Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cloth diaper reviews

I have a good friend pregnant with her first who wants to use cloth diapers. She'd like advice about what brands and styles to try. I suggested that she buy one of many different kinds in a newborn size from somewhere like DiaperSwappers, plus disposables to fill any gaps if she doesn't have a complete stash. She can wear & wash them for a while until she finds one that she likes the best. Then when the baby is ready to move on to a bigger size, she can sell most of them back and buy a full stash.

So please help me out by suggesting your favorite cloth diapering brand or system, including:
1) average price for the new and/or used diaper
2) style (AIO, pocket, contour, fitted, etc)
3) what you like best and least about the diaper
4) technical info such as absorbency, drying time, ease of use, etc.

Many thanks!


  1. I have always loved the simplicity of Prefolds (either Chinese or DSQ), unbleached, plus a ProWrap. Very easy, and relatively cheap. I've tried some other types, and I've tried some other kinds of wraps, but nothing works like a prefold and a simple wrap!

  2. I second Trish's comment. I'll offer a suggestion: instead of disposables to fill gaps in the stash, use prefolds. They're pretty inexpensive. I got 4x8x4 Chinese DSQ prefolds as my gap-filler in the beginning, and when it came time to upsize, I bought more prefolds (Indian this time because I couldn't find Chinese in Canada). They're my fave.

    I paid less than $2 each for the newborn size of unbleacheds and just over $3 Cdn for the next size (which covers 15-30 pounds). All new. I top them off with a Snappi fastener (way easier than pins) and a Bummis SWW or SuperBrite. SuperBrites will not wick at the leg like the SWWs do. They're about $14 here in Canada. I have 24 prefolds and 7 covers. I did not need 7 covers, but I like different patterns and colours! 5 is enough. I had 4 in the newborn size.

    Pro: They're more absorbent than any of the fancier diapers I've tried. A 12 hour night is no problem. Con: They can sometimes be hard to get on a wiggly/rolling baby!

    I can't say about drying time, because I'm not sure how long the dryer actually runs . . . and I hang them out a lot of the time.

  3. I love the simplicity of prefolds with a trusty Thirsties cover. Prefolds are cheap, and they can be folded a number of ways making them the most reliable and best fitting, in my opinion.

    However, I do have a handful of pocket diapers (Fuzzibunz, Haute Pocket, and Swaddlebess) that I keep in the diaper bag-- on the go it's a much easier change. However, I don't find them to be as reliable as far as leaks, they don't get much use out of the house.

    I love diaperswappers! I love that I can try out diapers and if I don't like them resell them without losing much money (or any money if I bought them used). All babies are shaped different so finding the "right" diaper can turn into a bit of an obsession-- and expensive obsession. :)

  4. Prefolds as a gap-filler is a great idea. Even if you don't end up using them for diapers, they can serve a lot of other useful purposes around the house. I've never tried them myself, since I made AIOs and just stuck with those.

  5. Your advice is great. I just had to go up a size, and I got it all from diaperswappers. I too love cheap, truly, and ease is a must, but I still use a variety of diaper styles.

    Except for AIOs. I wanted to switch to mostly AIOs for daytime, but I can't always get them clean even with a prewash plus two full cycles in my front loader, and then they're still damp after the longest drier cycle -- I can't justify the time and energy (including utilities) to care for them, so I'm getting rid of them.

    Pockets are nice if pricey, but I'm not a big fan of stuffing them. They are a great concept though, I always grab a pocket for overnight, because a well stuffed pocket shouldn't leak after 11 hrs...

    Velcro wraps? I stopped using those when my toddler girl figured out how to lift her skirt/dress and undo the velcro. Nakey butt is great, but still. I now have a couple of snap covers and a dozen (really! 12!) nylon taffeta pull-on pants. I'm a cheapskate -- I love the price at about $2 each, they're soft, breathable, and you won't find lighter and thinner covers. They take three seconds longer to put on than a velcro wrap, that's the only drawback I can think of.

