Welcome Kijani Ugandan Made Cloth Diapers to the USA!
I love cloth diapers (but you already knew that), and I have always been fascinated by other cultures, so when I saw that I was going to be reviewing a diaper that is made in Uganda and helps support Ugandan mamas, I was thrilled. Kijani means “green” in Swahili and refers to the fact that cloth diapers are better for the earth. The evolution of this particular diaper is a sweet story. It started when Valerie and her husband decided to cut costs by using cloth diapers on her first child. Soon, Valerie’s friend was teaching her to make her own cloth diapers. When her husband accepted a job in Uganda, she continued to make her cloth diapers as gifts and before she knew it she was accepting orders for the diapers. Now with two children to take care of, she just didn’t have the time to complete all these orders on her own, so with her background in charity work tucked securely under her belt, she decided to turn it into a business that would benefit her community. She hired four tailors—two of them had no sewing experience prior to learning to make the diaper—and two sales associates. With their help, she runs her small shop in Kampala Uganda. She shared with me that she has two goals in mind with her business. I’ll let her tell you those goals in her own words:
“Goal #1: Providing an earth friendly, affordable high quality alternative to disposable diapers in the local market – there is a growing middle class in Uganda and more and more families are using disposables. Many young families struggle with the cost of disposables, and disposing of them is a huge environmental challenge in the city. The majority of people burn their trash, and burning diapers not only contributes to air pollution (which is a huge problem in Kampala) but the diapers are flame retardants and don’t burn. This leaves piles of charred diapers all over the city.
“Goal #2: To create positive employment and training opportunities for women – we think the best way to truly empower women is not to give them charity, but simply an opportunity to work and support themselves. Of the four tailors we have, two of them started with us before they even knew how to sew, and we trained them in basic tailoring. We pay above market rate and give a flexible and encouraging work environment.”
If you want to watch an endearing news clip that tells you more about her mission and how her diapers are made, please check it out below.
Now that you know the diaper’s beautiful history, let’s get down to the brass tax of my experience with the diaper. Does it work? I’ll give you a spoiler right here and now: Absolutely!
The result of all of all of Valerie’s hard work is a really beautiful WAHM quality diaper that is cut large and comes with two, absorbent inserts. My absolute favorite thing about the diaper is that it comes in beautiful limited edition African fabrics that look nothing like any other cloth diaper I have ever seen. There are two styles of prints: four kitenge prints which look like what I expected when the phrase “African fabrics” comes to mind, and two “kikoy” prints, which is a coarsely woven striped fabric. Since these will be offered as limited edition prints, if you see one you absolutely love, you’ll have to snatch it up right away because when it sells out, there are no more. However, you can anticipate for more exciting prints to replace it.
The best thing about this diaper is that it’s not only made by a really awesome small, Ugandan business, but the diaper itself is high quality. Honestly I haven’t seen any diaper quite like it yet, though I’ll admit there are tons of cloth diapers out there I’ve never tried. The body of the diaper is similar to a diaper cover with a soft, stay dry layer sewn in. It sort of reminds me of the Grovia Hybrid shell in that way since it is lined with a fabric that is soft against the baby’s skin rather than exposed PUL. Each diaper shell/cover comes with two soakers that snap into the diaper at the back. These soakers are unique in many ways:
- They have elastics on the sides as an extra safeguard against messes and to protect the inside of the cover/body so that it can be used for further changes.
- They are covered in stay-dry micro suede on the top.
- They have PUL on the bottom to protect against leaks, which makes two waterproof layers inside this diaper.
- Some of the stay dry material is actually on the top of the back of the insert so the it can be folded downward and still stay soft against baby skin.
The body/cover of the diaper is cut large and accommodates larger children (like my three year old son) nicely, while it is still capable of snapping down to fit smaller babies. The website claims it will fit babies as small as 4 kilograms (roughly 8 1/2 pounds), but from the way the diaper looks and from my experience with OS diapers and newborns, I estimate that it will fit well once your baby weighs at least 11 or 12 pounds, which is when my larger OS diapers start fitting comfortably. The Kijani AI2 is made of sturdy materials with typical African fabrics covering the layer of PUL. It has three rise snaps and two rows of eight snaps at the tummy. The elastics are nice and stretchy and the snaps are sturdy. Since the PUL is sandwiched between stay dry microsuede and kitenge or kikoy, there is an extra bit of PUL covering the kitenge/kikoy at the legs since PUL sandwiched by non waterproof fabrics often have problems with leaking at the legs. I have used this diaper for a little over two weeks now and I have not experienced wicking or leaking at the legs thanks to this extra safeguard.
