Choosing a diaper for Pooka was one of the more challenging issues I've had as a parent so far. I think in reality the diaper chooses you. Each brand has a different fit or level of absorption. Just because a diaper works well for one baby doesn't mean it will work well for another. This makes choosing a diaper difficult as the reviews range wildly from "fantastic" to "horrible" for the same diaper. Since Pooka was born we have tried 5 different brands of diapers with mixed reviews. First she was in Pampers Swaddlers because she needed preemie size (she was full term but tiny). When she got bigger she went into 7th Generation and we also tried Earth's Best. We like the 7th Generation, but they are a bit wide in the crotch and we had to wait until she was big enough for them. The Earth's Best did not work well for Pooka. The diaper often broke open leaving the absorption crystals stuck to her butt and we ended up exchanging the remaining packages we had for 7th Generations. We also really like the Wholefoods 365 Diapers which are similar to 7th Generation, but are cheaper and a little less bulky.
Enter the gdiaper. I had researched gdiapers prior to Pooka's birth, but it took a while before she was big enough to wear them. The diapers are rated to fit babies starting at 8 lbs, but Pooka was very tall and slim and was not able to wear them until she was at least 10 lbs. So how have they worked? The "bottom" line is that we have had a good experience with gdiapers and use them daily, but they definitely have their pros and cons. Here's what we love: biodegradable and better for the environment, flushable, relatively easy to use (even for a reluctant Daddy), look cute on Pooka's tush, good fit once she was big enough. Here's what we love less: if you flush the diapers the diaper changing process takes longer, need to change more frequently because Pooka really notices when she is wet (which is really a good thing though), and despite what you may read on their site the inner liner almost always gets messy when Pooka poops and needs to be cleaned, and often the outer cloth cover also gets messy. Finally, they can be difficult to use on the go because they are bulky in the diaper bag.
That being said I think I should explain why, despite the cons, I still prefer gdiapers and how I use them. First, it is extremely important to me that the numerous diapers Pooka goes through daily do not spend the next 500 years biodegrading in a landfill. Even if we only use four gdiapers a day and disposables the rest of the time we have reduced the number of Pooka's diapers going to the landfill by 28 diapers per week and 1,456 diapers per year. Can you imagine how large that pile would be? Second, the number of peepee diapers Pooka produces far outweighs the number of poopie diapers and these are a breeze to clean. I choose to simply toss the flushable insert into the trash (in a biodegradable trash bag). Plus, I actually like the fact that Pooka feels wet and lets me know much sooner than with disposables. She has never had diaper rash from her gdiapers.
Now back to the poopie diaper issue, yes they can get messy, but who said helping reduce our impact on the environment was supposed to be easy and convenient? I wash the liner and cover in the sink with a dab of stain remover, hang them and reuse them once they are dry. We have 6 covers and 10 liners. They all go to the wash once a week for a thorough cleaning. On average I wash about 4 liners per day and two covers, but bear in mind that Pooka is breast fed and a prolific pooper, pooping at least 4 times per day. At night we put a disposable on her for convenience, especially because Pooka sleeps 8-11 hours per night and we don't want her sleep interrupted by a wet diaper. We also use disposables if we are going to be out and about for so we can just toss the dirties.
gdiapers are a nice compromise between disposable and cloth, meaning they are more convenient than cloth but slightly more labor intensive than disposables. You may be wondering why I didn't choose cloth, and that is a matter of our current living situation. First, we use the community laundry machines in our co-op and I can only imagine the complaints we would receive running big loads of dirty diapers in the building (pre-baby I'm sure I would be grossed out by a neighbor who did that!). We also considered a diaper service, but they only pick up once a week. This would mean living with an enormous bag of dirty diapers in our compact 400 square foot apartment. Urban moms can appreciate this dilema! So all in all I give the gdiapers a big thumbs up, but realize they require some extra time and patience. To me it is worth it to have a little piece of mind!
For a more comprehensive review of the construction and price comparisons of 7th Generation, Wholefoods 365 and gdiapers check out this review at Mama Stories.