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ecoDIAPERS: Which brand is best for your baby?

This is it...the eco-diaper roundup you've been waiting to read! We got our hands on the most popular brands of "green" diapers to put them to the ultimate tests. We shredded them, flooded them, tore them apart (not recommended unless you enjoy SAP gel stuffing up your nose for the next several days...oh and coming out of your mouth too - ick) and let the babies do their natural duties...what lies below is a comprehensive evaluation of the best eco-diaper options currently on the market. Enjoy!!!

Let's just start off with a friendly reminder, there is no such thing as the perfect product that works for everyone! If there were, it would be impossible to meet demand and sustainably manufacture, just based on the sheer quantities that would be required. Our goal is to find several effective products to fulfill any given need. The following review utilizes a variety of testers to provide a range of opinions and experiences; it is not based off of the input of any single person or family. As with any product, your experience may vary, just as products may vary from batch to batch.

First and foremost, many parents are confused about all the hype surrounding "chlorine-free" labeling and whether this labeling alone qualifies a product as "eco-friendly". The main problem with chlorine bleaching {and the subsequent disposal of chlorine-bleached products} is a nasty little byproduct called dioxin. Dioxin is a highly persistent toxin, meaning that it stays around for a very long time {both inside your body and in the environment}. It can be inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin. Dioxin has been shown to cause cancer amongst other very serious problems, both inside and outside the human body. Basically, it's one of the most toxic {and preventable} chemical catastrophes that exist on the planet. For in-depth information on dioxin, click here.

For the reasons mentioned above, chlorine-free bleaching is the first step in the right direction for creating a less toxic product. You will notice that we did not test/review Huggies Pure and Natural diapers below, this is because have not yet accomplished this essential first step of being chlorine-free. All disposable diapers are bleached in some way (yes, even Seventh Generation - who dyes their diapers after bleaching to gain the tan coloring). However, most eco-diapers utilize safer alternatives for bleaching such as hydrogen peroxide. As you venture further down the "greenway," you'll notice other steps that come into play, such as renewable content of materials, biodegradability, and petrochemical use (including plastics). When you move beyond simply chlorine-free, you start getting into truly greener products...ones which benefit both the user and the planet in measurable ways!

Another topic that frequently enters the discussion of disposable diapers is SAP (super absorbent polymers). This one little acronym takes off into a world of it's own with controversy so we're not going to touch it here. Most, if not all, disposable diapers contain this ingredient and we urge you to read up on it to make up your own mind about what's right for you and your family. Wikipedia is a great place to start, click here to read more about SAP. Some SAP is vegetable based whilst most is acrylic acid or petroleum based. During testing, we found some brands to have much higher occurrences of SAP leaks than others. According to one expert in the diaper industry,
"A lot of diapers, both baby and adult, a person can feel something sandy within the inside. This is a cheap production of SAP that is not truly infused with the core. Then the product has one very thin layer between the core and the baby’s skin. So it is not unheard of to have tiny crystals on the skin at times. This would be SAP leaks."

Below you will find that we have listed even the smallest details because every baby is different and needs will vary -- if you know your diapers tend to leak in certain spots or at certain times, you can narrow down which diaper would be most suitable to meet your needs based on the following information. As for our family, we ended up preferring the Bambo Nature diapers to all others...they worked the best to meet all of our needs! Thank you to all our testers and the companies who cooperated with this review.


Bambo Nature - Voted "most likely to succeed"
Made in Denmark
Approx. Cost per Diaper (US): $0.38
Tabs: 1/3 adhesive + 2/3 cling
Stretch: sides stretch, tabs do not
Waist: no elastic
Inner reservoir wall: single
Water Leak Test: wicking leak at upper back thigh with 1 cup, no leaks with subsequent cups
Maximum Absorbency: 5.75 cups of water (size 4+ diaper)
Thickness (saturated): 2 inches
Outer moisture (saturated): yes, slightly moist
What is inside your diaper? "The core is layered by wood pulp, a non-woven produced from a thin layer of textile-like polypropylene without the use of organic solvents, a foil laminate layer consisting of a layer of breathable polyethylene and a second layer of non-woven that does not contain phthalates."
Additional Tester Comments: "Thick, great full coverage, the baby seemed comfortable in them with no rubbing or irritation."

