Cloth Diaper Q&A: What are the best inserts?

Pocket cloth diapers are an extremely versatile system.  You can pretty much make any pocket, inexpensive or pricey, nighttime worthy.  It all comes down to the inserts you choose.

My slam dunk nighttime insert combo is 2 microfiber inserts (either 2 single inserts or a 6r soaker) with 2 Hemp Babies underneath.

I’ve used this combo in Charlie Banana, Kawaii, Fuzzi Bunz, BumGenius, Rumparooz, Eco*posh and every time Camden is dry in the morning.

Now occasionally I have forgotten to change him right when we wake up and 2 hours later the outer PUL is wet. But, that’s my fault for trying to do 20 things before I changed the diaper.

Two recent comments in regards to this topic come from Yardley and Kas:

Yardley: New to cloth. Been using pockets on my 2 year old for naps/bed she is potty trained. Want cloth for my new LO due in Feb. Bought some nb fitted, prefolds and covers. However, I need some inserts for the pockets I have. There are so many choices! What do you recommend hemp, fleece, bamboo something different??? I am just ok with the microfiber they are a little stinky, bulky and I really need something more absorbent for nights. Do you have favorite brands? Does it matter if they have fleece or jersey on one side?
LOVE your website! Thanks for all your information

Kas: Hi,

I was wondering what’s the best quality for inserts, I’ve heard that microfiber is not so good because it doesn’t soak quite well and can stink after a while, which would you recommend for starters? bamboo or hemp?

There are dozens of choices available for cloth diaper inserts so it’s no wonder they have questions.

In February, I wrote an article on the subject of inserts and doublers called What are the best cloth diaper doublers? I list several options along with links on where to purchase.

Yardley, when buying inserts to go inside a pocket it’s best to use brands that do not have a microfleece or suedecloth top.  The reason being the stay-dry fabrics need more pressure for the urine to pass through.  Having 2 layers of this to pass through can cause leaks.  This would be more likely to happen at night when baby isn’t applying any downward pressure to the inserts.

As far as trim vs. bulky, an insert that contains hemp will result in a trimmer cloth diaper bum. Knickernappies SuperDo is a great example.

Kas, I like your choice of words.  The best quality in terms of longevity would be bamboo and hemp.  Microfiber really starts to go down hill at about a year.  Downhill = stink, leaks and a significant change in appearance (flat, discolored, rougher).

Bamboo and hemp will lose some softness but a bit of cloth diaper safe fabric softener (like Ecover) will work magic on them.

My favorite soakers overall are the Rumparooz 6r soakers.  They are available in microfiber, bamboo or hemp. They’re amazing.

Bamboo and hemp soakers have the added benefit of being able to use them in a pocket or laid inside a cover. Microfiber can only be used inside a pocket.

Another excellent fiber choice is organic cotton.  Recently, I (re)discovered a Geffen Baby insert that had been mistakenly buried in my cloth diaper cedar chest.  I am now constantly grabbing it for extra absorbency.

You’ll quickly realize that finding a suitable insert for daytime use is fairly simple.

Nighttime cloth diapering, on the other hand, can be a challenge for some families. I encourage families new to cloth diapers to keep it simple.  Whether you are using pockets, fitteds or prefolds make sure and buy several Hemp Babies or Kissaluvs super soakers in order to make your existing daytime system work for night.

As you experiment and find your comfort zone then you can branch out and buy different diapers for different occasions.  However, doing this will most likely drive your husband crazy.  Mine never understands why I have to put a “nighttime diaper” on Camden.

What are your favorite inserts and doublers?

ONLY 2 more days left in the Green Diaper Demos giveaway! Enter to win a SoftBums Echo in later gator plus pods!

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About Autumn Beck

Autumn is a wife, mother, homeschool teacher, friend and most important a follower of Christ. She began cloth diapering in 2005 and has experienced many joys and trials throughout the years. You can read more from Autumn over at

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36 Responses to “Cloth Diaper Q&A: What are the best inserts?”

