Home & Garden Home The 7 Best Biodegradable Diapers of 2021 When cloth just won’t cut it, choose the next best thing By Lorraine Wilde Lorraine Wilde is a freelance writer for Treehugger. She is the Owner and Strategist of the public relations and content company Wilde World Communications. our editorial process Twitter Twitter Lorraine Wilde Updated February 01, 2021 Share Twitter Pinterest Email Home Family Pest Control Natural Cleaning DIY Green Living Thrift & Minimalism Sustainable Eating Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links. The Rundown Best Overall: Andy Pandy Premium Bamboo Disposable Diapers at Walmart "These diapers are made by a family-owned business that donates a portion of profits to charity." Best Budget: Earth + Eden Baby Diapers at Amazon "Cruelty-free, affordable diapers made in a zero-waste facility." Best Overnight & Travel Diaper: The Honest Company Overnight Diapers at Amazon "This option offers lightweight, reliable protection for up to 12 hours." Best for Sensitive Skin : Eco Boom Bamboo Diaper at Amazon "Protect your baby's skin with these 100 percent biodegradable diapers made with sustainably-harvested bamboo." Best Subscription: DYPER Bamboo Baby Diapers at Walmart "You’ll never worry about running out of these affordable, sustainable bamboo diapers." Best Training Diaper: Bambo Nature Eco Friendly Premium Training Pants at Amazon "Take the stress out of potty training with sustainable, affordable bamboo diapers." Best Swim Diaper: Little Toes Natural Disposable Swimmy Diapers at Amazon "Kids will toddle into the pool with the security of this struggle-free, award-winning diaper." You’ve probably heard that when it comes to diapering your baby, cloth diapers are better for the planet than any single-use product. That is still the case, according to a UK life cycle assessment, if you do things like line dry them outside, wash fuller loads in newer, energy-efficient appliances without harsh detergents and other chemicals, and reuse them on multiple children. But the truth is that cloth diapers—or nappies if you’re in the UK—and all of these if’s just aren’t practical or attainable for everyone. Upfront costs of $300 to $400 for each size are beyond some family budgets. Cloth diapers aren’t accepted at some child care centers and many people don’t have easy or affordable access to regular laundry. Tired parents will also be the first to admit that cloth diapers do require more time to process and launder compared to disposables. Let’s also not forget that there are many situations when you don’t want to carry a dirty diaper around, like air or train travel. Parents also must consider a number of other factors when debating whether to use cloth or disposable. There is no clear cut answer and pros and cons must be weighed with each families’ unique circumstances in mind. In the end, you must choose what’s right for your family. The good news is that biodegradable diaper technology has advanced significantly in recent years. That’s because manufacturers have responded to our calls for environmentally-conscious alternatives to traditional plastic disposables. It is now relatively easy to find a variety of biodegradable disposable diapers online and in major stores. We’ve culled a list of the best, environmentally-friendly and biodegradable diapers that are available today. Best Overall: Andy Pandy Premium Bamboo Disposable Diapers Buy on Walmart Buy on Amazon Buy on Andypandykids.com The Andy Pandy Bamboo Diaper brand was developed by a Michigan family, the Hansens, because they wanted an alternative that didn’t cause diaper rash the way traditional disposables can. Only on the market since 2013, they might be a little harder to find than some other brands. But according to customer reviews, they’re worth it. The Bump and Parent Tested Parent Approved both awarded Andy Pandy as their top picks among biodegradable diapers. They earn that top spot by being Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) and free from perfumes, alcohol, preservatives, latex, and the polyvinyl chloride (PVC), tributyl tin (TBT) and phthalates that can be found in some plastic disposables. Parents say the bamboo top sheet is incredibly soft and comfortable. The secret to preventing diaper rash may be that Andy Pandy adds aloe to its top sheet—known to be antibacterial, antiviral and to have antioxidant characteristics. Their fluff is made from sustainable perforated 100 percent bamboo fiber and Sumitomo super-absorbent polymer (SAP) making it 87 percent biodegradable in the right conditions more than 60 percent in 75 days. The non-biodegradable parts of these diapers are the SAP, elastic and adhesive. A bonus feature of this diaper is a wetness indicator strip to help busy parents know when it’s time for a change. A yellow strip along the back of the diaper measures pH and turns blue-green to eliminate constant checking and the potential for diaper rash on your baby’s sensitive skin. Hanson Kids also donates a portion of its profits to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and plants two trees for each purchase via the Eden Reforestation Project, so you can feel really good about your purchase. Best Budget: Earth + Eden Baby Diapers Buy on Amazon Although these diapers make some compromises on biodegradable materials, those choices make Earth + Eden Baby Diapers one of the most affordable biodegradable options—about half the price of other brands. The manufacturer makes sustainable choices in other areas to offset those differences and they are still better for your baby and the environment than traditional plastic diaper brands. Earth + Eden uses water-based inks that contain no heavy metals. The diapers are also cruelty-free and produced in a "Zero Waste to Landfill" facility. The inner core is a Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) Certified blend of ECF cotton and bamboo fluff that is free of lotions, parabens, fragrance, latex and all 26 allergens restricted by the European Union. The hypoallergenic inner liner is nonwoven polypropylene which is not biodegradable, but is the same material found in plastic bottles which is considered more environmentally-friendly than other plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The absorbing material in this diaper is petroleum-derived sodium polyacrylate and not biodegradable. Although less biodegradable than other brands, when you’re on a tight budget, these diapers are better than traditional plastic counterparts. This same diaper is also sold under the Cuties Complete Care brand at a similar price. Best Overnight & Travel Diaper: The Honest Company Overnight Diapers Buy on Amazon Buy on Honest.com Buy on Kroger.com To achieve leak-proof durability for overnights and long days while traveling, manufacturers use materials that are extra-absorbent and more durable. Unfortunately, to achieve that, you’ll find a higher percentage of non-biodegradable materials in the diaper. Originally founded by actor Jessica Alba, the Honest brand Overnight Diapers are widely available and well-rated. The materials of this diaper changed in 2018 away from plant-based materials to more petroleum-based plastics, so refer to the packaging to verify materials. Similar to Earth + Eden, the top and back sheets are made from polypropylene and/or polyethylene which are good at wicking to prevent overnight rash for up to 12 hours. Their core is made from chlorine-free cellulose pulp from sustainably managed forests and a partially bio-based absorbing material from wheat starch blended with non-biodegradable sodium polyacrylate. Manufactured in Canada and Mexico, this diaper is made without fragrances, lotions or latex. Reviews show that it is thinner and lighter weight while still offering full protection compared to other biodegradable diapers. If you’d prefer a more biodegradable bamboo-based diaper, check out Bambo Nature Diapers. They don’t make an “overnight” diaper, but their standard diaper is well-rated and approved for both daytime and overnight use. Best for Sensitive Skin : Eco Boom Bamboo Diaper Buy on Amazon Buy on Biggreensmile.com Buy on Iecoboom.com Bamboo is naturally hypoallergenic and so many bamboo-based biodegradable diapers claim to be safe for the most sensitive skin. ECO Boom diapers have the parent reviews to back up the claim. Unlike many other brands, ECO Boom’s back sheets and fluff are made from 100 biodegradable and Forest Stewardship Council Certified sustainably-harvested bamboo that is free of chlorine, PVC, TBT, alcohol, phthalates, latex and preservatives. The top sheet is extra soft because it’s a blend of cotton and bamboo. Its breathable bamboo back sheet may be what helps prevent diaper rash because it allows fresh air to circulate better than bioplastic back sheets. ECO Boom’s adhesives are also non-toxic and the side elastic is biodegradable, making this diaper top rated among parents of children whose sensitive skin reacts to other biodegradable brands. The super-absorbent polymer comes from Germany and gives this diaper its absorbent power. They also have a third-party certification from SGS to confirm that the diapers are 70 percent biodegradable within 150 days. An added bonus is that they ship in either a bag or a cardboard carton with a small bag. The bags contain a plastic material, but also an additive called D2W that causes the plastic to become biodegradable within 18 months. The 10 Best Sustainable Sheet Sets of 2021 Best Subscription: DYPER Bamboo Baby Diapers Buy on Walmart Buy on Amazon Buy on Dyper.com Using a subscription service can often get you better prices and help you cross one more thing off your to-do list. Of the top rated bamboo-based diapers, DYPER brand Diapers are the most affordable subscription. Like ECO Boom, their sustainably-sourced bamboo top and back sheets and fluff free of chlorine, latex, alcohol, perfumes, PVC, lotions, TBT and phthalates ensure your baby’s sensitive skin will be protected. An added bonus is that you can change the number of diapers and the delivery frequency and schedule in your subscription at any time. You can also request “SOS delivery,” and receive an extra week’s worth of supplies twice per subscription without additional charges. This flexibility and reliability takes the pressure off guessing what you’ll need. Its Sumitomo super-absorbent polymer means these diapers are not completely biodegradable but you’ll likely use fewer of them because of the superb absorbance. DYPER claims these diapers are safe to compost at home, although leg cuffs and elastic are made from polyethylene and the inner film is made from polylactic acid thermoplastic that is only biodegradable under certain conditions. DYPER also purchases carbon offsets and uses biodegradable bags and nontoxic inks on its cardboard packaging. They’re also Standard 100 Certified by OEKO TEX, a Swiss safety certification body. Best Training Diaper: Bambo Nature Eco Friendly Premium Training Pants Buy on Amazon Buy on Bambonatureusa.com When trying to potty train, it’s reasonable to expect lots of mistakes so you want something that is reliable for older children and easy to pull up and down. Bambo brand diapers of all kinds have excellent reviews and came in a close second in most of these categories because they are affordable, good for sensitive skin and approved for both day and nighttime use. The Bambo Nature line is designed specifically as a training diaper. Its cellulose fluff is sustainably-sourced, and combined with absorbing material for the core making them about 75 percent biodegradable. They use a polypropylene top sheet and a polypropylene/polyethylene back sheet and parents confirm that they’re durable, comfortable and easy to get up and down for the best chance of potty-training success. Their overnight training diapers come in boys and girls to put added protection exactly where you need it to ensure dry nights. Bambo has received multiple certifications including the Nordic Ecolabel, Forest Stewardship Council and Asthma-Allergy Denmark. Best Swim Diaper: Little Toes Natural Disposable Swimmy Diapers Buy on Amazon Buy on Littletoes.com Many parents get their little ones used to the water early to help ensure their safety swimming in the future. Public pools require a reliable swim diaper that will prevent embarrassing accidents. So choosing a quality swim diaper is important. We think you’ll like Little Toes Natural Disposable Swimmy Diapers. Little Toes regular bamboo-based diapers were contenders in other categories because they are mostly bamboo and sustainably produced and non-toxic like ECO Boom and DYPER. They’re also a Mom’s Choice Gold Award Recipient. Although it’s difficult to determine the inner details of the materials of their Swimmy diaper line, Little Toes’ other products are bamboo-based. Parents like their soft-yet-snug fit that prevents leaks while still being easy to pull up and down. They are free of alcohol, latex, perfumes, PABA, parabens, phthalates and chlorine. When you’re ready to change, the sides can tear away for struggle-free changing. Likely not as biodegradable as a regular biodegradable diaper, this diaper still does its job when you need it most. Final Verdict For overall quality, performance, eco-friendly materials and affordability, we like Andy Pandy Bamboo (view at Walmart) and Bambo brand diapers (view at Amazon). When your baby’s skin seems to be more sensitive than average, you’ll appreciate the very absorbent and mostly bamboo diaper brands like ECO Boom (view at Big Green Smile). But plan to compromise a little on materials for situations when you need a more absorbent, powerful biodegradable diaper for long overnights and travel. What to Look for in Biodegradable Diapers Anatomy of a DiaperBiodegradable diapers have an inner absorbent core that makes up the middle of the diaper. That core includes the top sheet that touches your baby’s skin and serves is to draw moisture away and prevent diaper rash. Some brands include lotions or other skincare products in this wicking layer.Below that is a “distribution layer” that prevents leaks by spreading liquids across the absorbent core below it—the innermost layer or fluff is usually made from bamboo or cotton pulp (cellulose). Parents might see that the fluff is labeled either Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) meaning it wasn’t bleached with chlorine-based chemicals or Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) meaning it was bleached with chlorine dioxide. Although TCF is considered slightly better for your skin, it takes more wood pulp, water and energy to produce compared to ECF so they are roughly comparable when all things are considered. Bamboo is generally more absorbent than cotton and is considered more sustainable because it grows faster, requires less water to produce and uses fewer pesticides. If you do choose cotton, many recommend holding out for organic cotton for that reason. However, bamboo is also generally more expensive than other materials—at least for now. The hope is that as bamboo diapers become more popular, increased demand will lower the cost over time. But we’re not there yet market-wide.The fluff in many diapers also includes a super-absorbent polymer (SAP) that absorbs large amounts of liquid. Most “natural” diapers use plant-based SAP or cornstarch rather than the synthetic polymers first developed in the 1980s. The most common SAP in biodegradable diapers is Sumitomo SAP, a sustainable product of Japan that ranks highest for absorbance but is not compostable. Therefore, many brands note what percent compostable they are. The outermost layer varies by manufacturer but has several functions. The material must be water-resistant to contain fluids but it is also integral to a diaper’s fit. Some have stretch panels to prevent gaping and leaking as your baby bends. Most also have adhesive tabs for a custom adjustable fit.The materials used to make each part of the diaper vary from brand to brand. Each material was considered when evaluating the diapers we recommend on this list. Are Bioplastics Really Biodegradable and Compostable? The reason we now have biodegradable diaper options is primarily because the plastic outermost layer of the traditional disposable has been replaced by bioplastics. But not all bioplastics are created equal. Bioplastics include plastics made at least partly from biological matter as well as plastics that can be completely broken down by microbes in a reasonable time under certain conditions. Some plant-based materials, despite being made from things like sugar cane, are the same chemicals as those made from fossil fuels, and therefore, not any more biodegradable than traditional disposables.So, it’s important to approach claims of “natural” materials with a critical eye. Many bioplastics are only biodegradable under certain conditions, and how easily they compost varies widely based on whether they are in a landfill, in a marine environment and at what temperature. The 7 Best Reusable Menstrual Pads of 2021 Why Trust Treehugger? Lorraine Wilde changed so many of her twins’ diapers that she could do a double change in the dark by the time they grew out of them. She has only the highest of standards for what goes on her children’s skin. Lorraine also holds a Master’s degree in environmental science and is a firm believer that consumers can make healthy, informed and environmentally-conscious choices to protect our families and our planet.