Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Product Review: gDiapers versus GroBaby

Recently we at Chez Kelman have had the opportunity to test drive a few different diapering options. We used disposables (specifically Huggies . . . but for no good reason) for the first month, just until we could get our heads back on straight. Now we're branching into the wonderful world of alternative diapering options. So far we've tried the GroBaby diapering system and gDiapers.

Our co-bloggers Bob and Rebecca gave us a starter set of the GroBaby diapering system. Theoretically that should last four diaper changes before laundering. In reality, we made it through three changes before feces had contaminated both shells and thus required laundering. Perhaps with more practice - like maybe we could get the fit tighter or the arrangement of the soaker pad more evenly distributed - we could maximize the efficiency of the GroBaby diaper system. That being said, they are easy to put on and take off. It is easy to remove a soiled soaker pad and put in a new soaker pad. And there were no leaks, which we had a few of in the last couple days of newborn sized diapers. These new cloth diaper "systems" are SO much easier than the old fashioned diapers with pins.

Our friends Sarah, Chris, and Will brought a small sized set of gDiapers over since Will had outgrown them before they had the chance to test them out on him.

I didn't find gDiapers any easier than the GroBaby diaper system. If anything, the three parts of the gDiaper instead of two parts of the GroBaby diaper added a layer of complexity without any discernible benefit.

And like the GroBaby diapers, if anything gets on the outer shell you have to run it through the wash and hang it to dry. The gDiapers just add another liner layer that also has to be run through the wash and hung dry if anything get on it. The only difference is the soaker pad in the GroBaby diapers is washable instead of disposable.

And I wouldn't try to flush the gDiaper pads. First, you have to disassemble the pad before putting it in the toilet. Gross. Second, you have to let the inner layer of the pad sit in the toilet to disintegrate a bit before attempting to flush. They even provide a stick with which to swirl it around. Gross. Third, you have to hold on to the outer layer of the pad until you flush for some reason. Gross. Fourth, I am ENTIRELY sure this would clog the toilet. Entirely. Gross.

So much easier to just throw a whole diaper in the laundry.

And as far as saving the planet goes, the GroBaby wins hands down what with no part of it being disposable. My guess is that gDiapers are aimed at dedicated disposable diaper users who want to decrease that insane level of environmental impact.
The picture above shows a size 1 Huggie (the largest size that could theoretically fit a baby who could also fit the smallest size Gdiaper) next to a Gdiaper insert. I'm not arguing that the content of the Huggie is the exact environmental equivalent of the Gdiaper insert, but by volume alone, the Gdiaper is going to take up more space in your trash can and in the landfill, or clogging up your toilet and your waste water treatment plant.

But I could totally see disposable diaper users trying gDiapers, thinking they might transition from gDiapers to cloth diapers and be SO disappointed by the grossness and effort involved that they won't ever try cloth diapers. This is a total bummer because cloth diapers are actually MUCH easier than gDiapers. Really, gDiapers combine the worst parts of disposable diapers with the worst parts of cloth diapers.

Meanwhile, I'm currently conducting an experiment wherein I put GroBaby soaker pads in a gDiaper instead of the disposable gDiaper insert. I'll update this post with the results.

Edited on 1/20/2010 to add: The GroBaby soaker pads in the gDiaper worked VERY well. No leaks. The liner layer did an excellent job of keeping the poo off the outer shell. The liner itself did get soiled, necessitating a wash, but the outer shell could be reused with another liner and another soaker pad. Certainly no worse than the GroBaby. But I'm beginning to think all-in-ones get a bad rap. I mean, if I end up washing part or all of the diaper after each use, why not wash the whole diaper? Now, I understand that as she gets older and there are fewer explosive newborn bowel movements, there will be less frequent need to wash the whole thing. But I'm wondering if it's not worth trying some non-pocket all-in-ones. I had originally dismissed that sort of cloth diaper as too expensive and not easy to clean. Time to make a run to my local granola crunchy baby store!

