Diapering Guide

Best Diapers of 2018

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Choosing the right diaper can be a little bit of a minefield, especially if you’re new to the parenting game. For first time parents, you want everything to be perfect, and that includes diapers, which is not an insignificant investment and is going to be part of your baby’s life for the 2-3 years. So you’re right to take it seriously.

Adorable baby girl looking over a stack of diapersThere are dozens upon dozens of diapers on the market, and by just checking the packaging you’re not really going get a clear picture on where the diapers rate in terms of absorbency, fit and comfort.

You need an independent guide to walk you through the various options so you can pick the right diaper for you, we have you covered. We’ve done a lot of the hard work for you, by reviewing and selecting the top 5 diapers on the market right now. Both for disposable diapers and cloth diapers. We’ve also looked at the top swim diapers too.

Top 5 disposable diapers

It’s not easy to pick a top 5. Not every parent puts the same emphasis on the same features. We know that many of our readers might want to have as little an impact on the environment, but not all. It could be that you are price driven or just interested in a good value nappy that’s comfortable. What we’ve done is try to select both our top picks from the test results, and pick the top diaper that might appeal to someone who has a specific idea about diapers. For example, those who have a tighter budget, or those who strongly care about the environment. We’ve tried to accommodate everyone.

Quick Comparison

PlaceProductRatingShop
1Nature Baby careBuy at Amazon.com
2BabyganicsBuy at Amazon.com
3Bambo NatureBuy at Amazon.com
4Seventh GenerationBuy at Amazon.com
5Babies R UsBuy at Amazon.com

Nature Babycare

Naty by Nature Babycare Eco-Friendly Premium Disposable Diapers for Sensitive Skin, Size 4, 4 packs of 27 (108 Count) (Chemical, chlorine, perfume free)>This is an amazing diaper. It is comfortably the most absorbent diaper we’ve tested. Hands down. At the same time, it’s the most environmentally friendly disposable diaper on the market too. We love the fact that it can be both those things. They are also looking at making their packaging greener. It’s one of the best for leakage too, so it’s truly excellent.

You are going to have to give up some stuff. It’s not great in terms of fitting, comfort, and durability. Scoring some of the worse scores in our testing. We just feel, and it’s only our opinion, you might not agree, that having a diaper that’s so green and so absorbent is what really matters.

Absorption

We love this diaper. For a start, it scored the highest in our absorption tests. After testing, we just felt that it will keep the baby as dry as possible for as long as possible,  and therefore avoiding diaper rash, which can be uncomfortable for the baby.

Leakage

Regarding leakage, our testing found it pretty good. Not the best but very respectable. Perhaps thanks to its absorbability, this diaper very quickly absorbs the liquid into the center of the diaper so it can’t leak. We have found some fit a little better which is the only time there might be leakage, but still, it’s rare.

Fitting & Comfort

It doesn’t fit the best. Perhaps because of the materials, it uses to be so environmentally friendly. Which is the cause for the odd leakage but it’s also super absorbent. The most absorbent by far, which also counterbalances that.

Durability

It didn’t score well in durability tests. It’s the only criticism you’ll find for this diaper when you trawl user reviews. In fact’s one of the poorest, so you’ll need to have them changed regularly, but there is a very good reason for it. Again, it’s because of the biodegradable material used. You have to decide if having to change the diaper a little more often is a fair exchange for having the most ecological diaper on the market.

Buy at Amazon.com

Babyganics

Babyganics Ultra Absorbent Diapers Economy Pack, Size 1, 232 CountAs an all-rounder, this is probably the best. If you were not particularly focused on a green diaper, this should be your choice. It’s one of the most absorbent, it doesn’t leak a lot when well fitted, and it’s one of the most comfortable for your baby. Add to mix its durability, and there’s a lot to like.

For environmental impact, it scores “fair”. They’ve not gone as far as to make it biodegradable, which limits the materials you can use that offers comfort, but they’ve decided to be totally Chlorine Free and latex free. They can consider themselves very unlucky not to be our top pick.

