Eco-friendly gDiapers (*Est. $18 (covers), $15 and up (inserts)) aren't quite cloth diapers and aren't quite disposables -- they're a hybrid. Parents can choose to use either cloth or disposable inserts inside washable, reusable covers, called gPants. The disposable inserts are compostable, biodegradable and flushable, making them a solidly green alternative to cloth. Parents sing the praises of gDiapers' cute colors and patterns, and they say the strong, long Velcro tabs keep the diapers on even the most wiggly, determined toddler. But reviewers say there can be a learning curve to gDiapers, and some report leaks. Most reviewers warn against using gDiapers overnight, and others say the flushable inserts can clog toilets, especially in homes with older plumbing.
A more traditional eco-friendly option is Seventh Generation Free & Clear diapers (*Est. $32 cents each) . Unlike many other greener disposables, they're widely available on store shelves, and parents like the chlorine-free, latex-free, perfume-free materials and strong tabs. The diapers also have a slim, non-bulky fit, reviewers say. However, absorbency gets mixed reviews, and some parents say the diapers don't fare well with solid messes, either. Some also say there isn't anything particularly eco-friendly about Seventh Generation's use of tan dye, which is added to make the diapers appear more natural.
Earth's Best TenderCare diapers (*Est. $30 cents each) are another widely available eco-friendly disposable. In addition to chlorine, they are manufactured without the use of latex, perfumes or dyes. Reviewers say the diapers aren't bulky, and they performed well in an expert absorbency test. Despite that, some parents report leaks in real-world usage. Others say they are not as soft as other brands. And while Earth's Best uses corn and wheat to boost absorbency more naturally, some parents note that both ingredients are potential allergens for some babies.
Some parents shy away from cloth diapers because they find them inconvenient, but reviewers say the BumGenius Freetime (*Est. $20 per diaper) is almost as easy to use as disposables. This all-in-one diaper has inserts that parents can fold and customize to boost protection in certain areas. Because the inserts are attached to the diaper, parents don't need to stuff diapers before use or remove dirty inserts for washing. Absorbency earns raves, with parents saying the Freetime easily stands up to overnight use. Budget-minded parents like that the diaper is designed to accommodate babies from birth through toddlerhood. However, some find it bulkier than some of its competitors, and others report that the design can make rinsing off solid messes more difficult.
The Thirsties Duo ($19 per diaper) is another top-notch cloth choice. Parents can stuff the diaper with included microfiber or hemp inserts to customize absorbency, and they say the double gussets help keep solid messes inside. The inserts also agitate out of the diaper on their own in the wash, so parents don't have to reach into a soiled diaper to remove a soaked -- or worse -- insert. Though one-size diapers are gentler on the wallet, parents say it is easier to get a good fit with the Duo, which comes in two sizes. The diaper is available with snaps or Aplix closures, but some reviewers warn the Aplix gets worn out quickly. The inserts can also shift, bumping up the risk of leaks, some say.
Cloth-diapering parents who want a truly custom fit should look into the FuzziBunz Perfect Size ($14 and up per diaper) . Reviewers say this pocket diaper offers excellent softness and absorbency. While buying all four sizes can be pricey, FuzziBunz fans say the close fit helps bolster comfort and cuts down on leaks. Parents say the diapers' snaps are durable, but some say the elastic has a shorter lifespan. Others say the diaper is best for chunky-legged babies who can fill out the leg openings.
Parents who want to make cloth diapers truly budget-friendly should consider Bummis Organic Cotton Prefolds (*Est. $10 and up for six diapers) . Reviewers say the diapers are ultra-absorbent, durable and soft. They're also versatile -- parents can use them on their own or with a diaper cover, and reviewers say they also make excellent burp cloths. However, wrapping prefolds correctly requires some practice, and they are bulkier than most all-in-one or pocket diapers. Prefolds are also quite plain on their own; parents who want cute cloth diapers will need to pair them with a colorful cover or look into other options.