Microfiber v. Hemp v. Bamboo: Choosing the Best Cloth Diaper for Your Baby

I was very excited when Buttons Diapers recently released their NEW bamboo inserts in small, large, and super sizes!  They sent me some of their bamboo inserts to try out, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to answer some frequently-asked questions about cloth diaper insert fabrics and help you choose the best one for your baby.

What I did:

I took three of the Buttons small inserts (one microfiber, one hemp, and one bamboo) and placed each of them in a dry pan.  I poured water over them until the insert was completely saturated.  Any leftover water in the pan was returned to the measuring cup.  I also held the insert over the measuring cup until water quit dripping out, then measured what was left in the cup.  Finally, I gave the insert a gentle squeeze to see if any more water would drip out into the cup and measured again.

Microfiber

(soft and squishy feeling insert with white ridges)IMG_7478

Absorbency (Quantity and Speed): While I didn’t officially test the speed the microfiber insert absorbed water, visually, I could see it soaked up water much faster than the hemp or bamboo inserts.  The Buttons Small insert was able to absorb 3/4 c. of water, but when I gave it a light squeeze, it only held 1/2 c. of water.

Cost:  Microfiber is a very affordable insert option.  It is the least expensive of the three fabrics, making it a popular choice for people who cloth diaper to save money.

Softness: Very soft and fluffy. Microfiber stays soft even when it is saturated with liquid.

Other thoughts:

  • You must have a stay-dry liner between microfiber material and the baby’s skin.  Buttons inserts have this stay-dry liner sewn on to the top of the insert, so you don’t have to worry about it.  If you touch a lot of microfiber inserts (like stuffing pockets), you will notice it does dry out your hands.
  • Does not hold as much liquid when compressed/squeezed.
  • Microfiber is known to get stinky if they get really old, or if they aren’t washed thoroughly enough.  Thankfully, I haven’t had that experience with the Buttons microfiber inserts!

Choose microfiber if: 

  • You need an affordable insert solution.
  • You have a baby who quickly soaks their diapers.
  • You want a stay-dry barrier between the diaper and your baby’s skin.

 

Hemp

(dense fabric, usually off white in color, can be smooth or fluffy in appearance)IMG_7479

Absorbency (Quantity and Speed): The Buttons small hemp insert absorbed a little more than 3/4 c. of water!  When I gave the insert a gentle squeeze, it still held onto 3/4 c. of water.

Cost:  Hemp is the most expensive of the three insert types that Buttons sells.

Softness: In my experience, hemp is the least soft of the three different insert materials.  It can get stiff and even slightly rough feeling if you air dry the insert.  HOWEVER, Buttons has figured out a way to put the soft and fluffy side of hemp on the outside layer of their inserts, and I’ve found that their hemp inserts are the softest I’ve tried!  So they still get a point in my book.  🙂

Other thoughts:

  • While I didn’t officially measure absorbency speed, hemp is known for being the slowest to absorb liquid.  I could visually see a difference between the hemp and microfiber absorbency speeds when I was testing it.
  • Insert can bunch up and stiffen when wet.  This is more common with toddlers who are active!

Choose hemp if:

  • You have a heavy wetter.
  • You want a natural fiber insert with a stay-dry liner on top (Buttons is one of the few brands to offer this!)
  • You have a larger baby/heavier toddler prone to getting compression leaks with microfiber.  
  • You need a trim insert to fit nicely under clothes (hemp inserts are popular for being absorbent AND thin!).

 

Bamboo

(soft dense fabric, usually white in color and smooth, though some brands can be more like a terry cloth texture)IMG_7481

Absorbency (Quantity and Speed): The new Buttons small bamboo insert absorbed 3/4 c. of water, and didn’t leak at all when I gave it a gentle squeeze!  It was slower to absorb than microfiber, but I didn’t see much difference in speed between bamboo and hemp.

Cost:  The Buttons bamboo insert is slightly less expensive than their hemp insert option, but still almost twice the cost of microfiber.

Softness: The bamboo fabric is very soft and smooth to the touch.  It does become hard and stiff when soaked.

Other thoughts:

  •  Slow to dry.
  • Insert feels stiff and hard when wet.
  • Insert can bunch up when wet.  This is more common with toddlers who are active!
  • The Buttons bamboo inserts shrunk up a lot while being prepped.  It is visually smaller than their hemp and microfiber counterparts, even though it started out larger.  I think bamboo could beat out hemp and microfiber for absorbency IF the prepped size was closer the hemp and microfiber inserts.

Choose bamboo if:

  • You have a heavy wetter.
  • You want natural fibers against your baby’s skin.
  • You need a faster absorbing fabric than hemp.
  • You have a larger baby/heavier toddler prone to getting compression leaks with microfiber.

