We Are Both Right

Testing the Waters with Generic Diapers

There they are sitting on the shelf. A box of 144 generic diapers for $10 less than the smaller brand name box right next to them. Oooh, so tempting.

A quick calculation and you realize that if you keep buying the more expensive brands until your baby is potty-trained, you might as well take four $100 bills and put them out in a puddle by the curb.

But you keep staring at the adorable Cynthia Rowley-designed Pampers. You even have a $2 coupon. By this point, your baby is chewing through a box of unopened Elmo crackers. It’s now or — well, next time.

OK, just this once. You go for a smaller package of generic diapers and put the jumbo box of Pampers under your cart. Just in case.

Really, what’s the worst that could happen? You test them out, and if they don’t work so well, throw them in the car for emergency back-up (or when you realize at 2 a.m. that you just used the last diaper in the house).

So why is it such a leap of faith to buy generic diapers?

Of course, we all want the very best for our children. Wholesome food, educational toys, a safe neighborhood, good schools. The curve-hugging and cushiest diapers for our babies’ bottoms. With the cute designs.

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Truthfully though, it’s the insurance policy that convinces parents every time. If you’ve cleaned one leaking explosion of a diaper, there’s no way you ever want a repeat. And in the back of your mind, you see an old Huggies commercial (which might as well have had the Brady Bunch tiki god-episode music in the background) as the baby crawls around wearing a gaping store-brand diaper.

But are generic diapers really that bad?

I needed to know. After a few months of following the herd and buying only Huggies or Pampers for my firstborn, I decided to live on the edge. I brought home a package of Target brand diapers and used the first one at bedtime. Big mistake. I think I changed his pajamas and the crib sheet three times that night.

Not one to give up easily, I insisted on finishing the whole box. It didn’t get any better. My husband begged me not to be frugal in that area again and we were loyal Huggies fans after that. (Coincidentally, not even the Pampers were a match for my son.)

We picked up where we left off with the Huggies when our daughter was born. Once and a while, I would mix in a box of Luvs.

Until I was tempted by the no-frills yellow box again. This time though, the generic diapers did the job. Right through potty-training, she wore the green and blue polka-dotted Target brand diapers and we never had to look back.

I did just buy diapers again last night — this time for a baby shower gift I’m putting together. Of course, I chose a package of Huggies newborn diapers with the curved waistband and Winnie the Pooh design. I even had a coupon.

And I’ll leave it up to mom to decide when and if generic diapers work just as well.