum cover
- Motherease is not easy to get on at all, but it’s been such a great nighttime solution – only with the Sugar Peas hemp doubler though!
- Good backups include Kawaii with 2 bamboo inserts and an extra Sprout Change or hemp doubler and the Sprout Change cover with triple stuffing of some sort
On the Go
If John had certain diapers on when we left the house, I wasn’t happy until he was changed into something more reliable, like the ones below. Some diapers are just easier to pack, too:
- Tuck and Go
- Softbums Omni
At Home, to Reuse the Cover
I do appreciate how I can hang these covers to air out and then reuse them on another diaper change:
- Tuck and Go (pictured above)
- Sprout Change
- Marvel cover
For the Budget
If you’re looking for the best deals, I recommend:
- A few Econobum covers with prefolds – many recommend Green Mountain prefolds as the best and warn against buying at a regular box store (although when I only had 5 cloth diapers, I used some of my old burp rags with the Sprout Change cover and they worked!).
- The only really bum thing about Econobum is that big poos come through the leg seams, so you’ll deal with a little bit more laundry because of that (about like disposables used to do minus the full blowouts). You may find having a few more expensive shells like Marvel or Sprout Change is worth it, especially since you can reuse for multiple changes. UPDATE: many readers say my experience with the leg seams is unique, which makes the covers even better!
- Prefolds are most certainly the most economical, and many people say that they tried all the fancy brands and just ended up loving the versatility of prefolds in the end. I can see how that happens, so don’t be afraid of them, but they are slightly more work with wiggly babies.
- A few Kawaii pocket diapers with bamboo inserts for babysitters and when out of the house; pockets are just easier to pack, and this definitely is the most bang for your buck + effective.
- For any pocket diaper you choose, you can use thin microfiber cloths, folded into thirds, as stuffers. They dry super fast, allow you to be in charge of the absorbency, and are an economical option. (Thanks, Lenetta!)
- If you have nighttime leaks, grab one or two fitteds.
For Bigger Kids
Almost all of our diapers fit my 3.5-year-old, but some just seemed more comfortable and roomy:
- Go Green
- Tiny Tush
- Bum Genius
For Others to Put On
When I think about how people not used to cloth diapers end up faring with various styles, this list became quickly clear:
- Tuck and Go – couldn’t be simpler to put on AND take off
- Softbums Omni – the option of stuffing the pocket is handy, and these snaps are among the easiest to figure out
- Sprout Change, Kawaii, Go Green, and Motherease are close seconds on this list, but each of them has a little wiggle room for folks to put them on wrong, plus Kawaii needs to be unstuffed after a change.
On the Bubble
A few more diapers are worth mentioning, in my opinion, since they performed rather well. There are a lot of pockets in this category, so if the convenience of a pocket diaper is important to you, take note. A few of these diapers also might move up in the ranks pending a few more weeks of leak testing.
**Be sure to check the cloth diaper reviews for the details on each diaper above!**
Not on My List
Some diapers just left a bad taste in my mouth, usually for being too complicated or simply for leaking. A lot. I’m sure some will disagree, but these guys just weren’t for me:
Thirsties Duo diaper (
21 20)– recently demoted because the Velcro is failing miserably! It has completely come off my daughter at night twice…
Hiney Liney (link no longer available) (15)
Oh Katy! (15)
Babykicks Basic (13)
Ones and Twos (13)
Bum Genius (9, updated to about 15-19 after one year)
Babykicks Premium (3G pocket) (7)
Itti bitti tutto (6)
Random Things You’ll Find Different with Cloth
Starting a new routine is always difficult for people like me. I’m the girl who went through Calc II in college without learning to use a graphing calculator, simply because I was too stubborn my senior year of high school to learn one darn more piece of technology. I knew I’d encounter some changes and have to learn new skills when switching from disposable diapers to cloth, but there were some surprises nonetheless:
- I was told I’d do less blowout laundry even while doing more laundry for the actual diapers. Encouragingly, that was true, but I was suddenly washing nearly every pair of pants and onesie that John owned! So that the boy would still have clothing to wear, we had to get a new tolerance for “wet” or “damp” and redefine when the clothing actually needed to be changed. “Just damp” meant “leave it on.” Don’t judge me until you’ve changed entire outfits three times before lunch, and your baby is not a newborn. I run out of pants all the time!
