best cloth diapers

Top 9 Best Cloth Diapers: Cloth Diapering Basics and Reviews

Congratulations! If you’re reading this, you are likely just beginning your journey into cloth diapering and that deserves applause. By considering reusable diapers you are taking a big step by veering away from the norm which isn’t always easy. Choosing to use the best cloth diapers can be intimidating, especially if you’re a first time parent. Let’s face it: that voice of self-doubt might be telling you that you don’t have enough time, patience, and energy to commit to ditching the disposables.


It’s time to put those voices to rest. Regardless of if you’re concerned about reducing your environmental impact, saving money, protecting your baby from harmful chemicals, or you just like a challenge- there is a reason you’re considering reusable diapers vs. disposable diapers. So trust your gut.

Why Cloth Diapering Matters to Me

I am a soon-to-be first time mom, and I’ve decided to use cloth diapers. I’ve never changed a diaper in my life and I often fear that the challenge of a newborn alone may be too much for me to handle. But I’ve spent countless hours researching the types of cloth diapers that will work best for us and I hope to share that insight with you, to make your decision easier.

Hopefully by the end, you will feel more confident in your understanding of different cloth diaper types, the top cloth diaper brands, and find helpful recommendations on where to begin.


To start, here are some of my big takeaways:

1. Don’t get overwhelmed. There are an incredible amount of cloth diaper brands and styles to choose from. This is great! However, for someone like me that doesn’t like to waste money or make an ill-informed decision, that means I have a lot of details to sift through.

2. There is no “best brand of cloth diaper”. However, there WILL be the best brand of cloth diaper for you and your baby. Each style and brand have subtle differences that some parents love and some parents hate. But the only real way to know what works for you, is to give a few a try.

That being said…


3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Like I said, there are so many options, it is best to do your homework and find the brands and styles of reusable diapers that you like (maybe narrow it down to 3 or 4) then purchase a few of each. Luckily, we’ve done some of the work for you. 

4. YouTube is an incredible resource. Up until getting pregnant, I had only used YouTube to re-watch Beyonce’s Lemonade album a million times. But little did I know there are some talented and experienced bloggers out there with great how-to and cloth diaper 101 videos. (My favorite is Naturally Thrifty Mama.)

5. Other parents are also great resources (who knew?!). Find local Facebook groups related to cloth diapering or clothes swapping. You can learn a lot and even find amazing deals on high-quality used cloth diapers.

Now let’s dive into the important stuff.

Types of Reusable Diapers

type of cloth diapers

There are a large number of brands and types cloth diaper products. While it is nice to have options, it also makes it utterly confusing when you are a first-timer.

Here is a quick overview of the different types of reusable diapers to choose from and what makes them unique. I’ve put them in table form to make it easy for you to compare features, as well see a few examples.

Compare Types of Reusable Diapers

If you’re on a smaller screen, tablet, or phone, you might have to click the small green “+” symbol to view the collapsed table data.

Diaper TypeDescriptionUseImageExample
FlatsOne large, square layer of fabric. These can be folded into a rectangular strip and inserted into a waterproof cover or folded and wrapped around baby and secured with pins or a Snappi.These are the most “old school” style of cloth diapers. A waterproof cover is needed to go over these but the cover can be reused multiple time before wash (see description below).Oso
COzy Birseye Flat Unbleached Diapers
PrefoldA layered sheet of fabric with three sections; AKA burp cloths. The two outside sections typically have less absorbency and the inside section has the highest absorbency. (Example 4x8x4 means 4 layers of fabric on the outside sections and 8 layers in the middle). These can be folded into a rectangular strip and placed into a cover or folded and wrapped around baby and secured with pins a Snappi. A waterproof cover is needed to go over these but the cover can be reused multiple time before wash.GroVia Prefold Clothe Diapers
FittedA Prefold style fabric that has been sewn to fit baby without any folding. These can come with or without straps/buttons to secure.A waterproof cover is needed to go over these but the cover can be reused multiple time before wash.Cloth-eez Workhorse Fitted Diaper
PocketA waterproof cover with a soft liner and pocket sewn into the inside.A waterproof cover with a soft liner and pocket sewn into the inside. The pocket is designed to have cloth inserts (such as a Prefold or single inserts) stuffed in before use so you can adjust the needed absorbency.Inserts are typically sold separately. The entire diaper (cover and inserts) will need to be washed when dirty.bumGenius One-Size Pocket Cloth Diaper
Cover/ Hybrid/
All-in-Two
A waterproof cover with the ability to insert cloth or disposable inserts. These can come with snaps on the inside to snap in single reusable pads; can be lined with a flat, prefold, or fitted; or can insert a disposable liner.Each liner option is removed and washed (or thrown away) when dirty and the cover can be used again 2-4 times unless soiled.GroVia Hybrid Cloth Diaper
All-in-OneA waterproof cover with thick layers of fabric sewn in.These are the most like disposable diapers because they don’t need liners added but can just be placed on baby then removed and washed when dirty. Thirsties Snap Natural All In One Cloth Diaper

