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Hands-on Gear Review
Price: $0.48 List | Available for $0.35 each (in 198-pack) from Amazon
Pros: Highest scoring diaper, super eco/health friendly, excellent performance and construction
Cons: HIgher than average price
Bottom line: Best overall diaper, amazing absorption & eco/health, higher price, but so worth it
The Bambo Nature diaper won our Editors' Choice Award for Best Diaper. It was the highest scoring diaper overall (by a wide margin) out of the 24 diapers we tested. Earning the second highest score in our absorbency testing, Bambo Nature is very baby health and eco-friendly for a disposable diaper; plus, it is certified hypoallergenic (a certification that at least lends credibility to the word unlike most diapers). This diaper does run larger than most brands; however, because of flexible cloth-like materials, it fits very well with minimal effort. Although it was not the cheapest diaper we tested, we feel it is definitely worth the extra money. This diaper is highly recommended.
RELATED: Our complete review of disposable diapers
BabyGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
BAMBO Nature is distributed in the United States by KCK Industries; a company whose self-proclaimed vision is a sustainable society with sustainable consumption. They are manufactured by Abena, which is located in Denmark. Both companies go to extremes in their goals of making as small of an environmental impact as possible while still creating a product. Abena's history includes the manufacture of adult incontinence products, a characteristic shared by our Best Value winner, Cuties diapers, which is manufactured by First Quality.
The only diaper Abena makes for babies is BAMBO Nature. BAMBO comes in 6 different sizes, as well as a training pant. It has a thin construction, breathable materials, and flexible side panels and stretchy closure tabs for a cozy fit. The smaller sizes include a wetness indicator that works well. The diaper is available online and in some retail outlets.
Absorption and Leaks
We were amazed to find a green diaper like BAMBO outperforming popular name-brand diapers like Pampers & Huggies, as well as, ALL the other diapers we tested. This diaper was a full 15 points better overall than its closest competitor. In fact, this surprise performance of green diapers was not just about BAMBO. BAMBO and Nature Babycare received the best ratings for absorption in our tests, BAMBO earned a 9 out of 10 for absorption, and Nature Babycare earned a perfect 10. Both diapers were great evidence that not only could a green diaper compete with the popular brand name traditional diapers in key metrics for performance, but they could trounce the competition.
The absorption test for BAMBO Nature (left) versus Nature Babycare (right) are shown below. The larger green area indicates more surface moisture.
The BAMBO diaper really impressed us during our absorption testing. Anyone who claims a green diaper cannot compete in absorption is wrong. BAMBO really stood out, not only in absorption but also in leak control. Diaper leakage is directly related to fit and the ability of a diaper to absorb quickly. If the diaper does not fit well, the mess will find its way out through any gaps between baby and the diaper. Even though BAMBO looks large, and the manufacturer states they run big, the product fits most babies well because the quality of the materials used are very flexible and soft. So, the rate of leaks is significantly less compared to other diapers.
For leaks, BAMBO scored a 7 out of 10 in our tests; given that only two diapers scored higher, it was certainly above average. Couple the leak score with the great absorption score, and it means that these diapers will rarely leak. In addition, our in-house testers observed that the diapers did well overnight with particularly heavy saturation. Some remarked on how well the diaper fit around the legs and how much urine it was able to absorb, citing several urination events before the diaper was saturated (we do recommend that diapers be changed as soon as you know they are soiled; do not wait for multiple events).
Comfort and Durability
We found the quality of BAMBO materials to be impressive, as did our in-house tester toddler who loved his BAMBO so much he started taking it off to use the potty, thereby preserving his cozy BAMBO for all day use. The breathable back sheet works to keep babies skin smooth and dry. The diaper uses polypropylene, a material buyers would recognize from their wicking athletic wear. Every time we changed this diaper we were impressed with baby's skin being mark-free and "smooth as a baby's bottom." All of this meant the BAMBO diaper was very comfortable. BAMBO scored an 8 out of 10 for comfort. The diaper's materials are soft and flexible, with leg cuffs that are friendlier in comparison than the other diapers we tested. In addition, the side panels are flexible and the closure tabs were stretchy; all the attributes helped create a diaper that was comfortable not just in feel, but also in fit.
Even though BAMBO diapers do run a little large, more in the length than anything, this only served to help prevent over-the-top blowouts. We also felt this might be a plus for little boys who are more likely to soak up the front while sleeping, than out the sides or back. Even though it looks large in side-by-side comparison, it fits really well and avoids being bulky (how do they do that?). Bambo has a great fit for a variety of body types.
Not many diapers scored as well for comfort, and even fewer scored high for both comfort and durability. Andy Pandy scored higher than BAMBO for comfort with a 9 out of 10 in our tests, but it scored much lower with only a 3 for durability. Only Babyganics Rear Gear matched BAMBO in these metrics, also earning an 8 in both categories. However, its scores in absorption and leaks were significantly lower. Huggies Little Snugglers was the highest scoring traditional diaper in both metrics with a double 7.
The high quality materials used in BAMBO are also durable, which gives the product strength to withstand diaper checks, children's movement, and heavy overnight wetting. The durability also serves to keep the super absorbent polymers, SAP contained in the diaper; we never had gel/crystal leakage on our little testers. To avoid SAP altogether, you'd have to go with cloth diapers because all disposable diapers contain it to some degree or another. The next best thing is a diaper that is capable of containing the SAP effectively, which we feel the BAMBO does very well. Out of all the reviews we read, and the detailed remarks of our in-house testers, none of the reviews included comments about durability problems. BAMBO earned a score of 8 out of 10 in our tests for durability. One of our Best Value award winners, Cuties, also scored an 8 for this category, giving the two winners a common ground.