    For naps, I prefer wool soakers instead of the nylon pants.

    I use these with velcro fitteds. With a non-mobile baby, I would snappi a prefold or flat. I like my diaper system to wash easily, and dry in a reasonable amount of time.

  6. For newborns and small infants you can't beat prefolds with a Snappi. Yeah, fitteds or AIOs are cute and can be easier for DH to pitch in with changes, but baby will outgrow them so fast that they're not worth the money. Infant prefolds will fit up until baby gets into medium diapers, and mediums usually fit a long time.

    As for covers, I like Motherease Airflow. Bummis and Thirsties are good too. But I like wool the best. :)

  7. I have only used pocket diapers and tried about six different kinds in the beginning. I settled on Bum Genius 3.0 and LOVE them still. It was an investment in the beginning at about 18 dollars US per diaper, but they have already paid for themselves. I have about 2 dozen in my stash and I never run out. It is more then I need. They are bright and white still, and I have been using them since my daughter was 4 months old and she is 12 months old now. They are a one size fits all diaper (however I do not see how they would fit a new born very well). They have snap settings to make them larger- my daughter is on the medium size at 12 months and 21 pounds. I do not prestuff them after I wash. I put them in a basket that goes near the changing table and stuff as I need them. My daughter still nurses through the night so she is a heavy night wetter. I use a Hemp Babies stuff-in at night and never have leak issues, day or night. I am very pleased with our investment.

  8. Prefolds are, in my opinion, the best choice. A few dozen prefolds, a few good covers, and a handful of Snappis and you're good to go. I like Green Mountain the best, though you really can't go wrong with most prefold brands. Except the Gerber ones, absolute crap.

    Wool covers. Yes, they are a bit more expensive. But they let the skin breath more than plastic and will reduce rashes. Plus they have a much better resale value.

    I love pocket diapers for a t night. Fuzzybunz are great. Stuff three prefolds into one and it will generally hold up all night.

  9. I love AIO, but it seems they can be rather pricey, new at least. I always line mine with a nice hemp liner. but like i said, the cost allows me only a few. My favorite brand is Snapeez. Which is made locally for me, but I am sure they sell online. For the most part I use pocket. I know they are massed produced but I really like Happy Heinys and Fuzzibunz. They are affordable and they seem to work. I stuff them with anything, prefold, hemp liner, washclothe...whatever! I did prefolds with cover for my first daughter until she was about a year and discovered the world of clothe diapers out there! I quickly let go of those. never liked them, they leaked for me alot. i love wool soakers for night, but again, i can't really afford a bunch of these but would use them all winter.

    good luck!

  10. Oh, here's another site for cheap dipes besides diaperswappers:

    it's auction style, it went up after eBay banned used cloth diapers. I've had a lot of good luck there as well.

  11. I plan to use cloth diapers myself someday. They have REALLY come a long way. Thank you for posting this, I needed the advice as well.

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  13. I'm in love with the prefolds/Snappi/wool cover system mentioned by some other commenters and am currently using that with my two-year-old (who recently though sporadically started peeing in the toilet on his own volition! where's my tiny baby?). We used fleece or PUL covers instead of wool until he was maybe ten months old and was soiling the covers less often, since we hand wash the wool covers and they take a while to air dry. It's cool now that we can use the infant-sized prefolds as doublers in our larger prefolds for naps and nights.

    With a newborn, we liked velcro better than snaps for the cover closure because of the complete adjustability; for an older baby, we choose snaps because velcro is too easy for little hands to open.

    It does seem that people have to try different covers to see which suit their baby's shape best ...

    I always recommend that people jump in with both feet and buy enough cloth diapers really to make a go of it, lest they get the impression that it's harder than it really is (too few diapers=constant laundry; running out of covers is no fun; etc.). I understand why some people choose to supplement with disposables, but I think too many people imagine that it's compulsory; my son hasn't worn a disposable since the day he was born, and we do travel and have babysitters and two demanding careers and so forth.