- Once John was wearing a ‘sposie because I hadn’t stuffed diapers (as usual), and he had a huge blowout up the back. I didn’t even hear it happen. This has NOT happened with cloth, not once. Case in point.
- Cloth diapers, ironically, almost keep too much smell in – you can sniff a baby’s bum and not know he’s poopy!
- Cloth takes up so much room! I always thought folks didn’t take cloth on trips because they might not be able to wash them properly, but my goodness, it’s probably because they don’t have room for all that fluffiness! I need a new diaper bag…
So many recommend Bum Genius, Fuzzibunz, and Green Mountain Diapers (prefolds). One important point I’ve learned in this whole cloth diaper process is that you can’t really just go by the brand – if you get a recommendation from someone, be sure to write down what kind of diaper they loved from a certain brand. Here are some quick notes from helpful KSers:
- Little Lions is another good site for prefolds. They have seconds that are really cheap.
- Motherease has new bedwetter pants.
- A few people always recommend elimination communication – a great idea, but not one I’ve instituted. It’s never too late!
- the ecoDiaper free book by Ingrid Bauer that is worth its weight in gold just for its down to earth, lovely parenting advice and the diaper free method is like icing on the cake. I highly recommend it to everyone even if they are using Pampers ;)” (from a reader)
- For newborns: “My recommendation is to get a dozen newborn prefolds and about 4 newborn covers (probably about $70). Try them out for a bit once your baby is at least 7-8lbs. If cloth diapering seems like something you are ready to jump into whole hog, I would try a starter set from Mother-Ease. Their one size diapers seem like a good, economical option. The diapers themselves use snaps to adjust as your child grows and you just buy bigger covers as they grow out of them.” (from a reader)
- Want more? Check these out:
When you jump into cloth diapering, you do commit to a certain amount of reading and research (you’ve gotten this far in the post, haven’t you?). Here are some other places to peruse:
- Diaper Swappers (second hand diapers for sale, information, forums and more)
- All About Cloth Diapers
- Calley at The Eco Chic
- Dispelling the Myths: Why Cloth Diapering is Easier Than it Seems
- More Reasons Cloth Diapering is Easier Than You Think
- The Cloth Diaper Foundation: Affording Cloth Diapers on a Low Income
- Keeper of the Home’s Pocket Cloth Diaper Review
- The Art of Simple has an amazing cloth diaper 101 series, with reviews, how-tos, and Qs answered.
- 5 Cloth Diaper Problems that Haven’t Sent Me Running Back to Disposables (and One That Might) — supporting the cause still one year later, along with some laundry problems you’ll want to know about.
If you’re a wee bit overwhelmed, or if perhaps you want to commiserate with the cranky Katie from the beginning of the post, let me leave you with some sage and comforting words from a dear friend:
Just assume that you’re diapering your baby with disposables. That’s the status quo. Every time you manage to use one cloth diaper, you save one from being thrown into the trash.
The glass is half full…and you’re overachieving when you incorporate some cloth, not failing when your baby’s in disposables because you’re behind on the laundry.
It’s all about attitude and perspective…and the perspective from here of that fluffy little rump is pretty inspiring!
And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming about real food and natural living.
This week we’re starting a real food weight loss and exercise mini-series, during which time I’ll share ideas for on-the-go real food protein sources for after a workout with some nifty ideas from Radiant Life (where they also offer kits for homemade baby formula), my new quinoa-oat protein bars (also a grain-free version), and a new simpler tutorial for my famous homemade yogurt method. I’ll also be reviewing sippy cups from Mighty Nest, so be sure to stick around as there’s plenty to do with your baby beyond his or her cute buns!
All the diapers mentioned here were free product samples, but my opinion is strictly my own.