If you’re concerned about the effect of diapers and their ingredients on your baby and the environment, you might be looking for an organic or environmentally friendly diaper. The trouble is there are too many products to choose from and plenty of confusing, unregulated labels.
With five kids, we’ve changed a diaper or two. We’ve also done indepth research and learned from experts about the environmental impact of diapers. Using these insights and the detailed customer reviews we combed through, we’ve gathered the best organic diapers on the market.
- Excellent fit
- Independent certification
- Dye- & fragrance-free
- Only one wash before use
- Soft and comfortable outer layer
- Suitable for babies 10 lbs to 35 lbs
- FSC certified bamboo material
- Helpful wetness indicator
- Great for babies starting at 6lbs
- Color-coded sizing
- Soft bamboo-based material
- Made of 67% biodegradable materials
- Compostable packaging
- No inks or dyes
- Better for the environment
- High belly panel
- Caregiver-baby bonding design
- Good enough absorbency
- Snug fit
- Petroleum-free materials
Are Organic Diapers Worth It?
You might think you’re doing a good thing by using “greener” diapers, but the reality can be very different. Diapers brands may have eco-friendly, green, natural, or organic on their labels, but only the use of organic is regulated.
So, are these diapers worth the extra cost?
Some of the benefits of organic diapers are:
Fewer Chemicals Next to Baby’s Skin
It’s almost impossible to pin down exactly which substances are in a disposable diaper, but a French study found multiple potentially harmful toxins including phthalates, dioxins, and tributyltin (1).
While substances with the potential to cause harm are all around us, choosing organic diapers reduces or removes one source of chemical exposure, and that can only be a good thing.
Less Likely to Cause Allergic Reactions
A study in the American Academy of Pediatrics journal looked at contact dermatitis as a result of dyes in diapers (2). The use of dye-free diapers resolved the rashes and irritation in all cases, and in those children who had allergen testing, the results showed allergies to dyes.
Fragrances are another similar cause of allergic reactions. Diaper manufacturers do not have to list all of the ingredients of their fragrances. As a result, they can contain dozens of undefined chemicals. Fragrance-free diapers reduce the number of chemicals your child may react to.
Lower Non-Renewable Resource Use
It takes 1 cup of crude oil to make the plastic for a single standard disposable diaper, which adds up to 1,625 quarts of oil for 30 months of diaper use (3). That’s not including the oil used in the manufacturing process itself.
Brands that use bamboo liners use less oil in their manufacture, reducing the consumption of this non-renewable resource.
How to Choose the Best Organic Diapers
When choosing the best organic diapers, we ignored “green-wash” labels and instead considered the following criteria:
When you’re choosing a disposable diaper, there are two levels of toxicity to consider. First is the potential toxicity of the materials in the diaper when you are using them and the impacts they may have on your baby.
Second, there’s the effect the materials, manufacturing process, and resource production and collection can have on the environment.
We consider both streams of potential toxicity when choosing our best organic diapers.
A “trade secret” clause protects fragrances. Consequently, many manufacturers list fragrance in their ingredients when that one item could contain dozens of potentially harmful or allergy-inducing ingredients.
The diaper ingredient most likely to cause an allergic reaction is a dye. Dyes are used in prints and wetness indicators, as well as in the elastic around the leg.
Organic or environmentally preferable diapers are usually either dye and fragrance-free or have ingredients known to be less likely to cause reactions.
There’s no getting away from it, “eco” diapers are more expensive than their regular disposable counterparts.
We found that you will pay between two to three times as much for environmentally preferable diapers.
Each size of diaper works out at a slightly different cost per diaper, for example, Little Toes medium size is 56 cents per diaper and small is 54 cents per diaper. So, for an accurate comparison, we looked at diapers for a child of 26 pounds.
In this size range standard diapers such as Pampers or Huggies cost around 26 cents per diaper and the “eco” options such as Little Toes or Dyper cost around 56 cents per diaper.
