Searching for a great cloth diapering system is a lot of fun… and it's also overwhelming! I decided I'd try out a few different diapers as I looked for an easy system to use for Honor and to use for the new baby. My first pick was Softbums because I've heard other mamas give them good reviews. I've really enjoyed using them and I'll share my thoughts below:
The first thing that attracted me to Softbums was their fully customizable fit. Like many diapers, they're a “one size” system meant to take your child from birth to potty independence. Rather than using snaps to adjust fit, however, they have a super-cool toggle system.
There's a tiny (but still easily usable) toggle on each side of the diaper (under the fleece liner) that lets you adjust the elastic in the legs to get a perfect fit for your baby. I've never seen anything like it.
It works really, really well. On the smallest setting the leg openings are tiny – I have a feeling they'd fit even a tiny newborn. On the largest setting they're way too big for Honor, so they'll fit for quite awhile. It was easy to get them adjusted for Honor's size and they look really nice.
An AI2 System
I wanted to try an all-in-2 (AI2) system because it's something I've never used before – Softbums has two different covers and both offer an AI2 option (the Echo is just an AI2, the Omni is an AI2/pocket diaper hybrid). The concept of an AI2 system is great because you snap a liner into the diaper cover. If your baby only wets you can re-use the cover. This reduces the number of covers you need. If baby has a dirty diaper you'll probably need a new cover. I'm able to rotate through two covers most of the day – I use one, then let it air and use the other during a diaper change. I end up putting most covers in the wash because the outside gets dirty from Honor crawling around. I like the AI2 system!
Another AI2 benefit is that if you leave the insert snapped onto the cover when you put the diaper in the pail, it self-agitates in the wash. You don't have to pull out the insert like you would with a pocket diaper. I haven't found this actually happens with my Softbums, though, because I usually unsnap the liner and put it in the pail, and set the cover (or shell, as Softbums calls them) aside to air. Even if it's time to wash the cover, I have a small wet bag for them. I put the liners in a pail so I can do a soak if I feel the need to, but don't want to soak the covers.
Inserts, or “Pods”
Softbums calls their inserts “pods.” The insert is the absorbent material that actually acts as the diaper. They have three different options: a simple microfiber, a “super” microfiber pod, and a bamboo pod.
I personally don't like microfiber and haven't used it for quite awhile. I love, bamboo, however, so I was excited about the bamboo option.
I really like the bamboo pod. I like the cut, and how well it fits in the diaper cover (shell). We're using the Echo shell, which has a great, trim fit, and the bamboo pods fit in really nicely. They're also very absorbent. I like that I can fold it up to get extra absorbency up front.
A few of our bamboo pods were handed down from other moms, and I've noticed that those are definitely not as soft as the new ones we have… they're a little “crunchy” or stiff. Doing some washes with a cloth-diaper safe fabric softener has definitely made a difference, but I know that over time the bamboo will lose some of its luxurious softness.
The biggest issue with the bamboo pods is their expense — they cost a lot more than either of the microfiber inserts. They are organic, but still feels really cost prohibitive. It's recommended you have at least 24 for one baby to wash every other day… and that's a lot of money at around $11-12 an insert (and you still have to buy the shells, but you don't need as many of those).
I have had some leaks with Softbums. We're doing elimination communication with cloth diapers, so I catch almost every poop – and the couple I've missed have been well-contained by Honors Softbums (though we do usually have to change the shell with a poop). Pees, however, I've had some leaks with.
Honor pees a lot, so even with EC'ing we have some wet diapers – and some flooded diapers. I could never go the “cloth diaper holy grail” of 2 hours without a change with Honor (unless we caught every pee in the potty!). She's just a heavy wetter – for any diaper.
I have gotten some leaks with just one bamboo pod in Honor's diaper if I miss a couple of pees (I'd say she's in the diaper for an hour or so). With a pod plus a Mini-pod (also bamboo), I don't get leaks.
I do think some of my leaks may have actually been caused by having the legs adjusted too tightly. Honor may have had a growth spurt because I noticed them fitting more tightly and loosened them up. I haven't had a leak since then. So the leaks may have been due to compression on the insert/pod causing wicking… I always got the leakage or wicking from around the diaper seams. This happened with both my hand-me-down Echo shells and my brand new ones, so I know it's not just from age.
I am contacting Softbums about this and I'll update this review as I work on it.
Overall, I really like the Softbums system. I LOVE the Echo shell — it's very trim and the adjustability is amazing and easy to use. I really like solid color choices and I adore the prints. They look so cute on Honor's bum! They're also made here in the United States. They seem very comfy for Honor.
I have both snaps and hook-and-loop (Velcro/Aplix) closures. Though I like snaps in theory for durability, I prefer the hook-and-loop closure. It's easier to put on, and it reinforces the tabs so the top of the diaper doesn't roll under Honor's round belly. The snaps do roll down. The hook-and-loop is very durable and sewn right onto the taps — no flimsy little flaps like on some brands of diapers. I like it a lot.
I really like the cut and ease of use for the bamboo pods. This system is super-easy to use with EC because I just unfasten the diaper and flip it out of the way to quickly put Honor on the potty. The bamboo is also very soft and stays pretty soft with the right care. I also like the mini-pods; they're great for doubling if I know I'll be busy and may not get Honor to the potty. I also think they'll be great to use when we have a newborn, since they're much smaller than the full-sized bamboo pod.
Again, the cost of the bamboo pods is pretty high. They're also made in China, so that's something to note if fully made in the USA is important to you (the Echo and Omni shells/covers are made in the USA).
I've experimented with other inserts in my Softbums because of the expense of the pods and have found some that work pretty well. It's great that the shells work well with other inserts (another brand of bamboo).
Again, all-in-all I love the Softbums and I am definitely keeping the shells for use with the new baby. They're very easy for Honor to use and super-adjustable so I can use them with the newbie 😉 I may end up using a different brand insert, however, just because of the cost of getting enough Softbums pods for two babies.
I purchased my Softbums with my own money and have received no compensation for the review. The links in this article are not affiliate links. I'm simply sharing my adventures 🙂