Absorption

Babyganics does really well when absorption is tested. It’s right up there with the best diapers in the market. To date, only Nature Babycare has tested better, and the difference was small. It’s probably the reason we have scored Babyganics so highly because at the end of the day, what parents need most of all is to keep their loved ones dry and comfortable.

Leakage

We feel that this nappy sits somewhere in the middle of the pack. Our own testing scored an excellent result, but it’s a little different with an actual baby. The average score is due to the online reviews that suggested it was prone to the odd leak but we tend to feel that the nappy was most likely not fitted properly. Remember, every baby is different, your little one might not be a good fit for the Babyganics diaper. That’s why you should try it regardless of how good we say it is.

Fitting & Comfort

It scores very well for fitting and comfort. One of the best  we’ve tested to date. The diaper uses soft materials on the inner lining, which gives the diaper its comfort. The elastic is where it shines. If you were to try it and found it’s a great fit for your baby, your little one will have an absorbent and comfortable diaper.

Durability

The diaper scores well on durability. Both in our testing and when reviewing online user reviews. It scores really well. It’s chosen to be comforting and durable over environmentally friendly. It’s not terrible to the environment, there are others that are better. From this perspective, it’s our favorite.

Buy at Amazon.com

Bambo Nature Review

Bambo Nature Premium Baby Diapers, Newborn, 28 Count, Size 1 by Bambo Nature [parallel import goods]This is probably the best all-rounder on the list. It’s pretty ecological, the 2nd most ecological on this list. It’s also the 2nd most comfortable and scores well above average on every test we’ve done. Being above average doesn’t sound exciting, but in diapers terms, actually, it is.

We are big fans of this diaper because it manages to find the balance between comfort and being environmentally friendly. Whilst ticking all other boxes. So far, diapers on the list have either been the most comfortable or the most ecological. They’ve had to choose one or the other, whereas this diaper pleases both masters.

Absorption

The Bamboo Nature scores a little above average in our own absorption test. We’d say, it does pretty well, more than satisfactory, we’ve just been spoilt we a couple of really excellent alternatives. Any option to avoid moisture on the skin, which can lead to diaper rash, must be taken seriously, but this is a truly a great diaper.

Leakage

Very similar to our review of Babyganics, our own testing was positive. Again, the results are middle of the pack but very acceptable. Online reviews are a mixed bag. When looking at leakage, it’s difficult to figure out what leakage is a design default and what leakage is due to poor fitting. No diaper fits every baby perfectly.

Fitting & Comfort

When looking for comfort and fitting, only one other diaper on this list scores better. It feels right. A diaper for Bambo Nature to use Bamboo as a material for the inner lining. It’s very soft and a great option for the motion points of the diaper.

Durability

The recurring theme for this diaper is “above average”, and that’s the best way to explain it’s durability. Above average doesn’t sound like the most exciting score but you need to keep in mind that diapers have a very short lifespan anyway. It’s sufficient, which is good enough for us.

Buy at Amazon.com

Seventh Generation

Seventh Generation Baby Diapers, Free & Clear for Sensitive Skin with Animal Prints, Size 4, 135 count (Packaging May Vary)When we tally up how the Seventh-Generation diaper, it scores better overall than the Bambo nature diaper, which was our third choice. That’s because it’s both magnificent, and a little flawed. It’s one of the best diapers we’ve test in terms of health and ecological impact. It’s also pretty durable and has well above average absorption.

Why it’s not one of our top choices is because it scores below average on leakage and comfort. Which often are entwined. It really depends on what is important to you. If being green is important, and having a durable diaper that’s absorbent, you’re going to love this diaper.

Absorption

The Seventh-Generation scores really well regarding absorption. One of the best we’ve ever tested in fact. We’re very fortunate that there are several who score so well, this being one of them. Being a little hit and miss, it’s the absorption that just tipped the scales and made us include it in our top 5.

Leakage

This is one of the weaker areas for the Seventh-Generation review. A touch under average.  Leakage is important for the baby’s comfort and protection against possible diaper rash. It’s one of the reasons it’s only our 4th choice.

