No matter if you have a boy or a girl, if you breast or bottle feed, if your nursery is bathed in chevron or choo-choos, one thing is for certain: You’re going to need diapers. A lot of diapers. And if you, like roughly 95 percent of parents, have opted for the disposable route, you’ll need a little guidance on how to choose the best disposable diapers. While, sure, all disposables are designed to keep wetness and messes contained without irritating baby, not all nappies perform that task with equal skill. Plus, there’s always more to consider, like cost, the impact to the environment, and sensitive skin, to name a few.
How to choose the best disposable diapers
With the overwhelming number of options out there, it can be tough whittling it down to the best disposable diapers. Here, some things to ponder before hitting the ever-growing diaper aisle.
• Don’t buy in bulk—yet. Even the very best, top-of-the-line premium diaper might not be right for your baby. Test them out before stocking up. (Think if it this way: While your friend might rave about how comfy her running shoes are, the very same sneaker might pinch your toes.)
• Look at comfort specifics. Diapers with a contoured fit and stretchy sides are the most comfy. Plus, a double elastic sealing around the waist and legs will help prevent leaks.
• Consider sensitive skin. Some disposable diapers contain a light fragrance and/or a petroleum-based lotion that’s meant to moisturize and protect baby’s bottom. These add-ins, however, may irritate sensitive, new skin. If you’re concerned, look for diapers labeled “hypoallergenic,” “fragrance-free,” and “dye-free.”
• Check for bells and whistles. Some diapers come equipped with wetness indicators, alerting you to when baby’s diaper requires a change. While this may be a no-biggy to old-hat parents, newbies might treasure this technology.
• Calculate cost. Once you know what you and your baby prefer, buy the largest box of diapers in order to garner the best value. (And don’t waste pricey super-absorbent diapers for daytime use.)
• Review the environmental impact. If you’re not going the cloth diapering route but still want to be as eco-conscious as you can, look for keywords like “biodegradable materials,” “chlorine-free processing,” “made with renewable resources,” and “minimal packaging.”
Best Disposable Diapers
Today, more than ever, baby-diapering options are mind-bogglingly vast. Here are our picks for the very best disposable diapers around—no matter your need.
Best Disposable Diapers for Newborns: Pampers Swaddlers Sensitive Diapers
Pampers knows diapers—after all, they invented them. And today’s version is just as trusted as they were back in the 1950s, especially for newborns. Hypoallergenic Pampers Swaddlers Sensitive are cuddly, cloth-like soft, which is great for new bottoms. Plus, they have a color-changing wetness indicator that’s useful to a new parent who may be questioning if it’s time for a diaper change or not. Swaddlers also sport a helpful divot at the waistband to make room for baby’s healing umbilical cord stump. If you have a preemie at home, know that Pampers are for you, too. Their Preemie Swaddlers are also one of the best preemie disposable diapers you can buy.
Buy it: Pampers Swaddlers Sensitive Diapers, $28 for 84, Walmart.com
Best Wallet-Friendly Disposable Diaper: Luvs Ultra Leakguards Diapers
Moms love Luvs for the price, but they wouldn’t keep going back if they didn’t deliver on absorbency and comfort, too. These no-frills nappies (no wetness-indicators here) do a fab job protecting against leaks thanks to the well-designed elastic sides and leg holes. Parents also dig the fact that these diapers have extra large tabs, making fastening and re-fastening easy. These bum-huggers do carry a distinct baby-like fragrance, so if you are looking for fragrance-free, Luvs aren’t your ideal cheap disposable diapers.
Buy it: Luvs Ultra Leakguards Diapers, $23 for 174, Target.com
Best Eco-Friendly Disposable Diapers: Eco by Naty Diapers
Aptly named Eco, these diapers are pretty much as green as you can go without switching to cloth diapers. Instead of oil-based plastics, these diapers contain a biodegradable cornstarch film that’s incredibly breathable, which helps stave off diaper rash. Ecos are also hypoallergenic and free of chlorine, formaldehyde, latex, fragrance, phthalates, and more. And the manufacturers have eliminated as much non-biodegradable materials as possible while creating these diapers. Don’t for a minute think eco-friendly means poor performance. Quite the contrary: Eco diapers are known for their cloth-like feel and their super-absorption.
