Sunday, March 20, 2011

Two Part Harmony: A Diaper Review

I was scoping out my blogger stats and noticed that the post that was consistently getting the most views over and over was my post on cloth diapers for newborns.  So obviously we have some readers hungry for cloth diaper info.  I don't blame you, it's a wild, woolly world of cloth diapering out there with oodles of options.  And I'm taking the hint - I'll feed the beast.  Here for your fluff loving pleasure is a delightful diaper review.

NOTE:  If you're not into diapers, skip this post, I won't feel bad.  Also, if you're a diaper connoisseur then you can skip the explanations in the middle and go right to the nitty gritty towards the bottom.

ANOTHER NOTE:  I picked up some of the new diapers to try at All Things Diapers, our local diaper store (also an online store and diaper service - they are multi-talented!).  They didn't commission the review from me, but they were generous enough to offer me 10% off since they love to hear how their products work "in the field".  Thanks guys!

So, today I'm reviewing a few different two-part diapers.  Some people call them All-In-Twos, some call them All-In-Ones with a detachable soaker, some call them hybrids.  These sort of diapers don't have an official name but I think All-In-Twos, or AI2 tends to be the most commonly used so that's what we'll go with. 

A little info generally about AI2s:  The AI2 has two parts - an outer waterproof shell and an inner absorbent soaker that is not permanently attached to the outer.  The traditional AI2 has its two parts connected by a snap (or several snaps).  Some newer systems do not have the outer shell and inner soaker connected at all.  The most well known one I am thinking of is the Flip diaper.  This is an outer shell (identical to traditional diaper covers) and a fleece topped insert that just lays inside.  While this probably isn't technically an AI2, I'm still going to put it under this category because it has all the same benefits and drawbacks of an AI2.  Functionally they are pretty much the same.

Benefits:  There are 5 major benefits to AI2s over other diaper types.

1.  The basic idea of the AI2 is that if you only have a wet diaper, no poo, you can change out the soaker and reuse the shell.  So that makes AI2s more cost effective than pocket diapers or AIOs because you don't have to have as many shells. 
2.  Unlike traditional pocket diapers, you don't have to dig in a pocket to pull out the insert.  The insert is right there on top where it can easily be rinsed and washed.  Your hands stay much cleaner.  You don't even need to detach it to wash it if it's a poopy one. 
3.  AI2s have a soaker that is free floating and not fully sewn together.  Traditional AIOs with the absorbent layer that is completely sewn into the diaper tend to be a little more difficult to get completely washed, rinsed, and dried.  A soaker that is not attached on three (or four) sides "floats" in the wash cycle and gets clean (and then dried) on all sides much better. 
4.  Some AIOs have gotten around the washing problem by only sewing down one side of the soaker.  This is a great solution for washing, but long term, this isn't great for the diaper.  I have seen many well-used AIOs that employ that style and the first place to give on them is always the stitching on the sewn in soaker.  Holes develop as the floating soaker is tugged on in the wash and dry cycles.  AI2s have a soaker that is either unattached or attached by a snap so holes don't develop as easily in those.
5.  Unlike a fitted paired with a cover, you don't have to put two separate pieces on the baby.  They go on together in one fluid (haha) motion.

Drawbacks:  AI2 diapers are great, but they do have one major drawback.  Because the inner soaker is just laying in the cover and isn't wrapped around and attached to the baby (like a fitted or a snappi'd prefold), if baby poos, poo is getting on the cover - for sure.  Maybe even out of the cover too.  So while you can change out inserts and keep the same cover when your baby pees, you will definitely need a new shell for each poo.  If your child is a once-a-day kind of kid, that might be fine.  If your child is a million-times-a-day kid (like it seems mine is), then you might find yourself wishing for the extra protection the elastic legs on a fitted diaper can provide.  With a stouter diaper to keep the poo in, you would be able to use those covers more often.

Another drawback, but more minor, is that you don't have the option to use the inner without the shell.  Some people never have a desire to do this, but many find that using a fitted or prefold minus the shell makes a useful tool for potty training.

The Diapers:

CuteyBaby Basics - I was astounded to hear that there were bonafide cloth diapers available at our local chain grocery store, but when I went to investigate, there they were.  Right next to the Pampers and bottles.  Kudos to you Cub Foods!  I haven't been a huge CuteyBaby fan in the past, but this was a slightly different iteration of the diaper and I just couldn't get over their mad marketing skills so I had to get one.

SoftBums Echo - This brand is a local favorite.

Flip - If you haven't heard of the Flip then you've probably been living under a rock (or a Huggies).  I definitely needed to include this popular option.