9 Best Cloth Diapers Reviews

Below is a quick summary of highlights from multiple brands and types of cloth diapers. I’ll likely be adding to this section as I get the chance to test out some more types and brands of cloth diapers throughout the months to come!

1. Thirsties Natural One-Size All-in-Ones

thirsties snap natural all in one cloth diaper

  • Double gussets to protect blowouts
  • One size to grow with baby
  • Trim fitting
  • Inside made with hemp and organic cotton–known to be very absorbent
  • 8-40 lbs.
  • Made in USA

Thirsties is a popular name among cloth diaper enthusiasts. They have a ton of color options available in the All-in-Ones, but shoppers be aware! They are on the spendier end of the scale.

2. Thirsties One-Size Coversthirsties duo wrap cover

  • Double gussets to protect blowouts
  • Trim fitting
  • Three Size Ranges
  • 6-18, 18-40, 40-60+ lbs.
  • Made in USA

Thirsties also makes a great waterproof duo snap cloth diaper cover to use over fitted, prefold, and flat cloth diapers. They come in 3 different sizes from 6lbs clear up to 60+ lbs.

3. Flip One Size Cover

flip one size cover

  • Trim sizing to fit smaller babies
  • Grows with baby
  • Leg elastic may not hold as well over time
  • 8-35 lbs.
  • Made in USA

Flip One Size Comfort cover is compatible with three different insert types, and will grow with your baby for added use. I did note from my research that the leg elastic stretches out a bit faster than what is typical.

4. bumGenius Freetime All-in-Onebumgenius freetime all-in-one cloth diaper

  • Inserts aren’t completely sewn in for better wash
  • Inserts at made with polyester and nylon
  • One Size so grows with baby
  • 7-35+ lbs.
  • Made in USA

bumGenius designs these All-in-One cloth diapers to be easy to use and clean at all stages of baby’s growth. The inserts are made with a polyester and nylon blend, and they will work for baby until roughly 35+ lbs.

5. FuzziBunz Perfect Fit Pocket

FuzziBunz Perfect Size Pocket Cloth Diaper

  • Includes adjustable leg elastics to conform to baby’s leg size
  • Pocket is made from microfiber and fleece material
  • Trim fit
  • Comes in multiple sizes

Having an adjustable leg elastic on a diaper can save you from a lot of unnecessary messes. From what I’ve read, this FuzziBunz pocket style has actually been discontinued by the manufacturer, so buy them while you still can!

6. Rumparoo Newborn

rumparoo newborn

  • Trim fit that will fit very small babies and preemies
  • Drop down in front to protect newborn’s stump
  • 4-10 lbs.

Amazon’s choice for newborn cloth diapers is this cover from Rumparooz. The trim fit works for small newborns and even preemies. It’s also available in the velcro form.

7. Lil Joey Newborn AIO

lil joey all in one cloth diaper

  • Trim fit that will fit very small babies and preemies
  • Drop down in front to protect newborn’s stump
  • 4-10 lbs.

Another top newborn cloth diaper has patented double inner gusset leak technology. The snap down in the front will help protect the umbilical cord stump on your newborn.

8. OsoCozy Prefold

osocozy prefold diaper

  • Cheap option
  • Thick layers of absorbency
  • Can use for multiple uses after baby outgrows

High quality prefolds can be great for more than just diapering! These super absorbent unbleached prefold are worth the investment, as they can double as burp rags and more as baby outgrows the sizes.

