When you’re looking for the best cloth diaper inserts for your needs, the options can be daunting.
Are you new to cloth diapering, looking to try something new or troubleshooting your current stash? Are words like trim, absorbent, push, quick, thirsty, stay dry or feel wet swirling around in your brain like a fluffy tornado?
Well, look no further because below you’ll find a comprehensive guide to all the cloth inserts!
Microfiber Diaper Inserts
Typically microfiber is the most readily available cloth diaper insert material. Many pockets come with a microfiber insert since it is one of the least expensive absorbent materials.
It is a synthetic material made out of polyester and requires a topper when used since its quick drying effects can pull natural moisture from the skin and be irritating.
Microfiber is a great place to start when learning about cloth and is quite trim but while it offers quick absorbency it does not hold a large amount of fluid so if your baby is fully saturating a microfiber keep on reading to see what would be best to add (double) or switch to for the best solution for your babe.
Because of the fluffy nature of microfiber it can absorb less or leak with compression from a onesie, car seat or from being seated in a walker or jumper.
They do tend to get less and less fluffy over time which can decrease the absorbency so you may find yourself needing to add extra absorbency or replace the inserts before your diapering journey is complete.
Cotton Cloth Diaper Insert Pros
Pros: Inexpensive and typically included in pocket diapers. No prepping needed. Quick to absorb. Soft and Fluffy. Easy to double to enhance absorbency. Quick drying.
Cotton Cloth Diaper Insert Cons
Cons: Requires a topper. Least absorbent insert material. Shorter life span. Prone to compression leaks.
Approximate Absorbency Potential: 6-10oz
Best Microfiber Diaper Inserts
Nicki’s Diapers, Imagine Baby Products, Thirsties, bumGenius and Rumparooz pockets, as well as in some all in ones (AIO) such as Thirsties Stay Dry AIO, Nicki’s Diapers Ultimate AIO and Imagine Baby Products Stay Dry AIO.
*Best Bottoms offers a range of sizes in Microfiber inserts and doublers to go along with their All In Two (AI2) system.
Cotton Diaper Inserts
Cotton is a great choice of material for those looking for an inexpensive natural fiber with great longevity.
Many brands offer cotton in their AIO diapers as cotton alone or as a blend with hemp (more on the amazing powers of hemp below). You can purchase Prefolds and Flats made of cotton to use in your pockets or covers for really great prices and cotton's absorbency is awesome.
It is safe to have next to your baby’s skin and washes well. Some babies might be prone to wetness sensitivity but you can top your cotton with a stay dry material such as fleece if this occurs or if it is stuffed into a pocket, the shell will most likely already have a stay dry layer.
Cotton prefolds and flats tend to hold their shape well and last for years. Some parents have even been able to fully cloth diaper all of their children with cotton prefolds and flats AND THEN upcycle them to use for cleaning, how about that for longevity and sustainability?!?!
Cotton does take a few washes to reach full absorbency though so it will not be as absorbent if you decide to use it right away.
Cotton Cloth Diaper Insert Pros
Pros: Least expensive natural material. Washes easily. Long lasting. Good absorbency.
Easily doubled to increase absorbency. Readily available in different easy to use products. Available in Organic products. Not prone to compression leaks. Useful in nighttime diapers.
Cotton Cloth Diaper Insert Cons
Cons: Occasionally needs doubling. Needs prepping.
Approximate Absorbency Potential: 8-13oz
Best Cotton Diaper Inserts
Nicki’s Diaper and Imagine Baby Products Flats and Prefolds, Thirsties Natural AIO, Thirsties Stay Dry and Natural Pockets, Sloomb Fitteds and Prefolds, Smart Bottoms AIO, Grovia AIO, O.N.E. and Organic Cotton Soaker Pad.
Bamboo Diaper Inserts
Bamboo is an incredible material and while not truly as natural as you would think due to the actual manufacturing process, it does make a wonderfully soft and absorbent material used in many different cloth diapering products.
Many bamboo fabrics are made as environmentally friendly as possible with much of the bamboo grown without the use of pesticides or fertilizer. Once bamboo is processed it becomes a fabric called rayon.
You will find bamboo in a variety of different fabrics such as Bamboo Terry, Bamboo Viscose, Bamboo Knit and Bamboo Velour among others. Bamboo does take more prepping than cotton but it worth it since the absorbency is great.
Dry time is a little longer too due to the amount that the fibers can hold. Bamboo is available in many AIO, AI2 inserts, Pocket inserts, flats and prefolds.
Bamboo doublers are also available to boost your microfiber or cotton and many brands offer a cotton or microfiber set or blend with their products to offer quick as well as long term absorbency.
Bamboo can, after many years of use (depending on stash size and wash schedule), become bald in spots and lose absorbency. Bamboo is a great material for parents looking for a natural fiber and is available from many brands in bamboo alone or stay dry with a fleece topper.
If your child has a wetness sensitivity the topper is helpful to wick the moisture away from skin. You can also replace microfiber inserts with bamboo flats or prefolds to increase absorbency while still using your favorite products and prints.
Bamboo Cloth Diaper Insert Pros
Pros: Great absorbency. Not prone to compression leaks. Long lifespan. Useful in nighttime diapers. Washes easily. Readily available in many different products. Easy to double. Available in organic products.
Bamboo Cloth Diaper Insert Cons
Cons: increased prep time. Longer drying time. Prefolds tend to shrink unevenly and quickly.
