5-best-cloth-diapers-for-budget-conscious
Beginner, Diaper Reviews, Savings, Types of Diapers

The Best Cloth Diapers Series – Top 5 Cheap But Quality Diapers

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There are so many styles of cloth diapers and a whole host of different brands out there. It can be hard to narrow down your options if you are new to cloth.

The Best Cloth Diapers series is meant to take a look at a lot of different motivations and characteristics of those who use cloth diapers and narrow down some styles and brands that may appeal to people that fit that description. Hopefully, this can help make it less overwhelming for you if you are new to all of this.

Cloth Diapering on a Budget

The first descriptor will focus on is the budget-conscious. This is the part of the series I’m most excited to write because this was my main motivator when I first started cloth diapering five years ago.

Since then, I’ve come to appreciate so many other reasons for choosing cloth, but I’m excited to write this post because if I knew then what I know now, I would have done a few things differently and I’m excited to be able to pass on this wisdom to new cloth diaper families.

After my top 5 recommended diapers for those who are budget-conscious, I will shed some light on how to handle the newborn stage. That can be the trickiest part of cloth diapering if you are doing this to save money.

Here are some other posts in the series if saving money isn’t your primary motivation:

Without further ado, if you want to cloth diaper to save the most money possible and you’re less concerned about any other factors, this list is for you!

1. All-in-Twos: BumGenius Flip System, Grovia Hybrids, or Best Bottom Diapers

the-best-cloth-diapers-bumgenius-flips-coverAll-in-twos have gained more popularity in recent years and for good reason. They are a simple cloth diapering system that is easy to use. Many of them also offer an option for a biodegradable disposable insert that can be used if you need the convenience of a disposable diaper, but still want to remain environmentally friendly.

All-in-twos are simply a diaper cover with an insert that you can lay or snap on the inside of the cover. Very easy to assemble and easy to clean. When you change a pee diaper, all you need to do is remove the insert, wipe down the cover if needed, and put in a new insert. You can keep using the same cover until you have a messy diaper change. Click here to read more about all-in-two diapers.

The three main brand names in the world of all-in-twos/hybrids are bumGenius Flips, Grovia Hybrids, and Best Bottom Diapers. I have written great reviews on all three of these diaper systems. Check them out by clicking below:

All three of these brands will accomplish the same purpose and all of them are quality. There are smaller brands of all-in-twos out there, too.

From a budget standpoint, Flips may be the cheapest, but honestly, we are talking about the difference of a couple of bucks. At the end of the day, that could be a difference of $50+ for a whole stash, so it’s worth noting.

the-best-cloth-diapers-best-bottomsThe inserts vary a lot in price. If we compare the basic/standard stay-dry inserts for each brand, Best Bottoms have the cheapest inserts…but they are not one-size, like Grovia and Flips, which means you will need to purchase more overall which could add up.

Nicki’s Diapers is the best place to buy Best Bottom Diapers to get the widest variety of options and the best price available.

Flips are one-size, but they do have special newborn sized insert options, too. Click here to get Flip diapers from Nicki’s Diapers.

Grovia’s are also one-size, but would not be suitable for newborns. Grovia’s are the most expensive inserts out of the three if that is a deciding factor for you. You can get the Grovia Hybrids at Grovia’s website by clicking here.

These diapers are also available at Amazon, but I usually find prices to be better at cloth diaper retailers.

I recommend these in my number one spot because I honestly wish I would have invested more in all-in-twos earlier on. They are so simple to use and very economical compared to other diapers. The covers may be pricey, but you only need 6-8 of them. The inserts are pretty cheap compared to buying separate diapers. A bonus is they don’t take up as much room in your diaper pail, and if you have enough inserts to last awhile, you can space out your loads of laundry, too!

2. Kawaii

kawaii-pockets-with-bamboo-insertsKawaii is a small cloth diaper company based in Canada that sells affordable diapers. They manufacture in China, but the factory is closely monitored for the safety of both materials and working conditions. They have an OCIA certification (Organic Crop Improvement Association), a CPSIA certification (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act), and Intertek certification for their prefolds.

Here is a 6-pack of Kawaii diapers in beautiful neutral colors that come with bamboo inserts– no microfiber! This is an incredible price considering the inserts are upgraded. It is worth trying these out if you are on a budget.

