If you're a cloth diapering mama or papa (or if you've done some research in preparation of becoming one), you've probably heard of Thirsties, as this company has made quite a name for itself in the cloth diapering world! Not only do they offer several options for diapering your baby (with a unique philosophy which I'll get to in a minute) but also various useful accessories from pail liners to cloth wipes to "booty" care. Furthermore, reviews I have read for Thirsties products are almost universally positive, which is very impressive! All Thirsties products are made in the USA, and sourced as locally from the warehouse as possible, while many of the diapers are sewn by stay at home moms close to the warehouse.
Thirsties has a fascinating history and strong set of corporate values which are well documented on their website, so I encourage you to hop over and take a look! Learn more about who they are, what makes them green and the core members of the Thirsties team. I like the last section in particular, as it adds a personable element to the site and makes you appreciate that there are real (and awesome) people running the show here! :) Thirsties also has a blog with some great info and giveaways, so don't forget to check that out as well!
Alright, let's talk diapers!
As I mentioned earlier, Thirsties has a unique perspective when it comes to cloth diapering. Their take is that a one-size diaper doesn't always cut it; although these are advertised as fitting from birth to potty training, in reality most of them only fit well from about 10 to 32 pounds. Therefore, many children end up needing three sizes - newborn, one-size and toddler. As such, Thirsties developed a "Duo" line of products which are designed to fully cover the weight range of all babies using just two sizes:
- Size 1 fits from 6-18 lbs (0-9 months)
- Size 2 fits from 18-40 lbs (9-36 months)
Three diapering products are available within this line: a Duo Wrap, Duo Fab Fitted and Duo Diaper. In addition, Thirsties continues to sell their original diaper cover which comes in four sizes.
It's also important to point out that all Thirsties diapers are free of VOCs, PVC, phthalates and lead as part of their commitment to producing eco-friendly products that are healthy for baby and the environment!
I was lucky enough to win a Duo Wrap via a blog giveaway, and I was super-impressed by the customer service I received. My wrap came with a personalized letter from Jessica (one of their Customer Service team members) congratulating me on the win, and a copy of the 2011 Thirsties catalogue. I emailed Jessica back to thank her and also let her know that I would love the opportunity to work with Thirsties on a future review/giveaway here at Manager to Mom. I was delighted to hear back that Thirsties was game, and that I would have the chance to review their Duo Diaper. Sweet! Although most of our diapering experience so far has been with prefolds and covers, we've been dabbling more in all-in-ones, all-in-twos and pockets recently (especially with S going to day care soon), so I was stoked about this!
The Duo Diaper has the following features and content (taken directly from their website):
- A two-piece diapering system combining an absorbent insert and waterproof sleeve diaper
- Seven thirsty absorbent layers
- Microfleece liner provides wetness protection and stain resistance
- Grows with your baby so you only need two sizes from birth to potty!
- Easy stuffing and one-step cleaning
- Pliable, breathable ultra-comfortable waterproof exterior
- Outer: 100% polyester with waterproof urethane coating
- Inner: 100% polyester microfleece
- Insert 1: 55% Hemp, 45% Cotton
- Insert 2: 100% polyester–microfiber terry
Sounds pretty go so far, right? :)
Deciding on a size was somewhat of a challenge, as S was between 15 and 16 lbs at the point we began discussing a review/giveaway, so she was at the heavier end of the recommended spectrum for Size 1. Although she'd fit better in the smaller size immediately, she wouldn't get to wear it very long. So we went with Size 2 and agreed to hold off on the review until she had gained a couple pounds. In terms of other customizations, I went with aplix closures and the Blackbird pattern. (This seems to be everyone's favourite. There currently aren't a huge number of patterns available so it would be nice to see more in the future!)
The diaper arrived promptly, complete with another nice note from Jessica and a matching ribbon!
