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Best Cloth Diapers

Updated July 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 24 Models Considered
  • 5 Models Tested
  • 68 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 170 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best cloth diapers

    Last Updated July 2018

    In the U.S. alone, around 20 billion disposable diapers go to landfills every year, which equals roughly 3.5 million tons of waste. Increasingly, parents are choosing to opt out of this and buy cloth diapers instead of disposables for their babies.

    If you're new to cloth diapers, it can be daunting. You'll find a wide range of diaper varieties, along with a whole lot of lingo that can seem impenetrable to the uninitiated. And don't bother asking your parents or grandparents for advice because things have come a long way in the world of reusable diapers since they were tending infants.

    To help get to the bottom of things, we spoke to Aimee Ketchum, a pediatric occupational therapist, who has over 20 years’ experience with babies – and cloth diapers.

    Read on for our full guide to cloth diapers, or scroll up to see our top five picks.

    A parent who elects to use disposable diapers will need around 7,000 of them per child. A parent who elects to use cloth diapers will need only about 40 diapers per child.

    Benefits of cloth diapers

    It's clear that disposable diapers are more convenient, but cloth diapers do have a range of advantages.

    • Cloth diapers are more environmentally friendly. By the time he’s potty trained, the average child goes through about 6,500 to 7,000 disposable diapers – that's over 11 tons of waste to the landfill.

    • Cloth diapers save you money. The average parent can spend between $1,400 and $2,500 on disposable diapers for each child, whereas you can spend as little as $300 (though most parents spend closer to $700 or $800, including laundering costs) on a cloth diapering system that will last through to potty training and can be reused if younger siblings come along.

    • Cloth diapers are better for your baby. According to our expert Aimee, one of the great things about cloth diapers is that they contain fewer chemicals that can be harmful for babies. Disposables can contain dioxin, which is carcinogenic, and tributyltin (TBT), which can cause hormonal changes.

    • Cloth diapers are likely to be more comfortable. While you can't ask infants whether a cloth or disposable diaper feels more comfortable, ask yourself whether you'd be more comfortable in paper or cotton underwear.

    • Cloth diapers are just adorable. Although it might not be your first concern, cloth diapers come in all kinds of colors and cute prints, which look ridiculously adorable on babies.
    Aimee
    EXPERT CONSULTANT

    Aimee is a pediatric occupational therapist practicing in the neonatal intensive care unit and pediatric out-patient at Central Pennsylvania Rehab Services at the Heart of Lancaster Hospital. She has been working in pediatrics for 18 years and is also the owner/operator of Aimee’s Babies LLC, a child development company. Aimee has published 3 DVDs and 9 apps which have been featured on the Rachael Ray Show and iPhone Essentials Magazine. Also certified in newborn massage and instructing yoga to children with special needs, Aimee Ketchum lives in Lititz, PA with her husband and two daughters.


    Aimee  |  Pediatric Occupational Therapist

    Types of cloth diapers

    • All-in-one diapers

    All-in-one (AIO) diapers are the most similar to disposables and extremely easy to use. This type of cloth diaper is fully fitted and features all the absorbent padding sewn inside a waterproof cover, so it's ready to put on straight out of the wash – no fiddling around with folding or stuffing. They fasten with either snaps or Velcro. AIOs are daycare, grandparent, and babysitter friendly. However they can take a long time to dry after laundering.

    • Flat and prefold diapers

    Flat diapers are simple squares of material – usually cotton, terry, or muslin – that must be folded and pinned in place. Prefolds are similar, but have a thick section of fabric in the middle for absorbency, so minimal folding is required. Both kinds require a diaper cover over the top to prevent leaks. These types of cloth diapers are trickier to use than others, so they're not the most popular choice. However, they tend to be less expensive, so they're ideal for parents on a budget.

    • Fitted diapers

    Fitted diapers are much like AIOs, minus the waterproof cover, so you'll need to cover these diapers separately. Since the waterproof cover is separate from the absorbent padding, each part takes less time to dry than an AIO diaper does (plus you don't need to wash the cover every time if it isn’t soiled).

    • Pocket diapers

    Pocket diapers are essentially fitted waterproof shells with a pocket sewn inside. They don't have any built-in padding, but the pocket is designed to be stuffed with absorbent liners, usually made of cotton or bamboo. The liners often come included, and you can buy more separately. You can easily increase the absorbency by adding extra liners into the pocket, which is ideal for nighttime use or heavy wetters.

    • All-in-two diapers

    All-in-two (AI2) diapers fall somewhere between AIO diapers and pocket diapers. Like pocket diapers, the absorbent padding is separate from the waterproof cover, but the padding goes next to the baby's skin rather than in a pocket. The liner snaps into the waterproof shell, so they look and fit just like AIO diapers when assembled. AI2 diapers are ideal for anyone who likes the idea of AIO diapers but finds they take too long to dry.

    • Hybrids

    Hybrid diapers are like AI2 diapers except the insert can be either cloth or disposable. These are great for anyone who likes the idea of cloth diapers but is worried about the process of cleaning them. These are also a good option for anyone who might occasionally want to use a disposable insert for convenience while on the go or for a babysitter who has no experience with cloth diapers. The main drawback of hybrids is that they’re more expensive.

