Pocket diapers are one of the most popular styles of diapers. A pocket consists of two parts — a water resistant shell, and an absorbent insert. The shell is made up of a PUL/TPU water resistant layer on the outside, and a stay dry layer (often microsuede/microfleece) on the inside. In between the two layers is a pocket that can be stuffed with an absorbent insert. Most pocket diapers come with microfiber inserts, although higher end versions may have bamboo inserts. Additionally, many people use other absorbent materials for inserts, such as prefolds, flour sack towels, flats, receiving blankets, etc.
A great advantage to pockets is the ability to customize the absorbency. If you have a small baby or light wetter, a single microfiber insert will likely suffice. If you have a toddler or heavy wetter, you can add additional inserts or stuff with more absorbent options – charcoal bamboo inserts, prefolds, flats, hemp, bamboo, etc. Many people like to combine inserts; for example, they might wrap a microfiber insert in a flour sack towel, or put a hemp insert on top of a charcoal bamboo insert.
A major disadvantage of pocket diapers is that the insert has to be stuffed into the pocket after washing, which can be a little time consuming. However, once the diaper is stuffed and ready to go, it’s as easy to use as an AIO. After the baby wets or soils the diaper, the entire pocket diaper, both shell and insert, has to be washed.
Some brands of pocket diapers are extremely inexpensive (about $5) while other brands can cost more than $20.
Pocket diaper pros:
- Once the diaper is stuffed, it’s very easy to use
- It’s easy to adjust the absorbency by adding additional or more absorbent inserts
- Can be very affordable
- Fairly trim
- Good for babies who are sensitive to wetness
Pocket diaper cons:
- Stuffing the inserts can be time consuming
- After the diaper is soiled, the entire thing, shell and insert, has to be washed
- Often not a great choice for overnights
- Many people find that the microfiber inserts that commonly come with pocket diapers are leaky
- Some babies are sensitive to synthetic fibers, especially microsuede, which commonly is used for the stay-dry lining
Some popular brands of pocket diapers:
- Happy Flute
Moderately priced to high-end:
- Bumgenius 4.0s
- Charlie Banana
- Lalabye Baby
Some good options for pocket diaper inserts:
Microfiber (MF) inserts are fully synthetic, and the most common inserts. They are white, and have extraordinary wicking properties. As such, they are the only inserts that CAN NOT go against baby bums, as they will draw the moisture right out of the skin. There are companies that make inserts with MF on one side, and then something like microfleece on the other side, which CAN go against baby. Microfiber absorbs VERY quickly.
Charcoal Bamboo (CBI) are bamboo on the outside, and microfiber on the inside. They are black in appearance, with or without stitching in the middle. The bamboo on the outside of this insert means it can go directly against baby bums. It absorbs relatively quickly, though slower than microfiber.
Bamboo inserts are effective and very absorbent, but absorb much slower than CBI/ MF. They are extremely soft and usually a mix of bamboo (rayon) and cotton.
Hemp inserts are quite absorbent, but like bamboo, absorb very slowly. They do well paired with something that absorbs faster, or are great for children who don’t ‘flood’. Like bamboo, they are very soft, and a mix of cotton and hemp.
In addition to designated inserts, you can also use flats, prefolds, flour sack towels, or receiving blankets to stuff pocket diaper. In fact, these are often the most absorbent and reliable options.