Even though we can save an easy $16 per month by scrimping on diapers, sometimes it’s hard to take that step when people are always telling us, “Sacrifice All for Your Offspring,” and “Brand Names Are Better.” I have to admit, when I walk through Target with a pack of store-brand diapers, I feel those glances that seem to say, “Do you even deserve to be a mother?”
Despite (real or imagined) peer pressure, I am now raising my third child on cheap, no-name diapers and thus far, the little guys don’t seem scarred. (I’ll check with their therapists in 20 years.) True, generic diapers don’t have elastic waistbands to rival Nike sweatpants or the most popular Disney characters, but I don’t find they leak any more than fancy diapers.
Now that I live in New York City and my mini-van is long-gone, I order diapers online. While you can’t find generic brands on Diapers.com, I buy the least expensive brand (Luvs), get free shipping by stocking up, and avoid spending $158 on who-knows-what in Target when all I needed was diapers.
How Much Do Diapers Really Cost?
Here’s how the most popular brands measure up (when you buy an extra large case) at Diapers.com. All three brands got an average customer rating of 4 out of 5 stars, based on over 150 customer reviews.
Price per diaper (size 3)
- Huggies Snug & Dry $0.23
- Pampers Baby Dry $0.22
- Luvs $0.18
Still not convinced? Luvs, made by the same company as Pampers, has a money-back guarantee: if you are not satisfied with their leak performance, all you have to do is send in one unused diaper, the UPC, and your receipt, and they’ll send you your money back plus postage.
Store-Brand Diapers Around the Country
Almost all pharmacies and grocery stores — Walgreens, CVS, Wal-Mart, Rite-Aid, Albertsons — sell their own brand of diapers. I have tried the following store brands (which not available online) and they are all completely acceptable:
Price per diaper (size 3)
- Safeway $0.23
- Kroger $0.16
- Target $0.13
As you can see in the Safeway example, not all generic diapers are cheaper, partly because some don’t come in large cases. And opinions about no-name diapers are all over the map — there are both enthusiastic converts and name-brand loyalists — so it’s best to give the diapers a whirl yourself (well, you know what I mean).
Start Out Crappy and Move Up
With low-cost products that I buy often, I always try the cheapest brand first. Why go straight to the top when I might be satisfied with less? If it’s not acceptable, I move up to the next price point. This way, I avoid that low-rent feeling I might get when downgrading to generic diapers from Pampers.
For example, I tried several different store-brand diaper creams and was not impressed. Runny and ineffective. Instead of going straight to the fancy-schmancy Mustela or Boudreaux’s Buttpaste, I tried mid-range Desitin and it works great for us.
Advantages of Buying from Diapers.com
- 1-2 day shipping
- Free shipping if you spend over $49
- Lowest online price guarantee
- If you like coupons, you can still use them by mailing them in
- No schlepping from store to car and car to house
- Easily make the free shipping minimum by throwing in other stuff you need regularly (like wipes and bath soap)
- Avoid stepping foot in a store, which (for me) can lead to being tempted into buying more than I really need
Disadvantages of Buying from Diapers.com
- Some store brands are cheaper. If you have a Target nearby, you can save a further $0.05 per diaper. (But again, the savings may be cancelled by other purchases you are lured into making while you are there.)
- 1-2 day shipping is fast, but it’s not as immediate as throwing diapers into your cart if you’re already at the store.
- Shipping boxes create waste (which may be counteracted by gas and pollution).
- Diapers.com now has much more than diapers — from hand soap to Halloween costumes. The $49 free shipping minimum can encourage you to throw something unnecessary in the virtual cart.
One brand I haven’t tried yet is Seventh Generation. Seventh Generation diapers are unbleached, thus reducing the amount of chlorine that is released into the atmosphere and water. I buy Seventh Generation unbleached paper towels and toilet paper and copy paper made from recycled materials, but at $0.31 per diaper, I’m a little reluctant to spring for their diapers.
You can find a (favorable) review of Seventh Generation diapers at the Baby Cheapskate blog, where readers commented that you can print out diaper coupons at Seventh Generation. (N.B.: You can only use two coupons per validity period and within a month of printing, and you have to sign up as a Seventh Generation member to print the coupons).
I usually don’t use coupons unless I can save enough to make it worth my time, but I’m tempted to try Seventh Generation anyway because they claim that “if every household in the U.S. with babies replaced just one package of diapers processed with chemicals containing chlorine with our chlorine free diapers, we could prevent 2,800 lbs of chlorinated hydrocarbons from polluting our air, lakes and streams.”
This brings up an interesting question. How much are you willing to sacrifice to help the environment? Also, have you tried generic or off-brand diapers? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.
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