    Simple solutions

    These leakproof, waterproof, and breathable cloth pocket diapers from Nora's Nursery are extremely easy to use – simply slip one of the included bamboo polyester inserts in the pocket and you're good to go. These snug, adjustable diapers fit children from infant to toddler.

    Cloth diaper features to consider

    • Size

    Check the size of your chosen cloth diapers before buying. Most will tell you the weight range in pounds of the babies they fit, much like disposable diapers. While you can buy different cloth diapers for different stages of development, one-size options are becoming more popular. These diapers have snaps in different positions, making them adjustable to suit babies from around 10 to 35 pounds. While these diapers are advertised as "birth-to-potty," they're usually too large for newborns and may not fit all children right up to the potty training stage, depending on the child’s size and age at which she’s toilet trained.

    • Color and pattern

    You can find cloth diapers in a wide range of solid colors, as well as all kinds of patterns from dainty floral, sailboat, and animal prints to punky skulls and crossbones. You'll easily be able to find a color or pattern that you love, no matter what your tastes. Of course, some cloth diapers, such as flat or fitted diapers, are generally plain white, but the covers that go over the diapers are colored or patterned.

    • Quantity

    Although you could buy all the cloth diapers you need separately, it usually saves money to buy them in bulk. You can find large sets that contain all the diapers, inserts, and padding you'll need to take your baby from birth through potty training, as well as smaller sets that contain two to eight diapers. Some parents prefer a single type or brand of diaper that they stick with, while others use a range of diaper types depending on the situation – or what's clean.

    • Useful accessories

      • While you don't need too many other accessories to start cloth diapering, you'll need a few essentials, as well as some other items that aren't essential but are nice to have.

      • Diaper pail (for storing dirty diapers until laundry day)

      • Wet bag (for storing dirty diapers away from home)

      • Various extra inserts (for pocket or AI2 diapers)

      • Snappis (diaper pin alternative for flat diapers and any others that require pinning)

      • Diaper sprayer (Some parents who choose cloth diapers say they can’t live without this attachment for the toilet.)

    EXPERT TIP

    Some cloth diapers contain disposable liners, making them easy to clean, especially on the go.


    Aimee  | Pediatric Occupational Therapist
    EXPERT TIP

    Even though cloth diapers are more expensive upfront, they save a lot of money in the long run.


    Aimee  | Pediatric Occupational Therapist
    EXPERT TIP

    Purchase enough cloth diapers so you don’t find yourself having to do laundry every other day.


    Aimee  | Pediatric Occupational Therapist

    Cloth diaper prices

    Cloth diapers range in price from $1 to $30.

    You can find single flat diapers for $1 or $2, and you can pay up to $30 for an all-in-one or hybrid option from a high-end brand.

    There's lots of middle ground between these two prices, however, so you really don't have to pay more than around $10 for a diaper unless you want to – even for AIO, AI2, pocket, and fitted diapers, which are costlier than flats and prefolds.

    Adorable and affordable

    Parents love the wide range of cute patterns featured on these reusable cloth diapers. And to making them even cuter is the extremely affordable price. You can customize the absorbency of the diaper by adding more liners to the pocket, too.

    Tips

    • Decide how many cloth diapers you need. Most parents find around 40 is a good number, if you only want to wash a load of diapers every few days. You can get away with fewer if you're willing to launder them more often.

    • Check if your daycare is cloth friendly. If your baby goes to daycare, check that the facility is willing to deal with cloth diapers and, if so, which kinds. Some daycares accept easier types, like AIOS, but not complex flats or prefolds.

    • Consider flushable liners. Parents can't afford to be too squeamish about poop, but if the idea or scraping out dirty diapers fills you with dread, consider using flushable liners on the inside of your cloth diapers, which catch solid waste and can simply be rolled up and flushed down the toilet.

    • Make sure you change your baby regularly enough. Since cloth diapers aren't as absorbent as disposables, you will probably have to change your baby’s diaper more often.
    In some areas, you can find cloth diaper lending programs, which allow you to try a few different diaper varieties before you commit to buying a full set.

    FAQ

    Q. Are cloth diapers hard to put on?

    A. How difficult a cloth diaper is to put on your baby depends on the type. Fitted diapers and AIOs are just as easy to put on as disposable diapers, but some varieties, such as flats or prefolds, have a bit of a learning curve to them. Once you learn the technique, however, it shouldn't be a problem. Our expert Aimee recommends, "Users should read the insert or look online for directions for use."

    Q. Can I get any other reusable changing products for babies?

    A. You can also get reusable wipes for changing your baby, which is a much more eco-friendly option.

    Q. Can cloth diapers prevent diaper rash?

    A. Many people find that babies who wear cloth diapers are much less likely to suffer from diaper rash than those who wear disposables. This could be due to the chemicals found in disposable diapers or because disposable diapers are so absorbent that parents tend to change them less frequently, which could lead to diaper rash. Doctors recommend that you change your baby's diaper every two to three hours during the day.

    The team that worked on this review
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      Bronwyn
      Editor
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      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Lauren
      Lauren
      Writer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor