The Best Diapers of 2021
Best Overall Disposable
Seventh Generation Sensitive Protection
Seventh Generation Sensitive Protection is one of our new favorite diapers, providing a greener take on a disposable diaper. This high-ranking option offers one of the highest absorption performances in the group with a virtually dry test paper sheet indicating little ones will stay drier with few leak potentials than most of the competitors. It is also a comfortable diaper that is more earth-friendly and healthy than much of the disposable competition.
While Seventh Generation offers impressive absorption, our online research indicates an average rate of leak protection compared to the competition and a less than durable diaper. This option had more reports for faulty tabs and leaking SAP than some contenders in a side-by-side comparison. Despite these minor concerns, we feel Seventh Generation brings together impressive performance to keep your baby dry and better eco-friendly attributes and fewer concerning irritants to a baby in a cozy package most families will love.
Read review: Seventh Generation Sensitive Protection
Best Disposable Leak Protection
Babyganics is a high-quality green option that offers above-average absorption and leak protection in a durable package. We consider this product more eco-friendly than traditional disposables, claims to be totally chlorine-free (TCF), and free of latex. Babyganics are made from soft material, adorable prints and claim to be fragrance-free.
Babyganics isn't as environmentally conscious, in our opinion, as some other top-scoring green options. Still, it could be the right choice for those who prioritize comfort and leak protection over being entirely eco-friendly. Overall, Babyganics is a green alternative with impressive performance.
Read review: Babyganics
Best Cloth Option
The Rumparooz Pocket is a top-performer in our absorbency tests. It is an easy-to-use cloth diaper product with a soft microfleece lining on the inner side. The Rumparooz comes with two microfiber soakers for customizable absorbency. They offer a quick absorption rate that, in our tests, wicked away moisture and locks liquid away from the baby's skin. The inserts feel dry to the touch even after use. This diaper has a double gusset for explosive poop containment and four rise and five waist adjustments for a perfect fit as your baby grows.
Unfortunately, pocket diapering products require a little extra work and can feel bulky compared to other types. Adding inserts can boost absorbency, but it will also be harder to fit under clothing. We think that this option runs a little small, reducing its lifespan, but this could also make it ideal for smaller babies. This cloth product has far more benefits than flaws making it one we think parents and babies will love, even overnight.
Read review: Rumparooz Pocket
Best Budget Cloth Option
Imagine Baby Pocket Snap
The Imagine Baby Pocket Snap is one of the top-performing cloth diapering options from the products we tested and has one of the lowest prices (win-win). This product has a 4-layer microfiber insert that soaks up liquid and locks it away like a champ. The soft micro-fleece liner fabric keeps your baby dry and cozy. This product has a larger pocket opening that is easier to stuff and allows for quicker changes than the similar style products we've seen. We like the double row of waist snaps, and the single gusset had no leaking issues in our tests.
The Imagine Baby can run bulky, but the added bulk translates to more absorbency, which feels like a small price for better leak protection. All pocket diapering options require more prep work before changes as you must stuff in the insert, but the overall performance can make the extra effort worthwhile. The Pocket Snap offers above-average performance with a budget-friendly price making it a top competitor for any cloth diapering family.
Read review: Imagine Baby Pocket Snap
Best Overnight Diaper
Pampers Swaddlers Overnights
Pampers Swaddlers Overnights is advertised as offering "all night protection" and "up to 12 hours of wetness control." Our absorbency tests and actual user experience support these claims, showing minimal surface liquid during testing. Our results suggest that the Overnights excel at locking liquid in the inner core, so your baby's skin stays dry through extended overnight use. This product also offers better leak protection, which is useful during long nights to prevent accidents leading to bedding changes and overnight upsets.
If you want an eco-friendly option, Swaddlers isn't the best fit. While Pampers utilizes an elemental chlorine-free (ECF) process in production, it contains perfumes, lotions, and dyes. Overall, this overnight is an excellent choice for those searching for effective absorption at an affordable price, especially for older babies and toddlers who might be making more overnight urine than younger babies.
Why You Should Trust Us
We purchase and test every diaper in our review to provide the best possible side-by-side comparison, basing our conclusions on a combination of real-world experience and in-house lab testing. Leading our team is our founder, Dr. Juliet Spurrier, a board-certified pediatrician and mother of two. Bob Wofford, Senior Review Analyst, and father of 7 led the test team by co-developing our absorption and leakage tests for each diapering class. Abriah Wofford, a Senior Review Editor, also participated in in-house testing for quality comfort, absorption, and more. Wendy Schmitz, Senior Review Editor and mother of two, rounds out the team with score analysis and award winner selections based on testing results.
