Best Disposable Diapers
$77.49 at Amazon
$61.31 at Amazon
$13.50 at Amazon
$62.39 at Amazon
$72.21 at Amazon
|Pros||Great absorption and leak prevention, better health and eco-friendliness||Absorption, comfy, durable, better health||Great for health, eco-friendly, comfy||Great health, good absorption, eco-friendly||Doesn't leak, comfortable, some green practices|
|Cons||Hard to find a good fit, not as comfy or durable||Average leakage and eco-friendliness||Average for leaks and durability||Possible leaks, not so cozy||Durability issues, just average absorption|
|Bottom Line||High performing, healthier option that is Earth friendly||Top performance where it counts with a comfy feel and durable design||Healthy, eco-friendly choice that gets the job done||Budget-friendly green option with great health and eco scores||Green diaper with good overall performance and average absorption|
|Rating Categories||Nature Babycare||Babyganics||Bambo Nature||Free & Clear||Pampers Pure|
|Eco Friendly (5%)|
|Specs||Nature Babycare||Babyganics||Bambo Nature||Free & Clear||Pampers Pure|
|Type of Diaper||Green||Green||Green||Green||Green|
|Miscellaneous Materials Details||Corn Based Plastics|
|Stretchable Side Wings||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Vincotte OK Biobased Certified
Swedish Asthma and Allergy Foundation Recommended
"Good Environmental Choice" Eco Label from Swedish Society for Nature Conservation
Rainforest Alliance Certified
Best Overall Disposable Diaper
Nature Babycare is an excellent green diaper that impressed us in the lab and on babies. With advanced Earth-friendly features, it is arguably the closest option to cloth diapering without the extra work. This company and its diapers are trying hard to set new environmental standards for diapers while prioritizing your baby's health. The best part? Not only is it green, but it earns the highest score for absorption in our tests, making it a top-performing option as well.
This diaper may not be the best choice for parents on a tight budget as it has a higher price than much of the competition (although not the highest). It is also somewhat fragile, with a less durable outer covering than much of the competition. However, if your wallet allows, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better performing, more eco-friendly disposable diaper anywhere else.
Read review: Nature Babycare
Comfy, Durable, and High-Performing
Babyganics is another green diaper with a soft-to-touch material that lasts as long as you need it to between changes. Very few users complain about durability, and this diaper impresses in its performance for absorption. Eco-friendliness and features that are better for the baby's health are other bonuses.
It may be challenging to find this diaper in stores, so you'll likely need to purchase a package online. The overall cost is lower than Nature Babycare and might be the right choice for parents who favor comfort and durability over being as green as humanly possible. Overall, it is a good option that can save you some cash.
Read review: Babyganics
Less Expensive, Easy to Find Green Option
Seventh Generation Free & Clear
Seventh Generation is a marginally more economical green diaper for parents that wish to be kind to the Earth and want more design features that cater to the baby's health. Seventh Generation is attractively priced compared to other top scorers, and it has one of the highest scores for baby health in this review. Combining these features with above-average absorption results in a diaper that is an excellent choice for families who want a healthy disposable diaper to get the job done without breaking the bank.
This diaper didn't perform as well as some of the competition in our tests for leaks, making it a poor choice for heavy wetters or parents who like to wait until the last minute to change diapers. However, if you are looking for the best choice for a baby's health and skin, you don't need to look further than Seventh Generation, which is why it is one of our favorite healthier disposable diapers.
Read review: Seventh Generation
Green and Healthy
With online-only accessibility, Bambo may not be the diaper for everyone. Still, it has a lower price, and it does fit the bill for those looking for a healthy option with Earth-friendly manufacturing. Lastly, it delivers impressive performance where it counts. Plus, all the cute prints are irresistible!
Read review: Bambo Nature
Honest Company Diapers
Read the Review: Honest Company Diapers
Why You Should Trust Us
Our BabyGearLab team has been professionally testing disposable diapers for over eight years. Combine that with years of parenting and childcare experience outside the 'Lab, and we are confident in our knowledge and use of all things diaper and diapering related.Dr. Juliet Spurrier, a mother of two, leads the BabyGearLab safety standards and product selection team. She is a board-certified pediatrician and Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). She uses her knowledge of infant and early childhood wellbeing to guide our testing. On the research end of the review are Senior Review Editor, Wendy Schmitz, a mother of 2, and Senior Review Analyst, Bob Wofford, a father of 7. With hundreds of hours of in-depth research under their belts, their knowledge of the ins and outs of the disposable diapers world is vast. Bob helped develop the first intensive side-by-side absorption and leakage review process ever completed. In charge of in-house tests, this time is Senior Review Editor, Abriah Wofford, who has been conducting testing with BabyGearLab since 2015.
