cloth diapering: four new reviews

I’ve written before about cloth diapering newborns and infants, but since my last post on the topic was when the girls were 5 months old, now that they’re 18 months, I figured it was time for an update now that we are well into toddlerhood.

Today, I’m sharing some reviews of brands/styles we’ve tried since I last wrote about our cloth diapering methods. Tomorrow, check back for a post with tips about cloth diapering toddlers and cloth diapering at preschool or daycare.

Charlie Bananas OS pocket cloth diaper review:

I picked up two Charlie Bananas OS cloth diapers at Target during a clearance sale, for $5 each. Regular price is around $20 per diaper. I’m definitely glad I picked these up. Structurally, they’re like a hybrid between my Alva Baby diapers and my BumGenius 4.0 snaps. They have snaps more similar to the Alva, with double snaps on the tabs and hip snaps to prevent wing sagging, but there’s a flap over the pocket like the 4.0s. They also stuff from the front rather than the back, which is different from most diapers, but doesn’t seem to affect the operation much. I will say, the inners are fleece where the 4.0s are suedecloth, and the fleece is much softer to the touch. Since some babies have sensitivities to suedecloth, these might be a better alternative for folks with that issue. They came with two microfiber inserts, one small and one large, and recommend using both for babies of 4 months or older. Since I usually just use one MF insert in my pockets during the daytime, I have only been using the large insert, and it’s been just as absorbent as my other MF inserts that I use on their own. I see no reason to use both unless you have a heavy wetter, or for overnights or naps.

One thing that isn’t really an issue for me, but might be for some people is that instead of snapping to adjust the rise, the elastic is accessed on the inside and can be taken in or let out using a sliding buckle similar to a bra strap. I hated (HATED) the elastic adjustment on FuzziBunz (which, I hate FuzziBunz diapers in general), largely because the buttons are exposed and dig into my babies’ skin, and would probably not enjoy trying to adjust Charlie Bananas up and down either, but since we’ve got the rise completely let out on all our OS diapers these days, I don’t have to deal with it at all. Overall, these are a nice pocket, just as absorbent as any others I’ve tried, and the fleece inside is nice and soft. I definitely recommend them.

Here’s some photos comparing the Charlie Banana Pocket to some 2011 FuzziBunz One Size diapers.








Alva Baby diapers vs. BumGenius, FuzziBunz, and Charlie Banana

Another thing I’ve wanted to post about is how “Cheapy China” diapers from Alva Baby stack up to the more popular brands.

At less than $5 per diaper, Alvas are absolutely a great way to get a stash of pockets for very little investment. Sure, the website looks like it came straight from 1998, and free shipping from China seems sketchy, but they take PayPal, the shipping is slow but truly free, and they’re worth a try, whether you’re just filling out a stash, looking for a diaper to send to daycare, or buying all of your diapers.

I will say, they seem lower-quality than BumGenius or Charlie Banana, with flimsier fabrics, snaps that don’t match the fabric, and no flap over the pocket, but they’re perfectly serviceable, and none of those features are dealbreakers when you’re talking 1/5-1/4 the price of the “name brand” diapers. They only come with one insert, but they’re not leakier than others, and I recommend buying a few of their bamboo inserts, because those are super absorbent. Another thing: they seem to run a little bigger, particularly in the legs, than the others. This is great news for Claire and her luscious thighs, but this might be a problem on a skinny baby (though Etta is in the 5th percentile, and they work fine for her). And despite the flimsier feel of the material, these have held up just fine for us, unlike my Fuzzibunz, two of which have lost snaps.

Bottom line: Alvas are a great, cheap diaper and a great way to get the ease of pocket diapers on a budget.




BumGenius Freetime AIO OS diaper review:

Recently, BumGenius introduced the Freetime, an all-in-one diaper that essentially marries their suedecloth-topped stay-dry Flip inserts with their 4.0s to create a stay-dry microfiber diaper with sewn in flaps that eliminate the need for stuffing. I bought two on sale, and I like them just fine.

Pros: they’re a little trimmer than the pockets, and they’re a little more absorbent. You don’t have to stuff them, so they’re always ready to go.

