Update: BumGenius has since upgraded their pocket diaper the the 5.0 (review here) and changed the Elemental to the 3.0 (review coming soon). I now use the Elemental featured in this review as part of my Extreme Super Soaker Overnight Solution. (1/1/2017)
Disclosure: I received these diapers free for review. All opinions remain my own.
I am a huge proponent of the BumGenius 4.0 Pocket Diaper. I find it to be almost universally suitable from about 12-13 lbs upwards. They are extremely durable diapers, as I have some bought second-hand that are still in excellent condition. They’re super user friendly, and their stretchy tabs set them apart from other brands, allowing for more adjustment at the waist.
If you are brand new to cloth diapering, a pocket diaper means you have absorbent inserts (in the case of BumGenius, made of microfiber) that must be stuffed into the pocket of the diaper before use. A BumGenius 4.0 looks like this:
A pocket diaper has many benefits, including the ability to customize absorption by putting more or less in the pocket, and being able to double as swim diaper if you use it without inserts or even as a diaper cover if you want to use inserts placed on top of the pocket (inserts that can touch baby’s skin, so either bamboo, hemp or cotton) and just swap the soiled insert out and reuse the pocket shell.
Pocket diapers have drawbacks, as well. Namely, they’re a multiple-piece system. When laundry’s done, you have to put the diapers back together again. Before putting the diaper in the pail, you have to pull out the wet inserts.
For families searching for a truly one piece, one-size-fits-all solution with the same high quality and durability of BumGenius 4.0s, there are two styles of All-in-One (AIO) diapers offered by BumGenius:
As you can see, they look quite similar to the 4.0, in the middle. They both have the stretchy tabs, and the rise snaps and waist snaps have identical placement. All three styles come in the sames prints and colours, and all are also available in aplix closure. The cut of the Elemental is noticeable larger than the Freetime and the 4.0.
The major difference, however, is what’s on the inside (isn’t it always!):
The inside of a BumGenius Freetime contains two microfibre inserts sewn in at the top and bottom of the diaper. These inserts are topped with the same microsuede, stay-dry fabric as a 4.0 pocket, and there is also a layer of microsuede sewn directly to the PUL, underneath the two inserts. The Freetime is really the “one piece” equivalent of the 4.0. The same fibers are used and the fit is fairly similar.
I’m a fan of the Freetime because I’m such a fan of the 4.0. I like that it’s got the stay-dry inner and that the fit mimics the 4.0. My primary concern with this diaper is that both inserts are sewn in. I think that if Cub were wearing the diaper on a lower rise, I would like the option of removing one of the inserts for less bulk.
As you can see, the inside of a BumGenius Elemental is quite different. The absorbent insert, rather than being microsuede/microfibre, is entirely made of organic cotton. Two layers of inserts are sewn to the diaper at the top and the bottom, and below the insert is just the inside of the PUL, rather than another layer of fabric, as with the Freetime. (The previous model of this diaper actually did have another layer of organic cotton sewn along the inside.)
The Elemental is the “all-in-one” cousin of BumGenius’s “Flip” diaper system, which is a PUL cover that you can choose to pair with an organic cotton insert. But rather than being removable, the insert in the Elemental is sewn in place, of course.
I really love the idea of the Elemental, but in practice, it’s not my favourite. My main issue is that the insert bunches up and ends up really narrow between Cub’s legs. Though this hasn’t caused any leaks, I can see how it might depending on how baby moves. Also, when on the lowest rise, there seems to be quite a lot of bulk in the diaper, which might be uncomfortable for teeny tiny squishies. (When using the 4.0s on the lowest rise, you can use the newborn insert alone, which makes the fit much better.)
Choosing One Over the Other:
Because of the nature of their inserts, Elementals and Freetimes do fit differently on Cub. They both, however, fit very well. That said, I suspect that parents using either one of these styles on a smaller baby (Cub is about 30 lbs) may find the fit rather bulky. Since you cannot remove any of the absorbent parts of the diapers (which, to be fair, is what makes them truly “one piece”), the inserts need to be folded up in order to fit inside on a lower rise. Many AIO diapers have one insert that can be snapped in or out, which I think is an advantage when using them on smaller babies.
One drawback of AIO diapers can be dry time. I found the Freetime would dry overnight when hung in our bathroom, while it does take almost a day for the Elemental to fully dry. That said, I have never had issues with my BumGenius diapers putting them in the dryer at low heat. (
Once you’ve decided you want to use all-in-one diapers over other styles, the choice between the Freetime and the Elemental, in my opinion, comes down to whether or not you want the “stay dry” layer against baby’s bum or you prefer organic cotton. Some babies are allergic to the microsuede inners of Freetimes and 4.0s, so that would make the Elemental the obvious choice. Others are very sensitive to moisture against their skin, in which case, Freetimes would be the better option since cotton feels very wet to the touch.
Both models can be easily “boosted” if need be, simply by adding a booster of your choice either on top of our underneath the sewn-in inserts.
Which BumGenius style is your favourite?