We use a combination of hands-on (real world) and in-lab tests to measure qualities such as absorbency, leakage, and durability for our review and testing. Our in-house tests involved pouring 100 ml of a mock urine solution over each diaper with a series of weighted and unweighted periods to mimic an active baby's movement when wearing a wet diaper. Our findings typically paralleled what we learned in the lab and online research when using the diapers on real babies. Diapers that did poorly in our leak test also leaked in real life, and vice versa. Overall, we poured hundreds of hours into pushing these diapers to their limits and seeking out real users' opinions and experiences. This comprehensive analysis gives us a well-rounded view of the best disposable diapers on the market.
Related: How We Tested Disposable Diapers
Analysis and Test Results
We have purchased more than 52 diapers over the years and include 19 for this round of testing, allowing each to vie for awards. We used a combination of day-to-day diaper use on real baby bottoms and in-house lab testing for our evaluation. We supplemented with in-depth research to compile facts and observations that allowed us to rate each diaper relative to the competition fairly.
When making our diaper selections, we carefully consider our options and include a wide variety of styles. We want to provide a complete picture of diapers across the spectrum of all styles and brands. We put green diapers head-to-head against traditional options. We include popular Pampers and Huggies brands, but we also test some private-label diapers from Costco, Target, and Walmart to see how they fare.
Related: Best Cloth Diaper
The Disposable Diaper testing is performed on size 1 diapers (or equivalent) and is primarily for finding the best diaper options for newborns or younger infants. The information and test results from this review may also apply to other size diapers. However, we found a disparity in absorption test results for the smaller-sized diapers compared to the size 3-4 diapers we tested in our Overnight Diaper Review, which is completed with older babies in mind. Therefore, any discrepancy in absorption ratings between reviews for the same diaper results from a size difference. Specifically, the Luvs Ultra Leaks and Pampers Baby Dry options performed significantly better in the larger size than they did in size 1 diapers we tested for this review.
If you are reading this, you're probably here looking for help finding the right disposable diaper. (Before you let your green-guilt run away with you, be aware that even the Sierra Club which takes a position on cloth vs. disposable, still admits that the decision is a tough one when trying to be more environmentally responsible). You've come to the right place. We're here to give you the straight poop on all things diaper-related.
Related: Buying Advice for Disposable Diapers
Finding value in a single-use product can be tricky. After a few hours of wear, every diaper inevitably ends up in the trash that same day. The price of disposable diapers ranges from 0.14 to 0.67 per diaper. Fifty-three cents is a rather large gap when you stop and consider the number of diapers your baby will go through every day and throughout their diapering years. Pennies quickly add up to dollars when you multiply by the thousands. Depending on the budget you are working with, the overall cost may be the primary consideration in choosing the perfect product. However, we urge you to consider that each diaper's quality and absorbency impact the number of diapers you use daily. In reality, a slightly more expensive diaper can potentially lower your long-term spending because you may end up using fewer of them throughout the day.
The top three performers in this review are 0.43, 0.35, and 0.39 each. Given that several lower-ranking competitors are more expensive, you can be confident that you are getting a quality green option at a reasonable price. These diapers score well for absorbency and leakage which could translate to fewer diapers overall and money in your pocket. Most of the less expensive diapers had significant trouble with absorbency in our tests, which means overall their value is low and you'll need to use more of them, which increases your daily diaperings costs.
Wait! How many diapers am I going to need?
In the first year alone, your tiny mini-me is going to go through about 2,500 diapers. If that number seems daunting, it breaks down to something like 10-12 diapers a day on average for the first 2-3 months and about 6 per day for the rest of the year. By year two, the pace slows to about 3-4 per day and continues into year three when potty training adds a twist to your diapering routine. Even after potty training, most children use 1-2 overnight diapers per day for about another year for naps and nighttime.
