Best Disposable Diapers
$0.43 each at Amazon
$0.33 each at Amazon - 5% off
$0.36 each at Amazon - 9% off
$0.33 each at Amazon - 21% off
$0.33 each at Amazon - 17% off
|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||Earth friendly, healthy choice that works great||Keeps baby drier in a cozy, durable diaper that has better health stats||Comfy, healthy option with performance where it counts||Best green bang for the buck that works well with a top health score||High scoring diaper with average absorbency|
|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
Favorite for Health
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
Comfy and Affordable
Kirkland Signature Supreme
Kirkland diapers are a Costco brand traditional diaper with a nod to health and an impressively high score for comfort. This inexpensive choice earns high marks for durability. It has a super soft fabric, and we heard very few complaints about faulty tabs or the material falling apart.
While this diaper is not the best-looking option and is not one of the top performers for absorption or preventing leaks, it will get the job done at a lower price than much of the similarly performing competition. We believe this diaper is a potential choice for families on a budget who want better performance and a comfortable fit.
Read review: Kirkland
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 team in BabyGearLab safety standards and product selection. 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. When using the diapers on real babies, our findings typically paralleled what we learned in the lab and online research. 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
Let us level with you. If you're an expecting first-time parent, your baby is going to make a lot of poo. So much more than you realize. This vast amount of poo will need immediate and continuous management to avoid turning your life into a bio-hazard area. Sure, you can try to distinguish your new baby's facial expression for signs of impending doom before rushing them to a nearby toilet. However, we think it is far easier to employ a diaper to do the dirty work (literally) for you.
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 every day. 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, 0.34, 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. However, if this is beyond your budget, you can consider a more traditional disposable that performs well but isn't as green by looking at the Kirkland brand diaper that sells for around 0.20-0.24. This option is sure to save you both money and diapers in the long run.
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 doing your comparison using 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 the Kirkland brand, you will pay about $0.20/diaper. 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?
- Kirkland will cost approximately $1,200 for 4 years, or $25 a month
- 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. But the price jump from a cheaper diaper like the Kirkland is closer to $37. 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. It costs about $0.13 more per diaper than Seventh Generation and $0.30 per diaper more than Kirkland. That is more than double the cost to buy Nature Babycare over Kirkland. So, let's compare the scores.
- Kirkland (below left): 6 absorption, 3 health, 1 eco, 58 overall
- Seventh Generation (below right): 8 absorption, 8 health, 6 eco, 70 overall
- Nature Babycare: 10 absorption, 7 health, 8 eco, 76 overall
The difference in metric performance between Kirkland and Seventh Generation is significant. Seventh Generation offers a balance of cost and performance that will satisfy most families. It scores well in most metrics (better than Kirkland) and provides some Health and Eco advantages on top of that. For $12 more per month, 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.
The 10 Great Diaper Questions
Deciding which diaper to buy is a decision that many parents agonize over. We know. We've been there, and we wish we knew then what we know now. In this review, we're going to take on our own Top 10 List of Great Diaper Questions and wrestle them to the ground:
- How many diapers does a baby go through in total?
- How much $ will I spend on diapers over time?
- What is the environmental impact of diapers?
- How do green diapers perform compared to traditional brands?
- What materials are inside diapers (and why should I care)?
- Which is better: Pampers or Huggies?
- Are big-box private-label diapers just as good as brand-name diapers?
- What's the best green diaper?
- Which is best: Cloth vs. Disposable diapers?
- Which diaper should I buy?
OK, in full disclosure, we're not going to take on #2, Cloth versus Disposable, not here anyway. That is a topic so broad that it demands its own dedicated article. But, we are going to tackle the other nine questions right here and now. Here we go!
Related: Best Cloth Diaper
Putting Top Diapers to the Test
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.
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 used and lack of air exposure (which hampers 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 outcome in 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.
How do green diapers perform compared to 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, in our analysis of green vs. traditional diapers, we 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!
What's in My Baby's Diaper?
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 Performance Standard for Diapers
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 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.
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