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The Amazing Cloth Diaper Debate

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted but it turns out having a 2 month (!) old baby is a bit more work than I anticipated.  Who knew the kiddo would actually want to *play* with me!

One thing I have had plenty of time to do is change diapers.  And boy, have I been doing that!  And, as Pops and I are very much environmentally-friendly inclined, cloth diapering has always been on my mind.  Disposables, though convenient, have many more cons – here are just a few:

  • They obviously fill up our landfills by not decomposing;
  • Are laden with chemicals that we don’t know long term effects for;
  • Are quite costly over the span of time purchasing them;
  • Delay potty training (as the child doesn’t know they are wet);
  • Increase diaper rash occurrence (University of Virginia Diapers/Diaper Rash);
  • and perhaps most concerning, a study in the Archives of Disease in Childhood showed a potential for decreased fertility and an increase in testicular cancer for male babies later in life who used disposables (related BBC News story).

Take those reasons how ever you will – but in my mind even just one of the above is reason enough to cloth diaper as much as possible.

So, when Kiddo was first born we had pre-purchased some Bambino Mio size one nappies in advance of his arrival.  The diapers consisted of a waterproof cover (cloth on the outside) and 100% cotton prefold nappies on the inside.  The benefit to these (and any prefolds) is that you can fold them differently for a boy or a girl.  The velcro fastening made diaper changes quick and pretty painless as well.

The things I liked about Bambino Mio diapers:

  • Cute covers;
  • Double gusseted leg openings (very good for containment);
  • Quick and snug closure;
  • Very soft, well constructed pre-folds;
  • Limited staining;
  • Inexpensive pre-folds – which is great considering how many you go through initially.
  • They very rarely leaked (and kiddo is breastfed, which makes the no leaking thing quite a feat).  In fact, they only started leaking when Kiddo reached the 11lb limit for the size.

The things I disliked about Bambino Mio diapers:

  • The covers come in multiple sizes – so you have to buy more over the course of your child’s diapering phase;
  • The pre-folds also come in two sizes, so you only have until 11lbs with the size one nappies.  If you baby is 7lbs when born, that gives you around a month of use;
  • With time, the ‘Bambino Mio’ tag on the cover frayed and the fasten tabs started to curl;
  • They are expensive for a pre-fold system.

Overall, I can’t say I was disappointed with the Bambino Mio diapers – they worked great when Kiddo was first born and we did get a lot of use out of them.  I would consider purchasing them again in a bigger size as a compliment to other cloth diapers.

Once the Kiddo had maxed out the Bambino Mios due to his weight, I decided to do a cloth diaper trial through Jillian’s Drawers since the initial cost outlay for cloth diapers can be a bit daunting.  They offer a great program where they’ll send you nine different cloth diaper types and you get to try them as much as you want over a 21-day period.  The cost is $150 plus tax and shipping HOWEVER if you decide you don’t like some of the diapers, you can return them (stained or not) and get your money refunded less the $10 program fee.  So, if you decide not to keep any you can return them all and get $140 refunded.  Nice, right?

As someone who was overwhelmed by the types of cloth diapers and the pros and cons to each, this program was great – it let me try every major type of diaper and really evaluate them adequately.  When the package first arrived, I laid everything out in front of me, went through the detailed directions that were supplied, and decided which diapers I thought I would like best based on looks and features alone – as I would do if I were in a store.  What follows is my review of the various diapers:

Gro Baby All-in-One Cloth Diapering System

From the offset, I really thought I would like these diapers the best.  They offered organic cotton liners that actually snapped into the shell (so they wouldn’t move), were completely adjustable over the lifetime of the child using snaps, and the velcro used was a softer variety – so they wouldn’t scratch Kiddo’s skin.  In theory, whenever Kiddo soiled a soaker pad (liner) it could just be unsnapped and thrown into the wash.  This in turn would keep laundry to a minimum and allow the liner to be reused many times – similar to the Bambino Mio diapers.  They also have disposable inserts available – making these diapers potentially versatile beyond any other.  Sounds great, right?

Except they didn’t work for us.  Maybe being set at the smallest size is the problem but after a few uses these diapers always leaked for us.  It took too many minutes to get the perfect fit (which annoyed Kiddo) and leaked too often.  I started pushing these to the back of the drawer.  Even with an extra liner placed inside, I still ran into problems.  And, once the shell was soiled I couldn’t use it until it had been washed (obviously) so leaking was a big issue.  And, the liners stained very easily!  I assume because they were unbleached cotton?  Lastly, the velcro I liked so much initially?  Yeah, it would snag on everything and was really difficult to work with – more so than regular velcro.  Needless to say, Gro Baby ended up not being a good fit for us.  Great in concept, terrible in practice.

