Sherri Richards, Published August 16 2009
Moms put diapers to the testLike every other parent, I’ve changed literally thousands of diapers. And I probably have a couple thousand more to go.
And like most other parents, I’ve chosen to use disposable diapers for their undeniable convenience. But that convenience comes at a cost. According to Consumer Reports, parents can expect to spend $1,500 to $2,000 on disposables before a child is potty trained.
With today’s tough economic times, these throwaway pants can put a strain on our pocketbooks.
Looking to save money, some parents opt for generic diapers. These store brands are generally cheaper than brands that nationally advertise their absorbency, soft feel and stretchy sides.
But how do generic diapers fit? How do they feel? And, most importantly, how well do they work? After all, a few cents saved per diaper could easily be eaten up by extra laundry costs if they don’t hold up.
We asked members of the InForum Moms online community to test three store brands and one name brand, putting their babies’ butts on the line, so to speak, and report back.
Some were fans of generics to begin with. One mom was surprised how well she liked two of the store brands.
Family Economics Specialist Debra Pankow says parents should weigh their preferences when deciding on a diaper. She encourages them to try out several types. “The cheapest that will work for your child is going to be OK,” she says.
(The price and per-diaper costs are based on each brand’s jumbo pack.)
Up and Up
Sold at: Target
Price: $6.34 (size 3: 40 diapers; size 5: 30 diapers)
Cost per diaper: size 3: 15.85 cents, size 5: 21.13 cents
About this diaper: Target recently switched its store-brand diaper to Up and Up, easily identified by its blue and green polka dots.
What the moms said:
- “The diaper puffed up too quickly. After being in it for an hour, you’d think Autumn was wearing the same diaper for an entire day … she waddled like a duck when we walked.” – Dana Taylor
- “Papery feeling, almost felt too thin, not enough reinforcement around the legs.” – Kara Kalbus
- “Can diapers be considered cute? The pattern on the diaper makes them so much more fun. … This diaper really seems to stand up very well, it holds fairly well around her leg, not as good as I would like, but it is better than other generic diapers I have tried.” – Amanda Gill
- “The pattern is so bold it is easily seen through white clothes – not really a big deal for a baby.” – Amanda Will
Bottom line: The diaper’s sides are stretchy and it fits well, except around the legs. Its bold pattern is a pro and a con.
And that’s the bottom line.
Sold at: Wal-Mart
Price: $5.88 (size 3: 36 diapers; size 5: 27 diapers)
Cost per diaper: size 3: 16.33 cents, size 5: 21.78 cents
About this diaper: While this brand offers the cheapest price per pack, the Jumbo pack contains fewer diapers than other store brands.
What the moms said:
- “This and (the Pampers) were my favorite. This one did very well. Held everything in. No leaks and fit well.” – Amanda Will
- “This is another one of our favorites. We love this diaper because it never fails us.” – Dana Taylor
- “This diaper did not work so well for us, it was not snug around her legs and the tabs did not hold very well after having to re-stick or stick the first time.” – Amanda Gill
- “This diaper failed miserably and by far contained the blow-outs the absolute least.” – Kara Kalbus
Bottom line: Split decision by our testers. Most thought it was softer and thicker than other generics.
Sold at: Kmart
Price: $7.99 (size 3: 40 diapers; size 5: 30 diapers)
Cost per diaper: size 3: 19.98 cents, size 5: 26.63 cents
About this diaper: Despite different packaging and prices, this diaper is the exactly the same as the Baby Basics brand sold at local Hornbacher’s stores.
What the moms said:
- “They held up very well when wet and with a normal (bowel movement). However, even they couldn’t handle a massive blow-out, but they leaked the least of any tested and just out the legs.” – Kara Kalbus
- “My family really likes this diaper. It fits well, doesn’t make Autumn walk funny. Overall, it’s one of our favorites.” – Dana Taylor
- “The tabs were not stretchy, which made them a little snug at the waist.” – Amanda Will
- “It did not leak overnight! I was very worried I would be waking up to a very wet baby, and it turns out it held the whole 10 hours she slept.” – Amanda Gill
Bottom line: Performs well and leaks less than others, but the tabs aren’t user-friendly.
Pampers Baby Dry
Sold at: Most retailers
Price: $9.99 (size 3: 36 diapers; size 5: 27 diapers)
Cost per diaper: size 3: 27.75 cents, size 5: 37 cents
About this diaper: Considered a top-of-the-line brand, Pampers Baby Dry is cheaper than its Cruisers line.
What the moms said:
- “This diaper did very well. Kept everything in. Seemed comfortable and the tabs never broke.” – Amanda Will
- “After only a few hours, the outside of the diaper is damp.” – Dana Taylor
- “This diaper was OK and had the best feel of all diapers tested, but because Drew became irritated from material on the sides, it would be a no-go.” – Kara Kalbus
- “They really seemed to hold up well to her being a very active baby, she crawled a lot and the diaper did not stretch out around her legs.” – Amanda Gill
Bottom line: Good fit and soft material. Didn’t leak but outside feels damp when wet.
Cheap and dirty
Consider these suggestions for keeping your diaper costs down:
- Stay in a smaller size as long as you can. The price per diaper increases with the size.
- Clip coupons and shop sales. Every penny counts.
- Buy in bulk. Buying the largest package will likely reduce the per-diaper cost. Do the math by dividing the price of the package by the number of diapers it contains.
- Pennies add up. You may not think a 10-cent difference per diaper is a lot, but consider this: If you average 8 diapers a day for two years (730 days), choosing a 10-cent cheaper diaper would save $584.
- Consider cloth. They can be much cheaper, especially if you wash them yourself.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556