Approximate Absorbency Potential: 6-18oz Fitteds: 16-25+oz`
Best Bamboo Diaper Inserts
Nicki’s Diapers Bamboo AIO, Imagine Baby Products Bamboo AIO, NIcki’s Diapers Overnight Fitted Diapers, Imagine Baby Products Bamboo Fitted Diaper, Best Bottoms Bamboo Inserts, Imagine Stretchy Flats, Nickis and Imagine Bamboo Flats and Prefolds, Lalabye Baby All In Two Cloth Pocket, Lighthouse Kids Company All In One, One Size Switch Cover, Sloomb Fitteds and Flats.
Hemp Diaper Inserts
Hemp is a material made from the stalk of the cannabis plant. It is a very breathable material with incredible absorbency while still staying very trim.
Typically it is not offered alone in an AIO but when paired with Microfiber, Cotton or Jersey the results can be bulletproof. Most manufactures blend hemp into their fabric with other fibers to make it more comfortable and offer the most absorbency possible.
Hemp is a slower absorbing material but holds more ounces than you would think by looking at the material. It makes a wonderful doubler to add to your microfiber, cotton or bamboo and you can find it in hemp blended fitteds for a trim but very thirsty nighttime solution. If you are looking for a trim way to add some absorbency to ANY diaper… AIO, AI2, Pocket, Flat or Bamboo Prefold diaper then your search is over.
Grab some hemp, tuck it in and you’ve solved your problem. Hemp does take the most amount of prep washes to be fully absorbent but it is oh so very worth it. It does take the longest to dry depending on the thickness of the product because it absorbs much more than its weight in fluids.
Hemp products can last for years and years and on many different children. Products with hemp do tend to be a little more pricey but if you need the absorbency to add to your stash then adding hemp doublers is a great way to increase absorbency without having to completely replace it.
Hemp Cloth Diaper Insert Pros
Pros: Trim. Very absorbent. Long Lifespan. Available in organic. Available in many products. Great for Heavy Wetters. Adds well to nighttime solutions. Great doubler.
Hemp Cloth Diaper Insert Cons
Cons: Higher price point. Longer prep time. Longer dry time.
Approximate Absorbency Potential: 2-28oz (booster to XL prefolds)
Best Bamboo Diaper Inserts
Best Bottoms Hemp Inserts, Thirsties Pockets and Natural AIOs, Pooters Overnight Hemp Fitted, Smart Bottoms Dream Diaper 2.0, Smart Bottoms Flats, Geffen Hemp Fleece Fladdle, Geffen Jersey Flats, Geffen Fleece and Jersey Prefolds,
Brands that offer hemp doublers: Geffen, Hemp Babies, Smart Bottoms, Pooters.
Disposable Diaper Inserts
Disposable inserts are great for parents who want a hybrid solution. They have the perks of cute cloth covers and still help keep products out of the landfill since they do utilize all the products necessary for a disposable diaper.
In recent years these have become available from well known disposable diaper manufacturers but some long time cloth manufacturers have offered disposable inserts and disposable cloth diaper liners for quite some time.
Disposable inserts can be a great solution for travel, times when washing diapers are available or for families who would like to lower their environmental impact but also use cloth diapers.
Some daycares who do not allow the use of cloth may allow parents to use a hybrid disposable system. Be careful not to stick any provided adhesive pads to the PUL of a diaper cover because they have been known to stick a little too well and cause the PUL to delaminate which removes the waterproofing of your cover.
Disposable Cloth Diaper Insert Pros
Pros: Lower environmental impact than disposable diapers. Allows you to use cloth diaper covers and shells. Great if you need a disposable solution.
Disposable Cloth Diaper Insert Cons
Cons: Not reusable. Can damage PUL.
Best Disposable Diaper Inserts
Grovia BioSoakers, Charlie Banana, Pampers Pure Hybrid
So What are the Most Absorbent Cloth Diaper Inserts?
There are a few other materials on the market used by small businesses or unbranded diaper lines and a few you will see suggested by cloth users to try.
Flour Sack Towels (FST) are recommended frequently in many cloth circles, this is similar to a flat and available in the kitchen towel section of most stores. They are very low cost and sound appealing when offered as a solution for heavy wetters however they only offer at max 6oz of absorbency (less than a typical microfiber insert) and this greatly depends on the size and quality of the FST.
Charcoal bamboo inserts are available for purchase as an addition to some unbranded diapers but while they have the word bamboo in the name they’re not incredibly absorbent and typically offer only 2 layers of microfiber sandwiched between gray fleece (charcoal bamboo) and fleece is moisture wicking, not absorbent.
Windpro is an amazing material and offers a great outer material for fitteds, Twinkie Tush offers a nighttime and daytime diaper with this material included.
Twinkie Tush Night Night Diapers offer 36-40oz of absorbency. Zorb is an absorbent material used in some small shop diapers that does have some great absorbency potential and may work well for some babies.
So your best bet for the most absorbent diaper inserts are often going to be hemp or bamboo, but the exact right answer depends on your total diaper system.
What’s the Best Cloth Diaper Insert? The One that Suits your Needs!
While this is not an exhaustive list of all of the possible materials used in cloth diapers we hope it helps you to understand the different types and which are best for your cloth diaper journey.
If you ever need advice then check out the Nicki’s Diaper Chatter page, Official Nicki’s Diapers Cloth Diaper Chatter, where you will find many like minded people who will have ideas to help you find a solution for your cloth diapering needs.
Here you will also find files for washing, care and fit of your cloth diapers as well as a comprehensive absorbency chart put together by a member who has some heavy wetters of her own.