Cloth Diapers Made in China: Not All Are Created Equal!


A lot of the cloth diapers you see online are sold directly from Chinese manufacturers, and even more are made in China but sold and marketed by brands based in North America.

In fact, the majority of cloth diapers come from China.

What is a “China Cheapie?”

In the cloth diaper community, you’re likely to come across the term “China Cheapie” used to describe some of the diapers made and sold directly from China.

While the term stings the ears a little when you first hear it, it’s actually not meant in a derogatory way, it actually is referring to the price and lack of manufacturing regulations placed on made-in-China products.

Of course, it’s now sometimes used to label other low-priced diapers made in other locations, but that’s a topic for another day.

True China Cheapies are low-quality pocket diapers made and sold directly from China, cheaply. They do not boast about their superior leak protection, absorbency, or quality fabrics, they are simply inexpensive and plentiful.

If you’ve seen the same diaper with many different tags, you’ve found a China Cheapie.  Everything about them is the same: snaps, look, prints, everything.  The only difference is that they have different labels and they might come with a different insert. 

The Darker Side of China Cheapies

When doing your research, don’t get sucked into “flash sales” and “group buys.” Counterfeit China cheapie diapers regularly make the rounds on sites like Zulily and Facebook, using these sales and group buys to pressure budget shoppers into giving them a chance.

If it sounds too good to be true, and if you can’t find the diaper brand elsewhere online, assume it’s a counterfeit and either move on, or purchase knowing you could be wasting your money on a diaper that will leak, fit funny, or come apart quickly.

What Makes These Diapers Lower Quality?

But while stolen designs is a problem, the true downside with most China Cheapies is the lack of brand and accountability leading to low quality.

While many North American brands, like GroVia and Lil’ Helper may manufacture their diapers in China, in most cases those diapers are created through a collaborative manufacturing process.

This means the North American brand creates a list of specifications or product must-haves, and the manufacturer comes up with a prototype they then send back to North America for either approval or more changes. If there is a request for tweaks to the prototype, this process gets repeated until the final product satisfies the North American brand owners’ expectations.

Some Chinese companies, like Mama Koala and AlvaBaby, also have large brands and customer satisfaction checks and balances. These brands have standards, update their designs with quality in mind, and all of their diapers are manufactured and sold to meet the brand expectations.

China cheapies on the other hand are diapers made and sold directly from China, usually from the manufacturer, and are specifically marketed as inexpensive. The whole selling point for these diapers is their low cost (and sometimes their cute prints), not their superior design or top-notch materials. Meeting a set of standards is not often a part of the process.

Importantly, China Cheapie cloth baby diapers are not CPSIA Compliant or meet any baby product safety standards.

As you can guess, this means that when compared to made-in-North American brands, like Mother Ease (Canada) or Thirsties (USA), the quality of diapers direct from China is often sub-par and the source of their materials is often sketchy at best.

However, they’re not completely ignored if you’re looking for easy-to-use, budget-friendly cloth diapers.

Despite selling diapers for less than $10 in some cases, many well-known Chinese brands – like AlvaBaby, Mama Koala – offer diapers that will last you at least until toddlerhood. Poop and pee will be caught, and that’s fine for most folks.

I talk more about and link to these three solid Chinese brands below.

What Cloth Diapers Are Made in China?

Most cloth diapers made in China are pocket diapers, though there are also plenty of diaper covers, prefolds, and a few fitteds out there.

As I touched on earlier, you can often find the same pocket diaper, in the same print, sold from many manufacturers and brands. Sadly, many manufacturers copy the designs of other cloth diaper brands, and so counterfeit diapers of good made-in-China brands are plentiful.

The counterfeit diaper is rarely made to the same high quality as the original brand.

What Cloth Diapers Are Made In The USA and Canada?

Cloth diapers made in the USA and Canada are made in-house by the brand selling them. Often these brands will make several styles of cloth diapers, like prefolds, all-in-ones, fitteds, and so on.

Green Mountain Diapers, Thirsties, and Cotton Babies (bumGenius, Flip, Econobum, Elemental Joy, Elemum, and Hemp Babies) are the larger cloth diaper brands that are made in America.

MotherEase, AMP Diapers, Kushies, and Omaiki are the larger cloth diaper brands made in Canada.

A note here that AppleCheeks were also made in Canada, but the brand was recently sold to a French company (in France) so I’m no longer sure if that’s the case.

You can find more North American cloth diaper brands listed here.

What are the Best Chinese Cloth Diaper Brands?

When looking for inexpensive pocket diapers from China, I always recommend three Chinese diaper brands that are superior to all others I’ve seen come and go:

1. Charlie Banana Cloth Diapers

If you’re familiar with the cloth diaper landscape at all, this one may come as a shock (especially since they are owned by P&G) but as they state on their website, Charlie Banana diapers is not only manufactured in China, but has its headquarters based in Hong Kong where the company was launched.

This is such a surprise because not only are Charlie Banana diapers available in 50 countries worldwide but they are thought of as a “premium” cloth diaper brand or “exclusive cloth diapers” combining quality materials and innovative designs to create unique diapers that really speak to North American shoppers.

Not only that, but Charlie Banana has fantastic customer service and is very active in the North American cloth diaper community. Just recently they partnered with Tide to test a new cloth diaper detergent in the US (sadly that detergent has been discontinued) and are piloting a cloth diaper rental program in 19 US states.

With all this activity in North America and a fantastic premium product, it’s no wonder so many mistake Charlie Banana for a North American-made brand at first.

2. Alva Baby Diapers

Alva Baby diapers (or just Alvas, as they are often referred to) came onto the scene years ago and were first seen as just a basic China Cheapie brand. Over time, however, they have built up customer trust by being consistent in their quality, offering good customer service, and delivering a diaper that works.

You will need to buy better inserts for your Alva baby pocket diapers, but when you do they will last you until potty training.

3. Mama Koala Diapers

Mama Koala diapers has also been around for many years now, first gaining notoriety for their many many prints. In the last year or so Mama Koala has invested a lot in their brand, improving the quality of its diapers, moving its sales from Amazon only over to its own website, and improving its community presence.

Recently, Mama Koala released their new 2.0 diaper, which offered many improvements over their original model and included an option for AWJ lining.

Mama Koala has many fans in the online cloth community and I suspect its popularity will only grow as its quality continues to improve.

FAQ

Is the Alva Baby Website Legit?

Yes! Alva Baby is now a long-standing brand of cloth diapers. While their products are not of the highest quality, they are certainly serviceable and many cloth diaper parents have been generally satisfied with their products.

You can order cloth diapers with confidence from the Alva Baby website, just be prepared to wait quite a while for your diapers as shipping from China is often slow and experiences plenty of delays.

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