 

I hope that gives you a better understanding of the three main cloth diaper fabrics and how to choose the right one for your baby. I personally have all three insert types and love them all!   You can check out all of Buttons Diapers’ products here.  Leave me a comment and let me know which one you’d pick!

Want to see how the entire Buttons diaper system works?  Check out my review here.  Also, keep an eye on my blog, I’ll be posting a review of their NEW newborn and super diaper sizes soon!

I received a Buttons diaper free of charge for the purposes of this review.  All opinions expressed are 100% my own and not influenced by the company.  This post may contain affiliate links.

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Do One-Size Cloth Diapers Really Fit a Newborn?

After Evelyn’s birth, I’m frequently asked how life is with two kids.  Honestly, it’s not as difficult a transition as the one going from no kids to one kid.  A couple years of experience under my belt has really helped everything go about as smoothly as I could wish for.  And Evelyn is a REALLY easy baby, so that helps!

Since I started cloth diapering Jeremiah when he was a month old, I was very excited to try cloth earlier with Evelyn.  Many cloth diaper companies claim their one-size diapers can fit from birth to potty trained, but which ones REALLY can fit a newborn?  While I haven’t tested out every brand (although I wish I could!), I did try some popular ones out on Evelyn to see how they worked.

Now, I know every newborn is a different size, so this won’t be true for everyone.  But, Evelyn was 7 lbs and 9 oz at birth, so she was a great average-sized baby to try these diapers on.  If you tend to have larger babies, it’s likely you will have even more success getting one-size diapers to fit from birth.

NOTE: Almost all OS diapers will be bulky on a newborn – especially if you’re putting them under a onesie.  But the diapers that “fit” could actually get small enough in the legs and waist so there were no gaps that minimized leaks.

One-Size Cloth Diapers that FIT a newborn:

Buttons Diapers – One of my favorites, see my review here!

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Bum Genius 4.0 Pockets*

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Softbums Echos* – Another one of my favorites!

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Nicki’s Diapers Cover*

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Peachy Baby

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One-Size Cloth Diapers that DIDN’T fit a newborn (but still great diapers!):

Lil Helper

Nicki’s Pocket Diapers*

Moraki AI2*

TushMate AI2

Buying one-size cloth diapers can really save you a lot of money, if you truly can use them from birth to potty training.  I did end up getting some newborn diapers to fit better under Evelyn’s outfits, but I was happy to use many one-size diapers right from the start! What other brands of one-size cloth diapers have you found that fit a newborn?

*You can get these diapers from Nicki’s Diapers, one of my favorite online cloth diaper retailers.  Their customer service is fabulous!

This blog post may contain affiliate links (all opinions and reviews are still 100% my own).  If you purchase through them, you’ll be supporting The List Mama – Thanks!

Buttons Cloth Diaper Review

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Our newest family member: Evelyn!

It’s been a while since I last wrote a post.  The main reason for the lack of writing is I have been getting ready for the birth of our second child.  Evelyn was born three weeks ago, and things are finally starting to settle in place!

Today, I’m going to write my first cloth diaper review.  You can see my story about why I decided to cloth diaper here.  It’s been almost two years since I started my journey, and I’ve had the opportunity to try many kinds of diapers.  And when the owners of Buttons asked me to write a review about their cloth diapers, I was more than happy to share my love for Buttons with you!

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Buttons “Critter” cover

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Buttons large hemp insert (left) and microfiber insert (right).

The Stats: Buttons are an All-In-Two (AI2) diapering system.  They are comprised of a one size cover and a snap-in insert.  The inserts are two sizes: small and large, and come in either microfiber or hemp.  Both inserts have a stay-dry micro fleece liner on top.  They also have overnight doublers in both sizes and fabric types.  Buttons diapers were designed to reuse the covers used a few times by just changing the inserts.  That means less laundry and more money for you, since you don’t have to buy a cover for each diaper change!

JD at nine months old in his Buttons diaper.

JD at nine months old in his Buttons diaper.

My Story: I started using Buttons diapers about a year and a half ago.  It started with just a couple of covers and some flour sack towels I used as inserts.  I immediately was impressed by how well the diaper cover was made.  It has two layers of PUL, but still has a lot of stretch to get a nice fit.  The double-guesset leg elastics are great at holding in messes too.  I use the covers mainly for my day time diapering because they were so trim and fit nicely under Jeremiah’s clothes.

