Note: There is no one universal “best,” especially when it comes to parenting. These are “The Best Disposable Diapers” based on Also Mom's strict criteria, detailed here.
These are the best diapers, in order of preference. (Prices reflect total cost of ownership over the lifetime of one kid in diapers.*)
- Naty by Nature Babycare ($1700- $3200 over 30 months) – A commercially compostable diaper that is well-made, absorbent, and free from chemicals, dyes, and fragrances, Naty by Nature Babycare diapers are our top pick for best natural diapers. Compared to Bambo Nature diapers, they are a tiny bit less soft, but they are still super absorbent, slightly less expensive, and have cute, minimalist patterns. [full review]
- Aden + Anais ($2000 – $3200 over 30 months)- With sweet but somewhat limited pattern selection, these diapers are well-made, super soft, and chemical/fragrance-free. Aden + Anais diapers are tied with Honest Co. diapers as our top pick for best-looking diapers, but we like them slightly better than Honest Co. because they are softer. [full review]
- Honest Co. ($1800 – $3600 over 30 months) – Adorably patterned, well-made, and free from irritants like chlorine and fragrances, Honest Co. diapers are tied with Aden + Anais diapers as our top pick for best-looking diapers. They can tend to be a bit stiff though, especially compared to Bambo, Aden + Anais, and Parasol diapers, and often have a hint of a factory smell coming out of the package. They are also not as “eco-friendly” as their marketing might lead you to believe, and are neither organic nor biodegradable. [full review]
- Bambo Nature ($1900 – $3700 over 30 months) – Super soft, commercially compostable, absorbent, well-made, and free from all the junk that can irritate sensitive booties, Bambo Nature are our runner up for best natural diapers. The two drawbacks of this diaper are the price tag, which despite being high does seem justified, and the cutesy (but not all that cute) animals printed on the front panel. [full review]
- Parasol ($2000 – $4000 over 30 months) – Soft, absorbent, and available in great artist prints, Parasol diapers are our runner up for best-looking diapers. Compared to Honest Co., Parasol diapers are slightly more expensive, softer, and have fewer print options. Although the Parasol brand likes to keep the environment in mind in theory, these diapers are neither organic nor biodegradable. [full review]
- Andy Pandy ($2500 – $4200 over 30 months) – These diapers are very similar to Bambo and Naty diapers, but they are significantly more expensive and therefore do not get our top vote despite being soft, absorbent, and commercially compostable. [full review]
- Pampers Pure ($1900 – $3700 over 30 months) – Pampers’ response to the Honest Co.’s of the world, Pampers Pure are the only fragrance-free diaper Pampers sells. It makes it onto our list because it meets all of our qualifications, but we prefer Bambo, Honest Company, and Aden + Anais diapers, which all have a very similar price point. [full review]
- 7th Generation Free & Clear ($1300 – $2600 over 30 months) – The best thing about these diapers is that they’re available pretty much everywhere and they are chlorine, dye, and fragrance-free. On the downside, these diapers are ugly, are not particularly eco-friendly, and are not nearly as sturdy or absorbent as other diapers reviewed here. [full review]
- Earth's Best ($1400 – $2600 over 30 months) – An easy go-to for those who want to feel like they're making a conscientious choice for the environment while still saving some coin, these diapers won't work for those with corn or wheat allergies, but they're a pretty decent eco-friendlier diaper otherwise. [full review]
- Target Up & Up ($750 – $1200 over 30 months) – The cheapest diaper on our list, Target Up & Up diapers are fragrance-free (bare minimum requirement for us) and mostly other chemical-free (Target is not particularly transparent here) at a great price point. Nothing else about them is particularly wonderful nor particularly offensive. They are reasonably absorbent, soft enough, and come in non-hideous patterns. [full review]
Which Are the Best Diapers for Your Baby?
If you’re serious about the environment but still want to stick with disposable diapers… Naty by Nature Babycare, Bambo Nature, and Andy Pandy are all commercially compostable. Remember, this means the diapers need to get to a commercial composting facility in order to biodegrade, and if you put them in your trash can, they will still go to a landfill and will not biodegrade. If you live in or near a major city, you might have a commercial diaper composting service in your area. This is a great way to care for the environment if you have decided cloth diapering is not right for your lifestyle.
