Which Diapers Have the Best Absorbency?
Photo by @plantifultaste
Diapers need to be able to do much more than just catch excretions. They need to fit comfortably, should be free of harmful substances, and must not leak. They should be gentle on a child's skin, easy to use, and preferably visually appealing. Absorbency is a frequently asked question because it ensures that the clothes stay dry and the diaper doesn't need to be changed constantly. But which diapers have the best absorbency? And how much liquid can they actually hold?
How much liquid can a diaper hold? A common disposable diaper can hold about 400 ml of urine. A cloth diaper can easily match or even surpass this absorbency level.
In this article, you will learn which diaper has the best absorbency. Additionally, we will show you what other qualities a good diaper should have and which diapers possess all these qualities.
What should a diaper be able to do?
A diaper should quickly and safely capture your child's excretions and protect their clothing. But to ensure this, you should take a close look when buying diapers. We'll tell you what to look for when purchasing diapers:
The Right Size and Fit
A common reason for leaking diapers is the wrong size. No matter how well and quickly a diaper absorbs, if it doesn't fit your child properly, leaking is inevitable. Typically, the size is determined by your child's weight. While disposable diapers are divided into up to seven different sizes, manufacturers of cloth diapers usually limit themselves to two growing sizes: Newborn and One-Size.
Besides the size, the fit of the diaper is also important. Only if a diaper optimally conforms to your child's body will it offer good and secure wearing comfort.
In addition to the size, you should therefore pay attention to flexible leg cuffs. Diapers with double leg cuffs offer the maximum protection. The closure should also be freely adjustable, so that there is no pressure on the stomach and no excess air between the skin and the diaper.
A Comfortable Fit
Your baby will spend most of their early life in diapers. For this reason, it's crucial that they fit comfortably. In addition to the points already mentioned, make sure that neither buttons nor hard fasteners irritate your baby's skin.
Photo by @isabelplett
When purchasing diapers, you should cast a critical eye on the ingredients. Disposable diapers are often criticized because the so-called super absorber inside the diaper is made of pure chemicals. Here you can find an article about the concerning ingredients in disposable diapers and corresponding alternatives.
Baby skin is best cared for when there are no chemicals involved and the use of colorants and fragrances is also avoided. Diapers often contain lotions that can cause permanent problems for your baby's skin. Air circulation also plays a significant role. While disposable diapers continuously create a warm, moist climate, most cloth diapers are much more breathable and provide a healthy diaper environment. This prevents skin irritations and diaper dermatitis, and strengthens the natural protective barrier of the skin.
Sustainability, waste reduction, and ecological footprint hold great importance today. Did you know that approximately one tonne of diaper waste is generated per child? And not just that: some components of conventional disposable diapers cannot be fully broken down and end up as hazardous waste after incineration.
We are still far from 100% biodegradable diapers. A single disposable diaper takes up to 500 years to decompose. And even then, so-called microplastics remain, which cause long-term damage to nature and our planet.
While there are some partly-degradable diapers, cloth diapers definitely win in terms of sustainability. They can be reused time and again, even passed on to other children. If you also avoid traditional wet wipes, you can completely eliminate waste during diaper changes. In this article, you can learn everything about the sustainability of cloth diapers.
Easy to Use
When it comes to changing diapers, sometimes speed is essential. As children grow older, they tend to become more impatient because they would rather explore the world than lie on the changing table. Therefore, an easy to use diaper is essential. If you have to fold parts of the diaper, position them, or fasten them with a lot of effort, it helps no one. Even when grandparents or acquaintances want to change your child's diaper, the diaper's application should be as self-explanatory as possible.
Absorbency and Leak Protection
The top priorities for many parents are the absorbency and leak protection of a diaper. Urine should be quickly absorbed, and the diaper should hold up throughout the night. The absorbency depends on the diaper's material, but we'll get into that in more detail later. Primarily, leak protection entails snug leg cuffs and a generally well-fitting diaper. Additionally, disposable diapers often include a gusset designed to prevent overflow. With cloth diapers, on the other hand, alongside the correct fit, it's all about combining the right fabrics.
Photo by @ammenmaerchen
So which diaper has the best absorbency?