The first thing that struck me about the diaper was how similar in feel and construction it is to the Duo Wrap. This makes sense, as both feature many of the same characteristics including outer shell content, three rise options, stretchy waist elastic and leg gussets. What really surprised me, however, was the lack of bulk. It is definitely one of the lightest pocket diapers I own (minus inserts).
The snap rise allows for three different settings (or sizes 4, 5 and 6 when taken together with the Size 1 settings.)
One of the reasons I selected aplix was for its crossover capabilities; I knew this would allow the coziest fit around the waist which would be important with S at the lowest end of the Size 2 weight range.
Laundry tabs, another aplix standard, are included here as well.
Check out the super-duper leg gusset - doesn't it just scream "pee shield"? This is one of my favourite Thirsties features!
I love that the front of the diaper has a stretchy trim, as I would guess this is comfier for baby (especially after a big meal!) and also allows the fit to be a little more "forgiving", which is great for occasional caretakers and those tough diaper changes when baby just doesn't want to stay put!
One aspect of this diaper that's different from other pockets I own is that there is an opening both at the back and the front. This allows you to stuff from either side and also (according to description) enables the insert(s) to agitate free in the laundry - something I was eager to test!
The Duo Insert combo can be used together for super-absorbency (ideal for night diapering) or individually for a trimmer fit. The inserts snap together, making it easier to stuff them into the diaper pocket together.
Finally, I couldn't get over how ridiculously soft the microfleece inner felt! I'm not sure what exactly goes into the Thirsties formula, but this felt waaay softer than microfleece I've felt in any other diaper. We're talking smoooooth, butt-ery soft. If these diapers came in my size, I'd totally wear them. OK maybe not. :)
I did find this diaper to be a little harder to stuff than other pockets I've tried. First of all, I'm used to a single opening which allows you to push an insert all the way to the back until you reach the attached end. It was also a bit difficult to get the insert to sit flat, especially in the middle part. This seemed due to the stretchy elastic around the leg holes/gussets. All in all, I had to adjust my technique somewhat, both pushing and pulling at both ends (to contend with the double opening) and smoothing in the middle to get it in the right spot.
Alright let's fast forward two months. Our li'l monkey was still only about 17 lbs at this point (thus a pound shy of the lowest weight recommendation for Size 2) but we'd waited long enough, and I thought it might actually be an effective review scenario to test this "boundary case". After all, in the real world not everyone cloth diapers from the get-go. Those wanting to begin when their babes are 15-16 lbs and considering the Thirsties line may not wish to invest in a full stash of Size 1, so at what weight can Size 2 reasonably be started?
Well, I'm happy to report that our Size 2 Duo Diaper managed to fit pretty well indeed on our 17 lb little gal!
Of course, we had the rise on the lowest setting and took advantage of that cross-over aplix. I'm not sure we would have achieved as effective of a fit with snap closures, though that would need to be tested. The waist elastic helped with the snugness around her middle as well.
I was impressed by how trim the diaper felt on her, especially given it was designed for a bigger baby! This was particularly true when stuffed with the single microfiber insert, but we didn't notice much additional bulk later when we added the second insert.
We made sure to give S some good play time to test how the diaper moved around.
After an hour or so, the diaper did look sort of droopy and she had a definitive "bubble butt", but I fully expected this given we were being ambitious with the size. It actually didn't end up too bad; this is about the worst it got:
Even with the droop-age, I'm happy to report that the stretchy leg gussets remained snug against her thighs!
I also didn't really notice any wing droop, which was a pleasant surprise as well!
So the key question, of course - did it leak? Nope - not at all! Not during the 2-3 times she has worn the diaper so far during the day (with a single insert), nor when she wore it at night with both inserts. And man, those inserts are truly "thirsty"! They both got incredibly heavy with pee and still held everything in. I don't think we had a poop in the diaper yet, but I have no reason to worry that this would be an issue given the snug leg fit and that S's poops are already quite solid. The gussets would provide a great guard against runny EBF poop as well, I am sure!