  1. charity Says:

    Thank you for your site. I have spent a lot of time on here the past few weeks. I just got a few of my cloth diapers in. They are BG 4.0. I have a 4 mo boy and have used 3 so far. 1 last night and 2 today. He is back in his disposable because I dont know how to size it. Meaning the elastic around his thighs is making it red. He is 13lbs. I have the rise on the shortest setting. should I raise this or should I lossen the waist fitting. I dont know what I am doing?! Please help because I also do not know anyone who cloth diapers and could help. I really want to do this but I dont want to hurt my baby either.
    Thanks so much.


    • Autumn Beck Says:

      Hi, Charity. Cloth diapering does have a slight learning curve. But, don’t get discouraged! Just like there is some experimenting with what disposable diaper you choose you will need to find the best cloth diaper for our baby. Where did you purchase your cloth diapers from? Most retailers offer some sort of trial. I would try letting out the rise a row and see how this helps. Sometimes baby’s are sensitive to the suede cloth inner or tight elastic on Bum Genius diapers. Is the red on his thighs a rash? If it is just a slight indentation this isn’t really a problem. Every time I put socks on Camden (no matter how big they are) he gets a line around his ankle. I’ll help how ever I can!


      • charity walker Says:

        Thanks for replying so quickly. I bought them from the green nursery which I think was a bad idea. I only bought six. After his nap I put the BG back on to try it out again and I did let the rise out one and did not snap across his tummy as tight. Then it basically leaked immediately from the top near his hip bone. When I put a diaper on to put him to bed (disposable). He definitely had a rash on his thigh. Only one thigh though and no where else on his bottom or other thigh. I think it might be from rubbing. I followed the directions on washing and there was no soap in the rinse cycle and I dried them on a clothesline and I used safe Diaper detergent (charlies soap) and I used very little. So I do not think it is the detergent. I just dont think I am getting the right fit. I did not think he was a chunky baby, but maybe he is. I guess his thighs are at least. He is by no means skinny. I just thought he was average. This is my 2nd baby and first time CDing and I really want to do this so I hope I can figure it out.
        I am definitely willing to try other brands and have some other diapers on the way. 3 new kawaii diapers and then 2 bum genius 3.0 from the gently used from cotton babies and now I am thinking I just wasted a bunch of $.
        Please help me figure this out. I like the idea of the pocket diaper and one size so it grows with you and I can use it on my toddler at night. I am willing to try anything though and I know there are a million diapers out there. I have read a lot of blogs, reviews, and watched a lot of you tube. Thanks again for your time. I really appreciate it.


        • Kathy Townsend Says:

          Some babies are sensitive to the Charlie’s detergent. So it is possible that is what may have caused the rash.


          • charity Says:

            Thanks Kathy,

            I did realize that after I had washed the diapers so I put them back in and did a stripping process with hot water only and washed them four times. The rash was only where the elastic was so I do not think that it was the detergent. I think the diaper rubs him the wrong way and I may not know how to fit him. So if you have another suggestion I would love to hear it.


            • charity Says:

              I also forgot I did email the company and they will not return the diapers once they have been prepped so no luck there. I also did order a new detergent just to avoid that problem. Now I just need some suggestions on diapers.


  2. Allison Says:

    Hi, this is really great and super helpful. I’m going to share this on the Mom’s Milk Boutique facebook page!!/momsmilkboutique


  3. Kirstin Says:

    Hello all! I absolutely love bamboo, especially my new sustainablebabyish snapless multis. I have a super soaker of a son and these are the only things that work through the night. However, my son prefers a “stay dry” feeling at night and keeps waking up every couple of hours, only to be quieted by a diaper change :(. No fun at 3 am. I was wondering if slipping a hemp doubler in there would wick the moisture away? Or am I better off using some kind of “stay dry” liner? I like that my system doesn’t leak, so I’d rather not change it (I also don’t really have the funds to keep changing things around!). He also seems to get rashy from suedecloth, so that doesn’t seem to work. Any suggestions would be helpful!


    • Cassie Says:

      Kirstin, have you tried a fleece liner? I use Bummis fleece liners at night for my daughter and they wick the moisture away. Just lay them in softest side next to baby’s skin. Works great! I can tell the difference when I forget to add one.


