(Advance warning: please excuse me. I have just discovered memegenerator.net and have had way too much fun with it. Hence all the pictures in this post.)
I am not one to spend a lot of money on fancy name-brand things. 100% of the furniture in our house, with the exception of our recliner and our mattress, is from either craigslist or Ikea. I LOOOOVE shopping at thrift stores – the people at Goodwill recognize me. Store brand groceries make total sense to me – why pay more for a fancy label, right? So it may come as a surprise to you when I say that shoes and diapers are two things I will definitely spend more money on for a quality brand. Shoes, because I had foot surgery in college and there are very few shoes I can wear comfortably – so once I find a brand that is comfortable and lasts for years, I stick with it. (Shout out to Chaco sandals here, I love you Chaco! – just bought my second pair. My first pair lasted for 8 1/2 years.)
So why does it make sense to spend a little more on diapers to get a reputable brand?
1. Diapers are a highly functional item. For decorative items, the quality really doesn’t matter that much. The $9 polyester curtains in my room from Anna’s Linens serve two functions: hang there and look pretty, and block light. They do both jobs just as well as the $150 curtains from the department store. There’s really no such thing as “wear and tear” on curtains, and if they fall apart the first time I wash them, well, $9 over 2 years, still cheaper than the department store. But diapers are another story. Cloth diapers, ahem, have to put up with a lot of crap! They get washed in HOT water every 2-3 days for 2+ years. Then sunned. Sometimes soaked. If you put a tshirt through this wash routine it would fall apart. Then when on your baby, diapers have a job to do. If the elastic on your pants gets a little stretched out, well, you wear a belt. If a snap on your shirt pops open, you stick a safety pin in it and call it a day. But if this happens with a diaper while on a baby, you could have a lot of mess and a lot of frustration on your hands.
2. Design Matters. To use the curtain analogy again, there’s not much too curtains. Basically you need a sheet of fabric with a hole on top to slide a rod through, and they should be long-ish enough to be on or near the floor. If they’re 2 inches too short, it’s not a catastrophe. Unless you’re on an HDTV show or something. But with a diaper, what if the insert is a little too short? So your little boy pees right over the top of it and the diaper leaks? What if the “one-size” diaper you bought doesn’t adjust small enough to fit a baby smaller than 6 months? What if the manufacturer tried to skimp on fabric costs and made a slightly smaller diaper that your baby outgrows at a year old?
3. Warranty, warranty, warranty. Most name-brand diapers offer a warranty. Cottonbabies (BumGenius) offers a 1 year warranty on all of its BumGenius, Flip, and Econobum products. Fuzzibunz offers a LIFETIME warranty on the snaps and PUL (waterproofing)! What this means is that if your diaper experiences a warranty issue within the warranty period, you send it back to the company and they will REPAIR or REPLACE it for free. Some companies, like Thirsties, will even send you a prepaid envelope for you to send the defective diaper back to them so the only effort on your part is literally picking up the phone to call them. Why should you be worried about warranty issues? Well, diapermaking is an art, not a science. Sometimes the lamination wasn’t fully fused to the polyester outer, sometimes the snaps weren’t pressed on tightly enough, sometimes the thread or the elastic has a weak spot that will break under pressure. And none of these flaws can be seen until the diaper has been used, and washed, and washed and used some more. And more often than not, a warranty claim leaves you better off than when you started. For example, I had a BumGenius Elemental that was 10 months old and the elastic came out of one side. I sent it to BumGenius and they sent me a brand new Elemental. Trading an old diaper for a new one, for free? Sign me up!
4. Resale Value. As you probably already know, there is a huge market for used cloth diapers and an entire website (diaperswappers.com) dedicated to buying and selling used diapers. Sometimes parents sell their child’s diapers after the baby is potty trained, but sometimes also it’s when they start to like a particular style better than others – moving more into natural fibers, for example, and getting rid of polyester. Well known brands will have a much higher resale value than the cheap brands. The $5 diapers on ebay? Frequently the only resale value is “free for shipping.”
Now of course we are all budget-minded, that’s probably one of the factors that led you to consider cloth diapers. The good news is that there are many different systems of cloth diapers within the reputable brands made with quality materials, smart design, a good warranty, and decent resale value. For example, with BumGenius products alone you can go with a $100 “birth-to-potty” Econobum kit, or on the other end of the spectrum you can spend nearly $600 on a stash of 24 organic all-in-one’s with accessories. But all of them give you the same quality and peace of mind, because let’s face it, it’s a horrible feeling to spend money on a “bargain” and then have it fall apart and have to buy it all over again because there wasn’t a warranty.
Next time I hope to write about diapering on a budget, ways to stretch your dollar when building your stash and to make the upfront cost of cloth diapering less painful.