As mentioned earlier, the absorbency of a diaper depends on the absorbent material. So-called super absorbers in disposable diapers can absorb many times their own weight in liquid. However, it is important to know that for tests, generally only water is used.
While a typical disposable diaper can now hold up to one full liter of liquid in the form of water, it only manages to absorb about 400 ml of urine on average. This is partly due to the salt content. Urine has a salt content of 0.9%, which challenges the super absorber and makes it less efficient at absorbing liquid.
If tests were conducted using one liter of urine (or at least a liquid with a similar composition), the disposable diaper would leak mercilessly.
Do Cloth Diapers Absorb Better?
Cloth diapers are known for their excellent absorbency, but this can vary significantly depending on the material. Generally speaking, though: A cloth diaper can easily match the absorbency of a disposable diaper and even surpass it. To give you a basic understanding, here's an overview of the different fabrics used in cloth diapers:
Cotton is very durable and tear-resistant. This natural fiber can be washed at 95 °C without any issues, making it hygienically clean. Cotton is also very skin-friendly and has a low allergy potential. Crucially for diapers: Cotton is breathable, air-permeable, and highly absorbent.
The original bamboo cellulose fibers can't be separated, combed, or spun, which is why they are referred to as viscose fabrics, i.e., natural synthetic fibers. Viscose made from bamboo cellulose is known to be particularly absorbent and breathable. It's about three to four times more absorbent than cotton and feels very soft against the skin. The only downside: Bamboo viscose dries slowly.
Hemp is a high-quality natural product with an impressively good ecological footprint. Fabrics made from hemp are very skin-friendly, microbial, and prevent the development of bacteria and therefore odors. Diaper products made with hemp typically consist of a hemp-cotton blend. Hemp fabrics absorb slowly, but they take in an incredible amount of liquid and are therefore often combined with other fabrics or inserts. Here, they are used as the bottom layer, as so-called boosters.
The purely synthetic, soft, and shape-retaining fiber absorbs quickly and ensures a pleasant skin feeling. The drawback: Microfiber hardly retains liquid; it either passes it on or releases it when pressed. Therefore, microfiber should always be used in conjunction with a material that retains liquid.
PUL stands for Polyurethane Laminate, which is a process by which fabric is coated with polyurethane. PUL is often used for the outer shell of the cloth diaper, as the material is both waterproof, water repellent, and breathable.
Optimizing the Absorbency of Cloth Diapers
Before using any textile products, you should wash them at least once at 30 °C to remove manufacturing residues. For absorbent materials, their full absorbency is only realized after several washes.
Most absorbent materials reach their full capacity around the 6th wash. You can certainly use them before that, but you won't be able to take full advantage of their absorbency. It's also important that you use the right detergent and the correct washing routine. Here, we have summarized everything important about washing cloth diapers. To achieve full absorbency, the fabrics need to properly dry out between washes.
Photo by @isabelplett
Judes – Simple, Absorbent, Gentle on the Skin
Our goal was to develop the simplest cloth diaper in the world with the best absorbency, and with Judes, we have succeeded admirably. As simple as a disposable diaper and at the same time so much more sustainable.
Judes comes in two sizes that cover the entire diapering period:
Size 1: from birth up to a weight of 8 kg
Size 2: from 7 kg up to a weight of 15 kg
They consist of an inner diaper made of 100% organic cotton and an outer cover made of high-quality PUL. Our diapers are soft, extremely absorbent, and perfectly conform to your child's body shape. Flexible leg cuffs and the innovative hook-and-loop closure ensure a secure and comfortable fit of the diaper.
If you use our washcloths made of 100% organic cotton instead of traditional wet wipes, you can completely avoid generating waste during diaper changes.
With our highly absorbent booster inserts, you can make Judes even more absorbent, overshadowing any disposable diaper. Our diapers easily stay leak-free for 12 hours and ensure a comfortable diaper climate. We completely avoid the use of chemicals, thus creating a gentle, simple, and safe product. Here you can find numerous reasons why Judes is the right choice for you and your baby.
We would love to hear about your experiences in the comments: Which diapers do you find convincing and what should a good diaper be able to do?