We thoroughly research top products and innovative options to include in our reviews. Every diaper is objectively compared based on day-to-day use, combined with in-house testing for absorption and leakage. Each option is rigorously tested in our lab and on little testers. Our test results inform our ranking and award winners, and only the best of the best make it to the final list of picks.
Unless you plan to clean up messes everywhere your baby goes, you'll need to diaper your little one. Choosing a great product can be challenging because it entails more than finding a suitable product at the right price. With pressure to go green and an uptick in cloth diapering, you'll find more information about selecting the right diapering product than ever. How do you choose? How do you know what is best for your lifestyle and goals? We believe there is an option for everyone on this list, no matter what you have in mind for your baby's diapering years.
The bottom line is the average baby will go through 6,000-9,000 diapers before they complete potty training (around 2,500 in the first year alone!). This fact entails a substantial investment in keeping baby bottoms covered and messes contained. These sheer numbers are why many parents consider cloth or choosing more green options to decrease environmental impact and lessen the cost of diapering.
Disposable vs. Cloth
Choosing between cloth and disposable is a personal preference primarily based on individual lifestyle and goals. In short, finding a great option that offers impressive absorbency and few leaks is possible in both types, despite the often ill-informed assumption that traditional disposables provide better protection. The convenience of cloth has increased dramatically in recent years, giving it an edge over cloth options of yore. However, many parents still find disposables faster and more straightforward, with less prep work involved. Parents love the convenience of tossing a stinky package in the trash instead of a wet bag to be dealt with later.
You might be wondering about the environmental impact, which is a high priority for many parents. You can easily find arguments for both sides, including the inability of disposables to degrade in a traditional landfill and the less than Earth-friendly use of water and electricity required for cloth laundering. You should consider the process used to produce disposable diapers and the environmental impact of dioxin use in this process. Overall, it is arguably safe to say that cloth diapers have less of a carbon footprint than disposables, but green disposables (a relatively new variety) can potentially walk the line between the two. They often have a better chance of biodegradability, less or no use of chlorine (limiting dioxin production), and increased use of recycled or renewable materials. While we feel green is better for the environment than a traditional disposable, we recommend giving cloth a chance for both the environment and the potential health implications.
Cloth products lack fragrance, perfumes, lotions, and other irritants that cause rashes and other skin issues. Disposables typically use chlorine in the production process, which can be an irritant to sensitive skin. They also often include the other top causes of rashes. It is hard to argue with the potential health benefits of cloth. Still, newer green disposables can also have many of these benefits like Seventh Generation which boasts being Totally Chlorine-Free and free of lotion and perfume. Overall, we believe cloth has advantages you won't find in any disposable. Still, if trying cloth diapering is simply something you aren't interested in, we prefer green disposables over their traditional counterparts. Not only because of environmental and baby's health benefits, but these green dynamos also proved to be better in our tests for absorption and leaks earning higher results in these metrics than the traditional options.
How much will it cost?
Diapering your little one is going to be expensive. No matter what option you choose or what goals you need to meet, keeping your baby in a clean, dry diaper will cost you more than a pretty penny. If you assume the 6,000 diaper average over the diapering lifetime investment, it will cost somewhere between $1,200 to $2,600 before your little one is potty trained.
Cloth diapers often cost more at the outset as you collect the components of your chosen system. However, it can likely save you money over time because you reuse the products instead of continually buying new ones. A lifetime supply of less expensive cloth options, like the Imagine Baby Pocket Snap, will come in around three hundred dollars. At the same time, higher-end products like the Rumparooz Pocket are closer to six hundred. When using cloth, you must remember to add the expense of cleaning, inserts, water, electricity, and other supplies required for cloth diapering (think toilet sprayer). However, even if you assume a thousand dollars over your diapering years, you'll still have a significantly lower lifetime cost than using a disposable.
A growing number of parents choose to use a combination of the two methods, a tactic that allows for significant savings and a decrease in environmental impact—using cloth during the day and disposables overnight or while out and about maybe the ideal balance of convenience vs. eco-friendliness. What you decide to do will depend on your budget and needs as every family and their lifestyles are different. However, there is a lot to feel good about when choosing cloth.
Finding the best diaper choice for your little one can be challenging. We've created an extensive diaper testing process for fair, objective, and pragmatic side-by-side comparisons to help you find the right option for your little one and your lifestyle. We've tested disposable, cloth, green disposable, and liners to parse out the differences that make one more effective than another based on your goals. Whether you are looking for a top-performing cloth product, a green disposable, or you just want something with superior absorption, we feel confident there is something for everyone and every goal in this lineup of impressive, award-winning options.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz