Best Diaper, Overall: Pampers Swaddlers

Pampers Swaddlers checks all the boxes we look for in a diaper—great leak protection (as judged by independent tests), excellent reader feedback for overall fit and performance and wide availability with affordable pricing.

What We Liked

Tops on our absorbency testings and overall fit. This diaper quickly soaked up liquid from different directions and didn’t leak.

• Extras like wetness indicator works well. Yes, you might think this is a gimmick, but our testing revealed it was quite handy.

• Priced well.  A box of 216 count Size 1 Pampers Swaddlers is priced between less expensive generic brands and pricey green brands.

• Different options. Pampers does sell a couple of variations on the Swaddlers, including Swaddlers Sensitive (for babies with sensitive skin). Those are also excellent diapers, but much more expensive.

What Needs Work

• Less than all-natural ingredients. On the plus side for transparency, Pampers lists all their ingredients online. To keep the diapers from leaking, Pampers are made of polypropylene and polyethylene, which are made from fossil fuels.

Lotion contains petrolatum. This diaper includes a small amount of lotion to soothe baby’s skin. But this lotion contains petrolatum, which some parents try to avoid for sustainability reasons.

Best Budget-Friendly Disposable: Luv’s

We conduct rolling price checks on diapers, both online and offline, chain stores and warehouse clubs. We then take the lowest priced diapers and compare them to lab tests for effectiveness.

The winner this year is Luv’s Triple Leakguards, impressively priced especially if you buy the economy box.

What We Liked

• Impressive leak protection. That’s why Luv’s tops our list of bargain choices, based on fit and leak testing. A close second would be Huggies Snug & Dry.

• Pennies add up over time. The savings in using Luv’s is just a few cents per diaper, which may not seem like much . But pennies add up when you’re talking about buying 2300 diapers in your baby’s first year!

• Good enough fit and softness. While not the top ranked diaper in our tests for fit and softness, Luv’s come in close enough to the top of the pack for our recommendation.

What Needs Work

Scent. Luv’s are “lightly scented,” which some folks find to be overwhelming. We didn’t think the perfume was too much, but we see the point.

• Recent revision has detractors. Luv’s revised the design this year and the reaction among folks is mixed. We tested the new versions for this evaluation and found them worthy of our top budget pick. Others aren’t happy that the diapers aren’t has thick as before.

Best Eco-Friendly Disposable Diaper: Bambo Nature

How is that even possible—to be both eco-friendly and disposable? Our top pick for best eco-friendly disposable, Bambo Nature, manages that and more.

What We Liked

• Third party certifications. Made in Denmark, Bambo Nature backs up its environmental talk with certifications: the diapers are FSC-certified, Nordic Ecolabel and the EU’s Ecolabel. Other eco-friendly diapers talk eco-friendliness but rarely back it up with third-party testing.

• Excellent leak protection. Bambo Nature diapers scores at the top for performance based on our testing— very little leakage, strong absorbency and comfort/fit. Too often we see expensive green diapers that tout their eco credentials but do an average to poor job of stopping leaks.

What Needs Work

• Pricey. So what’s the catch? Well, if you said price, give yourself bonus points. Like many other eco-baby gear picks, all the environmental goodness will cost you.

• Sizing. Another caveat: the sizing of European diapers is a bit different from the USA. Basically, the Bambo Nature diapers run large compared to Pampers or Huggies.

Best Cloth Diaper: BumGenius First Year Adjustable All-in-One cloth diaper

Ask ten cloth diaper aficionados for their favorite cloth diapers and you’ll probably get 11 different answers! That’s because there are so many different options out there it can be confusing. And then there is the learning curve.

So let’s cut through the clutter and give you a pick, assuming you are a first-time cloth diaperer and looking for a simple solution: BumGenius First Year Adjustable All-in-One cloth diaper.

What We Liked

• Easy for first-time cloth diaperers. Some cloth diapers have steep learning curves, with separate accessories. This diaper is an an all-in-one—you don’t need to buy separate covers or inserts. Basically, you pop the entire diaper in the wash.

• Good fit.  BumGenius adjusts to fit babies from eight to 35 lbs.

What Needs Work

Can’t put in dryer. BumGenius cloth diapers must be line-dried, and that can take a long time (especially in humid climates).

Bulky. Compare to other diapers, we found these diapers to be somewhat bulky. You might want to experiment with one or two before committing to a major purchase.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing diapers since 1994 (and actually diapering babies since 1993!). In addition to hands on changing and cleaning, we have also dived into a number of lab tests of disposable diapers. We also evaluate consumer reviews, as well as our own message boards. We also tap into our extensive readership of clothes diaper devotees.

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Baby Bargains is your independent and unbiased source for expert baby gear reviews. We’ve been writing and reviewing baby gear since 1994. Yes, that long!

How we picked a winner

We evaluate diapers with in-depth inspections, lab tests and parent interviews. We look for overall leak protection comfort and comfort. We gather significant reader feedback (our book, Baby Bargains has over 1 million copies in print), tracking diapers (both cloth and disposable) for quality and durability. The reliability of diaper brands is another key factor. Since we’ve been doing this since 1994, we have developed detailed profiles of major diaper brands that help guide our recommendations.

Money Saving Tips No One Tells You About Buying Diapers!

1. Buy in bulk.

Don’t buy those little packs of 20 diapers—look for the 80 or 100 count packs instead. You’ll find the price per diaper goes down when you buy larger packs. That’s why drug stores are usually the most expensive place to buy diapers—they sell diapers in smaller packages, with the highest per diaper price.

2. Don’t buy in grocery stores.

We compared prices at grocery stores and usually found them to be sky-high. Most were selling diapers in packages that worked out to over 25¢ per diaper. Of course, sales and coupons can lower those prices—some grocery chains aggressively price diapers as a loss leader.

3. Use coupons and gift cards.

Yep, it doesn’t take much effort to find high-value coupons for diapers. If you have to make a late-night emergency diaper run to the grocery store, use these to save.

When friends ask you what you’d like as a shower gift, you can drop hints for gift cards. That way you can get what you really need, instead of cute accessories of marginal value.

4. Cloth diaper fan tip: used cloth diapers can be a big savings.

Many of the best brands of cloth diapers last and last and last. So you may see them for resale on parenting boards. Prices are usually way under retail. This is a good way to try out a brand before investing the big bucks on buying them at retail.

If you want to buy new, however, consider introductory or trial deals. Many cloth diapers have special introductory or trial packages with built-in discounts. Before you invest hundreds of dollars in one brand, give it a test drive first.

Top photo credit: Jonathan Borba

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