In theory, flats are the perfect cloth diaper method for any family. In practice, flats are not the perfect cloth diaper method for this family.
But, my experience matters very little in what will ultimately be the best choice for your family. I just said family 3 times in my intro.
My flat cloth diaper use is limited to organic cotton flats from Target, IKEA flour sack towels and GeffenBaby Hemp flats. I can tell you which one was better by far, GeffenBaby.
Giving you 3 brands, vastly different brands I might add, and telling you the obvious is not going to help you decide which flat cloth diaper to choose.
Here’s where my amazing colleagues come to the rescue.
Maria from Change-diapers.com has reviewed GeffenBaby Hemp Flats, Flour Sack Towels, and Diaper Rite Unbleached Flats. Maria uses lots of photos in her reviews so you really get an idea of how the diaper will look on your child. I love that she measures everything, so if your baby is outside the range of normal (whatever that is!) check her reviews for a clear understanding of each diaper.
Like other Geffen Baby products, their flats are knitted vs. woven, so they are very soft, and they are 100% USA made from knitting to cutting and sewing, packing etc! read more
GeffenBaby flats are very soft! The flats are composed of 60% hemp 40% organic cotton, same as their prefolds. In my review of the GeffenBaby Prefold I share with you one of the few times I have trusted a prefold at night on a toddler!
(flour sack towels) Right out of the package, they seemed to have a very loose weave, and felt more like a thin restaurant napkin….I put one pad folded inside an origami folded flour sack towel, and my older son wore it for more than 4 hours. It’s hard to judge absorption with him sometimes, since he can stay dry for a while and then flood a diaper, but I intentionally left this combo on him longer than usual to test it. When we took it off, the wings of the origami folded towel were barely damp (though most of the rest of the combo was pretty soaked!) I am pleasantly surprised! read more
I had a similar reaction to the IKEA flour sack towels. At first I thought they were so thin and they were huge. After a wash and dry they also were tighter and smaller- although still very large. Flour sack towels are a great buy because 1) you always have a diaper handy if you are in a pinch and 2) they make great clean up towels. We have at least one spill every meal and my towels have performed nicely.
Flour sack towels are inexpensive, too and you can purchase them at almost any big box grocery/shopping center.
(Diaper Rite Unbleached Flats) When you look at these next pictures, you will probably say “but Maria, you didn’t…and it isn’t…and it wasn’t…” You’re probably right. I didn’t and it isn’t and it wasn’t. But that’s the beauty of flats. You can fold them any way you want, totally customizing where you put the most layers, and they are very forgiving. I know some people have amazing flat folding demos where all the folds are crisp and the corners are sharp. Mine were done with an audience and were done very quickly, as they are in “real life!” read more
I’m right there with you, Maria! I’ve tried to fold a flat before diaper changes and have it all ready but it still gets messed up!
Make sure and click all the read more links to see Maria’s measurements and demonstrations of different folds.
All the flats I’ve mentioned so far are plain white. Easy to dye, which is fun, but no cute patterns. Imagine Baby Flats are a great choice if you want a flat with a cute design. Imagine Baby is a brand created and owned by the owner’s of Nicki’s Diapers.
Dirty Diaper Laundry reviewer Lara gives a great review of the absorbency, fit and design of Imagine Baby Flats.
Most people will likely choose these flats for their whimsical prints, it’s a standout feature for sure. The prints do fade, especially on the unbleached cotton, and the more intricate design details become a blur. The website does make sure to advise you of this and provide visual examples to make sure no one will be blindsided, the company doesn’t use harsh dyes so you can expect a loss of color. If you want a brighter print, go for one of the bleached cotton options (butterflies or dinosaurs) as they retain their designs better than the insanely charming unbleached print of little woodland animals. read more and watch the video!
Lara and Kim both noted that these are a smaller flat than other brands but the limitation comes in when doing certain folds.
Anne from Zephyr Hill reviewed a lesser known brand called Eco-Dia Organic Flat diapers.
And were they soft? Yes! And they feel as light as air. Very different from my thick and heavy prefolds. I can see why mothers say flats are so easy to wash and dry and get stains out of. I would estimate that drying time for a flat as compared to my Chinese prefolds and Flip organics is 50% less. This is my guess because it always takes a full cycle to completely dry my prefolds, but the flats are done about halfway through. That’s a huge difference and a hefty savings in energy!read more
As I am sitting here thinking over these brands I realized that I have tried two other brands of flats but had forgotten because they are not the typical flat. Orange Diaper Co Bamboo Terry Squares and Sustainablebabyish Bamboo Terry Flats. Orange Diaper Co squares are total awesomeness. But, you have to preorder them at the alloted preorder time so they are harder to get.
Imagine 2 layers of stretchy bamboo terry serged all around. They go on like an ace bandage, stay soft and absorb better than cotton.
Sustainablebabyish flats are more like a prefold in that they have 3 sections to the flat. They aren’t as stretchy as ODC but have an identical fiber makeup + an extra layer. They are super absorbent and with a doubler would be solid for nighttime diapering.
All of the brands above can be fastened with pins, Snappi or Boingo fasteners. Flats are truly effective when you have a fabulous cover on top. Fabulous means leak proof coverage. Look for inner gussets and elastic at the back (ideally also in the front). My favorite cover is the Sweet Pea Diaper Cover <3