Add it all up, and your precious bundle of joy is going to amass a mountain of roughly 6,000 dirty diapers in total (but up to 9,000 in some estimations). That's a lot of diapers to put in the landfill, which is why a growing number of parents are considering green disposables or choose to diaper with cloth options.
So, what is all of that going to cost me?
If you are a budget-savvy shopper, the cost might be the driving factor of your diaper selection. Let us walk you through the math of lifetime diapering cost. Let's start with assuming that our estimate of 6,000 diapers over your baby's lifetime is correct. The price per diaper varies depending on the diaper's size, so diapers will get more expensive as your baby grows. When considering lifetime cost, keep in mind that your baby will spend a lot more time in size 3 & 4 diapers than the smaller sizes. For these reasons, we recommend comparing the price of size 3 diapers as a standard because it will give you the most realistic cost average over the long run.
If you buy a name-brand diaper like Pampers Swaddlers, you'll be spending approximately $0.33/diaper on average. If you buy a quality (yet affordable) green diaper like Seventh Generation, you will be spending about $0.30/diaper. For a top-notch option like Nature Babycare, it's about $0.50/diaper.
What does that come to over the four years you will be using diapers?
- Seventh Generation will cost roughly $1,800 for 4 years, or $37.50 a month
- Nature Babycare will cost approximately $3,000 for 4 years, or $62.50 a month
Be aware that these prices are high; if you sign up for a subscription program offered by many retailers, you will get a 20% discount on most brands.
Is It Worth Paying a Premium for the Best Diaper?
When spread out over your baby's ~4 diaper-wearing years, the price difference between a high-performing green option like Seventh Generation vs. the best performing Nature BabyCare diaper is about $25 per month. Over one year, this is an added cost of almost $450. With this big difference, you might be wondering: is it really worth the extra money to buy the better diaper?
While we feel strongly that Nature Babycare is absolutely the best diaper we tested, it is more expensive than many options. So, let's compare the scores.
- Seventh Generation (below right): 8 absorption, 5 health, 6 eco, 65 overall
- Nature Babycare: 10 absorption, 6 health, 8 eco, 74 overall
The difference in metric performance between Seventh Generation and Nature BabyCare is significant. We feel the benefits are well worth the extra cost, and Seventh Generation provides a happy medium of value. If you are looking for the best of the best (even if it means spending a bit more), Nature Babycare is our pick. However, this is a pricey option, and it may not fit within every budget.
Most disposable diapers look a lot alike, and all of them have similar components. They each contain an absorbent core, an inner liner designed to keep your baby's skin dry, and a waterproof outer layer to keep it all contained. However, the materials used in all of these components may differ from diaper to diaper, and some ingredients may have potential toxicity. Parents may (rightly) be concerned about their diapers' contents and want to know exactly what their baby is exposed to. We recommend taking a look at the ingredient list of your diapers to look for potentially hazardous materials that may be present.
Absorbency is THE most critical performance criterion for any diaper. High absorbency levels will reduce rashes, leaks, and the frequency of diaper changes. To reflect this importance, we emphasize this metric in our testing and go in-depth with our analysis. We perform a combination of hands-on testing and in-house lab tests to wring out each diaper's real-world absorbency performance. We usually find a surprising difference in absorbency levels between brands.
The photos above include the top-ranked diaper for absorption, Nature Babycare, with a score of 10 (left), and the lowest-scoring diaper for absorption, Poof, with a 1 (right).
Every time we include new additions to our diaper review, we are impressed by green diapers that consistently deliver above-average absorbency results. The top 3 diapers in our review are all green, and all have scores of 8 or higher for absorbency! The top-performing options are Nature Babycare with a 10 and a 9 for Babyganics. The top traditional diapers, Kirkland and Cuties, both scored 6s. These results indicate to us that green diapers generally perform better than traditional choices. We love having the option to buy great performing diapers that make eco-friendliness a priority in their production process.
Which Is Better: Pampers or Huggies?
