The post wherein I try (and fail) to buy diapers

So, this was probably clear to you around step #6 on my list of “how to prepare for a baby in 20 easy steps”… but I am starting to see that I am just not going to get everything done that I would like to before this baby arrives. I thought some SUPERSURGE of nesting and a Very Special Time Warp would both kick in, making it possible for me to do all those things other people seem to do, including but not limited to the immaculate clearing out and cleaning of a house, the toothbrush scrubbing of a car, the completion of a never-begun wedding album and the arrangement of a gorgeous nursery. But it’s just not going to happen.

We still have four weeks, give or take two weeks, before Pavo arrives. So, there is some time. But we have many other things on the agenda during that time, including but not limited to a mother-in-law visit, Sunday school training, full-time jobs, an election and The Return of Congress … as well as 3-6 plays, a couple of parties, a Comedy Central demonstration on the National Mall and perhaps some waltzing.

People have tried to assure me, “All the baby needs is you and some diapers.”
(And a carseat … and a name … and a pediatrician …and how about a baby carrier? And let’s not forget that clean hard-drive!)

I decided I need to manage my expectations and focus on the most important things.

First up, how about the obvious: the diapers. Eventually, we plan/hope to use cloth diapers, and I’ve already done quite a bit of research on that. But given that I can only take so much at once, we’re going to start with disposables until the baby is big enough to fit into the one-size cloth diapers (at least 10 lbs) and I am healthy/sane enough to take on the extra laundry.

In a recent trip to the store, we decided to just go ahead and pick up some disposable diapers — then we could at least tell ourselves we have the baby necessities and breathe a sigh of relief. Plus, buying disposable diapers would be pretty easy, right?


We have now attempted to buy diapers twice, and in both instances, we eventually gave up and shuffled away from the diaper aisle empty-handed.

The problem, America, is that we live in a land of infinite choices. And I am an indecisive person.  Even the diaper aisle can be pretty darn overwhelming. First, there are the sizes. Then, the varietals. Then, the quantity. Then, the special umbilical cord cutouts — does that matter? Then, the name brands vs. the store brands. Then, the ingredients. Then, the prices. Then, the titles: what does a “swaddler” diaper mean? We thought we made a choice, until we realized our choice cost $3 more than any other, for ten fewer diapers.  I felt exasperated and returned it to the shelf for fear of getting ripped off by The Man. The Diaper Man.

Now, just imagine us trying to settle on a name. Or a pediatrician. Or a circumcision decision.

My brain is very full… of confusion.



Filed under baby, pregnancy

13 responses to “The post wherein I try (and fail) to buy diapers

  1. Go with the store brand. My favorites are the Kirkland brand from Costco. I also think the Walmart brand Parent’s Choice is excellent. Eleri wears cloth during the day and disposable at night, so remember that cloth is not all or nothing!
    I found that the name brands were scented, and they smelled awful to me – especially once they were used for their intended purposes. Both the Costco and Walmart brands were unscented and did the job they were supposed to do.
    Let me know if you want opinions on cloth diapers as well. We’ve tried a bunch over the three of our kids. 🙂

  2. I found that pampers swaddlers worked best for us, they kept the pee and poop in the best and covered the baby well. I hated walmart brand, ugh, they felt cheap and worked like they were cheap, in other words they didn’t! If you are worried about organic etc, huggies makes a natural diaper but I just found swaddlers worked best.

    circumcision decision…………that is a big one. And one you’ll get so many different opinions on, just do your research and what is best for you. Everyone looks at it differently.

  3. OK, so we also used Swaddlers. However, the “formula” has changed since ’07 making them “better” (more chemically?).
    We did have some of those umbilical cord cut-out Huggies, but I found that with tiny James, I still had to fold it down to clear the cord. So don’t fall for that gimmick. Fold down whatever brand you have, and they’ll work just fine.
    James wore Seventh Generation for his final year of diapers because I was feeling guilty that he was still in diapers, so I wanted a bit less of an environmental impact– no chlorine, no chemical scent, good for sensitive skin, recycled materials…. They worked great for him. But I do admit that the Pampers were less bulky.

    We got bunches of “free” diapers from the hospital when James was born and then again with the RSV. Pampers Swaddlers.

  4. Christine

    Ooh ooh for the first two months I recommend the service that rents and picks up and launders the cloth diapers. At the end of the service, monthly I think, poof all gone! Then on to your all in ones and no landfill diapers to show for it.