Buy it: Eco by Naty Diapers, $10 for 26, Naty.com
Best Overnight Disposable Diapers: Huggies OverNites Diapers
Because babies wake frequently, there’s generally no pressing need for newborn-size overnight disposable diapers. But once your baby gets up to about 4 months old, these heavy-duty diapers may come in super-duper handy. Enter: Huggies OverNites Diapers, which lock-in leaks for up to 12 hours without irritating baby’s bum. There’s also a handy-dandy wetness-indicator so you never do a just-in-case change only to find a dry diaper. Since overnight diapers are more costly than their day counterparts, save these for bedtime only.
Buy it: Huggies OverNites Diapers, $25 for 92, Target.com
Best Bamboo Disposable Diapers: Andy Pandy Premium Bamboo Diapers
Andy Pandy’s Premium Diapers are a great eco-friendly diapering option that doesn't feel papery and still promises strong leak and blowout protection. And because they are easier on the environment, they’re naturally easier on baby’s skin, too. If you're wary of a fragrance-free diaper, know that parents swear this one still blocks odors. But you'll be paying slightly more for this quality: about 15 cents more per diaper.
Buy it: Bambo Nature, $37 for 70, Amazon.com
Best Eco Disposable Diaper for Less: Earth’s Best TenderCare Superior Absorbency Diaper
Looking for chlorine-free disposable diapers? What about latex-free disposable diapers? Are you hoping for no dyes or fragrances, too? Well, you are in luck with Earth’s Best diapers, which contain none of the above. Earth’s Best also leans on far fewer petrochemicals than other diaper manufacturers, instead opting to use a mix of renewable resources, like corn and wheat that, believe it or not, do a great job absorbing baby’s messes. And in the end your baby will be comfy (courtesy of stretchy panels and breathable sides) and dry.
Buy it: Earth’s Best TenderCare Superior Absorbency Diaper, $12 for 44 diapers, Walmart.com
Best Disposable Diapers for Sensitive Skin: Seventh Generation Free & Clear Baby Diapers
These Seventh Generation diapers are so very gentle on baby’s sensitive skin thanks to what they leave out, including dyes, petroleum-based lotions, fragrance, and chlorine. What’s left: A lot of gentle goodness, like an ultra absorbent diaper core that’s made with sustainably-sourced fluff to prevent leaks. Newborn to size 2 diapers—catering to the teeniest of baby bums—have a special uber-soft liner made with unbleached cotton to be safe on infant skin. And these unisex diapers sport adorable animals froliking. So. Darn. Cute. (PS: Their newborn diapers have an umbilical cord cutout, too.)
Buy it: Seventh Generation Free & Clear Baby Diapers, $23 for 36, Target.com
Best Disposable Swim Diaper: Babyganics Swim Pants
Babyganics takes the disposable swim diaper to the next level with their sun-sensing butt cover. Here, a sweet froggy-on-a-surfboard scene on baby’s swim diaper changes with exposure to UV light to remind you, dear parent, to reapply sunscreen. But as far as its diapering responsibilities, these cute-as-can-be slip-ons are made with a sustainable core material that refuses to swell-up or sag. And they’ve got tear-away sides for easy removal. The best part: These swim diapers offer UPF protection of 50+. (UPF measures the amount of UV radiation that penetrates the diaper and reaches baby’s skin.)
Buy it: Babyganics Swim Pants, $10 for 10, BuyBuyBaby.com
Best Store-Brand Disposable Diaper: Up & Up Diapers
Ah, Target, you’ve done it again. Their in-house brand diapers offer brand-name leak-stoppage and a super-comfy design without skimping on the healthy-baby-health-environment stuff. Up & Up diapers are free of added latex, lotion, and fragrance. Plus, their hypoallergenic liner contains bum-soothing aloe and vitamin E. But perhaps the most surprising thing is that these cheap disposable diapers sport fancy wetness-indicators, making diaper-changing less of a head-scratching scenario.
Buy it: Up & Up Diapers , $22 for 176, Target.com
Best Too-Cute-to-Cover Disposable Diapers: Honest Company Diapers
Let’s be real: Diapers from The Honest Company are pricey, but they are so adorable with their wide variety of colorful patterns that it’s hard not to splurge once in a while. Right now, there are 32 patterns to choose from, including panda faces, bacon and eggs, rainbow feathers, and trains. There’s a classic, crisp clean white version, too. (New styles debut each season.) Plus, they’re chlorine-, latex-, and lotion-free; hypoallergenic; and made with sustainable materials. While they aren’t 100 percent free of fragrance, they do contain naturally-derived citrus-y odor blockers.
Buy it: Honest Company Diapers, $14 for 40, Honest.com
Published December 2017