We tested many options from both manufacturers, including Pampers Swaddlers, Pampers Baby Dry, Pampers Pure, Huggies Little Snugglers, and Huggies Snug & Dry. The performance and prices of both brands are comparable. Pampers Swaddlers earned an overall score of 46, and the Baby Dry style earned a 45. Huggies Little Snugglers earned a 46 and Snug & Dry a 48. Pampers Pure beat out all the above with an overall score of 64, largely due to its increased Leakage and Health scores. However, Pure diapers come with a higher price tag.
If you are trying to decide between Pampers and Huggies, we recommend you go with Pampers. If you can afford it, we especially like the Pure line. Both brands have similar scores for absorbency and are comparably priced, but Pampers offers a little more for baby health, which gives it a slight bump over Huggies. However, if you want the best diaper for your baby, we recommend looking outside both of these popular brands. Instead, consider one of the award winners or the notable Bambo Nature.
Do Big-box Diapers Perform the same as Pampers and Huggies?
In short, no. While we did not find a major difference between the two varieties, our test results show that the store brand options, such as Target, Walmart, or Kirkland, perform marginally better than the popular brands overall, and oftentimes they cost less.
We tested diapers from three major big-box retailers: Target, Walmart, and Costco. We concluded that individual diapers vary depending on the brand, and we cannot make an all-encompassing statement because it really just depends on the diaper. However, many popular options, big-box or no, place relatively low in the group. Kirkland is the only diaper that reaches the top 10, and most of the Pampers and Huggies diapers have disappointing performance. If you are looking for a truly great diaper, you may have better luck with some lesser-known brands.
Leakage includes an analysis of how well the diaper contains leaks, so urine and other substances stay where they are supposed to be instead of outside the diaper on clothes and other things. Quick absorbency is a factor in leakage because fast-absorbing liquid can't escape, but leg elastic and gussets and the overall design also play a role.
The top performers for leakage are Huggies Little Snugglers with a 9, and Huggies Snug and Dry and Nature Baby Care, each with 8s. Combined with absorbency tests, these results show Nature Baby Care as a top contender with great results in both metrics. The diapers with the lowest leakage analysis results include Kirkland and Up and Up; both products are store brand diapers earning 4s.
Comfort may not be top of your diaper consideration list, but your little one will be wearing diapers just about every moment of every day, and comfort could make a difference to them. Tight leg holes or itchy elastic can create unnecessary skin irritation and crabby behavior.
We compared all of the diapers side-by-side for softness, padding, leg elastic, and more. Kirkland diapers came out on top in this metric with an impressive score of 9. These diapers almost feel like cloth and have some of the most skin-friendly leg hole elastic on the market. However, they weren't that impressive when it came to leakage and absorbency, so there is a trade-off in the design. Alternatively, Babyganics score an 8 for comfort and still impress in absorbency with a 9. Other comfortable options include all Huggies and Pampers varieties in this review, Luvs, and Up and Up, all earning 8s. Once again, however, none of these options were that impressive where it counts. The lowest-scoring for comfort is Nature Baby Care with a 3. This diaper has an almost paper feel, a design we assume aids in their claim of biodegradability.
Health is a collection of factors largely influenced by the addition of dyes, fragrances, or chemicals that create a color change to indicate diaper wetness. Many babies have skin sensitivity to chemicals, and we like to err on the side of caution by limiting exposure to unnecessary chemicals whenever possible. Given the availability of effective diapers without additives, we think it's worth considering when choosing the right diaper for your little one.
We based our analysis on what the manufacturer claims either on the packaging or their website. We also prefer those brands that offer transparency and didn't require us to do a deep dive or send emails to find out the details. We think parents have a right to know what is in their baby's diapers, and they shouldn't have to play detective to figure it out.
None of the disposable options are that impressive, and if you want a truly chemical-free option, you should probably consider cloth diapers. However, Bambo Nature came in with the top score of 9. This diaper is free from chlorine, fragrances, dyes, and lotion. They disclose their full list of ingredients and have a certification for common allergens. Most of the competition didn't manage a score higher than 4. Second place went to Pampers Pure with a score of 7 and a list free of chlorine, perfumes, and lotions. The worst in the group Huggies Snug and Dry and Luvs, both earning a 1. These diapers have no ingredient list at all. Luvs have a strong powder scent, and both have visible dye.