If you kind of care about the environment, but you honestly don't care enough to compost your diapers (no judgement)… Naty by Nature Babycare, Bambo Nature, and Andy Pandy still have the best, most eco-friendly manufacturing process. Pampers Pure and Honest Co. diapers use wood pulp from sustainable harvested forests and use some other earth-friendly materials. Earth's Best diapers use some earth-friendly materials in their cores. Aden+Anais plants a tree for every package of diapers sold (cough, marketing gimmick, cough). Although you might think 7th Generation and Parasol diapers are earth-friendly, there's nothing particularly noteworthy about these brands in the environmental friendliness category. Same goes for Target Up & Up, though you'd probably expect that.
If you’re very budget-conscious… Target Up & Up is the way to go if you're dead set on disposables but still want a quality diaper that won't fall apart or give your baby a rash. But if you're serious about saving money, consider cloth diapering. It's easier than you think these days and will save you hundreds of dollars, even when you factor in laundry costs!
If you are currently using any of the following brands as your go-to, it might be time to consider an alternative… Pampers, Huggies, Kirkland, Luvs, and Babyganics are all pretty meh. We especially hate that these diapers contain fragrances and dyes that irritate babies' sensitive skin. (See full reviews below.)
Like most products in the baby industry, brand name recognition tends to rule the disposable diaper market, but won’t necessarily get you the best product. (We’re looking at you, Pampers Swaddlers.)
In addition to the table stakes performance requirements of an effective disposable diaper– namely excellent absorbency and a great fit– to us, the best disposable diaper is…
- Free from harmful chemicals and fragrances
- Soft and comfortable for baby
- Environmentally considerate
- Good-looking, with bonus points for great prints
These are things we avoid and for which have dinged a few disposable diaper brands you might have otherwise thought were great…
- Artificial fragrances
- Greenwashing (pretending a diaper is more environmentally friendly than it actually is)
- Ugly or overly commercialized prints
By the way…
*Total cost of ownership was calculated using a few arbitrary averages, knowing full well that no baby is average. We used approximate weights from height/weight charts to determine how many days the average baby would be in each diaper size. These are the numbers we used, and is a good guideline as an answer to the eternally popular Google search, “how many diapers do babies use”:
- 30ish months as the arbitrary average potty training date, though this is “early” for some and “late” for others
- Five Newborn diapers/day on the low end and fourteen Newborn diapers/day on the high end, for 40 days
- Seven Size 1 diapers/day on the low end and ten Size 1 diapers/day on the high end, for 60 days
- Seven Size 2 diapers/day on the low end and ten Size 2 diapers on the high end, for 110 days
- Five Size 3 diapers/day on the low end and eight Size 3 diapers/day on the high end, for 160 days
- Five Size 4 diapers/day on the low end and eight Size 4 diapers/day on the high end, for 180 days
- Five Size 5 diapers/day on the low end and eight Size 5 diapers/day on the high end, for 365 days.
What Didn't Make the Cut
These are a few popular brands we do not recommend. For in-depth reviews of each product, check out the full product review.
- Pampers Swaddlers ($1200 – $2400 over 30 months) – Although these diapers are soft and used by many hospitals around the country, they contain artificial fragrance, a substance known to negatively affect the endocrine (hormone) system. Pass. [full review]
- Babyganics ($1100 – $2100 over 30 months) – Leaky and not organic (or compostable for that matter) despite the “ganics” in their name. [full review]
- Huggies Little Snugglers ($1100 – $2200 over 30 months) – Automatically disqualified because they contain artificial fragrance (a known endocrine disrupter), we also aren’t in love with the super commercialized Huggies/Disney connection (perhaps that makes us bah-humbugs?) and the fact that dyes from the diaper can come in contact with sensitive baby skin. [full review]
- Kirkland Supreme ($1000 – $1700) – Some parents just want to cover their babies’ bums in the cheapest poop collectors available. Kirkland diapers are cheap, but they also contain dyes, fragrances, and chlorine bleach– all bad things. [full review]
- Luvs ($700 – $1200) – Leaky, poorly designed, poorly made, and full of chemicals and fragrances. If Luvs are all you can afford, seriously consider opting for modern cloth diapers instead. They're cheaper and not as difficult as you think they are.