Dream-Eze Organic All-In-One Cloth Diaper

Manufactured by the Natural Baby Company (same as Gro Baby), this diaper looked the oddest to me initially because it had two liners sewn to the back so the fronts flopped open (to dry faster in the dryer).  It’s too hard to describe, but the diaper seemed like it would be best suited to get us through naps and nighttime without leaks.  And yes, it did just that.  There was enough padding that, once properly put on, it could withstand quite a bit.  Instead of velcro it would close with snaps – which in theory will be better in the future because once Kiddo is older his little fingers will be able to undo the velcro.  But this, my friends, was also the downfall of Dream-Eze.  Actually getting the diaper on properly and snapped took way too long – especially with a kicking baby or late at night.  Truthfully, it just wasn’t worth it.  Plus, I felt like the diaper was too tight when I finally got it set so it wouldn’t leak.  Any diaper that makes you fear for your child’s comfort just can’t be a good idea.  So – back they go.

Fuzzi Bunz One-Size Pocket Diaper

Initial impressions of the Fuzzi Bunz diaper were lack luster based on poor quality construction.  Pocket diapers are basically constructed of two pieces – the first is the casing, which consists of a waterproof outer shell and a wicking liner on the inside.  The second part is a pad that one inserts in between the two layers of the other piece to absorb moisture.  The advantage to a pocket diaper is that you can add more pads during nap and nighttimes to avoid leaks – which is great.  Then, you can empty the pads out and everything washes and dries faster.

The construction of this diaper was disappointing because the back is open (and floppy) so you can add the insert.  Personally, I did not like how the lining of the shell sometimes would fold into itself and allow the plastic barrier to touch my babies skin.  Once again, snaps are the main fasteners here and while I’m sure they might be useful later on when Kiddo is older – I don’t like them now.  They are hard to snap and undo – and I always feel like Kiddo is being squeezed into the size the diaper says he is – if that makes sense.  They *are* adjustable, but they have to be fastened tight to contain leaks.  That said, this diaper is good for that – they do contain leaks well.  But for the price (nearly $18 each) I’ve never felt the quality justified the cost.  I should mention however that I have appreciated the way they dried fast, didn’t stain, and didn’t have too thick of a profile….but, back they go.

bumGenius Deluxe Bamboo Fitted Diaper

This fitted diaper is made by Cotton babies and must be used with a cover.  It is definitely very soft inside and out…but it always seemed like an extra step to put this diaper on, get it adjusted…and then have to add a cover and adjust that.  Call me lazy, but I like my diapers easy on and easy off!  That said, these diapers never failed to contain the messes deposited in them which is a major plus.  They did stain a bit but nothing major.  They fasten with velcro which is great – but that velcro wants to fasten to every part of the diaper!  Annoying, but not a deal breaker.  I guess I just don’t appreciate having to put both this diaper on and a cover – if I’m going to have multiply steps, it’s going to be with the much cheaper pre-folds.  Oh – and did I mention these are obviously one size?  So, as your baby grows you need to buy more….back they go!

Thirsties Diaper Cover V2.0

I used this cover with the above fitted diaper as well as two different types of pre-folds.  It worked 100% with all of them – no leaks.  As a cover it is pretty standard in a good way.  Velcro closure and double gusseted legs make it pretty great.  The limiting factor is that it is sized – so as Kiddo grows it would need to be replaced.  I also question the wisdom of using white to edge the cover in – as it shows the stains.  That said, it is always nice to have a diaper cover handy to use with pre-folds (which are fairly standard across the board) so this cover has found a new home with us.

bumGenius Deluxe V3.0 All-in-One

This diaper was probably the closest to a disposable as far as convenience goes.  The liner is sewn into the shell, with a pocket to add more padding if needed.  In concept, it’s a great diaper – one of my only complaints is that it takes too long to dry!  Because the liner is actually sewn into the cover, it’s thick.  Nothing you can do about it!  The other downside is that it is only one size – so when you child grows out of it you have to buy more.  Personally, I’m looking for a diaper that I can use for years – and only replace when it gets worn or broken.  Since obviously our eco-friendly approach also includes energy efficiently in terms of washing, this one must be eliminated.

bumGenius One Size Pocket Diaper V3.0

Here folks, is our winner!  Initially when I first sent away for the trial, I assumed I’d like bumGenius the best – they just seemed to have all the features I was looking for.  But that may have just been the marketing.  And when I saw the Gro Baby, I was certain it would beat bumGenius.  But guess what?  My instinct was right.  This diaper had everything I was looking for – one size, quick to put on, quick to dry, expandable for naps and nighttime, zero leaks, cute colors, and while a bit bulky, not too bad.  Over the course of a month and tons of washing, the product has shown only minor wear in the velcro area.  Nothing too concerning.  An added bonus is that the liner snaps in the front to shorten it’s length – but for right now it adds extra padding in the front which is great for that little boy in my life!  So!  Hopefully I will not be disappointed.

At the end of the adventure, I can say I believe I know almost all there is to know about the virtues of the various types of cloth diapers and am better informed to make a decision that is right for Pops, Kiddo, and I.  I will review gDiapers in a future post as I have also purchased a few of them but need to try them with the disposable inserts before making any official opinions.  But for now, time will tell if the bumGenius will work for us long term.

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