9. Cloth-eez Prefold

clotheez prefold diapers

 

  • Thick layers of absorbency without being overly bulky
  • Comes in options for unbleached and organic cotton
  • Can use for multiple uses after baby outgrows

Cloth vs. Disposables: Things to Consider

Cost Comparison of Cloth Diapers and Disposables 

The table below shows a cost comparison between disposable and cloth diapers assuming you are changing diapers between 8-10 times a day. This also does not calculate the cost for accessories or the utilities such as trash or water services.


(There are more accessories that you can purchase with cloth diapers, such as pins, wet bags, pail liners, etc. which will increase the overall cost.)

Estimated Cost of Generic Brand Disposables for 2 years $1100-$1800
Estimated Cost of Organic Brand Disposables for 2 years $3500-$4000
Estimated Cost of 20 All-in-One (use for 2 years) $400-$600
Estimated Cost of 6 Covers + 30 Prefolds (use for 2 years) $200-$400

Environmental Benefit of Cloth Diapers

When choosing cloth diapers, many parents cite the reduced environmental footprint as a major benefit. I am an environmental professional that has worked in both waste reduction and water quality, and I must say, cloth diapers have the ability to cut down significantly on landfill waste and water quality health.

According to a case study performed by Women’s Environmental Network, disposable diapers in the US are the 3rd largest consumer item that contributes to landfill waste. And diapers, unlike other consumer products, can be even more harmful when thrown in the landfill because they contain feces and urine, that when broken down over time, release the Greenhouse Gas, Methane.

If landfills are not set up to properly collect the Methane, it flows unregulated into the atmosphere, contributing to the negative emissions that contribute to climate change. According to the EPA, Methane is the second most prominent Greenhouse Gas, behind Carbon Dioxide. 

Additionally, landfills are open pits that, on top of garbage, also collect rainwater. When mixed with the landfill waste, it creates leachate, a toxic substance which is required to be collected and properly disposed of so it doesn’t reach water sources.

However, as well know, accidents happen.

Adding human waste from diapers into leachate can increase the chances of negative water quality impacts and the spread of harmful bacteria. By choosing an option that cuts down on post-consumer waste, the environmental benefits certainly begin to stack up. It’s important to remember that just like any “green” product, if it is misused the benefits can slowly disappear.

best cloth diaper covers

Many of the cloth diaper covers I have acquired for my baby were previously used and have been sterilized. This saved me a lot of money and helps prevent waste.

Keep reading for more information and tips on how to be environmentally conscious when diapering.

Are Cloth Diapers Better for the Environment?

Cloth diapers can be a great way to reduce your environmental footprint. However, there are a few habits that could be costly to you and the environment. Don’t let your good intentions go to waste.

  • Don’t get sucked into purchasing more than you need. I’ve seen many cloth diapering parents that have 30-50+ cloth diapers in their stash. While you’re cutting down on the amount of waste you’re producing on the back end by not using disposables, purchasing that many new cloth diapers is still wasteful. Consider all of the energy and resources it took to make each one of those diapers. To truly cut your impact, do you homework, find the styles that work for you, and only purchase what you need.

 

  • Purchased used. The great thing about high quality cloth diaper brands is that many of them can last beyond the typical 2-3 year potty training time of a child. By purchasing used, you’re not only saving money, but also cutting down 100% of the emissions associated with production.

 

  • Consider purchasing cloth diapers with natural fibers or organic natural fibers. These are non-petroleum products such as cotton, hemp, or bamboo and are renewable. While there are still extensive emissions associated with growing and producing these crops, it is the lesser of two evils. Organic products also reduce the amount of pesticides used on those crops as well as the chemicals that end up against your baby’s toosh.

 

  • Find a reasonable wash schedule. If you wash your cloth diapers every day with multiple rinses (hot and cold), you’re quickly going to increase your energy and waste footprint. (The hot water heater in your home is the biggest energy pull so using excess hot water is costly).Typically diapers can go 2-4 days before being washed, so find a balance.

 

  • Don’t overdo the soap. When washing your diapers, be conservative with how much detergent you use. Soaps and chemicals often don’t get filtered out of our water supply, so excess is never good. But excess detergent can also clog your diapers or leave a residue on baby’s bottom.

air dry cloth diapers

 

  • Air dry when possible. Using the dryer is probably one of next biggest energy pulls in your house (next to the water heater). Many diaper covers can just be air dried and often times placing inserts and diapers out in the sun will naturally remove bacteria and stains.