Fitting & Comfort

Again, it’s a mixed bag. Often leakage and fitting affect each other, and both end up affecting a diaper’s ability to be comfortable. The material used, is not particularly comfortable, possible the worse on this list, but the elasticity does very well, which helps with fitting, and a well fitted nappy is always going to offer some comfort over a poorly fitted diaper.

Durability

The Seventh Generation have great durability. No complaints. The 2nd best on this list. Those same materials that were just judged as lacking in comfort are the main reason why it’s particularly durable. It all depends on what’s most important to you.

Buy at Amazon.com

Babies R Us

Babies R Us Size 3 Super Pack Diapers - 116 CountWe’ve added Babies R Us to the list because it offers something completely different. It doesn’t concern itself with being green or sensitive. You’d need to see if you’re baby reacts to the materials used. They are not bad; they could be a little more sensitive to the skin.

Where it really does well is that it scores well above average for absorption and leakage whilst being very affordable. If you had a tight budget this would be a great option because it performs its core functions very well, you just need to test if for fitting and skin sensitivity.

Absorption

We like this diaper because it scores really well in our absorption tests. Not the best, but pretty close. And we can’t get over how it performs so well at such a lower price point. The brand has decided to really focus on what’s important.

Leakage

Pretty much, the same can be said for leakage as was said for absorption. Even if this diaper was similarly priced it scored in the top 10%, but when you frame that in terms of its price and value, it’s nothing short of spectacular.

Fitting & Comfort

You can tell that it’s not Babies R Us’ main priority, but it didn’t score badly. More than satisfactory. It’s just that others have to spend a lot more time and effort to offer such high levels of comfort that it looks worse than it is. Again, you can’t complain at this price; it shouldn’t be a reason not to buy this diaper.

Durability

The diaper was made to deliver what’s really important, at a lower price. That means, it offers both high absorptions and doesn’t leak often. The side effect of being “no-frills” is because it’s not focused on being green Babies R Us are free to use materials that are durable, so it also scores well for durability.

Buy at Amazon.com

Top 5 cloth diapers

There’s no question about it. Cloth diapers are the most ecologically friendly option when it comes to diapering. Plus, just look at them. They look so cool, they’re more than just a diaper these days, and during the summer months, for many, it’s a good option to have your little one in just their diaper to keep them cool. But, similarly to disposable diapers, there are a lot of options, so how do you pick? Well, we’ve made it easy by picking our top 5 favorites for you.

Any of these would be great for your baby, just pick the one that matches your budget and personal preference. Enjoy!

Quick Comparison

PlaceProductRatingShop
1Rumparooz G2Buy at Amazon.com
2Flip HybridBuy at Amazon.com
3GroVia HybridBuy at Amazon.com
4Blueberry One SizeBuy at Amazon.com
5bumGenious FreetimeBuy at Amazon.com

Rumparooz G2

Rumparooz One Size Cloth Pocket Diaper Snap, CharlieThe Rumparooz G2 could well win out top spot on name alone. It’s pretty cool. But it just so happens than when we tested it on absorption, durability, and comfort it also scored best overall. It fits fantastically well and is ultra-absorbent. It has neat features like a double gusset that keeps the poop away from the edge to avoid leakage. It also offers great flexibility and can be used as a stand-alone diaper or as a diaper, to offer even more security when you need it most. What’s not to love?

Buy at Amazon.com

Flip Hybrid

Flip Hybrid Reusable Cloth Diaper Cover with Adjustable Snaps and Stretchy Tabs - Fits Babies from 8 to 35+ Pounds (Hummingbird)This is a great diaper on its own merit, but it’s especially attractive thanks to its great pricing. As a diaper it scores 2nd overall, that means we really like it in terms of absorption and comfort. If it’s well fitted, it also limits leakage. And now the icing on the cake. The price. It’s 25% cheaper than the top scoring diaper, which is a major benefit. It’s very popular with customers and us and it’s easy to see why.