I recommend investing in those better inserts up front (even if microfiber works well at first, you will probably want more absorbent inserts eventually– might as well go for them right away!)Bamboo inserts are much more absorbent than microfiber, not to mention bamboo doesn’t have the stink issues that microfiber can have over time due to being naturally antibacterial.

kawaii-goodnight-heavy-wettersAnother diaper you may want to consider from Kawaii is the Goodnight Heavy Wetter.

These are meant to be affordable overnight diapers with maximum absorbency. However, they do come with microfiber inserts, which not everyone likes.

I don’t mind using microfiber–I just usually like to pair microfiber with another material to help prevent leaks.

For overnight, I wouldn’t solely rely on microfiber, but you could perhaps layer one with the bamboo insert.

3. Mama Koala Cloth Diapers

mama-koala-cloth-diapersMama Koala is actually a small family business that sells pocket diapers. They completely designed their own diapers at an extremely reasonable price point, and they are manufactured in China, but still CPSIA compliant. Mama Koala primarily sells its product on Amazon, and this brand has quite a loyal following.

The outer layer of this diaper is TPU and the inner, stay-dry layer is a microsuede similar to bumGenius. It comes standard with microfiber inserts.

Mama Koala tends to get a lot of hype surrounding new releases of prints. To keep your budget in check, just focus on what is readily available on Amazon. There is SO MUCH to choose from on Amazon.

It’s incredibly hard to find diapers at this level of quality at such a reasonable price point. It’s definitely worth checking them out!

4. Prefolds and Covers

Prefolds and covers are probably the most commonly suggested budget-friendly diapering option. These are also a bit more “old school” (but not as old-school as flats) and if you are trying to convince your partner that cloth diapers are worth it, this might not sell him/her on it.

BUT they are still around for a reason! They’re still one of the most popular cloth diapering options because of how well they work and how budget-friendly they are, even if they are an extra step to put on.

Prefolds can be folded a couple of different ways. Some of those ways may be more difficult for you than others, but you can simply fold a prefold into thirds and lay it in the diaper shell like an insert, too. Prefolds are not as complicated as you are probably envisioning them to be.

Here is a quick video to give you an idea of how you might fold a prefold:

Remember, you can also just trifold the prefold into thirds and lay it in the cover if you want. The only downside of that is that it might have a harder time staying in place if your baby is very mobile, and it probably won’t keep poop off the cover if your baby poops.

the-best-cloth-diapers-prefolds-and-coversI really love these prefolds by Humble Bebe. This is a 12-pack of unbleached cotton prefolds that work well for babies between 10-30 lbs. Two packages of these would have you set for a basic diaper stash. Assuming you don’t want to mess with pins, you will want to pick up a few Snappis (click here to see on Amazon). (If you are unsure what Snappis are, check out the video above).

Sometimes people prefer to use sized prefolds, such as Osocozy. It can help by lessening the bulk in the diaper for smaller babies and gives you a more precise fit.

You can choose from a whole wealth of covers. One of my personal favorites is the bumGenius Flip covers (click here or check out #1 in the list).

The reason why is that it has flaps at the front and back of the diaper for tucking in inserts, which might be helpful if you decide to trifold your prefolds. It also frees you up to explore with the all-in-two system down the line if you decide you don’t like using prefolds on an older baby.

There are other diaper covers that have the front and back flaps, but I like the width of the BG–they seem to fit really well over prefolds.

If you aren’t interested in the Flip covers, or if you would rather have a double gusset (two sets of elastic at the legs to get the best fit to prevent leaks), the Thirsties Duo Wrap is one of the most-loved covers on the market. The only thing to note is it is not a one-size cover, so you will need to purchase two sizes along the way.

However, if you are planning on using newborn cloth diapers, it won’t really be an extra expense anyway. You will need newborn sized covers regardless. The Thirsties Duo Wrap size 1 is good for 6-18 lbs, so you will get even more use out of them than a typical newborn cover.

5. Take Advantage of Sales/Coupons or Buy Used

If you are on a strict budget but want to try out some of the more popular & expensive brands, you might consider checking Facebook B/S/T groups for cloth diapers. A number of them exist, and you can score some gently used diapers at fabulous prices.

When buying used, I recommend making sure the PUL/TPU is in good condition and that the elastics aren’t too relaxed. You will also want to do a wash with a bit of bleach when you receive them. Check out this post for more information on bleaching.