Cons: again, this is less of an issue for us because we just use the diaper as-is without having to size down in the rise, but having to fold the flaps over could be annoying. They’re also harder to get on right, because the two overlapping flaps try to slide out the sides, and because if you don’t get the flaps laid down right, baby can be lying on the flap, preventing you from pulling the front up all the way– so they’re just tricky. My husband expressly avoids using them, because he doesn’t want to fiddle with making sure the flaps aren’t peeking out the leg holes. Also, if kiddo poops in the diaper and you’re trying to spray it out into the toilet, the flaps flop around and have been known to make the process difficult.

Overall: I like these diapers fine, and not stuffing is nice, but I still prefer the pocket style of the 4.0 because there are no flaps to fuss with, and because it’s easy to customize the absorbency with added inserts.

Cloth Swim Diapers:

First of all, if you have toddlers in warm weather, you MUST have a kiddie pool. Mine were a little young/unsteady as walkers to enjoy splash parks this summer, and we don’t have consistent access to a real pool, but the girls have LOVED their kiddie pool. Not sure why it took me so long to get one.

Now, you can use an unstuffed pocket or just a diaper cover as a swim diaper, because all a swim diaper does is contain poop. Yep, even your disposable swim diapers which immediately become waterlogged when you get in the pool aren’t absorbing any pee. At first I was just using Flip covers, but those are kind of clingy, and I don’t think wet PUL clinging to my skin would be very comfy. Then, at the same Target clearance sale I mentioned above, I found Charlie Banana swim diaper/training pants on sale for $3.50. So nice. They look more like little swim bottoms, and have a cotton liner and a drawstring at the waist. Also, they pull double duty as waterproof training pants when potty training time arrives. I highly recommend them. I’m even thinking about starting to stock up on them to use as training pants when the time comes, because I like them better than any other trainers I’ve seen.

The pink diapers on the right are the swim/trainers.
The pink diapers on the right are the swim/trainers.

cloth diapering twins 5 months in

My initial post on cloth diapering our girls has been so popular, I thought I’d write a follow-up now that we’re 5 months in, as I wrote the original only a week or so after we moved into our one-size diapers. So, see that post for the most detailed newborn cloth diapering info, and this one for cloth diapering past the newborn stage.

The short version is that yes, folks who keep asking me if I’m “still doing that cloth diaper thing,” I am, and I still love it. Here’s the more detailed version:

What diapers are we using? Which are our favorite? Least favorite?

For daytime, we exclusively use one-size pocket diapers. We have well over 50 changes, as a few friends gifted me some used BumGenius pockets since my last post. We have mostly BumGenius 4.0s, and we really like them. I can see from the used ones that the aplix (Velcro) closures don’t necessarily hold up great long-term, but I still like the aplix best for fit. So that might be something to consider if you plan on using your diapers for multiple kids– the snaps hold up better over time, even if you can’t quite customize the fit as well.

My second favorite diapers are probably Alva Baby, and they’re only my second favorite because they run slightly bigger, and because I just don’t have as many of them. Honestly, though, if I were buying a completely new stash, I’d probably just order Alvas. You could get 24 Alva pockets for $115 and have a great stash of diapers to last from about 10 lbs through potty training.

My third favorite is probably our Rumparooz, but because I don’t absolutely love them, I sold I’m planning to sell the 6 I have (so let me know if you want them!). On the bright side: they’re well made, I like the colors, and I love the inner gusset for containing runny baby poo. Their inserts are probably the most absorbent microfiber inserts I’ve seen. The downside for us is that they just don’t fit our girls great. I often have gapping at the waist. It rarely leads to leaks, but it did cause my one and only poop blowout in cloth, doubly frustrating because we were in a waiting room when it happened… (It came out the waist in the front. Ick.)

My least favorites are Fuzzibunz OS Elite. The PUL (the waterproof outer fabric) is “sticky” on the inside, and the pocket is narrow, which makes them really hard to stuff. I can’t even imagine getting an extra insert into them for when I want extra absorbency. I also had one of the snaps pop off one of my diapers (I’ll be contacting customer service to get a replacement under the warranty).

What about nighttime?

We have a couple methods for nighttime. The most bullet proof is still a Thirsties Fab Fitted with a Thirsties hemp insert in a Flip cover. Fitteds are a popular choice for nighttime because the entire diaper is absorbent, not just the insert, so you’ve got the “soaker,” the outer of the fitted, plus an extra insert, all absorbing. We can go over 12 hours without leaks in this combo. (Some folks also let their kiddos run around in just a fitted and no cover at home, because it allows more air flow which can prevent rashes. You’d definitely need a cover for leaving the house or if you were putting pants over, though, because otherwise you would have soaked pants! At home you can just change the minute you notice the wetness has migrated to the outer layer.)

We also use a BumGenius 4.0 with a Thirsties hemp insert overnight with success. This is also my go-to method when we’re going to be in the car for a while, or when we’re going to be out running errands and I don’t want to have to drag both babies into say, a Target bathroom for a change. (My pockets with their microfiber inserts are good for about 2 hours between changes. Adding one hemp insert really makes a difference.)

How does it work when you’re out of the house?

I still do cloth diapers when we leave the house. They’re definitely bulky for the diaper bag, but my diaper bag is now a Patagonia Half Mass messenger bag that holds all my twin gear. Not a problem. I just change them like normal and stuff the dirty diaper into a wet bag to deal with when we get home. I also carry an emergency stash of disposables in the event we blow through 4 cloth diapers while out and about.

What about daycare?

Our girls go to daycare 3 days per week while I finish grad school. Our daycare does not cloth diaper, and I’ve yet to hear of any in my city that do. I keep disposable diapers on hand at home so I can send them to daycare in a disposable. They supply the diapers they wear all day while there, and then I put them in cloth when they get back home. I’m not so militant that I can’t allow my girls to wear disposables a few days per week so I can get my degree finished.

It’s also good to have some disposables because of what I call…

The diaper rash cream situation

You can’t use just any diaper cream with cloth diapers. Desitin, Butt Paste, A&D, Balmex, they’re all out, because they coat the fibers of the diapers and ruin their absorbency. California Baby is the most readily available cloth diaper safe cream, and I can get it at Target. It’s not very thick and doesn’t sit on the skin as a protective layer, so it’s not the greatest for major rashes. Burt’s Bees is cloth diaper safe according to many, and it’s nice and thick, but I’ve found it sometimes leaves a residue on my diapers that has yet to affect their function, but annoys me nonetheless. If I’m really dealing with a rash (mostly this is with Claire and I believe is specific to her because of her spina bifida and having many many more frequent wet diapers than her sister), I either use a flushable liner in my cloth diapers or put the girls in disposable diapers so I can use an “unsafe” cream.

I also go super hippy dippy and use coconut oil as a moisture barrier and rash preventer. I keep it in a little tupperwear and slather it on at changes to keep wetness off their skin.

The laundry routine

I still don’t find cloth diaper laundry to be much of a burden. I generally wash every day, but now that the girls are in daycare, they don’t go through the diapers as fast. Basically, once the wetbag is full, I start a load of wash in the morning. I have a front-loading Samsung HE machine. I do a cold “quick wash” with no spin, then add my detergent and do a hot/cold “normal” wash with an extra rinse. We use Tide Ultra Original HE powder, and it works great. I wanted something I could buy at Target. I usually tumble dry my inserts and hang my pockets to dry.

Currently, I just toss the dirty diapers right in the wetbag and then they go straight into the wash, but we are rapidly approaching the end of this simple era because it’s almost solid food time. Solid food poops are not water soluble like formula and breast milk poops. With solid food poops, I will have to “plop” what I can into the toilet, and am planning to get a diaper sprayer to rinse them off into the toilet. When we leave the house, I will use flushable liners.

In the evenings, after the girls are in bed, I stuff the inserts into the pockets, usually while drinking wine and watching TV. It’s really no big deal.

Overall, I still love cloth diapering. In fact, I may or may not have made up a parody version of “I like big butts” by Sir Mixalot, dedicated to their fluffy cloth diaper butts.

Update: If you like this post, you might like my later posts on cloth diapering:

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