    Also, it's a blessing that people using prefolds get to start out with nearly-immobile newborns; by the time you have a wiggly kicky two-year-old, you're awesome at it!

    I love seeing people talk about cloth diapering! Hooray.

  14. I have bought all of my diapers second hand, and I have spent about a total of $350. That includes 12 large prefolds, 15 small prefolds, 4 large prefolds that I've been told make better burp cloths than anything else, 12 Motherease adjustable one-size-fits-all diapers, 3 size small Diaperaps, 3 size small Bummis super snaps, 3 size medium Swaddlebees pockets, 3 size medium Swaddlebees fleece covers, 2 medium Imse Vimse covers, 3 medium Bummis covers, and 3 medium wools.

    So far, I've never run out and I only have to do laundry every other day to every third day. One cycle in the dryer (diapers don't dry well in monsoon rains like we've been having) and they are ready for wear.

    I *love* prefolds! The Motherease diapers are great for my husband and step-daughter who are not so great with the prefolds.

    I remember how incredibly overwhelmed I was with all of the choices and options before the baby came, my head was spinning! I was so confused about washing, storage, diaper pails...I just didn't know where to begin. But, alas, there is nothing quite like learning as you go. I don't know that I could ever go back to disposables.

  15. When I was pregnant I emailed you and asked the same thing, Rixa. I heeded your advice and have a small variety: Mommey's Touch, Haute Pocket, Bum Genius AIO, Bum Genius pocket, Happy Heiny, Chinese prefolds w/ Bummis Whisper Wraps, and I have some Kushies that were given to me free.

    Kushies and prefolds we use only at home or if I'm visiting someone close to home. Since the wetness stays right next to the skin it can make for an unhappy baby really fast. The prefolds are much better than the Kushies, though, for sure. I've never had a leak with a Whisper Wrap.

    My hubby loves the AIO because it is just like a disposable but I don't like it because of how long it takes to dry (at least 2 long spins in the dryer).

    Bum Genius 3.0 pocket diapers are my fave. I don't mind stuffing, which I do while folding so they're ready to go. They rarely have leaked on me and my daughter has some massive blowouts! They are an investment at $18 per, but since we plan on having several kids we're sure we'll save in the long run. Plus, many people have given us gift certificates for online stores - which really helps!

    As we continue to build up our stash we still use disposables, and there was a lot of learning as I go with cloth diapering. But we are confident about it now and have a good system. Oh - and if your friend needs to know (because I know I did) - we just use a plastic kitchen garbage bin with a flip top for our diaper pail.

  16. My all time favorites are definitely Kissaluvs with or without a cover. Generally, because I EC (or rather, I do when my nursling is interested) I don't use a cover at all at home. But when I do, my favorite is wool.

    Kissaluvs are great because they fit for a LONG time. Lots of adjustment potential in the snaps, the sizes overlap very nicely and I've NEVER, after two children, had ONE blowout in them. Some people complain that they don't hold enough but I've never had that problem (I change as soon as I notice it's needed, though). They are also just so cute, especially the tiny ones. Lil baby bum all wrapped up in terry-like fabric. So cuuuuute. They come in a bunch of different colors, too. I've never gotten mine new before, so I don't know there average price off the top of my head but I'd be surprised if they were more than $10 or so. Easy to find these in Mom groups and whatnot as they sell their old stash for the next size up.

  17. Bonnie, I also use a flip-top kitchen garbage can for my diaper pail. It has a removable plastic liner, so you just take that and dump everything into the wash.

    My AIOs (hemp fleece or bamboo velour with a Chloe Toes pattern) do take a long time to dry, and they aren't even that absorbent. They have 2 layers of body fabric, and 2 layers in the inside soaker. That's probably the only downside of the diapers is that they don't hold a lot of pee and they don't dry quickly. However, I really use them more as training pants than as diapers, in that I change her right away, before we usually get any leaks.

    If I were to do it over, I'd consider trying prefolds and a cover, to see how I like them. Prefolds are great because they are so inexpensive. My homemade diapers probably cost $5-6 each for materials, and then you have to factor in the time as well.

  18. Since saving money was my top priority, I went with pre-folds, diaper pins (they last forever, while Snappis have about a 6-month life span, I think), and nylon diaper pants (which last many, many months). I got my diapers & pins from, and the nylon (NOT VINYL) pants from TLCare. The vinyl pants rip after just a few weeks of use, whereas I've only had to toss a few nylon pants when the inner liner started rubbing away and started leaking.

    I started using cloth when my older child (now almost 4 and potty-trained except for when he sleeps) was 7 months old, so my "medium" and "large" size diaper pants have gotten literally years of use (my younger son [now 2, and potty-training] is in the large size now). I think I've thrown away a total of 2 of each size, and I think I only bought a half-dozen of each size, so you know they got lots of use. I use cloth for naps (my older son still usually wakes up wet, but my younger son is frequently dry - he simply doesn't drink as much), and disposables at night. Maybe it's because they're so old and well-used, but the cloth just don't seem to hold enough (even when double-diapered) to keep the diapers from over-flowing at night.

    I paid about $60 for my initial set of 3 dozen diapers, pins, and covers (including shipping); and paid about another $40 for 4 dozen smaller prefolds and newborn & small covers when I had my younger child.

    They don't take much longer to dry than a regular load of clothes. My kids protest at the stiffness of line-dried diapers, so it's either that or disposables.


  19. I suggest getting a sampler pack like this one:

    It has a little bit of everything, for a great price to buy brand-new! The system that works best for us is: fitted with a cover for daytime, prefolds to fill in the gaps between washings, and pockets at night which are easy to put on with one eye shut.

  20. Thank you so much for all of the advice. I am Rixa's friend Kristy and I am very excited to enter the world of cloth diapers and EC this coming february. I am thinking about doing prefolds for at home with a sling since I want to do EC and then the Bum Genius 3.0's for outings, church, babysitters etc.. At least this is where we will start. I think I will get a starter kit that comes with the prefolds and some covers for variety, and then a dozen of the 3.0 bum genius. I also love the baby leggings so babies legs stay warm, but not as hard to get off when it's time to go. Thanks again for all your advice. My sister's and family are looking at me like I'm crazy, it is great to know that are a lot of other wonderful mother's out there that care about the environment and don't want to do disposables.

  21. Kristy, if you want the Bum Genius just for outings, babysitters, and perhaps nights, you might not even need a dozen. Let's see, I usually bring 3 diapers to church or shopping outings (3 is the maximum I've ever needed for the 3 hours, but usually less than that). After the newborn pooping-every-time-they-eat phase, nights will take 1-2, maybe 3 at the most, and that will even taper off...So you could even start with fewer Bum Genius diapers, since they are a bit pricey, and just buy more if you find that you're always running out.

    Anyway, it's really fun to think about cloth diapering, any way you end up doing it!

  22. Oh, and the family thing--once they see how cute and easy cloth can be, they will probably come to enjoy it! It's just that they probably have these images of the old pins & rubber pants/stinky diaper pail/swishing the poopy diapers in the toilet from a generation ago. Especially if they get to use the Bum Genius diapers or other similar style of pocket/AIOs, they will probably be won over!

  23. Another thing--I'd buy or make 2-3 wet bags out of PUL (polyurethane laminate) for carrying wet/dirty diapers when you're out. They're easy to make; I do them with a zipper closure so you don't smell a thing! Call me if you want instructions--they're super easy to make.

  24. A tip if you line dry your diapers: pop them in the dryer on "air dry" with a dryer ball for 10 minutes after you bring them in off the line. This will soften them up and use just a little bit of electricity. It works great!


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