Jun 02 2010

Smartipants cloth diaper review

Note: This post originally appeared on my main blog, sensetosave.com. I had to move it over here because it violated my agreement with BlogHer, an advertiser. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to move the contest entries. The giveaway is now over.

The folks at Smartipants have offered me a chance to review and giveaway 3 of their pocket diapers. I received a pink (?!) diaper and insert for review. Maybe they are betting on me having a girl this time?

I bought a three-pack of boy-color Smartipants in June 2009. Johnny was six months old. He never did fit into the smallest rise setting, so we started out at the medium rise, and he’s now on the highest (fully unsnapped) rise.

This is mostly just an adorable baby shot, but you can see it’s a trim fit.

johnny 6 months smartipants

The diaper:

Smartipants are a pocket-style cloth diaper. You have to stuff the pocket with an absorbent insert. The outer is waterproof. You’ll need a clean cover + insert for each diaper change.

The rise is adjusted by extremely sturdy snaps. To fasten it around your baby — more snaps. On one of the flaps, you’ll also see some extra outward snaps, which can possibly be used on a teeny tiny baby, but more likely, it’s just handy for fastening a dirty diaper closed in your wet bag.

It is considered a one-size diaper and is supposed to fit babies from 7-35 lbs. You’ll see variation on that depending on the build of your baby.

The inner lining is suede cloth, which helps pull wetness away from your baby’s bottom and into the diaper.

What’s unique about it?

Unlike other pocket diapers on the market, this one has openings for the insert at both the front and the back of the diaper. It makes stuffing it a little easier because you can get your hand at the front and the back of it. But wait, there’s more!

The really cool thing about this diaper is the insert comes out in the wash. Seriously. It does. With other pocket diapers, you have to reach in and pull or shake the soggy insert out. Ick. This one, you can just toss in your diaper pail and forget about it.

But ya know, if it’s still a day or two until wash day, you might go ahead and remove it anyway. I think that might help prevent some stink issues, though I can’t say that we’ve had any trouble because of that.

DSC_1283The fit:

This is the trimmest pocket diaper we’ve tried (others include Bum Genius OS and FuzziBunz OS). The elastic does not leave marks on my son.

Since it is a snap-closure diaper, you might have periods where your baby is sort of in-between snaps. I’ve still been able to achieve a pretty good fit during those times, even if it’s a bit asymmetrical.

As I mentioned, Johnny is on the largest-rise setting. He’s 17 months and has 1  snap to go on each side before he’s on the largest waist setting.

I’m not completely sure if the diaper will fit him when he is 35 lbs. or when he gets close to potty-training. “Action shot” of him in the diaper at this age coming shortly.

The insert:

The microfiber insert (the company calls it a SmartSleeve) is made with 80% polyester and 20% nylon. It has green stitching around the edges.

For many months, this insert with the diaper worked well, but as Johnny’s bladder got bigger, it just didn’t hold up. I have recently stripped the inserts and I will test it again, in case my problem was just detergent buildup on the insert.

It has just been my experience that microfiber inserts in general don’t hold up as well as natural fibers in the long run — this is true for other brands I’ve tried as well. They seem to lose their absorbency, they hold onto stink easier, and are old and tired sooner.

Compare the picture of the brand-new, unwashed insert with one we’ve used a ton. The new one is plush and larger because it hasn’t shrunk yet, and the other one is dingier and feels less absorbent.

So, lately we’ve been stuffing it with a trim organic cotton insert made by Flip. That insert is super absorbent and fits in the Smartipants quite well on the smaller-fold setting.

I think Smartipants should offer some type of natural fiber insert — maybe an organic cotton/hemp combo. (And if this review inspired you to do so, send me some more diapers, Smartipants! :) )

The colors:

I don’t think the color shown on the web site totally matches the colors in person. It could be an issue with my computer. Or my eyes.

The boy-pack colors are Cool Blue, Clever Clover, and Aqua Breeze. The blue one actually looks more like a blueish purple. I think all of these colors would be fine for a baby girl.

The gender-neutral pack consists of Bright White, Mellow Yellow, and Clever Clover.