I'm sorry I don't have time to respond to all the enthusiastic comments, but you should totally read them if you haven't yet. Very interesting! If you're wondering why they seem to skew in favor of gDiapers that might be a function of gDiapers linking to this post from their Facebook page. Thanks for the link!

Edited on 2/5/2010 to add:
Check out my subsequent diaper reviews:

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Mandy B said...

I've never used the GroBaby diapers, but use the gdiapers regularly. I have used the flushable inserts and find them pretty easy to use if I feel like flushing them, I have an old house with poor plumbing and have never plugged the toilet system. I do prefer to throw them out but they would compost well if you so desire. (that is gross to me) Anyway, I actually use the cloth inserts and wash the gdiapers as needed and don't hang dry anything. I put them all in the dryer but the plastic shells and they dry so quickly, it's no biggie. Anyway, thought I'd throw that out there. They don't really seem to be anymore gross than having to wipe the gross off my baby anyway.

Hannah said...

I am a gDiaper user and you completley skipped over the fact that gDiapers has a CLOTH insert available also. You do not have to use the flushables- they are just an option; an option that I love when I am running around town. Also, you do not have to let it sit in the toilet prior to flushing, you just swich once with the stick and then flush it down. I have only had 1 issue with it clogging, and that was because we were (unknowlingly) on a septic! I ADORE MY GDIAPERS! It is so easy to have 1 system that can go anywhere with you- cloth at home, and fluables on the go. Also, the 3 part system is designed to SAVE you washings, since the liner can snap out and be washed, and a new snap in placed in the gPant. Also, only the liner has to be hang dried- the gPant can and should be run through the drier. If poop is getting on the gPant, it means the fit is not good.

The Tanners said...

I started out with gdiapers. And i agree with you that they are a PAIN! We had a TON of leaks in them and it seemed like breastfed poor would leak out all the time. I got so frustrated. I finally decided to switch to all cloth (before we didn't have a washer/dryer in our home and i was scared of carrying the diapers to the laundry everyday) and WOW! Cloth is SO much easier. And not gCloth real "new age" cloth! Getting the poo off the cloth is much less disgusting than dismantling the flushable and now i throw them in the wash and they come out all nice. I have meant to try GroBaby but am a little put off by my gdiaper experience. I like my pockets! Thanks for the review!

Anonymous said...

I love GroBaby (and bum Genius Organic w/ snaps) I have learned with GroBaby shells, if you don't put them in the dryer they last much longer and the velcro does not get fuzzy. They air dry in the same time it takes to dry the soaker pads in the dryer.

Suzanne said...

I too am a gDiaper fan & we only use the flushable inserts rather than the cloth. We compost the wet inserts, which is awesome for my garden. And my favorite part is that poop goes IN THE TOILET - where it belongs!!! Not in a bucket & not in the washer - that's gross! The liners do get messy with newborns because the poop is loose, but I've been using gDiapers for 1.5 years & rarely have to wash a liner, nevermind the cover except on regular laundry day. Seriously - waaaay easier than cloth!

Andrea said...

I feel you needed to do a bit of research on the gdiaper before writing about it.
Most of what I want to say Mandy and Hannah already said. I want to add that I can have a gpant last all day and night (approx 10-12 changes during the day) I mostly use the reusable insert which I prefer to anyother reusable insert on the market (this is my 4th baby so I have used just about everything out there). My baby has never had a leak (she is almost 3 months). The liner does have to be changed once in awhile for massive BMs but the cover is still good to go. BTW, I also put the cover and reusable inserts in the dryer. I love using the disposible liner when I am out and about. If you choose not to flush them they still decompose faster (months as opposed to years and years) than regular diapers. They also do not conatin chemicals so to compare them to Huggies is just not cool.

Emily Elizabeth said...