Whether you choose cloth or disposable, there’s an organic or lower polluting option available that will expose your child to fewer potentially harmful toxins and have fewer adverse environmental impacts.
Many parents choose to use cloth during the day and disposables at night or when away from home.
A diaper is made up of three layers:
The inner layer that sits next to your baby’s skin is polypropylene, commonly found in thermal underwear items. This liner is a barrier which serves as a barrier between the skin and the urine.
The absorbent core of the diaper is what allows it to soak up all of that pee. It’s made of Super Absorbent Polymers or SAP, and there’s no evidence to suggest they are toxic or irritating to your baby.
A diaper’s outer shell is made of polyethylene film, essentially a form of plastic wrap. This layer is essential in preventing the moisture from leaking through the diaper and onto your baby’s clothes or bedding.
Wood pulp is usually used to create cushioning in a disposable diaper. This is where you can find dioxin, a side product of the chlorine used in the wood pulp manufacturing process. Large quantities of dioxin are known to be carcinogenic, but the levels in diapers are not dangerous.
When considering softness, the deciding factor should be how the diaper feels against your baby’s skin and whether it is a comfortable fit.
There’s no point in using a diaper that’s less damaging to the environment if you end up using twice as many. Therefore absorbency was our primary criteria for choosing diapers. For each diaper, we looked at how much water it would absorb before leaching back through the liner.
Fit not only affects how comfortable your child is, but it also has an impact on the number of leaks you will experience.
The flexibility of disposable diapers allows for a better fit today than ever, but you may still experience issues when your child is at the upper or lower end of a weight range.
The Best Organic Diapers of 2021
Taking all of those points into consideration, these are the seven diapers we choose as being the best for reducing your negative environmental impacts.
1. DYPER Bamboo Baby Diapers
DYPER diapers have a liner and outer covering made of 100% viscose from sustainably sourced bamboo. Meanwhile, the core is made with a chlorine-free wood pulp process, so no dioxins are created in their manufacture.
Their diapers are certified by the independent Swiss testing authority, OEKO-TEX, as containing no substances harmful to human health. This certification applies to all elements of the diaper, which are fragrance-, dye-, and lotion-free.
The absence of lotion, dye, and fragrance means that DYPER is especially suitable for children who are susceptible to allergic reactions or for parents sensitive to perfumes or colorings.
Available in five sizes, one of our favorite things about DYPER is that their sizes have plenty of overlap. Consequently, the fit is excellent, and the chance of leaking or blow-outs is minimal. However, some people find the generous sizing a disadvantage.
Available by subscription, REDYPER is the company’s disposal service. DYPER will send you the packaging and labels required. When you have a full box, you ship the entire package to their partners, Terracycle, who then compost the contents.
- Excellent fit.
- Trustworthy brand with independent certification.
- Dye- and fragrance-free for sensitive skin.
- Sizes run large.
|Liner||100% Viscose From Bamboo Fibers|
|Pulp||Sodium Polyacrylate, Elemental Chlorine-Free Wood Pulp|
|Fragrance & dyes||None|
|Packaging||Biodegradable plastic and cardboard|
2. Smart Bottoms No-Prep Dream Diaper
These diapers have a 100% organic cotton inner surface that is gentle on your baby’s skin, as well as on the environment. The snap-in insert can be removed and replaced with an overnight version for additional absorbency.
The outer layer is PUL, a fabric that has a layer of polyurethane film heat laminated to the outside. This results in a soft, flexible, breathable waterproof fabric that lasts through, literally, hundreds of washes.
There are 39 bright, whimsical, and fun patterns available, including a rainbow-colored unicorn print and, my personal favorite, a retro camping pattern.
The Dream Diaper is a one-size-fits-all diaper with multiple rows of snaps so you can make it fit, theoretically, any average size baby. However, we found that babies under around ten pounds experienced a looser fit around the leg. So you may want to supplement these with newborn-size disposables, to begin with.
- No need to prep before use — one wash needed.
- Soft outer layer makes for a comfortable diaper.
- Suitable for babies 10 lbs to 35 lbs.
- Fits better for chunkier babies.
|Liner||Hemp & organic cotton.|
|Fragrance & dyes||None|
3. ECO BOOM Bamboo Biodegradable Diapers
These ECO BOOM bamboo diapers are perfect for potty training your baby. The inner liner and back sheet are made of 100% bamboo, biodegradable non-woven material, but it’s unclear whether the rest of the diaper is.
The diapers are lotion-free, but they do have aloe oil added to keep them soft, so they may not work for anyone with an allergy to aloe.
The absorbent core is made from Forestry Stewardship Commission, FSC, certified wood, combined with a super absorbent polymer called Aqua Keep. Because Aqua Keep is almost insoluble in water, it will hold a great deal of moisture.
The wetness indicator is more beneficial for new parents as it can be difficult to tell how much pee your baby’s pants are packing. However, once you’ve done the old poke test a few times, a wetness indicator isn’t really needed.
- Mostly organic components, including FSC certified bamboo.
- Wetness indicator helpful for new parents.
- Great for smaller babies as sizes start at 6lbs.
- Not entirely biodegradable.
|Pulp||“Fluff pulp” mixed with SAP|
|Fragrance & dyes||None|
|Packaging||Biodegradable plastic and card.|
4. Little Toes Naturally Biodegradable Bamboo Diapers
The Little Toes naturally biodegradable bamboo diapers have an inner and outer surface made of bamboo. Consequently, both the inside and outside of these diapers are exceptionally soft.
Each size is color-coded with a bright, colored band, and the outer surface is printed in a multicolored pattern. The diapers we tested had a deep red waistband/belly panel and a pattern of red, yellow, and teal circles and dots.
Little Toes, like most other natural diaper makers, market their bamboo diapers as biodegradable. However, to be accurate, 67% of the materials in the diaper are biodegradable, meaning they will degrade in a landfill within 180 days. The other 33% of materials do not meet this criteria.
Although they are partially biodegradable, they, like other diapers, are not compostable. They should only be composted by a specialist facility capable of safely doing so.
The plastic diaper packaging is not recyclable, but it is D2W plastic which may or may not be biodegradable, depending on who you speak with (4).
- Color-coded sizing for easy recognition.
- Exceptionally soft and comfortable bamboo-based diapers.
- Made of 67% biodegradable materials.
- Patterned diapers contain multiple water-based dyes.
- The largest size is 20-29 lbs.
|Pulp||>18% bamboo pulp with SAP|
|Fragrance & dyes||None|
|Packaging||Biodegradable (?) plastic|
5. Bio-Bag Nurture Diapers
Bio Bag is an international bio-plastics company, and the Nurture diapers are made in a Danish manufacturing plant that is 100% wind-powered.
The Nurture diapers have multiple independent certifications, including two that say they are compostable. However, as with others on the list, these diapers are best composted in a specialist facility that separates the compostable from non-compostable elements.
The fit is OK, but they run large, so be aware you might have to wait for your little one to grow into them. These diapers also have a wetness indicator that turns from yellow to blue when your baby is wet. Gratefully, they haven’t used any ink or dye prints for these — which makes them hypoallergenic.
We also found that the outer layer is beautifully soft and silky. Unfortunately, it isn’t as good as other diapers at keeping the moisture in. A small amount of liquid is safe, but when your child does a mega pee, you’re likely to find their clothes end up wet.
- Compostable packaging.
- Perfect for babies with dye allergies since no inks or dyes.
- Better for the environment than standard diapers.
- Diapers can only be composted through specialist service.
- Not as absorbent as we’d like.
|Pulp||Cellulose pulp & SAP|
|Fragrance & dyes||None|
6. Mum & You: Nappychat Eco-Diapers
Mum and You is a UK company. Their nappychat eco-diapers are printed with patterns designed to stimulate stories, talking, or chats between a caregiver and the baby whose bottom they are changing.
