Product Reviews Bedding & Bath
About 95% of all households that have kids in diapers use disposables. Why? Today’s diapers have super-absorbent gels meaning fewer diaper changes, especially at night. Even many parents who swear cloth diapers are best often use disposables at night. The downside? All that super-absorbency means babies potty train later. Besides eco-arguments about disposables, there is one other disadvantage—higher trash costs.
Click on the Brand Reviews tab for specific reviews of disposable diaper brands.
Like diapers, you have a basic choice with wipes: name brand or generic. Our advice: stick to the name brands. We polled our readers and their top pick was: Huggies Natural Care. The reviews were more mixed with Pampers wipes: some parents thought they were too wet and too expensive.
We found most cheap generic wipes to be inferior. With less water and thinner construction, store brand wipes we sampled were losers. There are a couple exceptions to Sensitive baby wipes. One mom emailed: “Kirkland are not as rigid as Huggies or Pampers, have a lighter scent and are stronger than any other wipe we tried.” And it’s hard to beat the price: $20 for 900 (that’s 2.2¢ per wipe). As for Walgreens’ brand, a mom emailed saying they “are as good at Huggies in thickness and durability.” And they cost about 3¢ a wipe. Another mom really loves BJ’s Berkely & Jensen brand of wipes. She thought they were softer than Costco’s Kirkland wipes and more like Huggies for less than 2¢ a wipe.
Diaper/Wipes Money Saving Tips
How can you save money on disposable diapers? Here our top money-saving tips:
1. Think price per diaper. Stores sell diapers in all sorts of package sizes—always compare diaper prices per diaper, not per box.
2 Buy in bulk. Don’t buy those little packs of 20 diapers—look for the 80 or 100 count packs instead. You’ll find the price per diaper goes down when you buy larger packs. That’s why grocery stores are usually the most expensive place to buy diapers—they sell diapers in smaller packages, with the highest per diaper price.
3 Go for warehouse clubs. Sam’s (samsclub.com), BJ’s and Costco (costco.com) wholesale clubs sell diapers at incredibly low prices. For example, Costco sells a 228-count package of Huggies stage 2 for just $38.99 or about 17¢ per diaper. We also found great deals on wipes at the wholesale clubs. The downside to these warehouse clubs? You buy a membership to shop at clubs, which runs about $50 a year. And clubs don’t stock the usual sizes of diapers—Costco carries “size 1-2” Kirkland diapers, instead of just size 1 or 2. Readers are frustrated with this combined sizing, according to our message boards.
4 Buy store brands. As mentioned earlier, many parents find store brand diapers to be equal to the name brands. And the prices can’t be beat—many are 20% to 30% cheaper. Chains like Target, Walmart and Toys R Us/Babies R Us carry in-house diaper brands, as do many grocery stores. See the reviews earlier on these store brands. Warehouse clubs also carry in store brands: Costco’s Kirkland, BJ’s Little Bundles and Sam’s Club’s Member’s Mark. Sample price: Costco’s Kirkland diapers are just 15¢ each.
5 Forget brand loyalty. Buy whatever diaper is on sale this week at your favorite store. Ok, some diapers are losers (Target’s Up & Up are an example), but if Huggies are on sale this week, go for the Huggies. When Pampers go on sale next week, buy those. Since the name brands and most private label diapers are equivalent in quality, it doesn’t pay to be brand loyal.
6 Consider Toys R Us. You may not have a wholesale club nearby, but you’re bound to be close to a Toys R Us (or their sister division, Babies R Us). And we found them to be a great source for affordable name-brand diapers. The best bet: buy in bulk. You can often buy diapers (both name brand and generic) by the case at Toys R Us, saving you about 20% or more over grocery store prices. A recent price check by Houston TV station KPRC found Babies R Us had the lowest prices on diapers in that city—beating out grocery stores, Target and even warehouse clubs (once you factor in the annual membership cost). A year’s worth of diapers ran $365.70 at BRU versus $370 at Costco or Sam’s, the station reported. Bonus: TRU and BRU often offer in-store coupons for diapers—combine these with manufacturer’s coupons for double savings.
7 Online deals may beat in-store prices. Hard to believe, but sometimes buying diapers online and having them shipped to your house is cheaper than buying at a store. Why? Online sites often sell bigger packages of diapers than stores—and the bigger the package, the lower the cost per diaper. Walmart.com is one example according to our readers. They’ve seen lower prices (as much as 17% lower) online compared to the stores. With many sites offering free or low-cost shipping, online dealers may be better than shopping in store.
8 When baby is nearing a transition point, don’t stock up. Quick growing babies may move into another size faster than you think, leaving you with an excess supply of too-small diapers.
9 Don’t buy diapers in grocery stores. We compared prices at grocery stores and usually found them to be sky-high. Most were selling diapers in packages that worked out to over 25¢ per diaper. We should note there are exceptions to this rule, however: some grocery chains (especially in the South) use diapers as a “loss-leader.” They’ll sell diapers at attractive prices in order to entice shoppers into the store. Also, store brands can be more attractively priced, even at grocery stores. Use coupons (see below) to save even more.