The diaper is pretty trim so I was surprised at how absorbent it is. It has perfect daytime absorbency. Also, I used it at night with only one insert with varying degrees of success. One night, my daughter slept through the night and there was no leaking, other than the tiny bit where her onesie got sucked inside the leg of the diaper. The next night she woke up for a marathon nursing session in the middle of the night, and with only one soaker pad in the diaper, she completely soaked through both the diaper and her clothing. The third night I added some extra boosters on top of the Kijani soaker and we had no issues with leaking. This is what I’ve come to expect from a typical pocket or AIO diaper. Pockets and AIOs are generally not sufficient as night time protection without modification. My daughter has pooped in it twice in the short amount of time I’ve had it. I was a little bummed as I’d wanted to try it out for a couple more diaper changes at the time, but I was pretty happy with how the double layer of elastics (insert and shell) and the long insert folded downward at the front contained the mess. I’m not afraid of blowouts when she is wearing the Kijani AI2.
The fit is nice on my moderately chubby eight month old and it also fits my three year old with room at the waist to spare, though I was only able to try it on him once since he no longer wears diapers when he is awake. When my eight month old sits down and her little belly pours over her waistline, the diaper hugs it nicely. I did wonder about whether or not the lack of elastic at the front would cause a problem, but as of yet it has not. My son no longer has much of his baby belly, so to accommodate his skinny waist, I simply snap the top row of snaps in more tightly than the bottom row and it seems to be snug enough.
The Kijani diaper shell washes well, though it requires a little extra drying time. The insert needs a little more attention both in the washer and the dryer due to the super helpful layer of PUL on the back. Though the extra PUL makes the diaper more absorbent and leak proof, it also makes it more difficult to wash out urine and it prolongs drying time since the air cannot flow through the insert. In the wash, I just make sure there is an extra rinse cycle—which is something I do for all my diapers anyway. If you choose to line dry this diaper, hanging it down ward by both ends or laying it over the clothesline or drying rack with the PUL side down might help moisture escape the fabric more quickly.
The price of this diaper is $29.95 for the shell and two inserts. That’s about $15 a diaper change. For all the quality you get, I can’t argue with that price. I think that, unless the child poops or wets a lot, this diaper shell can accommodate more than just two diaper changes especially since the shell can also be used to cover fitteds, flats, and prefolds.
I always like to get my husband’s opinion on diapers we’re testing and he usually sums up his thoughts in one short and sweet phrase. This time he said, “The kids will fit this diaper for a long time,” referring to the generous sizing. I also happened to get my oldest daughter’s opinion of them as she helped me collect diapers from the line and sort them the other day. She said, “Mommy, this diaper is so soft!” Of course, she also likes that it is pink, which is her favorite color.
In case you didn’t feel like thoroughly reading through the details, let me summarize:
One shell can be used through multiple diaper changes
The shell can double as a diaper cover over fitteds, prefolds, and flats.
Extra PUL in insert and at the leg holes
Good with leaks
Elastics on the insert
Made by moms.
Supports a small business.
Unique African prints available
Good fit over chubby baby bellies and thighs
Made in Uganda, ships from the USA
Truly unique soaker pad with extra safeguards for superior leak protection
No elastic at the front/belly.
Generously sized and might be bulky on a newborn or tiny baby.
Ultimately, this is definitely one of my favorite cloth diapers. We are on a tight budget and I usually can’t afford to go buy more of the diapers I fall in love with when reviewing, but if I could, I would really love to get another Kitenge print of the Kijani diaper and a few more snap-in inserts. It’s such a beautiful diaper, especially when peeking out from underneath my daughter’s Sunday outfit, and since it also happens to work really well, it would be money well spent.
To see the diaper in action please check out the demo video below.