How to build a cloth diaper stash on any budget is a three-part series aimed at helping you choose a cloth diapering system. To start from the beginning, check out the cloth diapers in Part One or head over to Part Three.
Diaper System 3: Pocket with inserts.
Sew a diaper cover onto a fleece or suede cloth liner and you’ve got the oh-so-popular pocket diaper. The outside boasts a cute pattern, while the inside hides a secret pocket perfect for stuffing your favorite absorbent fabric inserts. The synthetic pocket liner wicks the wetness away so baby’s butt stays dry. OMG, maybe your kid won’t wake up up early from naptime? Maybe you’ll sleep tonight? Win.
What’s in your pocket? Mine’s stuffed with microfleece, but I’ve boosted that pocket’s absorbency with hemp inserts, cotton prefold diapers, and more microfleece. It’s like a fabric party dancing on my baby’s dry and happy butt.
After Chloe rejected my affordable prefolds and trim fitting fitteds, I quickly plunked down a few bucks to cover her bottom with a few pocket diaper brands and options.
I tried out a few ‘one size’ and sized brands before spending the bucks on a full pocket diaper stash. The key to finding the perfect pocket diaper is fit — you’ll want good coverage around your baby’s thighs and waist.
Thirsties Duo Diaper Snap ($20)
I love this pocket diaper. For some babies a ‘one size’ diaper ranging from birth to potty training is too big. Paying money for two sizes seems a costly bummer, but you’ll appreciate a cloth diaper that fits trim and snug from day one.
Thirsties pocket diapers also boast leg gussets, which are prefect for containing runny poos and securing skinny thighs. The adjustable rise is great for getting a proper fit. Inserts boost absorption with hemp and microfiber fabrics, so baby stays dry. Two bums up on this pocket.
FuzziBunz One Size Elite ($18)
The FuzziBunz One Size Elite is a trim fitting fleece-lined pocket diaper stuffed with synthetic minky inserts.
Their claim as a “one diaper, birth to potty training” diaper makes me laugh. This diaper does not offer an adjustable rise option, so there’s no freaking way to extend the length of it when your kid grows overnight. A great diaper for smaller babies. Terrible for taller kids. Pass.
Happy Heinys One Size ($19)
If I wanted to hang myself from a set of diaper tabs, I’d choose the Happy Heinys One Size as my noose.
This brand offers confused parents super-stretchy extra-long tabs with an endless number of snaps to gnaw on. After snap-attacking this pocket to your spawn, you’ll wonder why she’s wearing a WWE Champion Wrestling Belt. You’ll have to wrap the tabs around your child twice just to take up the slack. Perfect for pissing off dads at all hours of the day. Prefect for burning at a potty training ceremony. Perfect for never buying, ever again.
To add insult to injury, my unHappy Heinys busted a snap after only 2 months of use. I’m still waiting to hear back from my seller to collect on the warranty. Yes, I hate this diaper. You can do far better for $19.
bumGenius 4.0 One Size ($18-$25)
Priced for less in the USA and up to $25 in Canada (WHY WHY WHY?) is the bumGenius 4.0 One Size diaper.
This is a lovely cloth choice if you’re looking for a pocket that fits from 10 pounds and up. We had to wait several months before this brand came close to fitting our little one since the gussetless legs were huge on her.
Tabs with snaps are a must since Velcro tabs may not last from newborn to potty. The tabs are slightly stretchy to help get a good fit. Two inserts are included with this insanely priced diaper — one insert snaps down. bumGenius 4.0s have a high resale value.
Just don’t buy the dark purple one called Dazzle — that color bleeds terribly and may turn your entire diaper wash pink. Mega grumble.
Alva Baby One Size ($6)
Selling for the price of a Starbucks Frappuccino is the cutie patootie Alva Baby pocket diaper.
For $6 a pop you’ll get to choose from hundreds of patterns, colors, and a few cover textures (minky and PUL) to build your frugal stash. Each diaper comes with one microfiber insert.
They’re perfect for pocket lovers on a tight budget looking to make the leap to cloth — the catch is you’ll have to order your stash straight from China. Yep. It’s a cheapy diaper from (apparently) the biggest cloth diaper factory in China. Go figure.
Rumored to be branded under other names (such as Kawaii Baby but for triple the cost), the Alva Baby diaper is quietly discussed in mommy forums as the bestest pocket diaper deal across the interwebs. No one wants to buy diapers from China (apparently) but many do.
After spending upwards of $25 on a single bumGenius pocket diaper, I wanted to know if the Alva Baby $6 special would hold up to rigorous use. So I ordered a bunch and washed, stuffed, and measured them against the more costly bumGenius brand.
Results were shocking. While the bumGenius feels slightly thicker and comes with two inserts, both diapers share the same measurements.
The Alva Baby needs an additional liner to compete as an overnight diaper, but the quality is darn good. I love this diaper and price. I hate ordering it from China, but I despise disposable diapers more. So here’s the thing — I’d rather recommend a highly affordable diaper from China than see a family fork out thousands of dollars on environmentally unfriendly disposables. See Price Check: Are cloth diapers worth it? for the math.
Pros and cons of pocket diapers.
Pros: An easy to use one-step diapering system that functions like a disposable and doesn’t require a cover. Keeps baby’s butt dry by wicking moisture away from the pocket to the insert. Prints are cute to boot. Can choose from a variety of fabric inserts (hemp, bamboo, cotton, microfiber) to boost absorbency. Microfiber inserts and PUL shells dry quickly.
Cons: Pulling the insert out of the pocket can become a messy operation if there’s poo involved. Pee is a not a problem. On laundry day, stuffing the pocket with an insert can become a time-consuming task. Carl and I stuff diapers every two days. Wine is involved, sometimes. Depending on the brand, a full stash of pocket diapers can be expensive.
Stash Size Needed: You’ll need around 24 pocket diapers for babies aged 0-6 months. Fewer diapers are needed for older babies. Plan on doing laundry every 2 days. Hang dry pocket shells for longevity.
Choosing the Chinese made Alva Baby costs just $144 for 24 pocket diapers — a significant savings over other brands. Mixing and matching brands will cost you anywhere from $144 to $500 to build a pocket diaper stash.
Pocket Diaper Bottom Line
There’s no rule that says you have to exclusively diaper your kid in one brand of pocket diaper, and what works for me may not work for you. My preference is to diaper with bumGenius at night for maximum absorbency, Thirsties Duo Diapers for outings since this diaper is sized and fits trim, and Alva Baby at home ’cause it’s affordable. All together (including the duds) I own 25 pocket diapers.
Because there are so many variations on pocket diapers, my suggestion is to get your hands on a bunch, feel the fabrics, and borrow or buy your favorites to see if the brand works for you and your baby. Search for sales. Stock up on the ones you love.
Your Turn: Do you use pocket diapers? What is your favorite brand?
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