Buy at Amazon.com

GroVia Hybrid

GroVia Reusable Hybrid Baby Cloth Diaper Hook & Loop Shell (Abalone), One SizeInstantly, it’s easy to see the value of the GroVia Hybrid. It’s probably the greenest cloth diaper we’ve tested. A lot of our readers are looking at cloth diapers because leaving a small footprint matters, if that sounds like you, then you’ll love this. But that’s not all it is; it also does well in our testing. In terms of absorption and comfort, it scores well above average. The diaper uses a system of an “outer shell” with 3 options for inner inserts that help to absorb the fluid, and they differ depending on the situation, which just adds to the flexibility on offer.

Buy at Amazon.com

Blueberry One Size

Blueberry One Size Coveralls Cloth Diaper Cover, Bundle of 2, Made in USA (Bugs)This one size cloth diaper is gaining a lot of friends right now, so much so, that we had to include it in our top 5. It’s not cheap, in fact, it’s double the price of our #2 choice, the Flip Hybrid diaper. But it certainly oozes quality, and some might think it’s worth the extra cost. It has an outside waterproof layer with an inner layer that’s 100% cotton. It’s both well-made and well designed, and you can just tell where the extra money is.

Buy at Amazon.com

bumGenious Freetime

BumGenius Freetime All in One Cloth Diaper - Snap - Mirror - One SizeThis fun all-in-one diaper is probably the most comparable to a disposable diaper. It’s our favorite all-in-one diaper by some distance, and it scored pretty well against other cloth diapers, making it into our top 5. It scores very highly when tested for comfort and ease of use but when tested for absorption, because it’s an all=in=one if doesn’t do so well compared to cloth diapers that have double layers.

 

Buy at Amazon.com

Top 5 Swim Diapers

Some of our readers might not be up to speed on the subject of swim diapers. How exactly do they differ from your standard diaper? The main difference is that your standard diaper uses SAP (Super Absorbent Polymer) to absorb the liquid, and SAP just doesn’t work in water.  The diaper just expands in water.

So, swim diapers are not actually built to contain fluids. The technology of a diaper just doesn’t work in water, and there currently isn’t a technology on the horizon that’s up to the job. A swim diaper’s job is just to contain poop.

So you are still faced with the option of cloth or disposable. Whereas, for the day-to-day, we would be an advocate of the disposable diaper, the opposite is true for a swim diaper. Disposables might be able to hold in some fluid, but as soon as there’s something solid in them, poop, they sag from the water and the extra weight. If you’re not quick, there’s going to be an accident.

So, it’s cloth diapers for swimming. They might be heavy when wet, but they keep everything inside, and they’re also super comfortable. So here are our top 5 reusable swim diapers.

Quick Comparison

PlaceProductRatingShop
1i.playBuy at Amazon.com
2Finis Swim DiapersBuy at Amazon.com
3Alva Swim DiapersBuy at Amazon.com
4AppleCheeks Swim DiapersBuy at Amazon.com
5Kushies Swim DiapersBuy at Amazon.com

i.play

i play. Baby Toddler Ultimate Reusable Snap Swim Diaper, New White, 3TProbably the oldest and certainly the most popular swim diaper on the market. We love the “side-snap” version. It’s a messy affair changing a wet and dirty diaper, but have side access like that makes it so much easier.  If you treat them well, follow the instructions and dry them naturally rather than the summer, they’ll last all summer.

 

Buy at Amazon.com

Finis Swim Diapers

FINIS Swim Diaper (Solid Royal, XXL)We love the fact that it has a style of boys and another for girls. These have the ability to hold a little fluid but don’t treat them like a normal diaper, being able to hold a little pee just makes it more practical. When you choose the right size, they’re also comfortable. A negative is that they are not machine washable, plus they’re pull ups so tend to sag a little when there’s a poop.

 

Buy at Amazon.com

Alva Swim Diapers

ALVABABY Swim Diapers 2pcs One Size Reusable & Adjustable Baby Shower Gifts SW09-10Consider these the new kids on the block. They bring something new to the swim diaper world; they’re a one size fits all diaper. They are adjusted to fit perfectly with a side snap, for convenience. What makes them really practical is that they are machine washable and Dryable. They are growing in popularity because they’ve been made so easy to use.