10 Use coupons. You’ll be amazed at how many coupons you receive in the mail, usually for 75¢ off diapers and 50¢ off wipes. One tip: to keep those “introductory” packages of coupons coming, continue signing up to be on the mailing lists of the maternity chain stores (apparently, these chains sell your name to diaper manufacturers, formula companies, etc.) or online at diaper manufacturers’ web sites.
11 If you have to buy your diapers from a grocery store or pharmacy, sign up for a loyalty card. Yes, we just said don’t buy diapers at the grocery store. But we know—sometimes the grocery store is the most convenient choice for a 2 am diaper run. Our advice: sign up for the store’s loyalty card, which often offers discounts on items like diapers and wipes. Combine this with in-store sales and manufacturer’s coupons and you might find the price per diaper approaching what you’d pay at a discount store.
12 Ask for gift certificates. When friends ask you what you’d like as a shower gift, you can drop hints for gift certificates/cards from stores that sell a wide variety of baby items—including diapers and wipes. That way you can get what you really need, instead of cute accessories of marginal value. You’d be surprised at how many stores offer gift certificate programs.
The evolution of disposable diapers is rather amazing. They started out in the 1960’s as bulky and ineffective at stopping leaks. In the last 60 years, disposables morphed into ultra-thin, super-absorbent miracle workers that command 95% of the market.
And writing about disposable diaper brands is like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall—every five minutes, the diaper makers come out with new features and new gimmicks as they jostle for a piece of the nearly $27 billion worldwide diaper market. In the 16 years since the first edition of this book came out, the constant innovation in this category is amazing. We used to talk about three types of diapers: basic (thick, tape tabs), ultrathin (with the gel and tape tabs) and supreme (fabric-like outer layer, Velcro tabs). But in recent years, almost all diapers have added Velcro tabs, nicer outer layers and the ubiquitous super absorbent gels. So what separates the good from the bad diapers? The key is good fit, no leaks and comfort for baby.
No matter what brand you try, remember that sizing of diapers is all over the board. The “size two” diaper in one brand may be cut totally different from the “medium” of another, even though the weight guidelines on the package are similar. Finding a diaper that fits is critical to you and your baby’s happiness.
Now, let’s answer some common questions about disposables:
Q. What makes one brand different from another?
A. Surprisingly, the absorbency of diapers varies little from brand to brand. A Consumer Reports test of 14 families with infants and toddlers is a case in point. They tested seven types of disposable diapers. Five of them tested “very good” or “excellent” for leak protection. No matter what brand you choose, you’ll probably have a diaper that fits well and doesn’t leak. Yes, the premium/supreme diapers scored highest in CR’s tests, but the difference between them and the cheaper options was minimal (except for the price, of course).
In 2010, Houston, Texas TV station KPRC did a blind test of diapers with local viewers—and the results were similar to what Consumer Reports found. KPRC reporter Amy Davis gave two unmarked packages of diapers to viewers, asking them to score them on quality and fit. The station compared both national brands and private label options from Walmart, Target and Babies R Us.
The winner? Parents named the Babies R Us’ Supreme Diaper brand (a private label) as their favorite. BRU’s diapers are priced below national brands, but a bit more than store brands at Walmart and other discounters.
Q. What about store brands like Babies R Us and others? Is there much difference?
A. Although store diapers used to be less impressive than name brands, as we noted above, they’ve caught up in terms of cloth like covers, Velcro fasteners and ultra absorbency. And they cost as much as 30% less too.
Q. Do certain brands work better for boys or girls?
A. We used to hear anecdotal evidence from our readers that Huggies were better for boys and Pampers better for girls. In recent years, however, parents tell us there doesn’t seem to be a gender difference at all.
Q. How many diapers of each size is a good starting point?
A. Most babies go through 12 to 14 diapers per day for the first few months. That translates into about 500 to 600 diapers for the first six weeks. As you read at the beginning of the chapter we recommend buying 100 “newborn” size diapers and 400 to 500 “size one” diapers before baby is born. Caveat: some families have large babies, so keep the receipts just in case you have to exchange some of those newborns for size 1.
So how many do you need of the larger sizes? It’s a good idea to start with a case of each size as you transition to larger diapers. There are typically 100 diapers or more in a case. As you near a transition to a larger size, scale back the amount of smaller size diapers you buy so you don’t have any half opened packs lying around.
Finally, remember that as your baby grows, she will require fewer diaper changes. Once you add solid foods to her feeding schedule you may only be doing eight to ten changes a day (we know—eight to ten a day still seems like a ton of changes; but it will feel much less than baby’s first few weeks). Plus you’ll be much more experienced about when a diaper really is wet.
Q. Can disposable diapers cause rashes on my baby?
A. Good question. One look through our message boards at BabyBargains.com and you’ll see more than a few threads asking this very question. The answer? We don’t know. Anecdotally, parents have seen a rise in rashiness when manufacturers change the makeup of the diaper. But no studies have been done to compare brands either to each other or two new iterations of a brand. However, if you switch brands or a manufacturer changes the way they make their diapers, watch your baby’s skin carefully. You may need to switch to another brand, ASAP. So keep the receipt!
A EXCELLENT-our top pick!
B GOOD-above average quality, prices, and creativity.
C FAIR-could stand some improvement.
D POOR-yuck! Could stand some major improvement.