Another good thing - no noticeable marks left on her legs or waist. This is always a relief to notice when trying out a new diaper, as you never want your little one's sensitive skin to be chafed & uncomfortable!
Finally, a few notes on prepping & care. The diaper and microfiber just need to be washed once and they're ready to go, however the hemp/cotton insert should be washed separately in 3 hot wash / dry cycles prior to use, to release the natural oils. Admittedly, I goofed here myself; I didn't read the laundering instructions clearly enough and ended up washing the diaper and both inserts together with my regular CD laundry once, and then using them right away. The good news? The hemp was already very absorbent and there didn't appear to be any negative effects on the other diapers in my stash. So if you happen to miss this step like I did, it's probably not the end of the world - but I recommend following the proper instructions in an ideal world. ;)
In terms of day-to-day maintenance, I've been following my regular laundry routine. EXCEPT! I'm happy to report that I've been tossing the Duo Diaper in my front load washer with the inserts still stuffed in, and they have indeed been coming out on their own! I washed mine 3 times (once with both inserts and twice with a single one) and the inserts agitated out each time. I'd say that the time saved by not having to un-stuff (not to mention lack of ickyness factor) definitely cancels out the slight stuffing difficulties I mentioned earlier.
All in all, I would wholeheartedly recommend the Thirsties Duo Diaper system. The diapers are high-quality, high-performance and super-snug and comfy on baby. And I definitely think they're on to something with the two sizes; I believe this system would work especially well and be quite cost-effective in the following scenarios:
- Diapering from the beginning with a small newborn (7 pounds or less) - in this case, only two sizes are needed with Thirsties when three would likely be needed when using a one-size system (newborn, one-size and toddler).
- Starting to diaper a baby in the 15-20 pound range - in this case, only one size is needed with Thirsties when two would likely be needed when using a one-size or other system (one-size and toddler)
Here is a summary of pros & cons I found with this system:
+ Only two sizes needed from birth to potty training, and it appears that the recommended weight ranges can be extended a little bit if necessary.
+ Stretchy waist and leg elastics are comfy for baby and "forgiving" (resulting in a snug fit even if the diaper isn't put on perfectly).
+ Super-sized leg gussets provide awesome leak protection around the thighs
+ Microfleece inner is incredibly soft
+ Diaper is light-weight and creates a trim fit - even on the lowest end of the recommended weight range
+ Duo Insert is flexible; it includes two insert types which can be used separately or snapped together for extra absorbency.
+ Two closure options (aplix and snaps) are offered to suit your preferences
+ Inserts truly do agitate out in the laundry, so no need to un-stuff
+ Free of VOCs, PVC, phthalates and lead
- Somewhat limited selection of patterns
- Inserts can be tricky to stuff properly
Update (June, 2012) - After about 9 months of usage, our Thirsties Duo Diaper continues to perform well, and remains in very good condition. The microfleece inner isn't as soft as it used to be, but this appears to be standard with microfleece. The only minor durability issue I've noticed is that the aplix tabs are beginning to curl which makes them slightly prone to chaining. I'm noticing this with many of our aplix closure diapers and covers, however, so I've been more inclined to choose snaps recently. (Thirsties offers this as an option.)
Visit Thirsties' Retailer Locator page to locate an online store, or a retail location in your area. You can also request/download the 2011 Thirsties catalog for a full listing & comprehensive descriptions of all products. Note that the suggested price of the Duo Diaper (including inserts) is $18.50 each for solids and $19.50 for prints, though this may vary slightly depending on retailer.
Thirsties has generously offered to give away a Thirsties Duo Diaper (including two inserts) to one lucky Manager to Mom reader! Winner chooses size (1 or 2), closure option (aplix or snaps) and print!
To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Comments do not count as entries, however feel free to add a comment to remind yourself that you entered!
Disclosure: The prize is being provided and shipped to the winner by Thirsties. I received no financial compensation for writing my review or offering this giveaway, although I did receive the sample items free of charge. This is my completely honest opinion above and may be different from yours.