When Buttons came out with their hemp inserts a few months ago, I splurged and added some more covers and the inserts to my stash.  By this point, I was so impressed, I decided to make them a majority of my stash.  When we found out we were expecting Evelyn, it gave me a good excuse to top off my stash with a few more covers and inserts.  🙂  Now, almost all of Evelyn’s diapers are Buttons!

What I LOVE:

High quality product – The covers and inserts look and feel very high quality.  With regular use for about 1.5 years, the elastics are just barely relaxed compared to a new cover (some are not relaxed at all!).  And they still have LOTS of life left in them.  That’s awesome compared to other popular (and more expensive) brands of diapers I’ve tried!

Stretchy cover – The stretchy PUL makes it easy to get a good fit on your baby.  There is also a small bit of elastic across the front of the waist, so you don’t have any weird gaps across the tummy.

IMG_3547IMG_3548Snap-in inserts – My first AI2 diaper system I used had inserts that just laid inside the cover.  It worked great when Jeremiah was little, but once he decided he didn’t like diaper changes, it made changes even more difficult with an insert that he could kick out of place easily.  Buttons inserts snap in, making it simple to change the diaper quickly and easily.  They always stay in place!

Interchangeable inserts with other AI2 covers – Buttons inserts and covers are compatible with a number of other AI2 diaper brands.  That makes finding an insert to snap in easy if you have variety in your stash.

Price – For the quality of diaper, Buttons are definitely one of the most affordable diapering systems.  For just a little over $200, you can get everything you need to cloth diaper your baby – including wipes and a wet bag!

IMG_3564Adorable prints and brilliant colored covers – The website does not do the colors of the covers justice!  The solids are rich and beautiful colors, and the prints make diaper changes fun for moms and toddlers.  Jeremiah loves his Critter cover and wants to look at all the animals each time we put it on him!  And to go with their name, each cover has a cute button embroidered on the back.

Hemp insert INCLUDING a stay-dry liner – Buttons is the only cloth diaper brand that I know of with this feature.  Many moms prefer natural fiber inserts like hemp, cotton, or bamboo because they are very absorbent and they clean up easier than microfiber.  But these materials do not wick moisture away from the baby’s skin.  Buttons hemp inserts have a stay dry liner on top, so any moisture is pulled away from the baby and into the insert.  These inserts are VERY absorbent, and Jeremiah can go up to 4-5 hours without leaks!

IMG_3333A one-size cover that actually FITS a newborn! – When Evelyn was born, I was eager to try some cloth diapers on her.  We don’t have any newborn diapers, so I decided to give all my one-size diapers a try.  While many claim they can fit a baby from birth to potty-trained, Buttons was one of the few covers that actually fit her!  I like to fold a flour sack towel into a mini kite fold and snappi it under the Buttons cover.  It’s a little more bulky than using a newborn cover, but there aren’t any leg or tummy gaps where leaks could occur.  Definitely a win!

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Evelyn wearing her lavender Buttons cover at just five days old and 7 lbs 10 oz.

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Jeremiah wearing his Buttons Critter diaper at 23 months and 28 lbs.

Overall, Buttons diapers are an easy-to-use, affordable diapering system I would highly recommend to anyone wanting to give cloth diapers a try.  They have wonderful customer service and a variety of buying options – whether you want to get a trial pack with a cover and a few inserts, or make them your entire diaper stash.  Want to give them a try?  You can shop for Buttons here on their website or here on Amazon.

Just for fun, here are some “action shots” of Jeremiah wearing his Cherry Buttons diaper.  🙂

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IMG_3167Share your thoughts!  Check out the Buttons website and let me know your favorite print or color…or your favorite feature Buttons diapers offer.

I received a Buttons diaper free of charge for the purposes of this review.  All opinions expressed are 100% my own and not influenced by the company.  This post may contain affiliate links.

How To Cloth Diaper Your Baby for $100

While most moms would agree that cloth diapering is affordable in the long run compared to disposables, the “start up” cost to cloth can be a hurdle for some.  I truly believe you can get NEW, QUALITY cloth diapers and all the needed accessories for just $100…and I’ll show you how today!  The great thing is, even if you give cloth a try or only use it part time, you will start saving money within a few months.  AND you can sell cloth diapers when you’re done and get money back – something you definitely can’t do with disposables!

HOW MANY DO YOU NEED?

To do a full load of diaper laundry every two-three days, you will need about 24 diaper changes.  At some points in your baby’s life, you may need even less than that (I do about six diaper changes a day now that Jeremiah is one).  With that said, there are many different kinds of cloth diapers, but today I’m going to focus on a system that will save you the most cash.

