Diving into the world of diapers can be dizzying. After testing 53 different disposable diapers, we compare the top 17 choices available today. With a decade of diaper testing experience, we have unique and extensive insight that helps us distinguish the best from the worst and rank everything in between. We used objective metrics such as health, absorption, eco-friendliness, leakage, comfort, and durability to select our favorites. We put these diapers through multiple rounds of absorbency testing and used each one on real babies. Afterward, we compared the results side-by-side to select the top options. The award winners are suitable for a wide range of families, from those on a budget to the eco-minded and those who just want something to keep "it" contained. We are sure you will find a diaper to fit your needs.
|Price||Check Price at Amazon||Check Price at Amazon||$0.36 List|
$0.36 at Amazon
$0.32 each at Amazon
$0.37 each at Amazon
|Pros||Durable, comfy, lower price, good leak protection||Comfortable, durable||Great absorption, soft material, better health and eco-benefits||Comfortable, easy to find||Better on leaks, comfortable, some eco-friendly practices|
|Cons||Not eco-friendly, no considerations for health||Poor absorption, more leaks, not eco-friendly||Less durable, below-average leak prevention||Poor leak protection, health, and ecology, limited absorption||Average absorption, durability concerns|
|Bottom Line||Durable and cozy diaper with good performance for the price, but it lacks ecology and health considerations||A comfortable option that fails to provide enough absorption and leak protection, even at the lower price||A soft and cozy diaper with some green practices and high absorbency but less than stellar leak protection||Poorly functioning diaper with few positive attributes make this comfortable option one we don't prefer||Greener diaper with an adequate overall performance but average absorption could be better|
|Rating Categories||Kirkland Signature...||Target Up & Up||Seventh Generation...||Pampers Swaddlers||Pampers Pure|
|Specs||Kirkland Signature...||Target Up & Up||Seventh Generation...||Pampers Swaddlers||Pampers Pure|
|Type of Diaper||Traditional||Traditional||Green||Traditional||Green|
|Miscellaneous Materials Details|
|Stretchable Side Wings||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Best Overall Disposable Diaper
Seventh Generation Sensitive Protection
Seventh Generation Sensitive Protection is a popular green diaper available in some stores and online. This diaper has impressive absorption rates with very little moisture transfer to the test paper and no "urine" reaching the test tray. This diaper offers softer materials and gentle motion points to keep little ones cozy even when they start to explore. Seventh Generation also provides some considerations for the Earth and your baby's health by being Totally Chlorine-Free and free of lotion and perfume.
This diaper is not the best at leak prevention, and our research indicates more users reporting trouble with leaks and blowouts than some of the competition. Also, it isn't as durable, with some diapers falling apart before a change could occur. It also isn't the greenest with some products offering more in this department. However, this diaper has the goods where it counts and is a good option for families looking for excellent absorption in a disposable green diaper.
Read review: Seventh Generation Sensitive Protection
Best for Leak Protection
Babyganics is a green diaper with a soft-to-touch material that lasts as long as you need to between changes. Very few users complain about durability, and this diaper impresses in its performance for absorption and leak protection. Eco-friendliness and better features for the baby's health are other bonuses with this option as it is totally chlorine-free. The overall cost is lower than some competing green diapers, so you can spend less while still feeling somewhat better about your environmental impact.
It may be challenging to find this diaper in stores, so you'll likely need to purchase it online and remember to stay ahead of your need so you aren't caught empty-handed. It also isn't very durable, with one of the lowest scores in the group and a relatively high percentage of complaints about faulty tabs and some leaking SAP. Overall, this greener diaper is comfortable and has outstanding absorption and leaks, making it excellent for most families.
Read review: Babyganics
Best for Budget Diapering
Mama Bear Gentle Touch
Mama Bear Gentle Touch diapers are an Amazon brand diaper with a budget-friendly price and simple online delivery. This inexpensive diaper managed an average or above score in every testing metric, which is something of a rarity and makes it a potential choice no matter what your diapering goals may be. It has better than average absorption and leak protection and the highest health score of any non-green diaper in the review being free of elemental chlorine, lotion, perfumes, parabens, and phthalates.
Mama Bear is not the most eco-friendly option in the group, but it also doesn't advertise as a green diaper. However, it is produced in a zero-landfill plant which is something to brag about. It also isn't the absolute most absorbent product in our review either. However, for the price and given the other higher scores it received during testing, the lower absorption almost feels acceptable. Overall, we think this diaper is a good choice for families on a budget who don't want to sacrifice performance or health to save a few pennies.
Read review: Mama Bear Gentle Touch
Best Eco-friendly 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 earned the highest score for absorption in our tests with virtually no moisture transfer to the test paper.
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 relatively fragile, with a less durable outer covering than much of the competition and a low durability score. However, if your wallet allows, and you have the Earth on your mind, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better-performing, more eco-friendly disposable diaper anywhere.
