I’ve been happily using cloth diapers for almost four years, and my favorite diaper of them all has been the one-size pocket diaper.
True, it’s what I started with. I didn’t really even have anything else until my second child came along and I found that 20 diapers for two kids just wasn’t quite enough (it was a really good excuse to get girl-colored diapers anyway 🙂 ).
That said, there are lots of different types of diapers from pre-folds, to all-in-ones, and even two-in-ones.
While I like some of those diaper types okay, always and ever, pocket diapers are my numero uno – that’s why this review is about them!
There are many varioius pocket diaper brands, and I personally own four of them. The only one I’ve addressed as a brand has been in my Baby City diaper review (not because they’re the best, but because they’re the cheapest and most questionable). Here, I’m addressing pocket diapers as a whole. The question is: should I get pocket diapers, or something else?
Read on for more for everything there is to know about the pocket diaper – good and bad!
Pocket Diaper Review
- Adjustability. With one-size pocket diapers, you’ll only need to buy one set of diapers from infanthood to potty training. This certainly makes them a more frugal option!
- Fit. Thanks to the multiple sizing options of each diaper, they can be adjusted to fit nearly any baby almost perfectly.
- Minimal leakage. You may not think of perfect diaper fit as being important – oh, but it is! How else are you going to keep things from leaking? I’ve been extremely happy to not be one of those parents bemoaning all the yellow stains on my baby’s clothes.
- Easy Clean out. There’s not really any nooks and crannys to get solids stuck in, or any worry about diapers coming unfolded when you’re dumping solids out as there is with flats and pre-folds.
- Quick drying. Because pocket diapers come “unstuffed” during washing, they dry out much faster than all-in-ones, which saved electricity (if you’re using a dryer), and time – which enables you to buy fewer diapers.
- Fold and go! Possibly the best thing about pocket diapers is that once they’re stuffed, and waiting in your diaper basket (or drawer, or what have you), they’re ready to go! Just like changing a paper diaper when the time comes.
- Toddler-proof snaps. Okay, this is true of any type of cloth diaper that offers snap closures, but I’m happy to report that my children never figure out how to unsnap their diapers, and therefore, we’ve never had the “I found my kid playing in really gross things from his diaper” experience.
- Some brands “require” shaking out the insert. Ew.
- Pocket diapers are more expensive (on average) than pre-folds.
- You need more of them. Not more total, but since you can swap inserts with pre-folds, you could do with fewer covers.
- I’m thinking really hard here, but nothing comes to mind.
Addressing the cons:
- I don’t shake out the inserts. Not until they’re clean anyway. But that’s just me.
- There are ways to minimize the cost. Buying in bulk for instance. If you buy two dozen Smarti Pants directly from their website for instance, they give you a discount .
Purchasing used diapers via eBay, Craigslist, or a diaper site like Diaper Swappers can also significantly reduce the cost – but be picky! Only get diapers that have been well cared for, and are in excellent shape – otherwise, you’ll be very disappointed by how quickly they wear out.
- The number of diapers you need depends upon how often you want to wash diapers. I started out with two dozen, and washed every two day. I laugh now at the me who though that was too much laundry. After baby number two came along, I was washing almost every day for a while.
What to look for in a pocket diaper
As I mentioned above, there are many, many pocket diaper options out there. So how do you know which one to get? Here are a few tips:
The pockets: Look for an opening at both ends of the pocket. This guarantees that the insert will fall out during washing, and you won’t have to try to shake it out beforehand. (FYI, I don’t shake any of mine out – one the occasions when they don’t fall out in the wash – about ¼ of the time – I’d much rather shake them out after they’re clean, wouldn’t you?
The snaps. Snaps are, without doubt, one of the best things about cloth diapering. If you’re toddlers can’t unsnap them, they’re much less likely to make a mess. That said, some cheaper diapers have weaker snaps. The best snaps I’ve ever had the pleasure of using were on Smarti Pants diapers. Even after we’ve worn them literally to shreds (thanks to rinsing them with vinegar so many times – oops!), and 3+ years use, the snaps are still going strong.
The elastic. You want flexible, but strong. Make sure that you’ve got plenty of stretch, not just in the legs, but also at the back as well. This essential for keeping messes in their place. J
The lining. Cheaper diapers – and even some of the best brands – often have only one layer of interior fabric. This is probably fine, but I feel like it makes de-lamination much more likely when you’re stuffing inserts into a tight space, and rubbing directly up against the PUL. That’s one more reason why I like Smarti Pants – they line the PUL, and then have a very specific pocket.
Fabric type. There are two types of moisture-wicking fabric that are generally used to line diapers; micro-suede, and micro-fleece. Some folks prefer fleece because it feel more cuddly, some also say that micro-suede is more likely to cause skin reactions. I have both, and I can’t honestly say that I’ve seen a difference in moisture wicking or skin reactions. The micro-suede does seem to clean more easily though.
My favorite brands (and why)
There are tons of brands out there, but here are the five I have experience with:
Smarti Pants. I guess that one was no surprise. 🙂 They’re made in the USA, which is nice. I like the fit, the strong snaps, and the double pocket opening. Plus they lasted a long time before the first one delaminated, and they’re cheaper than many of the other top brands though just as high quality – even better in some ways. You won’t find them on eBay very often, but fortunately, you can purchase “seconds” which are much cheaper. I just ordered two. Their flaw? Wiggly stitching around the closure tabs (you can see it in the picture at the bottom of this article). Fine by me!
Fuzzibunz. Even though this is considered one of the top brands, for me, they’re just “meh”. Their best diapers are the size-specific diapers, which means you have to buy new sets as your baby grows, and I haven’t been very happy with the strength of the snaps, or elastic quality.
Baby city. These are the cheapest of the cheap (I paid $2-4 on eBay for mine). Great for getting your feet wet with cloth diapering, but they have a high delamination rate, and tend to run small than Smarti pants, making them a tight fit for my toddler.
Diaper Safari. I have two pair of these. One delaminated after a few weeks. Bummer. But other than that, I really like the fit. Sap quality is okay, but not perfect.
Alva Baby. Admittedly, I only have one Alva, but so far, I love it! Great fit, and it’s cute. The drawbacks are that the insert doesn’t always fall out in the wash, and that the snap strength isn’t all I wish it were – but that seems to be a trend in all but the Smarti Pants, and at half the price, I’ll deal.
If you’re still not sure of whether you’d like to get into pocket diapers, I advise getting a few cheap Baby city, or better yet (but slightly more expensive) Alva Baby diaper to try out. If you don’t like them you’re not committed, if you do, you can buy more!