The cloth diaper market is a confusing place, and I love how Esembly cuts right through the crap. Buy this many super absorbent diapers, this many cute covers, this many wipes, these accessories, wash them like this, and voila, you're well on your way.
Are Esembly diapers objectively the best? I don't know. But what I do know that they're really freakin great and even after having cloth diapered three babies over the last four years, I find myself consistently reaching for the Esembly diapers despite having half a dozen other premium brands in my diaper stash.
In short, Esembly diapers are my go-to cloth workhorse. The founders joke that their diapers are “over-thought and over-tested” and it shows!
USE CODE ALSOMOM10
for 10% off Esembly products
(They also have occasional sales up to 20% off!)
— BUY ESEMBLY DIAPERS + ACCESSORIES —
Scroll to the bottom of this article for an exact shopping list!
A Quick Note: Esembly's cloth diaper detergent really is a cut above the rest. If you want your diapers to get clean clean clean (you do), then this stuff is worth it.
— HOW MANY DIAPERS DO YOU REALLY NEED? —
Esembly suggests having 24-28 inners and 6 outers. Personally, I find this to be overkill. 20 inners and 3 outers will do you just fine, requiring a wash every 2 to 2.5 days. (An Ubbi diaper pail will only fit about this many anyway.) If you want more diapers, you can supplement your stash with some slimmer-fitting GroVia All in Ones.
— LET'S TALK CLOTH DIAPERING IN GENERAL —
I run through all the reasons why cloth diapering isn't as hard as you think it is here, but basically if you're game for 2-3 extra loads of laundry each week, do it! Cloth diapering saves you a ton of money (between $500-$2300 per kid no joke) and is really quite simple once you get the hang of it.
That said, if you're the type who loathes laundry or just feels really overwhelmed by motherhood in general right now, disposables might be your friend. (At least for now. There's always next month / next baby!)
— WHAT I LOVE ABOUT ESEMBLY DIAPERS —
- Zero Leaks - Cloth diapers are notorious leakers, but Esembly diapers are pretty much leak-proof. This diaper holds a ton of liquid, especially if you add in the booster pads. They can easily handle a full night of sleep without leaking.
- Zero Blowouts - Cloth diapers are pretty blowout-proof in general, and these diapers are no exception. Never have I ever experienced a blowout with Esembly diapers. (Though frankly I’ve only experienced one blowout total in nearly five years of cloth diapering, so TBH this doesn’t make Esembly particularly special.)
- Awesome Nighttime Diaper - Thanks to this diaper’s absorbent inner layer, Esembly is a great option for nighttime. Especially with the added booster pad, this diaper can easily handle an 11-hour sleep stretch.
- Best Newborn Cloth Diaper - Most newborn cloth diapers are trash. They’re so tiny that newborns pee right through them way before they're a couple weeks old. Esembly Size 1 diapers are slim enough to fit newborns (over 7lbs) while also being plenty absorbent. They also fit until 17lbs, which is a much longer shelf life than most newborn cloth diapers.
- Great Fit - Part of what makes these diapers excellent is that they fit. The reason they fit is because they are sized. (Many cloth diapers are “one-size” which I say in quotations because they typically don’t fit very well until baby is at least 12-15 pounds or so.)
- Cheaper Than Premium Disposable Diapers - The total cost for 20 inners and 3 outers in both Size 1 and Size 2 is about $750 total (10% off with code ALSOMOM10), plus about $450 in laundry costs over the ~2.5 years your kid will be in diapers. That’s $1200 to diaper your first kid in Esembly and $450 for each kid after that. As a point of contrast, most premium diaper brands will run you at least $1500 over the diaper lifetime of your child, with some brands climbing into the $2500 range. (Seriously. It’s that expensive to diaper a baby. I’ve done the math.)
- Cheaper Than Most All-in-One Cloth Diapers - The cost per Esembly diaper (inner + outer) is about $16.75, which is about $4+ less than most other cloth diaper brands.
- Payment Plan Available - If spending $350 at once stings too hard, Esembly offers interest-free payment plans.
- The Whole System Just Works - The inners, the outers, the wipes, the laundry detergent, the little agitator balls. It’s all good stuff.
— WHAT I DON'T LOVE ABOUT ESEMBLY DIAPERS —
- Bulky - The Size 1 diapers are relatively slim-fitting, but once you move up to the Size 2 diapers, you’ll definitely notice some extra junk in the trunk. Snug pants become a no go (denim especially), and baby is likely to grow out of bodysuits and rompers a little faster than s/he would with a slimmer fitting diaper. (If slim is important to you, check out the GroVia All in Ones.)
- Long Drying Time - Because of the way the inners are sewn together, they tend to take an extra long time to dry. I dry them on medium heat and it often takes 80 minutes to get them fully dry, compared to the 40-60 minutes it takes to dry other laundry in my machine.