      • Kirstin Says:

        I was thinking about those, but didn’t really hear anything about how good they are. Now that I hear a positive review I’m willing to give them a go :)


  4. Mia Says:

    I absolutely LOVE inserts from Geffen Baby. I’ll be adding them to my diaper service’s rental items very soon.


  5. Justin Says:

    Please explain to me some of the terminology I’ve been encountering in my cloth diaper research. I’m desperate. I thought I had wrapped my mind around everything, but I find myself with more questions. What’s the difference between a booster, liner, doubler, insert, and soaker? Are some of these terms used interchangeably? Thanks!


    • Autumn Beck Says:

      disposable liner- flushable liner to lay between baby and diaper. easier cleanup.
      staydry or other fabric liner- stay dry liner is made of microfleece usually. for diapers that are not stay dry this provides a dry feeling for babies that are sensitive to the wet fibers. you would use this is you had purchased prefolds or organic fiber diapers before knowing that your baby would be sensitive to wetness. also, you would use a liner if you are using a diaper rash cream that is not safe for cloth diapers.
      doubler or booster- thicker than a liner, is absorbent but not enough to be used alone. but, for a newborn some boosters can be used with them alone, ie. ragababe, softbums
      insert- absorbent layer that you add to a pocket or lay in an all-in-two/cover.


  6. Cyndel j Says:

    I like cotton prefolds, flats, or hemp. I want to try bamboo but I don’t have any more money at the moment, however I do love a bamboo snap in one that I won in a contest and I think I would really like a bamboo stuffer. I would prefer not to use microfiber but I don’t have a choice right now because it makes up half of my much needed stuffing stash that I can’t afford to lose as he now needs double stuffing while we are out or during nap times or he over flows, so I can’t throw them in the consignment bin of my local cd store, and I haven’t had much luck selling them online lately. But honestly as of right now my newborn cotton prefolds are my favorite stuffers, I use the hemp usually at night in a flat or fitted for extra soak-age without the bulk.


  7. Anne Says:

    My son is 2 1/2 and he is a super soaker! I usually use a flip insert with one or two BG microfiber inserts or two-three microfiber inserts in a BG pocket diaper during the day (and he can soak through that in 30 min. depending on when he pees). I have tried using three inserts at night and I change him after a few hours, but he still soaks through the second diaper (also with three microfiber inserts) within four hours. I have also tried two microfiber inserts (BG) with one hemp babies flat. This makes for a bulky diaper and he still pees through it within 2-3 hours. We are trying to potty train and I try to limit fluids in the evening, but we end up with wet clothes and bedding most mornings (I just put one of those hospital pads down every night to avoid changing sheets every day!). Any thoughts? Should I do just one microfiber insert and add more hemp? Even day time is very difficult. We can’t use cloth when out for the day b/c he drinks so much water and pees a lot! It could be worse…at least he’s never been dehydrated! =)


    • Victoria Says:

      Sounds like you need to pair down the microfiber and add some multi-layered hemp or bamboo inserts instead. I like the Swaddlebees bamboo or Ecoliner cotton/hemp inserts. They create 6 layers of absorbent material and are very thin. For nighttime I use one of these with a Baby Kicks Joeybunz Hemp insert underneath and my son doesn’t even soak through the whole insert (it’s dry in back when he wakes after 10 hours). These aren’t the cheapest inserts, but well worth the money in my opinion.


  8. Liz Says:

    I’ve got to say that my favorite inserts by far (and we’ve tried a few) are the gCloth inserts. We don’t use the gDiapers (anymore), but I LOVE their inserts. I especially love that they make for a trim fit (so you can see more of Baby’s adorable little figure!), without sacrificing absorbancy. And they fit our Flip diapers (which we’re in love with as well!) perfectly. Here’s a quote from their website about what they’re made out of: “Two layers of soft 100% polyester microfleece wick moisture away from baby’s bottom keeping it feeling dry and comfortable. Two layers of hemp/cotton absorb wetness and hold moisture in.”

    LOVE them!


  9. Julie Says:

    Any suggestions anyone? I have a 2 yr old who soaks through 2 cotton prefolds and a microfibre insert every night and wakes up stinking of ammonia. I would like to continue cloth diapering him at night. He is partially potty trained and goes pee before bed and he is limited to about 1/4 cup of water to have in his room to drink overnight.


