Tuesday, June 05, 2007

a diaper rant

Before the babies were born, we began stockpiling diapers. Every time we’d go to the store, any store, we would buy two or three boxes of Huggies. By the time the babies came home from the hospital, we had over 250 boxes of diapers, in varying sizes, in our garage.

We quickly learned that a newborn goes through approximately 10 diapers a day and the newborn sizes in the brand we’d purchased 100 boxes of - had less absorbency than a paper towel. Before we even finished the first box of diapers, I was infuriated that I had spent a small fortune on a product that did no better keeping my child dry, than if I’d stuck a sheet of Bounty in my baby’s onesie.

I believed that my leaky diaper fate was sealed … unless, I wanted to spend another small fortune on the world’s top selling diaper brand.

My mother, however, is a stickler for customer satisfaction. So for five days, she went through the process of loading 50 boxes of diapers in the back of Charlie’s truck and set out to make exchanges at every diaper-carrying store within a 10-mile radius of our house. I had my doubts regarding how successful she would be on this journey, considering she didn’t have a single receipt.

But minor details like that never stop my mom.

First, she drove to Target. She put as many boxes of diapers as she could fit in to the cart and walked in to the store. Mom told the manager that all of the diapers had been purchased at that store, and they needed to be exchanged for Pampers.

Then she drove to Wal-Mart and loading up a shopping cart with as many boxes of diapers as she could fit, repeated the process. Then she drove to Safeway and repeated the process, again. Much to her dismay, she was informed that Safeway didn’t carry that particular size and brand of diaper and they called her on her tiny white lie. But she was not deterred. She showed the manager a picture of her newborn triplet grandchildren, played off his compassion and quickly made the exchange – before he changed his mind.

Mom then went on to Ralph’s, Albertson’s, and a multitude of pharmacies. Then she went back to Target and repeated the process, skipping over Safeway a second time, until every last box of Huggies had been replaced with Pampers.

Ever since then, we’ve been Pampers people - even though they are the most expensive diaper on the market. Not only do Pampers work better than any other diaper I’ve tried, the fact that we are entrenched in the Pamper's Gift-To-Grow Rewards Program, is enough to keep us loyal customers ... despite the fact that entering the tiny codes from packages is one of my least favorite activities. EVER.

We currently have over 800 points and once I get around to it, we’ll be the proud owner of two Kettrike tricycles.

Yet even with Pampers, there was a time when we suffered from frequent breakthrough. But because I didn’t believe that our babies could have outgrown a diaper – when they still had five pounds to go before reaching the “upper weight limit” – I tried everything imaginable to keep them dry.

I created “pee-pads” from sacrifical diapers, cut in to small squares for extra absorbency within the children’s diapers. When that didn’t work, and tiny moisture absorbing beads from within the sacrificial diaper coated our children from their navel to their knees, I used a super absorbent maxi pad.

That didn’t work, either.

After a desperate call to Proctor and Gamble, I was told that maybe I needed to go up a size. And lo and behold, the babies stayed dry. (Here I am with a master’s degree and I couldn’t figure that one out on my own.)

Even though we went through a lot of diapers in those infant days, our diaper bill is more expensive now than it’s ever been. Although we get fewer diapers per box with the larger sizes, they cost more. I suspect that the high price for larger diapers, is intended as a financial motivation for parents to potty-train their children before they reach 50 pounds.

In my case, it is making me more resourceful because I don’t see our toddlers becoming potty trained any time in the near future. And since we’ll soon have four children in diapers, it’s a matter of weeks before our monthly diaper bill will constitute 35% of our income.

Because we are spending an exorbitant amount of money on diapers, I’ve become extremely thrifty with our diaper supply. Whereas I use to change the children every 3-4 hours, or whenever they would have a poop, now I do a “squeeze” test to evaluate if the maximum absorbency potential of the diaper has been achieved. There was once a day when a poop automatically warranted a new diaper. These days, if I catch the poopetrator before they sit down and squash it, I can usually remove it from the diaper without so much as a smudge.

And really, why replace a perfectly clean, dry diaper that costs $0.35?

