I’m a big fan of US cloth nappy brands. The US cloth nappying community is big, passionate and a little bit barmy. They have lots of brands, from large companies to small WAHM makers; if you look at the cloth nappy pages of their parenting forums single threads can run into 70/80 pages; exclusive prints seem to generate complete hysteria – basically it’s everything you’d expect.
As a result, they have some brilliant nappies, some of which are sold widely in the UK and some that are much harder to get hold of. Annoyingly, most of those I like the best fall into the latter category.
Smart bottoms is one of those. As far as I know it’s only sold in the UK through funkymonkeypants.com.com (a brilliant retailer that features lots of American nappy brands) and it was Emma there who got me onto them. I must confess I was hugely put off by the price (£21.75) and eventually picked up a few pre loved for considerably cheaper. I liked them so much I ended up buying some more.
So, what are they? As the title suggests, they’re a birth to potty AIO nappy, with an organic cotton inside and long soaker ‘tongue’ that is attached at one end and needs to be folded before use. I fold it twice over at the front, which works well for a boy, though it could be folded once the whole length of the soaker for a girl. As the soaker is cotton, I use a fleece liner to keep J’s bum dry.
Smart bottoms have rolled elastics, which means that instead of the elastics being stitched into the nappy, creating a sort of seam at the edges where the PUL and liner meet, they aren’t encased. The downside of this is when putting the nappy on you need to be careful to tuck this lining in so there is no wicking; the upside is there is no risk of leaking through the stitching.
What do I like about this nappy?
The bottom line is that this nappy is absorbent, and I have never had a leak from it. Actually that’s not true – we had one leak, when J wore it for five hours, including a nap and being in the pushchair with the straps pressing against it. So not too bad in my opinion. Cotton is one of my favourite materials for a nappy: it washes well, doesn’t go too stiff, and absorbs a lot without having much bulk. This has proven to be the case with this brilliant AIO, which is now stacked in the ‘send to nursery’ shelf, as I’m confident it will last many hours and is pretty foolproof.
It is very slim fitting. Not too wide in the crotch, and minimal bulk.
The poppers are incredible! So strong that there is no chance of J opening them. They have two poppers, so you can adjust the leg and waist fit separately, and the most up to date version has an extra snap to prevent the waist tabs from drooping down against the leg when the nappy is on a tight setting (known as wing droop). Finally, on the subject of poppers, it has three sets of rise poppers giving a more accurate fit than most, which only feature two.
It stays soft, particularly when tumble dried, but even when line dried it doesn’t go as stiff and crunchy as other brands (Grovia I’m looking at you). They also dry considerably quicker than similar nappies, which I found really surprising.
What don’t I like about this nappy?
You can’t get away from it, these nappies are expensive. Prohibitively so for many. And if I was really pushed I couldn’t say they are worth it – I love mine, but paid not half the retail price. There are many other brands that do the job just as well, for less money.
The poppers – the flip side of the strength of the poppers is that they can be hard to do up, which with a wriggly 11 month old isn’t the easiest at change time.
I don’t think the prints and colours are the nicest available; particularly those block colours that have high contrast poppers. They can seem pretty garish.
In my experience this comes up pretty average in terms of sizing, though as I err towards slimmer fitting nappies, my average may be a little smaller than most. I imagine I could have started using these with J when I started using BTP nappies – at about 10-12lbs.
Bumgenius elemental, bottom bumpers, peachy green, Grovia AIO
The bottom line
These are great, reliable nappies that manage the elusive combination of being both absorbent and slim fitting. A complete fail safe in our stash that I would highly recommend if you could afford them.