Stocking up on diapers: tips and considerations

When we finally went to the diaper aisle in the grocery store, we were blown away by how much diapers cost. $25for a pack? And the packs contain 100 diapers? Oh, there is a sale…how many should we buy? Will it fit the baby? What if she’s allergic to it?

  • Buy the brand the hospital is using, if it works

That was the first piece of advice we got. If the stuff the hospital uses works, just go with it. However, our hospital uses Huggies. If you read the online reviews, they don’t seem very good. We live in an area that has access to Japanese diapers – now those come with glowing reviews. Japanese diapers are softer, shaped better, will have less leakages.

We ended up with a package of Japanese diapers that happened to be on sale.

  • You can’t predict the size you’ll need

Our first bag of diapers was newborn size. The ultrasound scan said that we were going to have a tiny baby. She came out normal size at over 7 lbs. She blew out her first poop diaper on Day 1 at the hospital. It made me glad that we got a different brand of diapers; Huggies wasn’t going to cut it.

(As a side note, we got to take the leftover Huggies newborn size diapers home, and they were actually smaller than the Japanese ones.)

Reading online forums, people have reported that their larger newborns may not even use the newborn size diaper, going straight to size 1 (S size, for Japanese brands). Others say that they only used the newborn size for 2 weeks – in other words, don’t buy a carton unless you’re sure that you can return or exchange them.

In our case, we did okay with the newborn size for 3 weeks, until we noticed that poop diapers were suddenly exploding every other time when we never had any leaking issues the prior weeks. The pee diapers were also getting really soggy quickly. It was time to up the size, and we were inconveniently in the middle of a 90-pack. We managed to finish the rest of the diapers by changing more frequently during the day, making sure that we used the larger diapers at night.

Surveying the internet, people report that (with the exception of the newborn size) they tend to switch sizes every month or so, and then find themselves stuck on one size for a much longer time. Also, different babies have different shapes and growth rates, so a schedule that works for one baby isn’t going to work for another one.

Looking ahead, we are going to stick to buying individual packs at the grocery store until we plateau at a size; I don’t want to deal with buying too many of the wrong size and having to deal with returns and exchanges.

  • Go with the lower weight

Just a note about how to read the diaper size chart. Diapers are usually suggested for a range of weights, like Newborn (6-9lbs), Size 1 (8-12lbs). These numbers are just a guide. Your baby may need a larger diaper even before hitting 8 lbs.

A convenient piece of information I found on a Japanese diaper site suggests that the lower number is more important, which I have personally found to be true. The overlapping weight ranges make a lot more sense this way. Don’t count on hitting the upper weight range before you switch to the next diaper size.

  • Compare sizes across brands

Diapers are packaged so that the outer bags are the same size, and there is different number of diapers per bag. This means that a smaller diaper is a cheaper diaper. I mentioned above that the same size diaper is actually different across brands. One tip to lower the cost of diapering is to upgrade to a different brand diaper of the same size. You don’t have to buy different brands to try if you do online research (many blogs have pictures of brand X vs Brand Y), or request free samples. I won’t be doing this because I don’t want to have to keep experimenting.

  • Request free samples

I’m sure Huggies has already spammed your inbox. But look around online for free samples if you want to try some other brands.

I realized that you can actually request samples of Japanese brands even if you are in the US. For instance, Goo.N is providing free samples to the first 100 users each month:

Not quite as generous as Huggies, but maybe they will send out more if they get a better response. Merries and Moony don’t seem to be giving out samples in the US as of now.

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