December 2020 update: I also included the bumGenius Elemental 3.0 in this post about my favourite diaper for twins!
Folks, as you know, I’m a stickler for correct spelling and grammar. I even employ my aunt as my editor, and she picks through my posts with a fine-toothed comb to weed out my superfluous commas and to correct my insistence on dropping “of” whenever I use the phrase “a couple of”. I’m here to tell you that one tiny detail has escaped me since I started blogging in 2012, and even my super keen aunt Kiki didn’t notice it. It has come to my attention that the correct way to write the brand name BumGenius is with a lower-case “b”: bumGenius. I realize that a lot of you are reading this and thinking you couldn’t give a genius’s bum about a misplaced capital letter. Well I do, and I have to come clean. I’m sorry, bumGenius. I’ve gotten your trademarked name wrong for almost five years now. (Fun fact: A couple of years ago the username @bumgenius and the hashtag #bumgenius were NOT what they are today on Instagram.)
In the five years that I have known about bumGenius, their diaper styles have undergone a few changes that their dedicated mob of fans have followed with zeal. One such alteration was the switch from the “Original bumGenius Elemental” (OBGE) to the “New bumGenius Elemental,” which I will henceforth refer to as the “2.0.” This was not a popular design change. The OBGE was lined with cotton and had two inserts sewn one on top of the other, attached to the front and back of the diaper. It was renowned for its significant absorbency. The Elemental 2.0 was not lined with cotton, so was essentially a PUL cover with two inserts sewn to the front and back. Until I started using the Elemental 2.0 in my Extreme Super Soaker Overnight Solution, I basically never used it.
The inserts bunched up and left a lot of exposed PUL in contact with baby, which really irritated my son’s skin and led to leaks when used on my daughter. To make matters a wee bit more confusing, the OBGE design made a semi-return to the market in 2016, but it was only available from the Cotton Babies website in the US and was exclusive to just one retailer in Canada. That’s why the OBGE in my picture below is in a newer print (Alicia).
At the Las Vegas Baby Expo in October of 2016, bumGenius unveiled the Elemental 3.0. (Apparently, shorthand for this one is “3E” or “3BGE.” I can’t keep up anymore!) As you can see, the organic cotton lining is back, but the number of inserts has been reduced to one. The insert is three layers of organic cotton, sewn to the front and back of the diaper.
Just like bumGenius’s other diaper designs, the Elemental 3.0 features a double row of waist snaps and their signature stretchy closure tabs. Those stretchy tabs are one of my favourite things about bumGenius diapers. They make for a trim, comfortable and secure fit. To adjust the rise to fit babies between 8 and 35 lbs, the diaper has three rows of three rise snaps. A lot of brands only have two rise snaps per row (so no snap in the centre), and this can leave a bit of a bump in the centre of the diaper. Not so with bumGenius! Another benefit of the Elemental 3.0 that isn’t visible to the naked eye includes a “proprietary elastic designed specifically for cloth diapers” that is easy to access and replace. (This new elastic is also included in their latest pocket diaper, the 5.0.) I like to stagger how I secure the diaper: tighter at the hips and looser at the waist.
So what’s my verdict? As someone who has always preferred “pocket-style” all-in-one (AIO) diapers, I’m feeling a bit sheepish confessing that the bumGenius Elemental 3.0 might just be my new favourite AIO on the market … and it does not have a pocket. The sewn-in insert is longer than the diaper cover, meaning you can fold it to get extra layers of absorbency right where you need it.
The return of the 2-ply cotton lining is a huge improvement over the Elemental 2.0:
And while the two previous versions had two 3-ply inserts, the Elemental 3.0 has a single 3-ply insert. To be honest, I wonder why bumGenius didn’t simply bring back the OBGE design permanently. With a total of six layers plus two layers of cotton in the lining, the OBGE was unbeatable in terms of AIO diapers on the market. Why not bring back that winning formula?
The bumGenius website says that the Elemental 3.0 features “six layers of absorbent organic cotton.” I can only feel five layers: three in the insert and two in the body of the diaper. I’ve messaged bumGenius to ask but have not yet received a response. The new Elemental packaging just says “multiple layers.” What I can say for sure is that it has fewer layers of absorbency than the OBGE.
While it’s not as absorbent as the OBGE, I love the Elemental 3.0 because it’s everything you look for in an AIO diaper. It’s one easy-to-use piece that requires no stuffing or snapping. During the day, I don’t need to add additional absorbency to use it for three to four hours (but if you do want to boost it, you can easily tuck a booster under the sewn-in insert). I’m so happy to find an AIO that does not require additional boosting to last longer than two hours! To use the Elemental 3.0 overnight, I slide a Flip Overnight Insert underneath and hemp booster on top.
What I love about the Elemental 3.0:
- Made in the USA
- Extremely easy to use, one-piece design
- Double row of closure snaps and stretchy closure tabs for a perfect fit
- Centre rise snaps for a flat, smooth look at the front (especially under leggings!)
- Supremely absorbent, organic cotton inner
What I love less about the Elemental 3.0:
- Longer dry time (but no longer than other AIOs we use)
- When soaked, it’s possible for the inner cotton to wick onto a onesie or t-shirt if the garment gets accidentally folded inside the diaper
- Uncased leg elastics mean the inner cotton can roll out and cause wicking at the legs if you don’t make sure it’s tucked in
- bumGenius’s tendency to do limited release prints that send customers and retailers into a mad frenzy is somewhat irritating
The CAD$31.95 price point may seem steep, but it’s important to note that most of the other AIOs in our stash need to be boosted to be leak-free for four hours. I really, really like the Elemental 3.0. Since I’m a sucker for bumGenius prints (I pre-ordered “Strong” back in November!) but am tired of buying the 5.0 pocket since I don’t like the microfibre inserts, you can bet your bottom dollar there will be more 3BGEs coming to our house in the near future.
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