BumGenius All-in-One Diaper Options: Elemental vs. Freetime

BumGenius Elemental vs Freetime ~ Maman Loup's Den

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:

BG 4.0 innersA 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 pieceone-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:

3 types of BG

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!):

BumGenius Freetime:

BG Freetime InnersThe 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.

Freetime OTB

BumGenius Elemental:

BG Elemental InnerAs 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.)

BG elemental OTB


Choosing One Over the Other:

size comparisons BG typesYou can see from the images above that 4.0s, Elementals and Freetimes are cut very similar. However, the Elemental is slightly wider at the crotch than the 4.0 and Freetime.

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?


88 responses to “BumGenius All-in-One Diaper Options: Elemental vs. Freetime”

  1. Tara

    I would try an Elemental. I already have a couple of Freetimes that I like, but I would like to try an Elemental before invested a bunch of money in them. 🙂

  2. Sheridan

    I’ve never tried an elemental but we love our freetimes! Perfect night diapers for my little one!

  3. Breann Harris

    I would like to try the freetime diaper, we love our 4.0’s.

  4. Anne Perry

    I have only tried the 4.0 and flip. I love them!!

  5. Sabrina Mendoza

    I’m a huge fan of the freetime – that and tots bots are my favourites. I’d like to try the elemental too though.

  6. Steph M

    I’ve never used either. I think the Elemental is more appealing to me just for the natural fibres.

  7. Jessica G

    Freetime, I think!

  8. Jenelle

    I haven’t used either. I like the idea of the cotton but I like a tighter fit so it’s a toss up.

  9. I would prefer an elemental since it’s natural fibers.

  10. Theresa Judy

    I may try the elemental but my BFF recommends the free time. It’s a toss up.

  11. Melanie Lapierre

    Je suis vendue aux Freetime!!!

  12. Meg O


  13. Linda Hammon

    I’d try the freetime

  14. Rachel M

    I like the 4.0 the best but I’m a pocket diaper girl.

  15. Rikka Korte

    I would love to try an elemental.

  16. Danielle

    I love my 4.0s, & would like to try a freetime!

  17. Jennifer Symonds

    I’d try a freetime

  18. Mia W

    I’d love to try an Elemental, since we have one Freetime (which is great too!)

  19. Bonnie W.

    I would like a Freetime. We have one and it’s my FAVORITE diaper. So easy and I love how I can choose where I want the most absorbency.

  20. Bethany Dawn

    I would love to try a Freetime

  21. Chantal J


  22. Wendy Perry

    I love the couple freetime diapers that we have at the moment. I would love to up my stash with a few more.

  23. Delacey

    I would get the Freetime.

  24. Veronica Bohan


  25. Danielle Gabruck

    I think based on your review I would go with the Freetime! Thanks for such a great review!

  26. Lizi

    I love freetimes but have yet to try an elemental.

  27. Ariana


  28. Danya

    I love the 4.0’s – stuff em with whatever you want, quick to dry and fit LO at 10 pounds. What’s not to love?

  29. Leah

    Love my 4.0s! With baby no 2 on the way and the first still in diapers my stash needs to expand!

  30. Bianca Munoz


  31. Lydia

    I love my 4.0s but I’d love to try a Freetime!

  32. Ashley Despain

    I love my freetimes so I would choose that!

  33. Rose

    I’m torn on this one. DD is sensitive to moisture, so the stay-dry of the Freetime would be good to have, but I don’t trust microfiber very much. I think I’d be interested in trying the Elemental.

  34. Sandra

    Freetime !

  35. Lindsay

    I Love the article, personally the freetimes are my favorite and fit my petit twins the best!

  36. mariko lafontaine

    I would love to win a freetime. I tried the elemental and my daughter didn’t like the wet feeling!

  37. Jessica Rodenbaugh

    Would love to win a Freetime!

  38. Leayra Germaine

    I would love an elemental. Love BumGenius!

  39. Holly Wilson

    Based on your review, I think the Freetime would work better for our family.

  40. Claire Rheinheimer

    I’m a huge fan of Freetimes, I have over 20. Love them!!

  41. Cassandra Rae

    An elemental, I have a freetime and would love to try elemental! 🙂

  42. Catherine B

    I have not tried either but would prefer the freetime I think.

  43. Stacey

    I’d like to try a Freetime.

  44. I would love to try a Freetime – something different than what I already have!

  45. AlexisB

    I’d choose the Freetime.

  46. jenna doneff

    We have a BUNCH of freetimes that we love – but never knew the differences b/w them and the elementals: this post is an AWESOME resource! I’d love to finally try an elemental

  47. Nikki A

    I’d try a Freetime. I only have 4.0s.