Read review: Nature Babycare
Healthiest with a Green Edge
Bambo Nature is a fantastic green diaper and has long been a favorite of BabyGearLab. A few testers feel it has the best absorption properties, even good for serious overnight wetters. This diaper earned the top score for health, with most of the competition coming in well below it. Bambo is chlorine, latex, perfume, and lotion-free. It boasts an allergy certification and a complete disclosure list on the company website, so you can keep track of precisely what is in the diaper and what will be near your baby's skin. This diaper has some cool eco-friendly manufacturing bragging rights that other diapers can't claim and are comfortable.
With online-only accessibility, Bambo may not be the diaper for everyone. It also has an absorption score that is only slightly above average for the group. So if you are the type to wait a long time between changes, it may not be the best for you. Still, it has a lower than average price and fits the bill for those looking for the healthiest option with Earth-friendlier manufacturing. Combine these features with impressive performance where it counts and irresistible cute prints, and you have a diaper most families will love.
Read review: Bambo Nature
Honest Company Diapers
Read review: Honest Company Diapers
Why You Should Trust Us
Our BabyGearLab team has been professionally testing disposable diapers and other popular baby gear since 2013. 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.
Our testing for disposable diapers is divided across six rating metrics:
- Absorption tests (40% of overall score weighting)
- Leakage tests (20% weighting)
- Comfort tests (15% weighting)
- Health tests (15% weighting)
- Eco-friendly tests (5% weighting)
- Durability tests (5% weighting)
We have purchased, tested, and used over 50 different disposable diapers since 2012. Our testing puts each product through an extensive multi-point performance analysis ranking everything from absorption to durability. Multiple babies in multiple homes have helped us assess performance, comfort, leaks, and more.
Disposable diapers undergo more than 29 individual tests to assess performance. The most critical test metric is the absorption performance, which corresponds to 40% of the overall score, the highest weighted metric in the review by far. Our absorption rating is informed by an average of 3 specific tests that includes an average of three in-lab tests using our proprietary mock urine. 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. This review also utilizes real-world data from our little testers, including product observations from multiple testers.
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 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 spent hundreds of hours 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.
Analysis and Test Results
We purchased and tested more than 53 diapers over the years and included 17 in this round of testing. 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 to rate each diaper relative to the competition to help you find the best diaper for your little one.
When making our diaper selections, we carefully consider the options and include various styles. We want to provide a complete picture of diapers across the spectrum of all types 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: The Best Cloth Diapers of 2022
The Disposable Diaper testing is performed on size one diapers (or equivalent) and is primarily for finding the best diaper options for newborns or younger infants. This review's information and test results 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 has 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 one diapers we tested for this review.
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 0.58 per diaper. Forty-four cents is a rather large gap when you stop and consider how many diapers your baby will go through 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 overall number of diapers you use daily. In reality, a slightly more expensive diaper can potentially lower your long-term spending because you may use fewer of them.
In this review, the top two performers (Seventh Generation and Babyganics) have average prices, neither high nor ultra-low. Given that some lower-ranking competitors are more expensive, you can be confident that you are getting a quality option at a reasonable price (and green). These diapers score well for absorbency and leakage, which should 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. You'll need to use more of them, which increases your daily diaper costs. The one exception is the Mama Bear Gentle Touch diaper that earns average or above results in every testing metric and sports one of the lowest prices in the group. Add on the free delivery of Amazon Prime, and you save even more money with this diaper, making it an even better value if your budget is restricted.
Diapers make great baby gifts! No parent was ever sad about free diapers, and getting gifts from different brands is a great way to find what works for you.
Wait! How many diapers am I going to need?
In the first year alone, your tiny tot will go through about 2,500 diapers. If that number seems daunting, it breaks down to about 10-12 diapers a day 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 will 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 choosing to diaper with cloth instead.
So, what is all of that going to cost me?
If you are a budget-savvy shopper, the cost might be the driving factor in your diaper selection. Let's assume 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 in the smaller sizes. For these reasons, we recommend comparing the price of size three diapers as a standard because it will give you the most realistic cost average over the long run.
If you buy a quality (yet affordable) green diaper, you'll spend, on average, about $0.35/diaper. It is closer to about $0.50/diaper for a top-notch green diaper option. And a basic big-name brand will be about $0.34.
Over the four years you will be using diapers, what does that come to?
- A good green diaper will cost roughly $2,016 for 4 years, or $42.00 a month
- High-scoring green diaper will cost approximately $2,880 for 4 years, or $60.00 a month
- Popular brand name diapers will cost about $1,728 for 4 years and about $36.00 a month
Be aware that these prices are high; if you sign up for a subscription program offered by many retailers, you could get a sizeable discount. While the price of each diaper might feel like a wash over four years, it could translate into a cost difference of over $1,000.00. Of course, these are just averages, and actual costs will vary on how often you change your child's diaper and your average consumption over time. Some diapers will hold more and require fewer changes, while others might need frequent changes to avoid leaks or durability problems.