Disposable diapers weren't meant to last forever, but if they can't make it for a few hours or fall apart when wet, then they aren't much use and could end up costing you more money in the long run. We analyzed the diapers for their ability to stay together, tab quality and resticking properties, and more to determine the most durable in the bunch.
The most common complaint amongst users is faulty tabs. The tabs either pull off before a diaper is even on the baby, or they won't reattach if you remove them to check a diaper or want to secure a rolled-up diaper for disposal. The second most common complaint is diapers that leak SAP or fall apart when really wet. Some of this might be user error and leaving a diaper on for too long, while others might be design-related and a result of using biodegradable material. We think the tab issue is a bigger problem as it can render a diaper unusable, increasing your per diaper cost. Changing your baby's diaper regularly can often head off the latter issue.
The most durable diapers in our tests earned 7s; these include Babyganics, both Huggies options, Kirkland, Pampers Swaddlers,Seventh Generation, and Up and Up. The least durable are Nature Baby Care with a 1 thanks to some faulty tabs pulling off and the diaper cover breaking apart if you leave it wet too long between changes. Luvs is also disappointing with a result of 2, followed closely by Honest diapers. Even though Nature Baby Care didn't perform well in this metric, we still think they deserve consideration for their absorbency and leakage results alone.
Disposable diapers are perhaps one of the most significant impacts your baby will have on the environment during their first years of life. An estimated 90% of US babies use disposables, and there are 4 million babies born each year, each going through 6,000+ diapers. When you consider these numbers, the diapers' environmental impact in landfills is ginormous.
Here's some information we believe to be factual:
- The Environmental Protection Agency reports that about 20 billion disposable baby diapers end up in landfills every year, a shockingly large amount. Yet, we feel that might be low (our estimate is nearly 22 billion). This amount creates approximately 3 billion pounds of US landfill waste each year.
- Traditional disposable diapers do not degrade at a reasonable pace in landfills due to the plastic materials and lack of air exposure (hampering biodegradation).
- Some % of disposed of diapers contain feces (the right thing to do is flush solids before throwing away the diaper — who knew?) which presents a bio-hazard risk to landfills and creates the potential for human waste to seep into groundwater.
Another factor that may sway the debate of "which is greener" between cloth diapers and disposables is your poop disposal habits. If you use modern cloth diapers in tandem with a flushable liner, you are (hopefully) flushing your baby's poo down the toilet. You should also flush poo from disposable diapers, but this is not the common practice among parents. Many do not even know that you are supposed to. Flushing poo is far less damaging to the environment than wrapping it up and throwing it in the landfill and creating a biohazard risk in the process. Human poop is considered a bio-waste and should not be sent to the landfill. We suspect this is not common knowledge.
Green Diaper Performance vs. Traditional
The decision between using conventional or green diapers wasn't always a clear or easy one. Many people still think that a green diaper cannot perform on par with traditional disposables. However, our analysis of green vs. traditional diapers found this long-held assumption to be largely untrue. Modern green diapers outperform traditional diapers on absorbency and most other metrics, earning them top-ranking spots in our lineup. Hooray!
For analyzing eco-friendliness, we looked at how the diapers were manufactured and whether or not they use renewable or recycled resources, and if they are biodegradable. Keep in mind that no diaper will degrade inside a plastic bag in a landfill without exposure to the elements, so we caution that your expectations should be realistic and align with how you plan to dispose of your diapers. The top contenders for eco-friendliness are Andy Pandy and Nature Baby Care. Andy Pandy uses bamboo, and the manufacturing process is TCF chlorine-free. Nature Baby Care is also TCF chlorine-free and uses bio-based plastics and GM-free corn, with some components of the diaper being biodegradable (again under the right conditions). If you choose Nature Baby Care by Naty, do some research in your area for disposal facilities, as we've been informed that they are 99% compostable in an industrial facility.
Online retailers and store shelves are laden with diaper brands, all shouting claims to draw you in. New! Green! Tried and true! With all this noise, it can be hard to decide which one is best for your baby. Add cloth diapers on top of all that, and your head starts spinning. The plethora of diapers may be so overwhelming that you just want to grab-and-go, select something at random, or choose the cheapest option. However, thanks to our detailed testing and tiny hands-on testers, you can now make a more knowledgeable choice. No matter which diaper you purchase, our insights and unbiased test results will help you make an informed selection.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team