Intro to Cloth Diaper Series: What Are Sleeve Cloth Diapers?

Welcome to my next installment in my Introduction to Cloth Diaper Series. This week I am tackling Sleeve Cloth Diapers. Never heard the term before?

A “Sleeve” cloth diaper is basically a pocket diaper but with an opening at the front and back of the diaper. In the best situation this means the insert should agitate out during the wash cycle.

According to my definition of a pocket diaper in my last installment a “sleeve” diaper is a pocket, however I felt it deserved its own segment (the tongue style will also get a stand alone post)

The most popular sleeve diaper is probably the Smartipants, which I reviewed here. Another example would be the Thirsties Duo Diaper, which I have also reviewed. Both are seen in my video demonstration.

What is wonderful about sleeve cloth diapers is that you get all of the benefits of a pocket (inserts are removed and get cleaner than an AIO, dry times typically fast, inexpensive, customizable absorbency) but without the drawback of having to remove the insert before washing.  Like a pocket, you will still have to stuff it with the insert again before use.

The average pocket diaper is 17.95, a Smartipants will run you 14.95 and a Thirsties Duo Diaper is 18.50. Other sleeve diapers will remain in that range, whereas an AIO can cost closer to 20-25 depending on the brand.

Sleeve diapers make great diaper bag diapers because while out you can skip un-stuffing the pocket before placing it in your wet bag, or worse, after it has been in your wet bag for a few hours and it has “ripened” up a bit.

Sleeve diapers are perfect if you don’t mind the laundry side of cloth diapers (stuffing) but prefer not to touch the dirty inserts.  They are usually trim, are economical, and come in a few brands and varieties to suit most consumers’ tastes.  It’s like an All-in-One and Pocket had a hybrid baby, not to be confused with hybrid diapers-that is another installment!

Smartipants are only sold through their website (they stopped selling in retail outlets a few months ago as best I can tell).  You can find Thirsties Duo Diaper at my affiliate Kelly’s Closet and many other cloth diaper stores!

Any questions on sleeve diapers, or other cloth diaper inquiries, leave a comment.  Also, if you have a topic you want to be covered in the series let me know!

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  • Amanda

    Sleeve diapers are EXCELLENT daycare diapers. We used Thisties for 9 months before I became a SAHM. Lots of absorbency in the Thirsties helped b/c daycares don’t change as often as mom and dad do and the sleeve style made doing the dirty diapers a lot less icky.

  • I’m a huge fan of sleeves, mostly because I find them easier to stuff and because my DH and babysitter frequently forget to remove inserts. So at the end of the wash cycle I’ll have several FBs and BGs with inserts bunched up on one end :/ I picked up several Mommy’s Touch diapers at a local consignment store, which are also sleeves.

  • Amcorbett1125

    I agree with Amanda…Sleeve diapers are my go to diaper for daycare (along with BG AIO (not holding up well) and Kissaluvs Marvel AIO) because the daycare is not permitted to pull out inserts, and after sitting all day, the funk is not something i definitely don’t want to be dealing with. Dump the bag in the wash and off we go. Smartipants and Thirsties rock, though, if you like a trim fitting diaper i would lean towards the Smartipants. I have never had a leak with either diaper.

  • Qatie

    I’ve never been brave enough to try and let my inserts agitate out in the wash. But the sleeve diapers are nice because I can yank out the insert when my baby is still sitting on them (right after I’ve unfastened the velcro/snaps). That way I don’t have to try and mess with the diaper later to remove the insert.

    • Anonymous

      They definitely do agitate out. Give it a try sometime 😉

  • Tara

    I love my SmartiPants. They do agitate out very well. Looking for any other suggestions of similar brands (sleeve). Are there any out there other than those and Thirstie Duos? Thanks!

    • kimrosas

      GoGreen, AppleCheeks, Moraki have openings towards the center so the inserts agitate out. And there are “tongue-style AIO’s” that stuff on one side like Tots Bots Easy Fit, Bambino Mio AIO, Kissaluvs Marvel AIO, and Swaddlebees One Size AIO that are tongue style.