  5. Krista

    What “Big Sis” said about the cord cut-out diapers. Just get the regular kind and fold the things. An additional good reason to use some disposables at the very beginning is that newborn poop is, um, “special.” Trust me, you’re not going to want to need to wash *that* out of cloth when you’re so sleep-deprived. The many cloth diapering parents I know have waited for the 10 lb. mark that you mentioned for the same reasons as you. We’ve used pampers and huggies (assorted kinds) with Kara, but that’s mostly because the store brands down here (HEB, etc.) were not nearly as good at containing blowouts. She didn’t ever get rashes from any of the disposables, not even the new “formulas” of diapers. Kara doesn’t appear to have skin sensitive to anything, though, and YMMV.

    Another thing about diapers – if you have a large enough (or chubby enough) child, he or she might not fit into newborn diapers at birth. Kara was born weighing 9 lbs 1 oz and needing to wear the next size up, and I cannot remember if the next size up from newborn is size 1 (or is the newborn size called size 1???) or size 1-2. Hopefully your child will be not be quite so large as she was, though…

    On a related note, I make my own wipes so we don’t need to buy them (they’re paper towel-based) – I just found a “recipe” on the internet that worked for me. It’s very easy and much less expensive. They’re not something that I’d make in advance of the birth, though, and I only make one batch (to fill a normal sized plastic wipes container) at a time, which I only need to do every 3 or so weeks these days; it was about every 2 weeks earlier on. The only time I tend to buy wipes is if we’re going on a trip, for the sake of convenience.

    Sorry for such a long essay! I hope you’re feeling well and able to get sleep these days, and we look forward to welcoming your little one to the world.

  6. Krista

    This is the somewhat amusing story of how I picked Kara’s pediatrician back when she was born and we lived up north. A few weeks before I was due, I looked up the website for the group practice pediatricians’ office closest to where we lived and which took our insurance, and which I had heard had reasonably competent doctors and had a lactation consultant on staff. I looked at the doctors’ biographies/resumes and thought, “There are so many. I don’t want to have to meet them all now. Or any of them right now – going out more than I have to is a pain. If I pick one and hate him or her, I can always switch later, right? Okay. Hey, this one’s bio says she’s married to a mathematician, just like me. Let’s go with her.”

    It was not the most carefully thought out plan, but it worked out great. I ended up liking the doctor a lot when I finally met her, and the lactation consultant at her office was a lifesaver. Consulting a lactation consultant early on and attending a few La Leche League meetings significantly improved the quality of my life with a newborn. I highly recommend both, if they’re available nearby.

    When we moved, I asked the first moms I met here who was the most highly regarded pediatrician around and who they took their kids to. There were varying opinions on both questions, so of the bunch I was recommended, I picked the only one with an office in walking distance of our apartment.

  7. Kate

    I too faced a similar stress. We’re well over 10 lbs but I still have trouble enough w/ the laundry to consider cloth yet. Here are two things to help w/ diaper stress: (1) you get free diapers at the hospital. So stuff as many in your bag as you can get. (2) diapers are the easiest thing for a friend or family member to pick up for you when you get home. They are 24 hour cvs here. So I would buy one case and see if that works. I got the pamper swaddlers as mentioned above. But Francie grew out of those really quickly. From there you can figure out what you want.

    I am currently rotating through different brands to see which work best for us. I hated the Kirkland brand– we had too many blowout with them. Currently on Huggies and Earth’s Best (my guilt) is up next. Use Ordering online is the easiest thing to do while nursing.

    ok enough of the tips– my big sisterness is coming out too!

  8. Kate

    also– I would love a wipe recipe if you don’t mind posting it. I am a little freaked about all of the chemicals in those.

  9. Krista

    Here’s the wipes recipe. I’ve modified it slightly from the original, and I have no idea where the original came from – turns out my mom found it online and emailed the text to me, but without a link. Anyway.


    1 roll paper towels
    2 tablespoons unscented baby oil (I view baby oil as an optional ingredient but use it in the wipes I make)
    2 tablespoons baby shampoo
    2 cups boiled water, then cooled
    Old diaper wipe container (or any airtight container will do)


    Boil 2 cups water. Fastest way to do this is to put the water in a pyrex or other microwave safe measuring cup and heat it for about 3 minutes. Then let it cool until it’s not hot.