 

Buy at Amazon.com

AppleCheeks Swim Diapers

AppleCheeks Washable Swim Diaper (Size 2, So Fetch)This is an unusual diaper because it almost has an underground following. Those who know about it, which is limited, love it. Again, they use a snap to adjust the diaper and make them fit perfectly, and get them off and on. It makes them very easy to use. So they are a good all-around swim diaper, but what makes them really special is that there are just no bad reviews for them online.

 

Buy at Amazon.com

Kushies Swim Diapers

Kushies Swim Diaper, Blue Ahoy Print, LargeWe’ve added a lower cost swim diaper to the list. Not everyone has the same budget, and we wanted to make sure we had an option for everyone. Yes, it’s a little poorer in quality than our top 4 selections, but it still does the job. It employs velcro and ties to ensure a snug fit, and it’s well built, which makes it durable. Don’t expect it to last more than one season, but then your little one will have shot up anyway, so no real problems there.  The bigger size soaker can be used for larger babies and young toddlers.

Buy at Amazon.com

Buyer´s Guide

Some tips before we start

As a parent, you probably have your own expectations of a diaper. It could be based on cost, or perhaps health. You might have a “bee in your bonnet” about their effect on the environment or want your diaper to offer the perfect fit. It could be that you’ve set your standards really high and demand all of that?

It makes sense to note down how you feel about all those points, how important they are to you. Perhaps even put them in some kind of order, so you’re clear in your mind, exactly what you’re looking for as you try to sift through the various options.

Next, an important tip is to avoid buying in bulk, not until you’re 100% happy with a diaper you’ve been testing out. Diaper companies have made it their mission to trap you with great pricing on bulk purchases. They understand that people are creatures of habit, and if you were to buy their bulk diapers, you are much more likely to become a regular customer thanks to habit alone. So, avoid that trap.

Another good tip is to put off buying diapers until your baby is born. There are a variety of different diapers for newborns, and they come in different sizes. You could guess and buy them in advance, or your doctor might have given you a heads up on the size of your baby from the last scan, but that’s not particularly accurate, and you might end up having to rush out at the last minute anyway to get some diapers that actually fit.

Final tip. If you’re looking at European brands, pay attention to the sizing, they have their own sizing system, they often use kilograms.

Understanding how a diaper works

diaper white backgroundAs a general rule of thumb, diapers are constructed with 3 very clear layers. The inner layer is the layer that sits against the baby’s skin. It’s obviously designed to be soft and comforting. At the same time, we need this layer to stay as dry as possible and absorb moisture into the core of the diaper. The middle layer is the absorbent component designed to trap the moisture, so it stays away from the skin, to avoid nappy rash.  Finally, the outside layer has a waterproof element to help to prevent any leakage.

Make sure to choose a diaper that exceeds absorbency.

As much as we can overcomplicate picking the right diaper, ultimately, we want it to absorb fluid. That means both how much fluid can be absorbed and how well the diaper keeps the fluid away from the inner layer and the baby’s skin. Choosing a diaper that has poor absorption can lead to the baby having persistently damp skin, which itself causes diaper rash and makes your baby uncomfortable. It will be something we test stringently throughout our reviews, and we’ll share our results, so you don’t have to conduct your own research.

Looking deeper into diapers: Introducing SAP (Super Absorbent Polymer)

I don’t want to bore you with too much science, but it doesn’t hurt to understand some of the science behind diapers. For a start, this technology is able to absorb 300 times its weight. It looks like a little white crystal and diapers have a handful of these crystals situated in the core of the diaper.

When it gets wet, the crystals become “gel-like” as they absorb the fluid. Which is how it works. If some of the crystals escape, parents have been known to freak out. Testing has proven time, and again that is safe and non-toxic. Even diapers that promote themselves as green or environmentally friendly will use SAP proudly. It doesn’t have a major impact on the environment, and it’s not dangerous.