Because Charlie is as much of a stickler for cleanliness as my mother is for customer satisfaction, it drives him positively mad when I don’t give our children a brand new diaper for every scoop-able poop. The other day, Charlie put it in perspective when during the course of plucking a poop out of someone’s diaper, he commented “You know, Jen, there’s an excellent chance that one day our children will be changing your diapers and how would you like it if they got cheap with you?”

He’s right. I probably wouldn’t like it.

But I’d also understand if I found myself wearing one of these garments.


  1. Ha!!! I could rant a bit about diapers, too...This post - and your cheapness - er, I mean frugality - are so true! Some days I seriously adopt the "Don't change him until I can smell him" motto. Sad, but entirely true. I figure that's what super absorbency and 35 cents a diaper is for. But today - thanks to Charlie's insight - my boy might get an extra change or two! (although he personally could care less, which is why potty training is not happening...) Sigh...

  2. P.S. My mom is a champion returner, too. I'm impressed with your mom's ability to exchange diapers like that!

  3. Just another one of your (many, i'm guessing) lurkers here. I'd suggest reusable cloth diapers, but I'm guessing you don't want to do an extra three loads of laundry a day...

  4. Try having FIVE kids under the age of 2 in diapers. The cost is unimaginable. We too are proud owners of three of the Ketrikes from the Pampers Room to Grow program, what I want to know, is why can't you buy freakin' diapers with those points!! And incidentally, my kids are nowhere near the scooping poop stage. Good idea tho...

  5. We used Pampers with my singleton and then again with my twins. We tried all the other brands, but always ended up spending the same amount of money because we had to change twice as often. I decided if it was going to cost as much, might as well save a few diaper changes. We did the poop and scoop thing too.

  6. Hello Jen and family from Costa Rica.
    Everything gets put into prespective here. There are no pampers where we are this week. The poverty is what makes these people so very grateful for every little thing they have. They let their little ones run free, no nothing. They are potty trained at walking age...just pop into a rain forest.
    We did not have pampers when our children were young. Cloth diapers from a diaper service or mom´s washing machine.
    Life is precious and we love this Country where there is so little, therefore....so much!
    Love to all and see you in July.
    Dad and Kathleen

  7. I have a 16 month old and another on the way in December, and I can't believe how much money I've spent on pampers without knowing about this pampers to grow program, thanks a bunch for the heads up! I stumbled across your blog when I was doing a search for sippy cup transitions tips and have been a loyal reader ever since!

  8. Lurker here but I couldn't resist commenting, even if I probably sound like a neurotic granola nut (which I am not).

    I have 23 month old twins and we have done cloth diapers since they came home from the hopital. They have been AWESOME. We have diaper service making it even easier. We've NEVER had leaks, even when they both had rotovirus. I'm not kidding. My husband thought I was crazy but my attitude was to just give it a try and if we didn't like it then we'd just drop the service and switch to Pampers. Both of us are total converts. I have even overheard my husband convincing other expectant parents to give it a try! It's a fraction of the price of diapers and you have an unlimited supply at all times.

    Also, the only times we've had diaper rash were when they were in disposables (in the NICU).

    Now one of them has potty trained herself (poop and all), despite my relutance (too hard to keep running to the bathroom when we have errands to run and things to do!). My diaper service offers a warranty. For 25 cents a week they promise that your kids will be potty trained by age 2 or all diaper service thereafter is FREE. I am kicking myself for not doing it, even though one of my girls potty trained herself.

    I looked it up, there's a service in San Diego...

  9. Me again, my twins are 25 months, not 23. Couldn't decide which side of 2 we're on!!!

  10. Wow, I love this blog especially about the cloth diapers. perhaps we could have the kids lie about their age---I will teach them how to lie.
    Another idea is that I am going to make the back yard into Costa Rica. So, Noni is on her way.
    What size undies do you think they would be in---I am looking at size 4?

  11. Another thought I have is that I will buy you diaper service for a month or two and see if we can collect on the trined by two clause.

  12. Loved those pampers! We just rec'd our Bob the Builder leggos in the mail last week! LOL

  13. I'm a Pampers Mommma too. Love 'em! I also don't get why the weight limit is so not right. My daughter leaks when she gets about 5 pounds to the max weight too. Right now I'm trying to keep her size 3 b/c I get more diapers for the money! I guess I'll have to move up one of these days.

    Hopefully your trips will be potty trained soon!