Another option is to try to take advantage of sales and coupons. Black Friday/Cyber Monday is by far the best time to get diaper sales. You can check out my Black Friday 2018 sale post to get an idea of what kinds of sales you might see when that time of year comes around again: Cloth Diaper Black Friday Deals 2018

You can check each website to see what promotions they currently have going on. Nicki’s Diapers is one of my favorite cloth diaper websites. Click on the name to see what promo they are currently running.

As for coupons, click here to check out my favorite way to score a discount on bumGenius diapers.

Newborn Diapering on a Budget

In my opinion, the newborn weeks are the most challenging part of using cloth diapers in terms of getting a good fit and avoiding leaks. There are some other perks, like not having to spray or scrape poop of diapers before washing them. But tiny little newborns can be very difficult to fit!

If you are on a budget, I recommend one of two things:

1) Use prefolds and covers–you will get the biggest bang for your buck here.

Other newborn cloth diapers, like all-in-ones, are pretty pricey for how long you’re going to use them for. Some people also struggle to get enough absorbency in the newborn size, and all-in-ones can be difficult to customize.

You will most likely experience much more success if you just go for prefolds and covers during the newborn days. Check out these posts for more newborn diapering advice.

2) Use disposables for the first 1-3 months.

Another option if you’re trying to save money is to just start out with disposables. As for how long you’ll need to use disposables, it depends on how big or small your baby is when born and how fast they grow. Most one-size diapers start to fit around the 10-12 lb mark. For some, that might be a couple of weeks and others a couple of months.

Since it’s hard to predict, some feel it makes more sense for them to use disposables at first, and then transition to cloth a couple of months in.

Disposables aren’t necessarily the easier answer, though… my boys leaked and had blowouts galore for the time they were in disposables. But sometimes it just makes more sense when you don’t have the budget to allow for a lot of diaper experimentation… and especially for a whole stash of diaper that you may not use more than a few weeks depending on how big your baby is!

For more info on cheap cloth diapering, check out this post: Cloth Diapering on a Budget

If you’re a budget-conscious parent looking to start cloth, which of these options appeals to you? Do you have any other questions? Let me know in the comments!

Holly Lee

I'm Holly and I'm the mom of two awesome young boys with a girl due summer 2020. We have been cloth diapering for 6 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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8 Comments

  1. Sujandar Mahesan says:

    My uncle just had a new baby last month. As I was in a different city I wasn’t able to gift them anything. Now that I’m back, I was looking to get them something which can be useful to them. This article had the best 5 Diapers. I personally love the Bum Genius Flip System. It is not that expensive either. So I’m going to buy that and gift it to them.

    Thank you so much for sharing this article with us.

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Glad you found something of value, Sujandar! Flips are a great choice.

  2. Netta says:

    What a lovely array of diaper possibilities, Holly!  My grandkids are past the ages where they need these anymore.  Reading through these possibilities, however, makes me determined to go find some baby to try these things out on.  

    I just had a thought.  Several of my friends have great-grandkids who just might work as models for these things.  I just need to go borrow one.  Hee!

    1. Holly Lee says:

      They really are so adorable, aren’t they?!

  3. Chrissie Spurgeon says:

    I am a great believer in using cloth diapers, although I would agree with you that for newborns disposable ones are the best option – we went for organic biodegradable disposables for the first few weeks as we did not want to add the the horrendous pile of disposables which take literally hundreds of years to rot down!

    During that time we ordered a variety of single cloth diapers, which you can usually do, to see which kind we preferred, and then opted for the one we like the best to buy in bulk for the rest of the time they were needed.

    There is no doubt that using cloth diapers is for more economical than buying disposables for years, and the ones we chose lasted through two babies and still has good use left in them. And we had the satisfaction of knowing that we were not adding to landfill rubbish sites!

    You are doing a great job in advocating the use of cloths – one way in which all mothers can contribute to saving the planet!

    Many thanks

    Chrissie 🙂

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Thank you so much, Chrissie! I’m so glad you shared your positive experiences here. So many skeptics out there…need to let people know cloth isn’t as much of a hassle as people think, and there are so many pros to using them!

      Your strategy of ordering one at a time to try out is a good one!

  4. Paul says:

    O, I wish there was a site like this that shared the pros and cons, tips and tricks in this way. With three children of mine, a lot of diapers have gone to waste incineration. Yes, the subject of the use of cloth diapers was mentioned, but only briefly. My wife thought it was too much of a fuss and back then there was not much useful info on the internet. You share some good info here!

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Thanks, Paul! There’s never been a better time to use cloth. So much more info and styles available today!

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