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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.

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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!

BB Rating
What's This?

A

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.