I used both systems for 4 months each- and I have to say you make some fine points. Especially about the complexity and grossness of the gDiapers. I have used both disposable inserts and cloth inserts in both brands, i have used the ones made by the respective companies, so a fairly long term study!
These are my problems with gDiapers: they have an extra layer to put together, they have to be put on just so to prevent leaks, the internal snaps rub on my baby's skin and give her red marks, and the cloth option in the M/L size was no longer absorbent enough after she was about 10 months old. (however, I hang dry everything and have been told by gDiapers if i had a dryer they would be more absorbent. though i did for the first two months I used them, I don't anymore...)and the mylon liner that actually attempts to contain wetness wears out quickly, especially with the cloth inserts, and once the elastic is shot- in about 4-6 months- you have to replace that...
the Gro Baby diaper is much easier to assemble, doesn't bunch between the legs has a one-size cover (so you don't have to buy Small, Medium, AND Large!!) and now that my daughter eats mostly solids, we use only 2 covers all day! the bio-soakers are more like a disposable on the inside, so they catch messes wonderfully. i love that air drying doesn't effect the absorbency of the organic cotton, I love that they are organic (gCloth is not, actually part polyester fleece) and I love that the Gro Baby shells I've been washing by machine and hanging to dry for 4 months still look brand new whereas my gPants all faded on the clothesline and the velcro on half of them curls up and sticks to everything.
so, i say Gro Baby- hands down!

of course, EITHER is better than regular disposables when you consider the environment... even if you toss them in the trash, they still degrade 499 years 315 days faster than the "normal" diapers!

of course, as a cloth user- i think it's worth saying that cloth wipes make cloth diapering easier, so do stay-dry fleece liners.... and that I totally agree with the fact that sometimes dealing with and icky gDiaper with a flushie is far more stomach churning than anything I ever really deal with with cloth!

cadyn said...

I compost our wet inserts. They are completely gone in 14 days. So nothing is sitting in a landfill. And guess what...We aren't washing cloth inserts or covers twice by themselves. We just throw the covers in with our regular wash.

Anonymous said...

I've used GroBaby diapers and gDiapers in addition to other types of cloth and disposables. Of all the cloth diapers I have used, GroBaby's were the WORST! Poop managed to get in between the layers of the soaker (you want to talk gross...good luck getting that out to put in the toilet) and all over the shell. The soakers take about 3-4 dryer cycles on hot to get dry because of how many layers there are at the gathered parts. And after only a dozen or so uses, the elastics on the shell started to go. If GrowBabys are the only cloth option you're considering, stick with disposables.

I don't find gDiapers the least bit gross. They are easy to tear apart to put in the toilet (without getting anything on you) and they flush very easily and have never risked cloggin my toilet. Even with the large inserts. I still do not use them all the time because I find that the insert bunches up in between the legs and they're just expensive.

If you're considering cloth, try something other than GroBabys...they're the last kind I'd recommend.

gDiapers are totally worth giving them a try. They are nowhere near as gross as the author of this article has made them out to be. In fact, if the gross factor is the only thing holding you back from trying cloth, gDiapers are a GREAT way to make the transition to cloth!

cadyn said...

I should clarify that I'm referring to g's. And I love them.

Emily Elizabeth said...

clearly Cadyn and I completely disagree! a few important points about cloth and these 2 brands:

1- a diaper sprayer makes cleaning poop EASY and none actually ever needs to go in a bucket or in the washer, it all goes in the toilet where it belongs

2- like other clothing, every brand will fit differently, and every baby is shaped differently, so if you're going to try cloth I would fin a site that offers a "cloth diaper trial" where they send you a bunch of kinds to try and find what you like!

3- both are known for velcro problems, anything with elastic will wear out quickly if it is put in a high heat dryer, so that shouldn't be a problem if you air dry the shells

4- if you do your diaper laundry in the evening, you can hand dry our soaker pads overnight, and throw them in the dryer in the morning, that should cut down on dryer time. also, if you take them out and they are a little damp, you can lay them on top of the dryer as it drys another load of laundry and that will help dry them some too! if I live with air-drying mine, you don't have to run yours through a dryer 3 times!!

cadyn said...

Emily I think you were referring the anonymous post between my 2 posts, but it does raise a question. The way I use my g's creates zero trash and no additional energy consumption (electricity or water). So is it more ecofriendly to use a cloth product that requires a few trips in the washer and dryer? This isn't a rhetorical question, I'm genuinely curious.