Why a well-fitted diaper matters

As you probably know, diapers are categorized or sized by weight. But you have to remember that diapers are similar to clothing. Each manufacturer or brand is sized and shaped differently. And, just like choosing clothes, you need to make sure they fit your baby well. In the case of diapers, it’s especially important because an ill-fitting diaper leads to leakage. Recently, this has been less of an issue with the introduction of a double elastic sealing edge.

Having said that, even with this new technology available, not all diapers fit well. You need to trial them on your own baby because there’s no way of testing this for you. From our experience, a good rule of thumb is how much elastic flexibility the diaper offers. So start there.

Comfort is as important as absorption

We all want your little one to feel as comfortable as possible in their diaper. With babies and their soft skin, it’s the little things that matter. It’s not just the obvious, like the material used because most diaper brands have that covered, it’s the little things like the tabs. Are they made with soft materials? Do they have rounded corners? Are all the edges and seams perfectly made to avoid chafing?

Thinking green

Eco Friendly Cloth Diapers
Cloth Diapers are more eco-friendly

If the environment is important to you, it’s difficult to pick through the information available and determine which diaper is actually better for the environment. A good start is biodegradable diapers. They are designed to have less of a carbon footprint, but they need specific conditions to decompose. If they end up in a dark, airless environment, they are going to struggle. So, perhaps cloth diapers are a better route? But they require so much water and energy to clean them each time, surely that can’t be green?

If you’re determined to be green, you have plenty of options. For example, some diapers use renewable resources, that’s pretty good. Others are biodegradable. Some decide to offset their carbon footprint by contributing to charities. It’s very difficult to give you a definitive answer; you’re going to have to pick your own way through this minefield, the only concrete information we can say is that our testing has suggested that cloth is more environmentally friendly than disposable diapers, other than that, you have to make your own peace.

Focusing on your baby’s health

It’s a given that everyone has their baby’s health as their biggest priority.  But some parents have to deal with sensitive babies that need latex free or perfume free options. They might need to ensure they’re using hypoallergenic diapers, but a word of warning, hypoallergenic is not regulated. Some less ethical brands might be using the term for marketing but not actually following through. You need to check for yourself.

Don’t be fooled by Price

New parents often fall into the trap of pricing out diapers depending on the price of the newborn diaper (sometimes called size 1). There is a good reason why the brands want you to do this and why you shouldn’t fall into the trap.

For a start, larger sized diapers cost more, they’re bigger and use more materials, naturally, they’re more expensive. But diaper companies know that we are creatures of habit. There is a good chance that if we use their newborn diaper, we’ll most likely stay loyal to the brand as our child grows, so they make it as affordable as possible to draw us in.

Important note: Some well-known vendors offer an additional discount for a subscription. That’s why it’s important to buy in small amounts at first, test the diaper, make sure it’s not just good “on paper” but that it’s a good fit your baby. Then look at subscriptions that will make diapers more affordable.

Summary

Choosing a diaper can be intimidating. Especially if you’re a new parent. But, I want to take a minute to reassure you. Firstly, it’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed by all this. In fact, it’s probably a good thing. You’re being conscientious and caring about stuff that can be important.  But secondly, If you pick one of our top 5 picks, test it to make sure that it’s a good fit for your little one, then you can’t be wrong, then it’s just about which diaper matches your expectations.

If you’re going to do the research yourself, then have a think about what matters to you most. The health of your baby, sure it’s a given that you care about health, but we’re talking how ‘sensitive’ the materials are to ensure there’s no allergic reaction. Comfort and ensuring it’s a good fit is also a consideration. Are you big on taking care of the environment?

Enough to influence your choice of diaper? How important is your impact on the environment? Are you willing to consider a cloth diaper or perhaps a biodegradable? Have this in your mind.

We’re going to make it as easy as possible for you. We’ve done our own extensive tests, and we’ve cherry-picked our top 5 disposable diapers and our top 5 cloth diapers. We’ve also added our top 5 swim diapers. To finish, we’ll give you a size guide. We’ll give you everything you need to be able to pick the best diaper for your little one.

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