Likes: superior overnight absorbency, no leaks, no SAP gel leaks, corn-based plastics, biodegradable, Nordic Ecolabel Swan certified, wetness indicator (blue brand/size ink on front fades when wet inside), larger than comparable diapers resulting in greater value, breathable waterproof outer prevents rashes/overwhelming odors, produced from controlled forestry sources, this particular SAP is wheat starch based, phthalate-free
Dislikes: pattern/aesthetics (colorful animal design on upper front panel)
Website Link

Broodychick - Voted "most likely to be reincarnated as dirt"
Made in Canada
Approx. Cost per Diaper (US): $0.56
Tabs: 1/2 adhesive + 1/2 cling
Stretch: no stretch in sides or tabs
Waist: back gathering
Inner reservoir wall: double
Water Leak Test: leak at tummy with 1 cup, significant leaking at legs with subsequent cups
Maximum Absorbency: 3.5 cups of water (size mini diaper)
Thickness (saturated): 2 inches

Outer moisture (saturated): none
Additional Tester Comments: "I thought the diapers looked absolutely HUGE at first so i was afraid to use them. But it worked out great. The first time the baby completely saturated the diaper I freaked out because the outside of the diaper turned yellow, but the diaper was completely dry and nothing had leaked out. She developed no allergies or rashes while i was putting these on her. And despite the size she did not express any discomfort. I hope these will come out with cute designs in the future. I love the fact that they are compostable. I love these diapers!"
Likes: 100% fully compostable (they also make compostable wipes), classic solid white design (beehive textured upper front panel), Oeko Tex accreditation (Ingeo fiber), phthalate-free, vegetable-based SAP (FDA-approved food grade), waterproof layer and "fabric" layers are derived from corn
Dislikes: difficult to tell front from back, tabs do not stretch, no size/brand indication

Delora* - Voted "most responsible"
Made in Germany
Approx. Cost per Diaper (US): $0.75
Tabs: cling only
Stretch: tabs stretch, sides do not
Waist: no elastic
Inner reservoir wall: single
Likes: organic plant starch based outer layer that reminds us of the plastic-coated diapers of yesteryear, 2/3 compostable, cellulose in the core of the diaper is derived from FSC-certified renewable forestry (two trees planted for every one used), larger than comparable diapers resulting in greater value, latex-free {for those who are allergic}, no leaks even with saturation, GMO-free, phthalate-free
Dislikes: outer has rough bumps all over it {think of a mild version of the bottom of a pool}, makes crinkling sounds when baby crawls/sits

Nature BabyCare - Voted "most visually appealing"
Made in Israel
Approx. Cost per Diaper (US): $0.18
Tabs: 1/3 adhesive + 2/3 cling
Stretch: sides stretch, tabs do not
Waist: back and front gathering
Inner reservoir wall: single

Water Leak Test: no leaks with 1 cup, no leaks with subsequent cups
Maximum Absorbency: 5 cups of water (size 4 diaper)
Thickness (saturated): 2.75 inches
Outer moisture (saturated): yes, dripping wet
Phthalate-free? "Benzyl Butyl Phthalate is not used." (per company response)
SAP: acrylic acid base
Likes: sufficient overnight absorbency, neutral green leaf pattern (vertical stripes at upper front), GMO-free, size/brand labels, vegetable-based waterproof barrier (compostable)
Dislikes: excessive SAP gel leaks (both amount and frequency), tabs do not easily fasten to outer during cleanup, unreliable leak protection (some diapers fail prematurely without known cause)

Seventh Generation Free and Clear - Voted "least likely to be noticed under clothing"
(new version in stores April 2011)
Made in USA
Approx. Cost per Diaper (US): $0.29
Tabs: cling only
Stretch: sides stretch, tabs do not
Waist: back gathering
Inner reservoir wall: single
Water Leak Test: leak at tummy with 1 cup, leaks at tummy and leg with subsequent cups
Maximum Absorbency: 3.75 cups of water (size 5 diaper)
Thickness (saturated): 2.5 inches
Outer moisture (saturated): none
SAP materials: sodium polyacrylate
Waterproof barrier: polypropylene plastic

Likes: latex-free (for those who are allergic), neutral tan outer (dyed w/ white tabs), phthalate-free
Dislikes: less wood pulp = more SAP, requires more frequent changes, sizing runs smaller (less value)
Website Link

The following are comparative results from in-depth testing in several areas, we will rank the above diapers according to their performance in each category below.

Abbreviation Key
Bambo Nature (B)
Broody Chick (BC)
Nature BabyCare (N)
Seventh Generation Free and Clear (SG)
Delora* (D)

THICKNESS (listed in order from thickest to thinnest): B, N, BC, D, SG
ODOR (unused, listed in order of least offensive to most): BC, B, D, N, SG
SOFTNESS (interior, listed in order of softest to least): B, D, SG, BC, N
EXTERIOR (listed in order of smoothest to roughest): N, B, D, SG, BC
AMOUNT OF SAP (listed in order of least to most): B, BC, SG, N

This photo shows what is inside the absorption layer of each diaper. The white "sand" shown on the blue plate is SAP. This photo illustrates the ratio of SAP:fluff per brand. Clockwise from upper left: Broody Chick, Bambo Nature, Seventh Generation Free and Clear, Nature BabyCare

Disclosure: Compensation is never accepted for any ecoSAFE published review. Products are obtained through purchase, donation, or provided free of charge by manufacturers or retailers. All content is provided solely as opinion and is based on actual experience. This statement is in compliance with FTC regulations.

*Note: Delora diapers were not included in all tests. Approximate cost per diaper is based on newborn size sold by average price online; amount is shown in US dollars and does not include shipping, although some items may include free shipping. Price may vary depending on retailer.