 

  • Use cloth wipes, too. Sometimes cloth wipes can get overlooked but since you’re already creating a stash of laundry, using reusable wipes is a logical option. Cloth wipes are often sturdier, softer, and can get baby’s bottom cleaner.

 

  • Don’t flush disposable wipes. Even if the package say “flushable”. These are a waste water employee’s worst nightmare because they clog drains, cause sewer overflows, and extensive, stinky damage. And even if they do make it to the sewer plant, they are removed and taken to the landfill anyway. So remember to can the wipes.

 

  • Find other ways to reduce your waste around your home. What other things can you replace with reusables? I think you’ll find that once you get in the habit, it will become second nature and you’ll never miss, say, your disposable coffee cup.

Health Benefits of Cloth Diapers

Have you ever taken the time to read the packaging on a box of disposable diapers?

If you’re a first time mom like me, you probably haven’t. And to be honest, I probably never would have thought about it. That is until I attended a work conference related to consumer products and water quality impacts.


The conference was led by the Department of Environmental Quality who was updating us on their latest research related to consumer products found in rivers, lakes, and streams. Their number one product of concern was pesticides (not surprising). Their number two product of concern….Flame retardants and other chemicals found in baby/kids products (WHAT?!). At the time, I knew I was pregnant, but hadn’t told anyone, so this freaked me out to no end.

hazardous baby clothing

I went home and immediately began researching. But, the problem with baby and kids products is that for most of them, materials and added chemicals aren’t listed anywhere on the packaging! So even if you had read the packaging of your disposable diaper box, there would be no way for you to know the material, fragrances, or chemicals that will be touching your child’s most sensitive areas.

However, you could rightfully assume that there are disinfectants, fragrances to eliminate smell, petroleum based plastics, and man-made materials created for peak absorbency. But for me, the lack of transparency is enough to persuade me from using these products. (As a side note, many parents have also noted a decrease in diaper rash when using cloth diapers, which I would assume is because there are less chemicals on baby’s skin.)

If you are interested in knowing more about health and safety of the products used for your baby, check out this initiative by Healthy Babies, Bright Futures that helps you locate products for you and baby that are free of toxic chemicals.

My Cloth Diaper Purchase Plan

best cloth diapers

Getting organized helped me feel more prepared! It also helped to determine how many more cloth diapers we actually needed, and what kinds.

Like I said before, I find it challenging to make a decision unless I have scoped out all of my options, written extensive notes, and created at least one Excel spreadsheet. My husband hates going to the grocery store with me because I can stand in the peanut butter aisle for hours analyzing my options.

You can likely imagine- with all of the cloth diapering options out there- how long it took me to make a decision on brands and style. But I finally feel like I’ve narrowed my options and found what I think will work best for our home and I wanted to share my plan of attack with you in case it is in anyway helpful.

Again, I know I cannot be 100% prepared since I won’t know baby’s size or preferences, but I’ve tried hard to cover my bases with an array of different options.

The table below will outline the type, brand, and number of each item I have purchased with an estimate for the retail cost. I have actually found most of my options used through consignment shops and Facebook groups which cut my overall cost in half but this will give you an insight on my choices and the rough cost if you were to purchase brand new.

cloth diaper plan

Cloth Diaper Frequently Asked Questions

Here’s a bonus FAQ section on cloth diapering! Click on each question to expand the answer. We’ve even included videos and photos to help you out. Feel free to contact us, and send any more questions you may have.

From the time your baby is first born, up until they are eating solid foods, their diapers will likely be filled with runny poo and pee. Most of this will get absorbed into the cloth diaper and unless there it doesn’t absorb into the cloth, all you need to do is place the cloth into the diaper pail, and eventually into the wash. 

When your baby is having solid poo, you will simply scrape it into the toilet and flush. For this reason it might be convenient to have your changing area near the bathroom with a diaper pail or wet bag in bathroom as well. Some folks use a diaper sprayer (a hose hooked up to your toilet’s water supply) to spray the poo into the toilet.

Here is a great video on what to do with the poo from NaturallyThriftyMom:


About the Author

Kaileigh

Kaileigh Westermann-Lewis is an environmental professional with a passion for education and love for Pacific Northwest brews.