Types of Diapers

Pocket Cloth Diapers – Pros and Cons

Pocket cloth diapers first came out almost 20 years ago now–that is crazy to think about! They are one of the go-to standard styles of modern cloth diapers thanks to brands like Fuzzibunz, bumGenius, and Rumparooz (among others).

Pocket diapers are a common first style of cloth diaper that many families try out first. Some of the most popular cloth diapers happen to be pockets.

However, not everyone loves pocket diapers. Many families find a different style more suitable to their needs.

If you are looking at investing in cloth diapers, you may be wondering if pockets are a good place to start. What are the pros and cons to this style of diaper, and what are the best brands of pockets to get?

What Are Pocket Cloth Diapers?

pocket-diaper-openingPocket cloth diapers are a diaper that consists of a shell with an outer waterproof layer (usually PUL or TPU), and an inner layer of moisture-wicking material (usually microsuede, fleece, or in some cases a jersey material).

There is an opening on one end of the diaper that allows you to stuff inserts. Most pocket diapers come standard with microfiber inserts–microfiber is the cheapest type of insert and is absorbent enough to get most families started, but many people find they eventually want to invest in other insert materials to get a little more absorbency and/or avoid compression leaks.

Check out the video below to see pockets in action and hear the pros and cons. If videos aren’t your thing, keep on reading!

Pros of Pocketspockets

Pocket diapers gained popularity for a reason. Here are some of the most prominent pros of pockets:

  • The absorbency is easily customized by using different insert materials. This gives you options based on what is important to you (do you prioritize price? Need them trim-fitting? Etc).
  • They are very easy to use. It’s not hard to learn that the insert is to be stuffed inside (hence the term “pocket”). It doesn’t take much practice or effort to be able to prep the diaper.
  • They are babysitter friendly, especially if you pre-stuff them. Pre-stuffed pockets go on just like a disposable diaper and require little discernment from caregivers unfamiliar with cloth diapers.
  • They come in a range of price points. You can get some very cheap, some for a lot of money, and many in-between. This is a style that could work for a wide range of family budgets.
  • Pockets materials are versatile. I use many of my old inserts for cleaning, and I can use the shells as swim diapers.
  • They dry pretty quickly. Since all the pieces are separate, they dry faster than other types of diapers. Overall dry time may vary based on your insert material.
  • Pocket diapers are much easier to spray or scrape clean when baby poops compared to other types of diapers (even all-in-ones! Many all-in-ones have flaps or snap-in doublers, and I hate cleaning poop off of those).
  • Pocket diapers are a good choice for babies with wetness sensitivities because of the moisture-wicking inner layer.

Cons of Pockets

pocket-diaper-stash

While pockets are great for lots of reasons, here are some of the most frequent criticisms:

  • Stuffing pockets is annoying. To be fair, it isn’t any more annoying than laying an insert in a hybrid, folding a prefold, adjusting flaps on an all-in-one, etc. But many people just really do not like stuffing pockets and prefer lower-prep options.
    • If this is a huge inconvenience to you, I recommend not making yourself feel like you need to pre-stuff diapers. I started out my cloth diapering journey by sitting down on the couch and stuffing pockets after they were clean & dry. It didn’t take long for me to burn out on that. You have enough to worry about doing in a day and enough laundry to worry about folding; don’t make stuffing diapers a hassle.
    • Instead, stuff your pocket as soon as you need it. What I do is put my clean diapers (shells, inserts, & all) in a big wicker basket next to my changing area. When it’s time to change a diaper, I grab a shell & insert and stuff it right then and there before putting it on my son. It only adds a couple of extra seconds to the diaper change to do it this way, and it knocks a big chore off my to-do list.
  • While some insert materials may be the exception to this, most pocket diapers are made from synthetic fibers (microsuede, microfleece, PUL, TPU, etc). Even if the insert is natural, it is stuffed inside synthetic materials and that is what touches the skin. Many families prefer natural fibers for a number of reasons, and some babies with sensitive skin may have issues with synthetic materials.
  • Almost all pockets come standard with microfiber inserts, and almost all parents agree that microfiber doesn’t cut it once their baby gets older. This is an inconvenience because you can basically count on spending more money down the road to upgrade inserts, and you paid for inserts that you wouldn’t have chosen on your own.
    • Some diaper brands do have options to purchase their diapers with upgraded inserts, usually bamboo, charcoal bamboo, hemp, and/or cotton.
  • Pocket diapers often take up more room in wet bags/diaper pails due to double layers of inserts and not being able to reuse shells for multiple changes. This means diaper laundry piles up a little quicker than some other types of diapers (such as all-in-twos/hybrids).

What’s the Verdict on Pockets?

Overall, I think the pros of pockets outweigh the cons. It really depends on your baby and family needs. If your baby is a pretty average wetter, and having a low-maintenance & convenient diaper stash is important to you, pockets may not be appealing.

However, if you ever need to increase absorbency, already owning pockets makes it super easy. You can start by doubling inserts or experiment with purchasing other insert types, or even just try things you have lying around the house (like flour sack/kitchen towels, old bath towels cut up, etc).

They are easy to leave with other caregivers, easier than many other types of diapers to spray/scrape off when baby poops, offer a stay-dry feel and are very versatile.

If you are a new cloth diaper parent, I recommend trying out a couple of pockets to see how you like them for your stash. You don’t need to throw all your eggs in one basket, though. Try out many styles to see what suits you. You may find you don’t really like one style you thought you would love or vice versa.

Popular Pocket Brands

Check out this post to see some of my favorite pockets: The Best Pocket Diapers of 2018

If you are interested in some more specific reviews, check out these posts:

Are You Going to Try Out Some Pockets?

Are you going to add any pockets to your diaper stash? Which ones? Let me know in the comments!

Holly Lee

I'm Holly and I'm the mom of two awesome young boys. We have been cloth diapering for 5 years. My family and I live in Minnesota with our dog, Ruby, and cat, Gherkin. Outside of Rocking the Cloth, I am also a middle school teacher. Thank you for visiting Rocking the Cloth--feel free to email me at holly@rockingthecloth.com if you have any questions or concerns. I'd love to help!

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2 Comments

  1. Louis says:

    Hello Holly,

    Thanks for this article on pocket diapers, helped me understand I have more options available to me when choosing what diaper to purchase for our son. I make use of disposable diapers and it’s really a financial strain, seemingly pocket diapers would be more budget friendly. I will look for where I can get one around my community and try it out, can I really fill the pocket with any material of my choice? I hope it’s really easy to clean out. Thanks for sharing, much appreciated.

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Glad you found it helpful, Louis!

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