    Tear a bunch of paper towels off the roll. Cut those paper towels in half or in more pieces so they will fit nicely in your airtight container. You will want enough pieces so that they fill your container to the top even when you press down on them a little with your fingers. Given the size of my container (your typical large wipes container that came for free in some box of diapers), I usually cut mine in sixths, but you don’t need to go to that extreme. I’m going to switch to a larger container soon anyway and only do halves or fourths. Depending on how the towels on your roll were segmented by your company and the size of your container, they may require less or no cutting. Place half your towel pieces into the empty container.

    Mix the baby oil and shampoo into the measuring cup containing the cooled water. Slowly pour about half the liquid over the towels, making sure to cover them evenly. Then add the remaining towels and remaining liquid on top of them. Seal the container and let the wipes “set” for a while. You can use them right away, of course, but the wipes will have absorbed more liquid and not be at all drippy after a couple hours.

    The wipes will keep fresh for several weeks. Remember to re-seal the container after you use the wipes, otherwise they can start to dry out.

    Further details from personal experience. One roll of paper towels is going to last you more than one batch of wipes; a roll goes a long way. I use sharp multipurpose scissors to cut up the paper towels about 6 towel “sheets” at a time, but wish I had something to do it faster (like a saw or, better yet, one of those big office-style paper cutters like they had in the copy room when I was a teacher). You don’t want to be a perfectionist when you cut the towels – if the edges are a little jagged or uneven here and there, that actually makes them easier for you to grab. Plus it takes much less time!

    The type of paper towels you use is very important and can make a huge difference between good homemade wipes and terrible disintegrating-as-you-pick-them-up wipes. I recommend paper towels that are quilted or have the tiny “bumps” all over to keep the layers of paper in the paper towel from separating once wet.

    One baby shampoo bottle and one bottle of baby oil will last you forever when making wipes. Seriously, they’ll last you at least 6 months. The brand you buy doesn’t matter; go with whatever brand you like that’s least expensive. I use a “no tears” baby shampoos because that’s what I use on Kara’s head. But I would definitely recommend that you get a fragrance free baby oil. (Off topic… making diaper wipes is the only use I ever found for baby oil! I never wanted to rub the stuff on Kara. But I digress.) When making wipes for a newborn, it’s probably best to get a baby shampoo that is also fragrance free, dye free, and maybe hypoallergenic too, because you never know what your kid’s skin will or won’t be able to tolerate, especially early on.

    One other random thing I’ve learned: these wipes are also great for blowing your nose if you have a cold. Much kinder on the nose than normal kleenex, even the special lotion kleenex. Sweet relief!

  10. An alternative wipe recipe…

    1 and 2/3-3/4 cup water (I use filtered and don’t boil it)
    1 Tablespoon olive oil
    1 Tablespoon your choice baby shampoo (I use Burt’s Bees or a sensitive skin/fragrance free version)

    Need – Paper towel roll cut in half (have had great success with bounty – in bulk from Costco) and tupperware large enough to hold half of a paper towel roll in tact.

    Pour water in tupperware. Add olive oil and soap. Whisk or replace lid and shake. Insert half roll of paper towels and replace lid. After a couple minutes, the center cardboard insert of paper towels will easily pull out. Then let sit for a couple/few hours total – both upright and upside down. Pull from center to use.

    In terms of cutting the paper towel roll in half – I recommend employing an electric something to get this job done. A sharp electric knife works well (though still doesn’t cut like butter) – we scored a free one on freecycle. My husband often uses the chop saw and this works great – really like butter, but is a bit messy. If you have a garage, I say go the chop saw route.

    I think boiling the water may help them last longer and sterilize it of course, but we’ve only had one batch mold on us and I think that one was out for about a month. Store bought wipes use preservatives, alcohol etc. to do this part and our youngest has had skin reactions to these.

  11. Sara K.

    Wow! Who knew? This non-mom had no idea that the diaper shopping could get so complicated!

  12. Lane H. Abrams

    We love target brand diapers! Still use them and they are cheaper. At first, we used Pampers sensitive…they have an awesom pee strip to help when you have no clue what you are doing. However, since they have changed the diapers and if it were the dry max kind I would probably not use them.

  13. AlyssaSophia

    I’d just wait till Pavo shows up, you know how much s/he weighs and then send Preston out to buy a pack of diapers. People can give you all the recs they want (sorry people), but babies are just shaped differently. And so are diapers, but you don’t know how till you try them on and see what works. We were sent home from the hospital with Pampers and it was a disaster. Huggies worked well with both of our kids. Store brands may be great, but same issue. Buy small packs at first until you figure out what holds the pee and the poop in.


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