Bummis Super Whisper Wrap and Green Mountain Diapers - Since the Flip is basically just a rectangle of fabric and a cover I thought I'd also toss the diaper hack version into the mix.

GroVia -  This is another pretty popular AI2 option.

So, we'll go through each diaper individually so I don't lose you jumping back and forth.  I'll tell you my initial reaction and also give the diaper a "star" rating in each of 3 categories - functionality, fit, and price.

Note:  I am basing the price rating on a dozen diaper changes.  It is hard to fairly compare price on a single diaper because the different diapers offer different pricing options and you always get the best deal when you buy more than one.  Some of the diapers don't even offer a "single diaper change" purchasing option.  I'm also basing the price on the standard cotton or microfiber options.  Most brands can also be purchased in organic fabrics but that costs extra.  The exception is the Grovia which only comes in organic.

CuteyBaby Basics:  I didn't have super high hopes for this diaper based on my previous experience with their AIO, but since they were available in my local supermarket (score!) I decided to give them another try.  I was glad to see that the velcro was firmly sewed on to the diaper this time.  When I first put this on I was impressed by how stretchy and soft it was but was also kind of taken aback by how poofy and droopy it was.  It reminded me of a pillow strapped to her butt.

Functionality - (3 stars)*** - Unfortunately while there were great aspects to this diaper, I could only give it 3 stars for functionality.  It was a great daytime diaper but under more arduous circumstances (if I forgot to change right after nap) it got a little damp around the leg holes.  Also this was the only diaper to actually fall off during nakey baby playtime.  The hook and loop fastener they used wasn't very strong.  With clothes on over it and with regular changes, it worked fine though.  My thoughts?  The soft cotton outer that they have on it has wicking tendencies that you don't see with covers that have a polyester outer.  Minky diapers are prone to this too I've noticed.  One thing that kept it from getting 1 or 2 stars though, is its superior poop holding power.  The internal elastic makes a poo pocket that is hard to beat.  BM never got anywhere close to leaking out of this one.  The poo pocket did make it a little harder to rinse, but I'd rather put a little more effort into rinsing a poopy diaper than rinsing out poopy clothes or car seats or carpet.  While this is a poo grabber, you can't reuse the cover after a poo.  After a pee though, it dries out quickly and smell-free for reuse.

Fit - (3 stars)*** - Again, we have a mixed bag here.  On the plus side, the hip velcro is genius.  Drooping wings are always a big problem if you have a skinny waisted kid but with the hip velcro, the wings stay up where they belong.  Where they dropped the ball with skinny kids though is the tabs.  There is no crossover velcro so while I was able to make it work by tightening them all the way, I would have liked the extra room that some crossover elastic would provide.  The fit around the legs and waist was good, no gaps.  Another problem though was the trimness.  This is not a trim diaper.  "Pillow" is a word that comes quickly to mind.  Soft and squishy, but poofy and saggy.  A size down may have been helpful, but there are only two sizes and the smaller size was much too small.  So the sizing makes getting a good fit tricky.  Where they really excel is comfort.  This diaper really is very comfortable.  The cover is lined with soft fleece, the elastic is very stretchy and forgiving, a very comfy diaper. 

Price - (4 stars)**** - $100 to $150 for a dozen diaper changes

Softbums Echo:  At first look, this diaper looked intimidating.  I wasn't quite sure how that huge snake of a soaker was going to fit into that little cover.  One little fold under though and it fit like a glove.  It was one of the trimmest options of the bunch.  I also liked the crossover velcro and had to use it on my 9 month old because she's pretty trim herself.  My husband though, was too overwhelmed at the thought of what to do with that super long soaker so he ended up just taking it out and putting a Flip disposable insert in the cover instead.  He's kind of a cloth diaper chicken - he doesn't like to stray outside his comfort zone (velcro AIO or Flip style cover/insert arrangement)

Functionality - (4 stars)**** - No leaks, plenty of absorbency, and the one-size gadget worked perfectly to adjust the size.  The cover, despite the fleecy inner, seemed to dry out quickly with no residual smell so that it could be reused throughout the day.  The only reason it doesn't get five stars is because the flat soaker doesn't do anything to contain poop, so unless it is just a teeny tiny poo, you are going to have to change the cover with each BM.

Fit - (5 stars)***** - With the one-size elastic in the legs and the crossover velcro at the waist, it was no problem to get the perfect fit.  Also the extra trim cut between the legs made for a nice looking diaper and a very mobile baby.  Despite the trim cut, there was still plenty of butt cheek coverage.  The fleecy inner on the cover seemed like it would be very comfy where it touched baby's skin.