Eco and Health
But what makes a good green diaper great when scoring for the eco/health tests? How did one diaper score so far above the rest in every metric we tested? The first place to look would be the company website. Being environmentally sensitive is more than just making a biodegradable diaper or using renewable resources. Sure, that is important, but it isn't the complete picture of the carbon footprint of a disposable diaper, one must consider the footprint of the entire lifecycle of the diaper.
To minimize impacts on the environment and human health past the point of just a diaper's composition the manufacturer of BAMBO Nature has allowed environmental inspections of their diapers and how they are made. The independent assessment of the diaper's impact on the environment and health is performed by reviewing the lifecycle, not just on what happens to the diaper when it is thrown away. This includes every step in the process starting with the procurement of raw materials needed to create the diaper to the eventual resulting waste generated by normal use of the diaper.
In the big picture, this means that everyone involved in the process of creating the diaper must comply with the same environmental standards to be part of the Abena production and distribution processes. They have been reviewed and found compliant in several areas necessary to assess the environmental impact of their diapers. Because of this in depth review, BAMBO Nature is the only diaper in the world with the Nordic Swan Eco-label. It is clear that Abena goes above and beyond to create a product worthy of being called green. If that weren't enough, they have also created a product that works extremely well, and they are so honest that their website includes a very refreshing change of pace with so much transparency it makes other companies look like they are hiding something. Even just a quick glance at their website will provide you with a clear and concise list of every single product ingredients. There is no need to search for answers buried deep in the bowels of the site, nor is there vague and confusing language that is meant to mislead or confuse you; it is all right there up front and easy to find.
For all these reasons BAMBO scored an 8 out of 10 for being environmentally friendly. With no diaper achieving a higher score, and in our opinion no disposable diaper capable of scoring a perfect 10, BAMBO did more that hit the mark, it knocked the ball out of the park. Only two other diapers came close to its score; Nature Babycare and Attitude both scored a 7 out of 10.
For BAMBO's health score in our tests you only have to consider what the diaper doesn't have; okay, okay, and maybe a little of what it does have. BAMBO earned an impressive 8 out of 10 in this metric for what they offered in the way of baby's health and developing systems. By comparison, Andy Pandy earned a 7, and both Nature Babycare and Attitude earned a 6 out of 10. No traditional diaper earned higher than a 4, and only Kirkland Signature Supreme held this honor. So here is what they don't have: chlorine, chemicals from SVHC (Substances of Very High Concern), phthalates, formaldehyde, (HCHO), organotins (MBT, DBT, TBT), colophonium, heavy metals, AZO-pigments, or PVC. The diapers are also devoid of optical brighteners, lotions, perfumes, essential oils, and odor eliminators. Tired of reading yet? Just wait, there's more.
Abena certifies that no substances classified as a carcinogenic, mutagenic, harmful, allergen, or irritating elements have been added during the production. To support this claim, Abena has passed tests from independent companies, proDERM and the Danish Asthma & Allergy Association, which certify that BAMBO poses the smallest risk of causing allergies or skin irritation. In addition, BAMBO makes every effort to avoid any components that could cause allergic reactions. They work to develop diapers that do not contain perfume, coloring agents, or unnecessary additives. If you aren't impressed, it's possible you are not paying attention.
To learn more about their philosophy, what their diapers are and are not made from, and all about their impressive awards and certificates, visit their website. If nothing else, we hope you use it as somewhat of a standard for what you should expect from the other diaper manufacturing companies when it comes to full-disclosure. Unlike the misleading marketing The Honest Company has done in the past, or the wordy, vague reassuring mumbo jumbo on Pampers Swaddlers website, this site truly gives just the facts, and nothing but the facts. You won't find deceptive language or qualifier words that make a statement's real meaning hard to discern. While you may not understand all the information they offer, it is reassuring that at least they offer it, and so much of it.
Parent's looking for an environmentally friendly disposable diaper will be interested in BAMBO Nature. While no disposable can compete with cloth diapers in this arena, the BAMBO comes as close as a disposable can. We awarded BAMBO Nature our Editors' Choice Award for Best Diaper. Our testing was tough, and this is one great diaper. These diapers are very high-end in construction, made from quality materials that performed excellently in our testing, and were super friendly to the environment in their life cycle of becoming a diaper. The efforts made to be eco-friendly and baby healthy are unparalleled. The Nordic Eco Swan labeling validates BAMBO Nature's efforts toward treating the environment and the health of babies with care. This all comes at a higher than average cost though; BAMBO was more expensive than many of the diapers we tested. However, their price is lower on average from last year.
If you are interested in the best disposable diapers available from fit to function, in our opinion, these are the ones to buy. In fact, this diaper's performance so impressed our pediatrician founder, Dr. Juliet Spurrier, that she switched from using Seventh Generation to BAMBO Nature with her own children.
The competition was fierce in our disposable diaper tests, with 24 top-rated competitors included in the review. But, the BAMBO Nature diaper was unstoppable, either winning, or coming close to first place in every rating metric. BAMBO set the bar so high for performance that no other diaper came close to beating it. The BAMBO was unmatched overall earning the highest score of all 24 competitors with a score of 82 out of 100; a score that was a full 15 points ahead of its closest competitor, Nature Babycare. There was no doubt which diaper would earn the Editors' Choice award, and our highest recommendation. In our opinion, if you must use a disposable diaper, there is no better disposable diaper on the market, or in our tests, than BAMBO Nature.
The only reason not to choose the BAMBO is if your budget doesn't allow it. Given that it was a higher than average priced diaper, that might be a concern. If that is the case, we would recommend our Best Value green diaper award winner, Earth's Best Tender Care which also had excellent scores, but was cheaper than BAMBO.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD and BabyGearLab Review Team
Most recent user review: January 22, 2016
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