Part Two: Build a cloth diaper stash on any budget

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.

pocket diapers

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.

bumgenius one size

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)

Since I loved my Thirsties Duo Wrap with Snaps I decided to give the Thirsties Duo Diaper Snap Size One (6-18 lbs) a go.

thirsties duo diaper

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.

Cloth Diapers
Price Check: Are cloth diapers worth it?

I crunched the nappy numbers and did the diaper math. Turns out one diapering method could save your family $1,799 with one child. Find out which diaper does the job for less.

FuzziBunz One Size Elite ($18)

The FuzziBunz One Size Elite is a trim fitting fleece-lined pocket diaper stuffed with synthetic minky inserts.

fuzzibunz

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.

happy heinys

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.

bumgenius

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.

bumgenius cloth diaper

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.

bumgenius insert

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.

cheap cloth pocket diapers

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.

alvababy cloth diaper

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.

pul minky pocket diaper

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.

bumgenius alvababy

Results were shocking. While the bumGenius feels slightly thicker and comes with two inserts, both diapers share the same measurements.

bumgenius alva baby pocket diapers

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.

Diaper Sprayer
Make your own diaper sprayer

Clean the mess from your cloth diapers for less with this simple DIY Cloth Diaper Sprayer. Illustrative plumbing photos show you the 8 easy steps.

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.

pocket cloth diapers

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.

Total Cost: 24 bumGenius 4.0 One Size pocket diapers will set you back around $440 in the USA and closer to $575 in Canada.

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.

Cloth DiapersSeries: Build a cloth diaper stash on any budget

What type of cloth diapers should you buy? I share the winners and losers based on price, convenience, and a little experience. Check out Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

Your Turn: Do you use pocket diapers? What is your favorite brand?

Love,
Kerry

Your two cents:

  1. Pixi July 25th, 2012

    We use Sunbaby diapers – also from China, also in the 6-7$ price range. I would describe them as the same style as BG diapers but with the three snap adjustability that you get from FuzziBunz diapers. We’ve been using them for six months now and I really like them. They have the snap adjustable rise like BumGenius, but they use a three snap (one at the leg, two at the waist) closure which I think helps us prevent leaks out the sides. It also has a flap at the back like BumGenius to cover the insert opening, which I like a lot.

  2. Turia July 25th, 2012

    The only thing I would add to this review is a warning about the challenges of cloth laundry if you have microfibre inserts and/or fleece liners or pockets. Microfibre can be very prone to ‘stinkies’, and fleece is notorious for repelling if it gets detergent buildup. Natural fibres (cotton/hemp/bamboo) are able to tolerate a lot more.

    I know lots of people who use and love both, but despite our best efforts, our HE front-loading washing machine just won’t get the fleece and microfibre clean enough. Luckily our son is happy with his hemp prefolds, and doesn’t mind the wet sensation (fleece liners work really well with prefolds and are very cheap/easy to make your own, but, again, are more fragile beasts when it comes to laundry).

  3. JB July 26th, 2012

    We use Sweet Pea Cloth Diapers and the great thing about them is that you don’t have to pull the insert out before washing, the machine does it for you. Maybe this will work for other pocket diaper brands.

  4. Beth, Lambic Pentameter July 26th, 2012

    I use pocket diapers. I had a preemie and used FuzziBunz size Xsmall, and then cobbled together a few online patterns to sew my own. I get all of my supplies from diapersewingsupplies.com and I have no issues with fit because I put adjustable elastic in the legs.

    I buy hemp inserts, as I find they don’t hold onto the smell as tightly as microfiber. I use PUL and suedecloth for the shells – suedecloth is great as she’s gotten older and the waste is more solid. It falls right off of the suedecloth with little intervention.

  5. Vera October 19th, 2012

    Like you, Kerry, we tried it all. Bummis prefolds, vintage prefolds from the 1970s, all coupled onto modern Bummis wraps. Yes, snap covers rule over aplix. Then we tried fitted bamboo Motherease, one size. Bubble butt as a young under-6 month baby, but dang with a liner it contained all pee overnight (ours never felt the wet, it seems). but it was still a two-step process though my husband preferred fitted to finicky prefolds.

    Despite the cost, pocket diapers were the winner. The daycare liked it (important, we wanted them to KEEP using cloth) and grandparents, babysitters and even my husband preferred it. We went with Applecheeks (Canadian brand) and Fuzzibunz. Applecheeks tended to fit small despite the Size 2 supposedly lasting to 30 lbs. I’d recommend FuzziBunz One Size or their Three-size system. We’ve saved all our pockets for some future child and sold just about everything else!

  6. L November 16th, 2012

    Seriously- I’m not a huge fan of Fuzzi Bunz but their one size diapers has adjustable elastic. How did you not realize this?

  7. tarynkay December 29th, 2012

    Re: L- We have the one-size Fuzzi Bunz. While they do have adjustable elastic, the rise is not adjustable. With other one size diapers, the rise snaps down. The Fuzzi Bunz worked great and fit great until just recently- they are now on the last possible elastic setting and the last possible snap setting and my 13 month old son has plumber butt. He is 26lbs and 32 inches tall and definitely not ready for potty training. I’m trying to figure out what to switch to, and this series is very helpful.

  8. Amanda E February 3rd, 2013

    We use the Fuzzibunz Elite. My son is 15 months old. I took one to a friends house to try it on her kids and we adjusted it to fit her 1 week old and also her 2 1/2 year old. No problem! I was a little surprised myself!

  9. Kris February 11th, 2013

    Tarynkay, you could try the fuzzi buzz size large. I had to buy a whole new stash of those bcs my little man outgrew the one size bg’s and fuzzibunz.

  10. Jenny January 22nd, 2014

    i use the hipster from gigglelife. it’s a great pocket diaper that fits well with extra snaps for the perfect fit. Canadian diaper and so far so good

  11. Tabitha February 9th, 2014

    Holy cow, the large Fuzzibunz are larger than the one size? I did not know that!!! I found one at a thrift store for $1.50 and added riser snaps to it to make it a one sizer.

  12. Kara February 7th, 2015

    Ah, thank you!! I am loving your site. It is making this whole new mom thing a lot easier. I am a huge planner and using your tips have been a life saver!

  13. Karrie March 13th, 2015

    OMG! Thank you so much for writing this! I feel like so many product reviews are all puppy dogs and rainbows, because the reviewer wants more free stuff. Thank you for being blunt and honest!

  14. Elle December 18th, 2015

    My sister and I both use a lot of Alva diapers for our babies. She has a 10 month old and I have a 5 month old. They work great. We use micro and bamboo at the same time in the pockets. I also have a few glowbug and Niki’s diapers. They both work well for me too. The combination of one microfiber on top of a bamboo seems to be a winner no matter what pocket diaper brand we use.

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