  48. I have not tried either. I have some Flip covers though. I would love to try either AIO.

  49. Andrea Thompson

    I have never used an new elemental but I have 1 old style elemental and I prefer my freetimes for sure. I don’t dislike the elemental, just love the freetimes!

  50. Jaime S

    I like natural fibers, so I would choose the elemental.

  51. Becky Marie

    I’d prefer the Freetime!

  52. April

    I’d love to try the freetime!

  53. Brenda P

    I would be happy to have either one! I think
    I might prefer the freetime though.

  54. I can’t decide which I would rather try. We are new to cloth diapering, or any diapering as our first is on her way. We want to try a variety to see what we like so either would be great to start!

  55. Jennifer

    I would pick Elemental. I like the idea of the organic fabric.

  56. Theresa L

    I’d pick the elemental. 1. i like the name better 🙂 2. I dislike microfiber. 3. I have a freetime that i’m not a huge fan of.

  57. Marian F.

    The Freetime, I prefer a trimmer fitting diaper.

  58. Soozle

    I like the Freetime

  59. Christine

    this is so helpful, i have been wondering the differences. thanks!

  60. Rachel F

    I think I’d try an elemental. 🙂

  61. katherine

    Freetime for me!

  62. Michelle T

    That’s tough… Freetimes fit better, but the elementals clean easier…

  63. I just bought the freetime and I love it

  64. Sarah Hayes

    Id like an elemental

  65. Jennifer D.

    Elemental 😉

  66. jodi Armstrong

    I’ve never tried freetime but love that elemental is organic cotton instead of microfiber

  67. Miriam Matheny

    I would choose the elemental because I like the natural fiber inserts

  68. Brittney Gossard

    I’d pick the freetime!

  69. Viv Sluys

    I think I’d like the Freetime. I have a 4.0 and it’s one of my favourite diapers

  70. I will be new to cloth diapering in January, so I’m not sure which would be best. 😀 Would love to have your suggestion if I win!

  71. Nicole

    I’d pick the Freetime!

  72. Katie Harrell

    I currently only have a few free times. I would love to try and elemental before investing too much more, just in case. 😉

  73. Donna-Lynn Craig

    I would like the elemental

  74. I like the freetime best one of the best diapers i ever used!

  75. Morgan E.

    I have some freetimes and I hate spraying them. I’d choose elementals because I like that they are cotton and I like that they don’t have flaps that when attached to the spray pal will flip into the toilet. Thank you for the opportunity!

  76. Jennifer Nutter

    I would use either one 🙂

  77. Megan S.

    I have both types and like the free time much better. I use both for night time and really haven’t had any leaks with either!

  78. Katie Jurisch

    Good comparison. I love my 4.0s and have been using flip covers with flats a lot lately. I think the appeal is allowing my toddler to feel wet as a part of our elim comm. I’ve never used bg’s Elemental. I am not a fan of Freetimes simply because of microfiber (laundry issues I didn’t have the desire to solve). This makes me want to try an Elemental!

  79. […] BumGenius Freetime et Elemental; […]

  80. […] using the 4.0, and I always stuff it with our Öko hemp trifolds. I’ve had leaks with the Freetime and Elemental, however, and I do find they don’t fit as nicely as the 4.0 at this […]

  81. Elise

    I love my 4.0s! It’s the system a started with and it’s simple. I save more money by having my lo wear one diaper multiple times in the day and switching out the inserts- another disadvantage if I had AIOs. Just my thoughts as a ftm.

    1. Lindsay

      I’m confused! You use your microfiber inserts in your BumGenius pockets and switch them out without changing the cover?

  82. […] as my best performing. When the inserts are attached like flaps, without a pocket (the style of a BumGenius Freetime or Thirsties AIO), it’s simply not easy to add boosters for naps and overnight. […]

  83. I’ve tried both and although I love the idea of organic cotton, I choose the Freetimes for faster drying time, easier to clean and better fit.

  84. […] sewn to the back. They flap when you hold the diaper upside down! The Thirsties Natural AIO and the BumGenius Freetime are like this. You’ll also see versions with only one insert sewn in (the regular Thirsties AIO […]

  85. […] the ones that were most recently discontinued and cleared out by retailers and that I reviewed here. The combo I’m describing would totally work with the newly released 3.0 Elemental, but if you […]

  86. […] bumGenius AIO Diaper Options: Elemental Vs. Freetime, 2014, Maman Loup’s Den. […]

  87. […] to be adding twins to the family. (And if you want even more of a flashback, I reviewed it in its second iteration when my son was a […]

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My name is Lindsay and I am a 40-year-old mama of four trying to live an eco-friendly, budget-friendly life! I am a substitute teacher and Child Passenger Safety technician in Calgary, Alberta. Join me on my adventures!

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