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 vs. the best performing diaper is almost $20 per month. Over one year, this is an added cost of nearly $240. With this 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: 9 absorption, 5 leakage, 6 health, 6 eco, 72 overall
- Nature Babycare: 10 absorption, 6 leakage, 6 health, 8 eco, 70 overall
The difference in metric performance between Seventh Generation and Nature BabyCare is significant. We feel the benefits are worth the extra cost depending on your goals, but Seventh Generation provides a happy medium of value with good performance and a lower price.
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 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 what ingredients their baby is exposed to. We recommend looking 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 hands-on 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 a comparison of diaper absorption.
We are impressed by green diapers that consistently deliver above-average absorbency results every time we include new additions to our diaper review. The top 3 diapers in our review are all green, and all have scores of 9 or higher for absorbency! The top-performing options are Nature Babycare with a 10 and a 9 for Babyganics. The top traditional diapers, Mama Bear Gentle Touch and Kirkland, 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. The lowest scoring options for absorption were Andy Pandy and Luvs, both with a 2 of 10.
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 and Baby Dry earned an overall score of 51, with the Pure style earning the highest result for Pampers with a 66. Huggies Little Snugglers earned a 51 and Snug & Dry a 43. Pampers Pure is by far the best of the Pampers and Huggies shoot-out, largely due to its increased leakage, comfort, and health scores. However, Pure diapers come with a significantly 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 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 as all score higher and offer more for a lower or similarly priced than the Pampers Pure.
Do Big-box Diapers Perform the same as Pampers and Huggies?
In short, no. While we did not find a significant difference between the two varieties, our test results show that the store brand options, such as Target, Walmart, or Kirkland, perform marginally better or the same as the popular brands overall, and often they cost less.
We tested diapers from two major big-box retailers this go around: Target and Costco. We concluded that individual diapers vary depending on the brand, and we cannot make an all-encompassing statement because it just depends on the diaper. However, big-box or not, many popular options place relatively low in the group. Kirkland Signature Supreme and Pampers Pure are the only diapers that reached the top 10. Most of the Pampers and Huggies diapers have a disappointing performance coming in below average in the group of 18. It might be time to forget about the popular or well-known brand names in diapers if you want to find a truly excellent option.
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 and Pampers Pure with 9s. Coming in a close second with 8s are Andy Pandy and Babyganics. Combined with absorbency tests, these results show Babyganics as a top contender with excellent results in both metrics. The diaper with the lowest leakage analysis result is Target Up & Up with a 2.
Comfort may not be top of your diaper consideration list, but your little one will be wearing diapers every day, and comfort could make a difference to them. Tight leg holes or itchy elastic can create unnecessary skin irritation and irritable behavior.
We compared all 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 and Seventh Generation earned 8s for comfort and still impress in absorbency with 9 each. Several other options earned 8s for comfort, but none of these were that impressive where it counts. The lowest scoring for comfort is Nature Babycare with a 3. This diaper has an almost paper feel, a design we assume aids in their claim of biodegradability but does nothing to keep little ones cozy.
Health is a collection of factors influenced mainly by the addition/omission of dyes, fragrances, lotions, or chemicals that create a color change to indicate diaper wetness. Many babies are sensitive to chemicals, and we like to err on the side of caution by limiting exposure to unnecessary chemicals whenever possible, especially on sensitive skin. 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 transparent brands that 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 genuinely 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 complete list of ingredients and have a certification for common allergens. Most of the competitors didn't manage a score higher than 4. Second place went to Pampers Pure and Mama Bear Gentle Touch with scores of 7. 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 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 a 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, throwing it in a landfill, and creating a biohazard risk. 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 to use conventional or green diapers wasn't always clear or easy. 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!
To analyze eco-friendliness, we looked at how the diapers were manufactured, whether they use renewable or recycled resources, and if they are biodegradable. Remember 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 Babycare. Andy Pandy uses bamboo, and the manufacturing process is TCF chlorine-free. Nature Babycare 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 Babycare 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. The lowest scoring options for eco-friendly are the Huggies brand diapers and Kirkland, each earning just 1 of 10.
Disposable diapers weren't meant to last forever, but if they can't make it for a few hours or fall apart when wet, they aren't much use and could cost 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 due to 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 9s and include Bambo Nature, Cuties, Huggies Little Snugglers, Kirkland, Mama Bear Gentle Touch, and Pampers Baby Dry. The least durable are Nature Babycare 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. Even though Nature Babycare didn't perform well in this metric, we still think they deserve consideration for their absorbency and leakage results.
Online retailers and store shelves are laden with diaper brands, all shouting claims to draw you in. New! Green! Tried and true! It can be hard to decide which one is best for your baby with all this noise. Add cloth diapers on top of everything, 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 informed decision. No matter which diaper you purchase, our insights and unbiased test results will help you make the right selection for you and your baby.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team
Honest, objective reviews. Led by a Pediatrician.
BabyGearLab was founded by a Pediatrician Mom with a mission to provide a reliable, independent, source of information to new parents. Our experts have tested thousands of baby and kids products to share key performance, health, and safety findings. We spend tens of thousands of dollars crash testing car seats to inform our ratings. And, we combine our review work with gobs of expert parenting advice. To assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing by people who care.Learn More