Both the Mum and You website and the packaging say the diapers are dye-free. The dye-free refers to the wood pulp and not the inks used for printing.
The fit, like others, is partially dependent on your child’s size and shape. We found the diaper front was higher than average, giving good coverage for longer babies, but felt a little bulky on the smaller kiddos.
Some users found them excellent overnight while others were disappointed. We give them an average rating because they didn’t leak often, but there were the occasional nights where soak-through occurred.
- A high belly panel, suitable for longer babies.
- Clever design encourages caregiver-baby bonding.
- Good enough absorbency.
- Reviewers wished the product information was more transparent.
|Pulp||100% biodegradable core|
|Fragrance & dyes||Fragrance-free, unspecified dyes|
|Packaging||Renewable, biodegradable sugarcane|
7. Babyganics: Ultra-Absorbent Skin Love Diapers
Babyganics ultra-absorbent Skin Love diapers live up to their labeling, as far as absorbency goes. Not only do their diapers soak up plenty of fluid, but they were also highly rated when it came to wicking and holding that moisture away from a baby’s bottom.
Unfortunately, none of the materials are certified as compostable, biodegradable, or recycled. The packaging lists petroleum-free lotions, but the diapers do have a proprietary product called NeoNourish®, a blend of sunflower, tomato, black cumin, cranberry, and raspberry seed oils. So they’re not lotion-free.
Babyganics fit well, although they do tend to run a little small, so if your little one is near the upper end of the weight range, it’s definitely worth bumping up a size sooner rather than later.
- Ultra-absorbent diapers keep baby dry.
- Snug fit for babies of most sizes.
- Petroleum-free materials.
- Materials are neither recyclable nor compostable.
|Pulp||Unspecified plant-based material|
|Lotion||Neo Nourish Seed Oil|
|Fragrance & dyes||Labeled fragrance-free, unspecified dyes.|
|Product||Best||Liner||Pulp||Lotion||Fragrance & dyes||Packaging|
|DYPER Bamboo Baby Diapers||Best Overnight||100% Viscose From Bamboo Fibers||Sodium Polyacrylate, Elemental Chlorine-Free Wood Pulp||None||None||Biodegradable plastic & cardboard|
|Smart Bottoms No-Prep Dream Diaper||Best Cloth||Hemp & organic cotton.||None||None||None||None|
|ECO BOOM Bamboo Biodegradable Diapers||Best Training||100% Bamboo||“Fluff pulp” mixed with SAP||None||None||Biodegradable plastic & card.|
|Little Toes Naturally Biodegradable Bamboo Diapers||Best Absorbent||100% bamboo||>18% bamboo pulp with SAP||None||None||Biodegradable (?) plastic|
|Bio-Bag Nurture Diapers||Best Eco-Friendly||Viscose||Cellulose pulp & SAP||None||None||Compostable|
|Mum & You: Nappychat Eco-Diapers||Best Budget||Unknown||100% biodegradable core||None||Fragrance-free, unspecified dyes||Renewable, biodegradable sugarcane|
|Babyganics: Ultra-Absorbent Skin Love Diapers||Best for Sensitive Skin||Bamboo||Unspecified plant-based material||Neo Nourish Seed Oil||Labeled fragrance-free, unspecified dyes.||Plastic|
Organic Diapers or Not?
We found that there are no fully organic diapers, just plenty of options that are less environmentally damaging than their mainstream counterparts. However, these are certainly a much better deal than many disposables.
The best thing to do when trying out new diapers is to read the labeling and check the company’s website. Then you can check through and make a decision based on the known environmental impact of each material, if that matters most to you.
It’s also wise to see if the diapers contain any allergenic materials that may bother your baby’s skin. Of course, your selection should be soft, absorbent, and fit your budget.