  14. i use huggies, and i really like them..but they dont have a "room to grow program"...:(

    i think i missed the bus on that one.
    although, being that my son is still in size 6, and my daughter is in size 1, i still have some time to switch over and earn points. thanks for the post, jen!

  15. I just wanted to mention that I used Pampers too until someone introduced me to the Member's mark Diapers from Sam's Club and they are seriously just like Pampers. We switched when the kids were about one and never went back except for nighttime diapers. You will have your three potty trained in no time. :O)

  16. Jen- Two words - Jen. Sam's Club. Member's Mark- 17 cents a diaper. We actually had it down to 10 cents a diaper when Greg would drive to the Swap Meet.

    Guess where all those opened and resealed boxes of diapers go? They go to the Swap Meet. When the Swap Meet ran out, Greg thought about going to Walmart and opening a bunch of boxes.

    I swear by Member's Mark. Mine have NEVER leaked and we had them in size 4 and they all weighed almost 30 pounds. We only put size 5 on at night.

    Of course, I don't have the diaper expense anymore. Hee hee hee.

  17. Just a lurker that had to post on your picture! I live in China, and that is not an uncommon scene (pants with slits on the bumb!) I would much rather be fruggle with dipers then have that on my child!

  18. the split pants picture looks familiar! :) how funny! i'm a pampers mom, too. always have been, always will be. i absolutely understand the utility of cloth diapers and a diaper service. but i just can't deal with the dirties hanging around the house, soaking in pails....ick. i'm sure my 15 month old would play in it. gross.

  19. Poor Jen, if you like the Pampers, stick with the pampers. My extremely frugal husband gets VERY UPSET if he has to use anything on our son but a Pamper. He says he doesn't care WHAT IT COSTS!

    I do usually get mine at Target for 21c a diaper when they have their "special purchase" mega boxes, or at Babies R Us when they send out their 5 dollars off a box coupon every couple of months. Then I fill my car.

    I've participated in several diaper studies as a tester. It is ALWAYS comparing Huggies to Pampers. I ALWAYS had huge problems with the Huggies and LOVED the Pampers. BUT several people in the group always LOVE the Huggies. I think it might have something to do with the shape of your baby's butt, so don't be surprised if the new baby has a different shaped butt than the triplets and your mom makes the rounds again to get some Huggies.

    We use all of our gifts to grow points on the Blockbuster rewards where you get the free movies, popcorn, and sodas. By this time I've collected enough points I figure the KID has had ENOUGH rewards, I need the reward.

  20. Just a heads-up, from what I remember Luvs is made by the same manufacturer of Pampers and Luvs are cheaper. I think you can get them at Target. (but we are out of diapers now)

    I did do cloth diapers for a while and I kept the pail in the garage. It was really easy; no diaper rash and not a ton more laundry if you use it on your singleton.

  21. I came across your site from JMom (the other Jen with triplets) and I read your post and wanted to comment...I agree wholeheartedly with the Huggies vs. Pampers thing...I use Cruisers (swaddlers for tiny) and I love them and NO other diaper out there does what they do...but I wanted to let you know that they are running low on the tricycles through the rewards program, so you should order it soon...I just ordered our reward the other day because they were low on it too.

  22. From a mom who has had 4 in diapers too, I'd say give cloth a try! It's not any harder than disposables really. I have literally saved thousands of dollars! Yeah, it's more laundry but I only wash every 2 or 3 days. The cloth diapers these days are not at all what you probably picture. They are so, so easy to use now.

  23. We're a Pampers house too. The first two months of my son's life we used Huggies and he had horrible diaper rash. As soon as we switched, his rash was gone.

    He 13 months old now and I have accumulated a little over 100 points with my Pamper rewards. I think we're going to get the bilingual Elmo doll. We already have that tricycle so looks like we'll be getting all the smaller things.

    I just had to comment because I don't know of anyone else that collects Pamper points. I thought I was the only one. Like they set that whole Rewards thing up for me.

  24. Sorry I'm a Huggies fan, Pampers are ok but their wipes are horrible...too thin and slick for me.

  25. I really want to suggest you use white clouds from walmart! Seriously i've found them to be the best most absorbent diapers out there! they are 15$ for a box also!