CLOTH DIAPERS:

Covers – You will want 8-12 of these.  The nice thing about covers is that you can reuse them as long as they are not soaked or soiled.  I alternate between 2-3 covers each day.  This means less laundry AND less wear-and-tear on them since you’re washing them after 2-4 uses instead of after each use.

I’ve found two brands of one-size covers (fit from birth-potty trained) that will be within our $100 budget:

Diaper Safari.  Watch their website for sales.  Right now, they have Buy Two, Get One FREE.  During their Black Friday Sale, they had BOGO for the covers…that means each costs less than $5!

diaper safari covers

Assunta.  While I haven’t personally ordered from them, I’ve heard so many great reviews from other cloth diapering moms, I would still recommend them.  Each cover is $4.99, and they come in both solid colors and prints!

assunta covers

Inserts – You will want 12-24 of these, since you will be changing them out with each diaper change.

Some of the most popular inserts cloth diapering moms recommend are…flour sack towels!  These are found in the kitchen towel section at Walmart, Sams, or Target.  They are thin, cotton towels, but at $1 each, they are AMAZING!  I use them every day, and highly recommend them.  They are also very simple to wash, since they are a single layer, the inserts are easy to clean and air dry in record time!

If you’re planning to use cloth diapers overnight, you’ll want something more absorbent, since your baby will (hopefully) be sleeping 10-12 hours without a diaper change.  This does not have to be expensive either.  The Econobum Trial pack comes with one cover and three prefolds.  These prefolds work great for us overnight and are easy to use.  Just fold in thirds like a newspaper and lay inside the cover.  Done!

econobum trial

Ok, have you done the math so far?  Here’s where we are…

Eight covers: $36

+

12 inserts: $12

+

Econobum Trial Pack: $17

= $65 on diapers!

ACCESSORIES:

Wipes – If you’re using cloth diapers, cloth wipes are easy to use as well.  You just throw them in with your diaper laundry and they clean up just fine.  You can get 15 wipes for $7 from Buttons Diapers, and I would recommend getting two sets, if you can afford it.  Or, save some money and cut up a flannel receiving blanket (I bought four for $2 from a consignment sale) into 8-inch squares.  They make wonderful cloth wipes!

Wet Bag – These are a place to carry dirty diapers if you are away from home.  I found a small wetbag at Walmart in their baby travel section for just $5!

Pail Liner – This washable, waterproof liner is used inside the diaper pail.  On laundry day, you just take it, dump the diapers in the washing machine, and throw the liner in too!  You can use a waterproof pillow protector case from Walmart for $9 and it will work just fine.

Diaper Pail – Any trash can will work.  It doesn’t have to be pretty or even have a lid.  Some moms say that actually no lid is better for cloth diapers because the airflow in the pail makes it less stinky.  Just get one you can fit the pail liner inside.  OR, you can just hang up the pail liner in the bathroom or baby’s room and not have a pail at all. Here is a Rubbermaid Soft Molded-Plastic Rectangular Trash Can, 10.25-gallon for under $8.

What’s the total?

Cloth diapers ($65) + Accessories ($35) = $100

MORE MONEY SAVINGS:

There are other ways to get an affordable stash of cloth diapers, if you’re willing to do a little more work.

1. Buy Used.  I’ve had good experiences buying used.  Just make sure you’re educated about the brand of diaper you are wanting to buy.  I’d highly recommend looking at new diapers first to establish a baseline to compare used diapers with.  You can get used diapers for at least 30-50% off retail price.  Here’s one of many great blogs about buying used diapers:

2. Make Your Own.  This is a great way to really save some money!  Here are a few blogs that shows you how to make your own cloth diapers using old shirts and towels.  You still would need a cover for these, but I’ve made a couple myself, and they are very simple to make if you have basic sewing machine knowledge/skills.

WHAT ABOUT “CHINA CHEAPIES?”

Many moms starting to cloth diaper find online deals for pocket diapers and inserts for under $5 each (often called “China Cheapies”).  Yes, they are inexpensive, but in this case, you get what you pay for.  Many do not have a good reputation for quality.  Also, while I don’t have issues with China-made diapers, I do want my purchases to support good work conditions and fair pay for the people making them.  Therefore, I don’t recommend those brands of diapers.  If you’d like to read more about the ethics behind these diapers, I’d highly recommend taking the time to read this article.

Of course, there are MANY more cloth diapering options than the ones I mentioned here.  Hopefully I helped you see that cloth diapering can be VERY AFFORDABLE.  If you’d like to see more about cloth diapering for $100, check out my Pinterest Board: Cloth Diaper Stash on a $100 Budget.

This blog post may contain affiliate links (all opinions and reviews are still 100% my own).  If you purchase through them, you’ll be supporting The List Mama – Thanks!