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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.
It’s important to remember that if you’re new to cloth, you might think you’re absolutely going to love a certain type of diaper and then find out once you start using it that you hate them for whatever reason–maybe they don’t fit your baby’s shape well, maybe they take too long to dry, maybe they were too cumbersome to assemble…you get the idea.
I’m going to do my absolute best to compile a list of favorites for each descriptor based on my own personal experience and the experiences of others in the cloth diaper community based on my involvement in various support groups and by reading reviews. However, without knowing you personally, I won’t be able to tell if you’re going to hate wrapping a prefold or not. You might not even know if you’re going to hate it or not until you try it.
So that is my disclaimer that you may need to try out a couple kinds to really find out what the best is for you.
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” (if you’re willing to call it that!) to new cloth diaper families.
After my top 5 recommended diapers for those who are budget-conscious, 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:
- Top 5 for Those Who Need Low-Maintenance
- Top 5 for the Natural Family
- Top 5 for the Eco-Friendly Family
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
All-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. From a budget standpoint, Flips may be the cheapest, but honestly, we are talking the difference of a couple bucks. At the end of the day, that could be a difference of $50+ for a whole stash, so it’s worth noting.
The 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 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. An added 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. Alvas & Kawaii
“China Cheapies” are the nickname given to cloth diapers mass-produced in China. These are very popular among the budget-minded folks in the cloth diapering community. They are most commonly pockets, but some all-in-ones, too.
There are several different “China Cheapie” brands, but I find that Alva and Kawaii are the most universally liked and trusted. Some people don’t consider Kawaii a true China Cheapie since they are headquartered in Canada, but I’m not really going to dig deep into the semantics. Regardless, both of these diapers have cheaper price points and are made in China.
I wrote a review on Alva Baby Pocket diapers; you can read that detailed review by clicking here.
I have some Kawaii diapers, too, though I have not taken the time to write a more detailed review of them yet. I will say that I find them similar in quality to Alvas. Either one would be a fine choice.
Here is a bulk pack of 18 Kawaii diapers from Amazon for a fabulous price. 18 would be enough for a basic stash. Can you imagine diapering your child for 2-3 years this incredibly low one-time cost?
If you would like to invest in better inserts upfront (which you might as well–you will probably want more absorbent inserts eventually, might as well go for them right away), Kawaii also has this 6-pack of diapers that come with bamboo inserts. Bamboo inserts are much more absorbent than microfiber and are well worth the upgrade. Plus they are on Prime!
Alvas are priced a bit cheaper than Kawaii. Here is a beautiful, gender-neutral diaper set that consists of 6 solid-color diapers, and another set of gender-neutral prints. It is typical for prints to cost a bit more:
Amazon is a great place to get Alva and/or Kawaii diapers to guarantee quick shipping and have accessible customer service.
3. Mama Koala Cloth Diapers
Mama 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 ethically manufactured in China. Mama Koala primarily sells their 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.
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. 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.
5. 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 a bit more cumbersome to use.
Prefolds can be folded a number 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 can be made simple if you’re up for a bit of trial and error.
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. 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.
I 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.
You can choose from a whole wealth of covers. My personal tip would be to go with 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.
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.
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 weeks and others a couple 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 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.
If I could go back in time, I would have just used prefolds and covers exclusively for the newborn days.
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!