ThreadBeaur said...

I have used both gro baby and gdiaper (cloth insert). Our boy is five weeks and 9 pounds. Every gro baby diaper I have used has leaked not only on the outer shell, but all over me! Not cool. I have only had one leak with the gdiaper ( entirely my Fault). And barely ever have to wash the out side lttle g. I am amazed at the capacity of the cloth insert. It does a better job than the disposable, hands down.

Emily Elizabeth said...

i'm sorry Cadyn, you're right- I was referring to the "anonymous" in between your posts!

there have been plenty of studies about the eco-friendliness of cloth concerning water and energy consumption and they basically say that it really isn't great for those consumptions but obviously is good for landfills- so it depends heavily on where you live, and what resources you use. However, I don't believe these take into account the production, shipping, and marketing of the thousands of dollars of disposable diapers used for a single baby, the only one's i've read consider the decomposition in landfills.

I'll say a few things about why i chose cloth as the "eco" is only part of my choice... and I have made some choices to make my cloth diapering as "eco" as it can be

first, my daugher broke out in hives all over her body in Pampers and Huggies and Luvs and CVS etc. etc. so she was definitely allergic to the chemicals. so, we are in cloth/ low chemical disposables as an allergy preventative (99% cloth)

some raise the question about washing and drying... i have chosen GroBaby (and had chosen GDiapers first) because with only the insert needing to be washed by machine (and in GDipaers the pant can go in with "regular" wash- i hand washed the nylon liners, as i hand was gro baby shells) it significantly cut back on the water & energy usage from when I used pockets and prefolds because now only the soaker pad goes in, I can do 2 days worth of "diaper laundry" in a small load... increasing wash by 2-3 small loads a week didn't seem too outrageous to me, especially as we do not dry, and on the rare occasions we do, we hang dry overnight before drying by machine!

also worth mentioning is that my cloth diapers can and will be used for a 2nd, possibly 3rd baby. so a one-time high quality purchase should last many years.

i think if people are choosing cloth for the environment they should hang dry or follow the other tips I previously posted about reducing the # of cycles in the dryer. 3-4 dryer cycles is not so green. and it's not just GroBaby, I had the same problem of long drying time with pre-folds and microfibre before I gave up using a dryer. it makes sense, diapers are designed to be absorbent and keep baby dry- not to dry quickly!

Emily Elizabeth said...

the first thing I would say against gDiapers where it concerns the environment is: you can't recycle their nylon liners, and they get worn out in a few months, I did the math and at the rate I went through them (10 in 4 months) that's 30/year for 2.5 years that would be 75 nylon liners I would go through if I exclusively gDiapered for that long. With GroBaby I have 14 shells and will never need more than that, and if elastic gets damaged, I can ship them back to be repaired.

One other "green" issue I have with gDiapers in the packaging of their inserts which is not bio-degradable. They say this is to protect the inserts and keep them sanitary in shipping, yet The Natural Baby Company's bio-soakers are shipped in bio-degradable packaging, so I know it's not impossible. it's a little more expensive, but not impossible.

sadly, both brands are produced in China, so there's no escaping that. however, if you want Made in the USA, Blueberry diapers are excellent, and their materials are also sourced in the states. but talk about $$$...

the last eco-conscious debate I have internally about gDiapers is that you can buy the new "tinyG" for the newborn stage, then you have to buy a size small, then a medium, then a large... oh and you'll need at least 6-10 of each size... so in reality you're probably going to have to buy a minimum of 40 diaper covers as you progress through the sizes (i'm thinking 12 newborn, 6 of each S, M, L ) so producing & shipping & marketing etc of 40 diaper covers as opposed to the 12 Gro Baby you'll need also means higher costs for the consumer, and more second-hand energy usage. GroBaby is more expensive upfront, but when you consider the one-size function of them, it's a no brainer that they save you money.

for what it's worth if anyone is curious, gro baby and g diapers bio-soakers or flushables can be used in each other's covers without any issues... gro baby's can also be torn and the core of the insert flushed... there is a 3rd hybrid diaper system out there too, it's call "FLIP" and I haven't tried it so I can't pass judgement, but I have a few reason I haven't tried them and I'm 100 percent sold on my GroBabys... the company also makes several wonderful products that have not once irritated my daughter's incredibly sensitive skin!

