We have tried several different diapering combinations since leaving our diaper service behind when we moved out of the city. Alva diapers were one brand I decided to give a try on. I'll be honest, what attracted me initially was the price. I've been using Alvas now for around four months, and feel I can give a good review on all points of the diapers, not just pricing 😉
Please note that Alva diapers are made in China, by a Chinese company (Alva). Many moms want diapers made in their own country. I also think it's important to know that many big diaper companies have at least part of their diapers made overseas… the difference is the company itself is based in the US. For fully American-made diapers, I would shop with WAHM's who make their own diapers.
I love the fit I can get with Alva pocket diapers. I haven't used them on a small baby yet (soon), but we've used them for Honor for several months now, and she has changed a lot over those months.
When we first got the Alva's she was pretty lean and I was still able to get a good fit. She's really gotten chunky over the past few months as she's begun eating full meals with us, and we have a great fit with slightly different settings.
You can get Alva's with hook and loop closure (Velcro or Aplix), but all of ours are snaps. They're all one-size with snaps for the rise and for the waist. All of our diapers also have a hip snap. At first I was a little intimidated by the snaps, but now they're a cinch and give a lot of custom fit.
I did up the rise snaps, then showed Scott and the kids how to fasten the hip and waist snaps (the rise snaps don't need to change until she grows a bit more). Scott grumbled a bit about four snaps (two waist, two hip), but got it quickly. The kids usually snap Honor's diapers too loosely, but they stay on 😉
I can also unsnap the diapers fairly quickly if Honor gives a potty cue.
Absorbancy / Inserts
All Alvababy diapers are pocket diapers. When you look at the website things can get confusing because the Chinese to English translations aren't the greatest. Just know that all styles are pockets!
Alva has three different insert options: microfiber, bamboo, or a microfiber/bamboo blend. We use bamboo and that's all I have used.
They're super absorbent and I love the bamboo inserts. I've used the diapers with an insert stuffed in the pocket and with an insert lying inside the shell (sort of like an AI2).
Honor is a heavy wetter, and I've found what works best for us is to have the pocket stuffed, then to double over a liner in the “wet zone” – I just put this inside the diaper, up against her skin. Unless we leave the diaper on way too long, this combination never leaks and I'm confident going out and about with her diapered like this.
The inserts are very soft, though if I don't use a diaper-safe fabric softener in the wash they will feel a little rougher. On the whole I really love the inserts and I'm pleased with the absorbancy.
The pocket / outer layer of Alva diapers is PUL or Minky. The inner lining of the pocket cover is either suedecloth or fleece, but to be honest I have both and can't tell much difference. I love the minky diapers because they're cute and soft. They're lined inside with PUL so are waterproof too. The minky ones seem to be cut a little smaller and have less “stretch” than the PUL diapers.
Both perform fabulously when asked to hold in poop. Again, I haven't used them with exclusive breastfed poop (soon), but they will hold in the biggest blow-outs Honor gives them.
We catch almost all of Honor's poops on the potty, so the poops that go into the diaper are almost always those lovely blow-outs that go from end-to-end and are of a much looser texture than her normal bowel movements. So pleasant! Hah! But they stay held in by these diapers.
We have a diaper sprayer and both the insert and the pocket itself spray clean very easily. Some of my inserts have light staining. I have not had any of the pockets stain.
Prints and Cuts
There are many, many adorable prints in the Alva's!! If you look on the site there are many different “series” and you can order from any of those series. I love almost all of them 😉
As I said above, the minky prints are my favorites, personally, even though they do seem to run a little smaller. I just think they're so cute on Honor! We have a mix of minky and PUL, though, and really all the prints are adorable. We also have several of the solids, and the colors are vibrant and look great.
There is one series that is cut a little different than the rest, and I don't like that cut as much. It fits Honor just fine, but it's just not my preference. I have the star patterns from this series, the E series.
Durability / Quality
Okay, besides absorbancy and poop-trapping, this is where the rubber meets the road for diapers. You've read all the articles that say “don't buy ‘China cheapies'”…
I'll be honest, these diapers have held up fantastically. I know we're only four months in, but based on other reviews I have no reason to believe these diapers won't make it all through the next baby. They get washed about three times every week, dried in the dryer (I'll try out line drying next summer), and they're doing great.
Minimal staining of inserts, no staining on the pocket itself. Snaps and laminate are in good condition. I have had NO delamination, despite drying on “high” setting.
There has been no fading — in fact, these look essentially the same as the day that I got them.
You can't beat the pricing on Alva diapers. Like I said above, I was initially attracted to the price, which would let me get diapers for Honor and for the new baby without spending a huge amount. All we had were a few prefolds and wool since we'd been using a diaper service. If I'd tried the Alva diapers when Honor was younger, I'd have cancelled the diaper service and saved us a bundle!!
Alva diapers run around $6 (USD) per diaper. That's with a microfiber insert. If you want bamboo or blend inserts, it comes to a little closer to $8 per diaper. That's a lot less than the $20 for many “name brand” cloth diapers on the market. If you buy in bulk with a co-op of other moms, you can get them for around $5 per diaper (Alva is completely fine with co-op bulk orders). Alva also makes newborn diapers that run around $4-5 per diaper.
I love our Alva diapers. We have tried a whole lot of diapers over the years with all of our babies, and I can honestly say that I like these best. I know they're not American made, and I know they're supposed to be cheap. But my experience with them has been that they're of great quality, they fit well, they don't leak, they hold in our occasional poop misses, and they look really cute! Most of our stash is Alvababy diapers at this point, and it's probably going to stay that way 🙂