- Two Step Process - These diapers come in two parts, an inner absorbent diaper and an outer waterproof cover. First you secure the inner layer with four snaps. Then you secure the outer layer with four additional snaps. If you’re the type who loathes snap footies, you may also hate these diapers. For the same reason, they can be tricky to secure on wriggly babies and toddlers.
- No Umbilical Fold Down - If you're planning to use these as newborn diapers, just know that you will have to wait until after baby's sensitive umbilical stump falls off, which is usually around the 1-2 week mark. While other newborn cloth diaper brands have a fold down mechanism, Esembly diapers do not.
- Some Funky Shrinkage & Wrinklage - That sounds dirtier than it is. I just mean that because of the way these diapers are sewn, they never really lay as flat as they did when they were brand spankin' new. This doesn't affect much and isn't uncomfortable for baby, but it does require a bit of smoothing before securing.
- Wet, Wet, Wet - Esembly’s inner layer is 100% organic cotton, which means that when baby pees, this layer gets 100% soaked. This doesn’t seem to bother babies and doesn’t cause a rash. That said, if you’re used to the wicking qualities of disposable diapers, this wetness can seem very weird. Every time you change an Esembly diaper, you’ll have to handle the wet (pee-soaked) inner layer and find a place to set it down before you process it. (Pro tip: Use a wet bag.) If this grosses you out, you may be a better candidate for all-in-one diapers.
- You Have to Buy Them Twice - Whether this is a pro or a con is debatable, but this is something you should know and understand. Esembly’s Size 1 diapers fit babies 7-17lbs and Size 2 diapers fit babies 18-35lbs. If you want to cloth diaper from birth, you’ll need to buy both sizes. For reference, a 50th percentile baby will hit 18 pounds sometime between 6-8 months of age. You could use disposables until baby is bigger, but just FYI, you’ll spend about $600 over 7 months for a premium brand like Pampers Pure or Dyper, versus ~$300 + ~$100 in laundry expenses for the Size 1 Esembly diapers over the same time period.
Scroll to the end for my cloth diaper shopping list!
— NOT SOLD ON ESEMBLY DIAPERS? —
Here are some great alternatives...
GroVia All in Ones
Esembly vs. GroVia All in One (AIO)
These diapers are different beasts with different use cases. Esembly diapers are total workhorses and capable of absorbing a ton of liquid, but they're pretty bulky. GroVia AIOs don't absorb nearly as much liquid, but they're very slim-fitting. I like to have both of these diapers in my stash—the GroVia AIOs for daytime and the Esembly diapers for naps, nighttime, and lazier days around the house when I don't feel like changing a diaper quite so often.
Esembly vs. GroVia O.N.E.
GroVia O.N.E.s are an all-in-one diaper solution. Similar to Esembly diapers, O.N.E.s are very absorbent and also very bulky. They have two great benefits compared to Esembly. 1.) They have a moisture-wicking microfleece layer to help keep baby's skin dry, and 2.) They are very easy to change and launder, since everything is contained in a single diaper. On the downside, 1.) They are not as absorbent as Esembly diapers, 2.) They do not take well to adding an extra booster pad, so they're not as great for nighttime, and 3.) They do not fit well until baby is ~15+ pounds (even though they are technically sized for babies 10-35 pounds.) I have a couple of these in my stash for ease of use, but I prefer Esembly most of the time.
Esembly vs. bumGenius 5.0
BumGenius 5.0 diapers are similarly absorbent and similarly bulky compared to Esembly diapers. As a point of contrast, bumGenius 5.0s are a pocket style, meaning the absorbent inserts are contained inside a special pocket. On the plus side, the entire diaper is one piece, making it easier to secure on wiggly babies. On the downside, they are a pain to fold, since you have to restuff the inserts inside each diaper before reuse. I prefer these as nighttime diapers with an added Thirsties booster pad only for toddlers.
Esembly vs. Disposable Diapers
This is clearly not an apples to apples comparison. On the one hand, you're doing a lot of laundry. On the other hand, you're spending a lot of money ($500-$2000 more per kid no joke) and producing a lot of trash. Compared to Esembly diapers, disposables are similarly absorbent but will keep your baby's skin dryer... except in the case of poopsplosions. Disposables, no matter how fancy, are notorious for blowouts, whereas cloth diapers, no matter now simple, are famous for containing just about anything in the #2 department.
— CLOTH DIAPERING SHOPPING LIST —
If it were me, here's exactly what I'd get...
- 16 Esembly Inner Diapers (in whatever size your baby is right now)
- 3 Esembly Outer Covers (in whatever size your baby is right now)
- ~10 GroVia All in Ones
- ~2 GroVia O.N.E.s.
- 2 Sets of Esembly Overnight Boosters
- 1 Pack of Esembly Wipes (they're best for tiny bums)
- 2 Packs of GroVia Wipes (they're best for bigger bums)
- 1 Spray Bottle (to wet wipes at your changing table)
- 1 Pack of Diaper Liners
- 1 Diaper Rash Balm
USE CODE ALSOMOM10
for 10% off Esembly products
This article was last updated March 2021.