Emily Elizabeth said...

might I point out too that most people who have posted here who love their gDiapers have babies that aren't yet crawling or walking? we had no leaks with gs when my daughter was tiny, but once she was in motion it was endless, and she was out-peeing the cloth soaker pads in about 45 minutes. Take a 9 month old baby who is in constant motion and try to change a diaper every 45 minutes, and then let me know if you stick with that brand!!
I didn't try Gro Baby when my daughter was an infant, but from my cloth experiences, I have to say that I think their soaker pad is too bulky for a baby under about 12 pounds, so I would consider using a gCloth size small inside my newborn's GroBaby shell... or I would use 2 booster pads instead of a soaker pad... but that's getting into a whole other world of diaper semantics that will detract from this blog. If your Gro Baby leaked with an infant, try them again in a few months, they probably didn't fit right yet- and they probably will fit at some point!

Anonymous said...

But all this just shows that all babies are different and we should always find what works best for us. If g's are gross -they are gross to that person. They work well for others.
I use g's but have few leaks, so I use the Flip Diapers. I have haven't tried GroBaby yet, the order is in the way.
But I do like that the g's flushies are 100% biodegradable.

Just go what works for YOU

cadyn said...

That's a good point about the liners in g's Elizabeth. My daughter is 15 months and we've been in g's for the past 6 months. We have only had leaks overnight (I'm actually yet to find anything that doesn't leak overnight including disposables). That is also a bummer about the packaging on the g inserts. And as an aside, I've tried the Flips and I'm not a fan, mostly b/c I love how snug the g's are. But I will say that their disposable inserts are awesome and cheaper.

SaraRashas said...

I've only used the gDiapers and they're great. I use the flushables and I've never had a problem. I use one and a half since my son is a heavy wetter. Yes, I do have to separate the parts, but they flush with no problem - even the 1 1/2 is fine. If there's poop I flush twice, if it's just wet I flush once and then leave the paper in the potty. They get flushed the next time somebody flushes. I use the stick and if something gets on my hands I just wash them, it's part of having a baby and not a big deal at all. You can get stuff on your hands while using a wipe just as easily. I've never had a problem with a clog. My son has his last sippy right before bed - 6:30 p.m. - and he wakes up around 8:00-ish a.m. They work great. Occasionally I have a leak, but no more than I did when we used disposables before finding the G's. Price-wise I find that they are only a few cents more than the disposables I used to use. I bought a few starter kits so I could get the extra covers (cheaper than buying them separately). I wash the covers with the plastic liners still attached and I've never had a problem. No need to take apart and put back together. I put them in a net bag so the velco doesn't stick to clothing and drop them in with whatever cold wash I'm doing that day. I hang them to dry - don't want to risk them shrinking. I'm only using them at night since my son is in pull-ups during the day. Also love that they are latex free since my son is sensitive to latex.

Holly A. said...

I have use G's almost exclusively. They didn't fit when my daughter was newborn, so, I used disposables for the first few weeks. I am pregnant again and very excited about the new tiny g's that I can use on newborn #2. Anyway, my daughter is now 20 months and has been in g's since the beginning. Yes, they leak sometimes and yes sometimes poop gets on the liner, but I feel like that would happen with any diaper. Somedays we can use the same gpant for a day and a half, somedays we go through 3 gpants in one day. Just depends on what was on the menu.... We do about 2 loads of gpants and inserts a weeks. As far as easy goes, the gDiapers have been great and awesome and I love them. However to be fair, I haven't tried any of the other systems. Also, now I have a complete set of small, medium and large gpants for #2. As for the comments about the liners wearing out.... that hasn't happened to me. I have never tossed a liner.

Val said...