Price - (4 stars)**** - $100 to $150 for a dozen diaper changes

Flip:  The Flip looked easy enough and it was.  It is one of my husband's more preferred diapers because of how easy and straighforward it is.  Nothing fancy or confusing.  I wasn't too keen on the plasticy interior of the cover though which was in contact with the skin on baby's hips.  And while the concept was easy, because the insert wasn't snapped onto the cover, when my babe was feeling wiggly, sometimes the insert fell out of the cover while I was trying to wrestle it on her and I had to reposition it and start over (because by the time I repositioned it she had crawled away at top speed!).

Functionality - (4 stars)**** - Works like a dream, whether with the reusable or the disposable innards.  Never a leak.  Only wish the insert had some way of containing poo so I could reuse the cover after a poo.  The plasticy interior makes it easy to reuse this cover quickly.  If it's the only cover you have you can even wipe the cover dry and reuse it immediately - no waiting for fabric to dry.  Also this one is super simple to rinse off.  I found myself wishing for an insert that snapped in though because it was trickier to put on my wiggly baby with an insert that could be kicked or wriggled out of position.

Fit - (4 stars)**** - The one-size snaps work great for adjusting, the waist gets very small and very large, it really works great. Trim and not saggy at all, this diaper looks beautiful when worn.  The only thing I didn't like was the plastic that was touching my baby's hips, but when you give that up in comfort, you gain more functionality (you can wipe it out).

Price - (5 stars)**** - Under $100 for a dozen diaper changes

Bummis and Green Mountain Diapers:  This is an alternative to the Flip diaper.  Really you can do this with any prefold and cover, but the ones I had on hand were yellow-edged Green Mountain prefolds and a Bummis Super Whisper Wrap in a very cute new print.  I like the versatility that this option provides me versus the Flip.  With a prefold I can roll up the sides to make a poo barrier or I can just fold it into third so it is just like a Flip insert.  Depending on what covers you use, this can be a lot cheaper than other AI2 options.  Other than that though, my opinons on this one are almost identical to the Flip.

Functionality - (4 stars)**** - Like the Flip, wish the insert could snap in.  Also like the Flip, great functionality - no leaks.  I like that I can roll up the prefold if I want to make poo barriers.

Fit - (3 stars)*** - This particular combo - the Bummis and a prefold - is a bit poofy.  Bummis are known for being a more generous cut.  Not excessively so though.  Good fit around the waist, legs, butt.  I like that the Bummis cover had a polyester inner lining so it was softer on baby's hips where the insert didn't cover.  I think for a five star fit, you would need to go with a trimmer cover for this combo.

Price - (5 stars)***** - Under $100 for a dozen diaper changes

Grovia:  The Grovia is one I have been using for a long time because it was one of the one-size diapers I owned that actually fit my newborn right from the start.  Lately though, she is starting to grow out of it, so I guess it's not a true birth-to-potty option.  One thing that strikes me with this diaper is how gentle the velcro at the waistband is - not too scratchy or stiff.

Functionality - (5 stars)***** - No leaks with this one.  Plenty of absorbency.  The elastic on the edges of the insert give it the ability to keep some (but not all) poos off of the cover.  So at least that way you have a fighting chance of not changing the cover after each and every poo.  The insert snaps into the diaper at the front and the back so it stays firmly in place.  The one-size snaps are your typical front configuration and work just fine.

Fit - (4 stars)**** - A fabulous fit!  The infinite crossover velcro waist means this will be able to get snug on the tiniest of waists.  It is nice and trim throughout the legs too.  The inside of the cover is lined with a soft mesh so plastic doesn't touch skin.  The only downfall here is that the diaper is on the small side so while it will fit a newborn, it won't last as long as some other one-size options will.  The rise on it, fully unsnapped, is on the short side and is what is going to be outgrown first.

Price - (3 stars)*** - $150 to $200 for a dozen diaper changes

WHEW!  That's a lot of info, I hope I didn't overwhelm you (I probably did).

The final word:  All the options were great, and I think all were fairly priced.  None were outrageously expensive.  The cover and prefold was a great economical option.  Most of the options were very functional.  I was pretty disappointed by the CuteyBaby though for function.  It's hard to pick a favorite overall.  I think all of them, except the CuteyBaby, will be in my regular stash rotation from now on.  Good stuff.


  1. That was actually really interesting to read, for a mama with her youngest being a 5 year old.

    Cloth diapers fascinate me. When my eldest was born, finding them was impossible, unless you were connected to the "cloth diaper underground". Easy to get dismayed and give up.

  2. Yeah, when I first started using them about four years ago, they were very tricky to find, especially used ones. Now used ones are all over craigslist - easy peasy. They've just exploded in popularity lately.


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