  10. Kathy Townsend Says:

    I have replaced all my microfiber inserts and instead use cotton flats pad-folded. They are just as trim and absorbent as a microfiber insert and they don’t get stink issues at all. Since they are only one layer in the wash they get very clean and don’t hold residue and build-up the way that microfiber does. We also really like the hemp babies diaper doublers (small) and use them underneath the flat inside the pockets.


  11. laila Says:

    Has anyone had success using a prefold in a bum genius pocket diaper to avoid microfiber stink?


  12. giselle Says:

    I had the same problem, so I bought some pretty dish towels then sewed two inserts together lengthways and then covered them with the dishtowels much like a quiltand voila, I had pretty and absorbant new kitchen rags.


  13. Erica Says:

    @Kari: Some people do buy used cloth diapers and inserts?


  14. Annie Says:

    help! My son and DIL are trying my home made bamboo cotton/PUL AIO (based on the Grasshopper) diapers on their 2 week old baby girl and since she has a rash (I think it’s from her poops) they are blaming the diapers and have since changed to disposables. What can I do to encourage them to continue with the CDs and what can I say to reassure them that it is not the dipes but just nature that is causing the rash. They are washing with home made soap and Rockin Green. AND… she is quite the soaker at night… so I have offered to make a few pockets… what style do you recommend?
    –Grannie Annie


    • Twyla Says:

      Tell them to make sure to use VERY LITTLE Rockin’ Green!!! Top or front loader doesn’t matter I found using the recommended amount caused horrible rashes! For either soap I use 1 TBS in a top loader and less than 1 tsp for a front loader. Also make sure to do lots of rinses. I ended up doing disposables for awhile while using RG because I couldn’t get rid of the rashes. Then someone told me to cut the amount and that finally helped.


    • Amanda Says:

      I would try cutting out the homemade soap for now and use a little Rockin’ Green Bare Naked Babies, the unscented kind. Many babies, (and adults!) have sensitivities to scents. Try doing those things first before quitting!


    • Anne Says:

      I have cloth diapered my second son since he was two weeks old. He had diaper rash until he was two months old and then it magically disappeared. I think that it was the nature of his poop (breastfed babies poop can be more acidic). I tried using fleece as a barier with my prefolds. The only thing that really worked was using diaper rash cream with a liner or disposables. I kept using the cloth except for occasionally using disposables to give his bum time to heal. I don’t totally get it b/c I think cloth is better for skin. I changed him frequently too…literally 15-16x/day even if the tiniest bit of urine was on his skin…he never went more than 1 1/2 to 2 hours between changing. I had to use a lamp on his bottom and do lots of “naked time”. It was rough the first two months and the only solution for me was diaper rash cream with liners unless I wanted to use disposables! If they refuse to use them now, tell them to revisit the cloth in a few months!


  15. Natale Says:

    Per your recommendation, I started using 2 hemp babies inserts in our bum genius at night and for the past week my 21 month old wakes up dry every morning. I am so grateful because I was dreading her waking up wet on cold nights (really ever).
    I really appreciate your willingness to share what you have learned!


  16. Kari Says:

    Thanks for the information. Here is a questions, what do you do with the “old” inserts that you no longer use? I realized the other day that I have a growing stack as I replace them and don’t know what to do with them. Any suggestions?


    • Ranela Says:

      Hi. Thanks for this site. I have a few pockets but the first ones I used I bought second hand. The previous owner did not take care of them well… I stripped them once and used them and baby had horrible rash. I stripped them 2 more times but damage was done.

      Luckily my baby is EBF and poops only once a week, so I just don’t use covers anymore and change as needed. I also notice that she doesn’t pee in her sleep but when she wakes in the morning. I just put a diaper on and feel if it’s wet then change her…

      Sorry for lack of punctuation… Using my phone…


      • Ranela again Says:

        I bought the second hand dipes w inserts and I ended up stripping, boiling, and sunning them. They are upcycled (sewn together) as a bathmat:) and a few kitchen rags.


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