I've never used GroBaby diapers, but I have been using Gdaipers since my daughter was born. I don't think that they're gross or confusing at all.
First, that plastic liner rules and protects the little gpant from crazy poops most all of the time. Second, I never bothered to read the cleaning instructions, but I don't line dry the pant... it does just fine in the dryer. If you're concerned about the velcro pulling on the waist band you can fold it in on itself. Third, the diapers are biodegradable, which means that they don't fill up the land fill. Forth, unlike with cloth diapers, my baby has not had diaper rash at all with the gs. And finally, flushing them isn't gross at all. It's kinda cool really, just open them up and dump the guts of the insert in the toilet. In my experience it breaks up pretty instantly, but if not you can use the swizzle stick.
I dunno, I guess I don't think touching my kids poo or urine is that big of a deal. I mean I wouldn't take a bath in it, but a little crap on your hands? Washing them isn't that hard.

SaraJ said...

I just have to add my opinion here... I chose gDiapers because I was not ambitious enough to try all the laundry that came with cloth and wanted something in-between cloth and disposibles. My daughter is almost 2 and we still LOVE them. I have actually found less problem with leaks since she started walking around. The thing is, I only flush poopy inserts. All the rest go into a bag and then dumped into my compost every week or 2. By the time I turn the compost over again, they're gone. At this point, I have the richest compost I've had in years :-) As for the laundry - I was not interested in washing daily or even every other day (too lazy!). I have 6 covers and double that of liners. I do at MOST one diaper load a week, and it's rarely all 6 diapers. Which means I get minimum 1 full day of changes per diaper cover. The liners are awesome because they get dirty, I snap them out, rinse, throw in the laundry basket, and snap in the new one. Great for travel. With my next baby, I'm looking forward to adding cloth to the rotation for home use. I just think that you were unnecessarily harsh on a system that you haven't used. And, "gross"? It's pretty much all gross - washing poo, flushing it, swishing it, wiping it... and let's not even discuss the grossness I've experienced since starting potty training!!

SaraJ said...

I just have to add my opinion here... I chose gDiapers because I was not ambitious enough to try all the laundry that came with cloth and wanted something in-between cloth and disposibles. My daughter is almost 2 and we still LOVE them. I have actually found less problem with leaks since she started walking around. The thing is, I only flush poopy inserts. All the rest go into a bag and then dumped into my compost every week or 2. By the time I turn the compost over again, they're gone. At this point, I have the richest compost I've had in years :-) As for the laundry - I was not interested in washing daily or even every other day (too lazy!). I have 6 covers and double that of liners. I do at MOST one diaper load a week, and it's rarely all 6 diapers. Which means I get minimum 1 full day of changes per diaper cover. The liners are awesome because they get dirty, I snap them out, rinse, throw in the laundry basket, and snap in the new one. Great for travel. With my next baby, I'm looking forward to adding cloth to the rotation for home use. I just think that you were unnecessarily harsh on a system that you haven't used. And, "gross"? It's pretty much all gross - washing poo, flushing it, swishing it, wiping it... and let's not even discuss the grossness I've experienced since starting potty training!!

Emily Elizabeth said...

Cadyn, have you tried using a size small g insert as a doubler inside a disposable for overnight? that should work as a great doubler!

I think gDiapers is a wonderful company, they produce a great product, they have given a viable alternative to thousands of people who would otherwise be tossing 'sposies in the landfills! As separate pieces, the flushies, their cloth inserts I still buy & use for several purposes, it's just that for my daughter the system as a whole, with the cloth didn't work for us. Every baby is different though- so everyone has to try something different!
When we are going out for the day and I don't want to haul the bulk of cloth with me, I don't hesitate to bring g's with flushies. They're not a bad product, and I honestly think that when they were developed, for the flushable, compostable insert that the liner/pant was designed to work with them, and that system works. i run into problems with them holding up with the gCloth. Because I choose to used cloth, I have chosen GroBaby i still use the parts of my gs, just not as they were intended! I use them as "doublers" i use the pants sometimes as a cover if my daughter is wearing a dress and I want a cotton cover underneath! they're far from useless, but I think in the future when I use gs, it will be for their original purpose, not for their cloth option.