Tiffany & Tot

Bringing love and comfort through sustainable handmade items, while supporting other Canadian small businesses, located in New Brunsick, Canada.

Diaper Inserts, and Other (Better!) Absorbent Options

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Not all diaper styles require inserts, but most do require something absorbent to be added. Personally, I’m proudly sewing in New Brunswick, Canada, and let me tell you, absorbent fabric is very expensive in Canada. If I were to sell inserts for the same price as what you can find mass produced, I wouldn’t even be covering the cost of the fabric, let alone accounting for time and other materials! And while I did lovethe inserts I made for my son, they were just not cost effective.

With my son I used a mixture of inserts (both my own and purchased), flour sack towels, and receiving blankets, and honestly, from a consumer standpoint, the flour sack towels win and are always my top recommendation.

The Short Version

In order of most absorbent to least absorbent:

  1. receiving blanket
  2. flour sack towel/my inserts
  3. mass produced inserts

And in order of what I would personally used and would recommend and why:

  1. flour sack towel – trim, absorbent, cheap
  2. my inserts – trim, absorbent
  3. receiving blanket – absorbent, cheap
  4. mass produced inserts – cheap, somewhat trim

The Long Version

Flour Sack Towels (FSTs)

Commonly called FSTs in the diapering world, these can be found in many department stores in the kitchen section. In Canada, so far the best price I’ve found is about $8 to buy a pack of 5 in Walmart in store (I haven’t been able to find them online). Anywhere else I’ve looked (other department stores and Amazon) have them at a starting price of $4 each. They’re a larger piece of 100% cotton that you can fold in a couple different ways, depending on where you want extra absorbency.


  • the cheapest option to purchase, it’s roughly $8 CAD for 5 fsts from in store at Wal-Mart
  • fairly trim when folded well
  • more absorbent than a standard mass produced insert
  • come clean very easily
  • dry very quickly
  • 100% cotton, unlikely baby would be allergic if they’re directly against the skin


  • need to be unfolded before going on the wash, and refolded after drying
  • not topped with a stay dry fabric, so the wetness could cause irritation to some if it’s against the skin

Inserts – my own

I give things quite a bit of thought before I go full steam ahead, particularly when it comes to sewing with expensive fabric! These I made to suit a very heavy wetting little boy, and they absolutely did handle the situation, but were also expensive to make.


  • trim
  • very absorbent
  • don’t need to be folded
  • customizable fabrics, so can be natural or stay dry depending on the needs of the baby


  • the most expensive option
  • take a long time to dry (natural fibers)

Receiving Blankets

That’s right, normal receiving blankets work too! They’re very absorbent, but they’re also a little bulky. But considering you may already have some you’re not using, they’re definitely worth trying. These need to be folded, which can take a little trial and error figuring out the best way to make them fit well, but they may already be sitting unused in your house.


  • possibly free, if you have a bunch lying around
  • the most absorbent option
  • come clean very easily
  • dry fairly quickly
  • 100% cotton, unlikely baby would be allergic


  • the bulkiest option (but if you only need one, a single one, it could be the same or less bulky than 2 standard inserts)
  • need to be unfolded before washing and recorded after drying
  • not topped with a stay dry fabric, so the wetness could cause irritation to some if it’s against the skin

Inserts – purchased elsewhere

I’ve a number of different styles made from different fabrics, some of which could go directly against the skin, others of which need to be hidden in a pocket (looking at you microfiber!). From what I’ve tried, no single mass produced insert was as absorbent as a single insert I made, and they also weren’t trimmer to make up the difference. Perhaps there are some out there that would be at least as absorbent as what I’ve made, but I haven’t found them.


  • can be very cheap if you buy mass produced
  • can be trim depending on what you buy (but you’re more likely to need to use more than one at a time, which could be more bulky)
  • don’t need to be folded
  • could buy to suit needs of the baby (whether there is an allergy or if the baby is irritated by wetness)


  • the least absorbent option – I found a single FST was almost as absorbent as 2 mass produced inserts
  • some cannot go directly against the skin (microfiber)

One thought on “Diaper Inserts, and Other (Better!) Absorbent Options

  1. Pingback: So many options! Drool bibs edition | Tiffany & Tot

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