The girl pack is Think Pink, Lovely Lavender, and Mellow Yellow. The lavender and pink are pretty girly, I do believe. The pink one is my review diaper, and it’s very pale. So pale, that you can see the layer of material reinforcing the snaps.

The final three-pack is all Bright White.

diapers1DSC_1273The quality:

This is truly a well-made diaper. Our three have held up over the last 11 months. They look practically new. The stitching is intact. There is no pilling. The elastic is in great shape. The snaps are  as strong as ever.

The lining isn’t as bright white as the brand-new one, but it still looks decent. Oh, and the insert isn’t what it used to be, as I already discussed.

We have a lot of wears left with these diapers, as long as he doesn’t outgrow it. I expect to be able to use them for my second baby and maybe even more than that.


While you can double-stuff the diaper for heavy wetters, I don’t plan to test it for overnights. A good nighttime combo might be an organic cotton Flip insert around the SmartSleeve and maybe even a thin hemp doubler added.

I stuffed a diaper that way just for testing purposes, and it’s a tight fit but it does work. The bulk creates sort of a gap between the stuffin’s and the leg elastic, so it might make leaks more likely.

A double-stuffed Smartipants or one with the Flip insert didn’t come out in the wash for me.

Nighttime cloth solutions are tricky, and you may have to try some other combo with other diapers. (Ours is an Indian prefold with the Stay Dry insert from Flip, wrapped with a Flip cover, or the organic cotton insert + Stay Dry).

A caution:

I do have a concern when the diaper is at its smallest rise setting. The microfiber insert is one-size, and it can peek out of either end of the pocket when the diaper is adjusted to this size. It’s really important that you remember to fold the insert down within the pocket so the microfiber cannot touch your baby’s skin.

This problem wouldn’t be an issue if you used a cotton insert.

The bottom (lol!) line:

This is the only pocket diaper that we’re keeping around (we use prefolds and covers the rest of the time). It’s my husband’s favorite pocket because he doesn’t like touching inserts. It’s my favorite for the durable snaps and the trim fit. The quality is really impressive to me, especially given that this is intended as a one-size diaper. Those tend to be really worn by toddlerhood and not as likely to make it to a second kid. This diaper will.

The three-pack price brings it to about $12.33/diaper if you get it on sale. This is a fabulous price for a one-size pocket with insert and I’m having trouble finding a cheaper option. Know of any?

Would I suggest running out and buying two dozen of these without trying them first? Oh no. Your cloth diapering preferences and experience might be totally different from mine. Get a three-pack, test ’em for awhile, and add more if you want. That’s kind of how I feel about all cloth diapers. It’s good to try a few first (though some mamas have had good success with just researching a lot and taking the plunge. Hi, Renee!).

Remember, you can almost always resell diapers you don’t like/no longer use.

Get yours:

If you don’t win this giveaway, you can buy a three-pack for $36.95 on sale through Father’s Day, but they’re normally $39.95. Individually they are $14.95 each. Each diaper comes with one insert (and the three-pack has … you guessed it … three inserts).


Smartipants is offering three diapers for this giveaway, so we will have three winners. Each winner will receive one diaper and one insert in his or her choice of color.

There are four ways to enter:

  • Leave a comment on this post telling us your favorite type of cloth diaper and why (and tell us if it’s a cover, a pocket, a fitted, or an all-in-one). If you do not use cloth diapers at present, tell us why you want to make the switch.
  • Subscribe to my blog via e-mail or a feed reader, and come back and post a separate comment here telling me you’ve done so. Honor system!
  • Mention this giveaway on your own blog, leaving a link directing to this post. Come here and comment and include the link so I can pay you a visit to say thanks.
  • Become a Smartipants fan on Facebook. Come back here and post a separate comment telling me you’ve done so.

The giveaway will end at 11 p.m. Eastern time on June 1, 2010. Winners will be randomly selected via a number generator. I will e-mail the winners (so be sure to use an email you actually check!).

Smartipants will send the winners the diapers directly. I will link you up with their representative so you can give them your mailing information.

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