Generic diapers: good enough for your baby?

If your baby uses disposables, you'll buy thousands on the way to the Golden Throne. So, saving a few pennies per diaper adds up to a couple hundred bucks.

Diapers are, after all, poop bags. So why are you buying extra-expensive "supreme" and "ultra" poop bags? For most purposes, the store brands do a fine job of absorption and containment. As long as you change them often (and quickly after a poop), your baby's butt will never know the difference. But your wallet will.

(After you read the comments, the discussion continues over here. — Ed)


  1. says

    “As long as you change them often (and quickly after a poop), your baby’s butt will never know the difference.”

    But that is the whole point of buying the more expensive brands:

    1 – don’t have to change as frequently when wet since they keep the moisture away from the baby.
    2 – less chance of, er, “blow outs”

    If you have to use two cheaper diapers for every one more expensive one, or need to rush to change whenever dirty, then I see the more expensive ones as being the better bargain.

  2. John says

    I agree with Dan (about the site and the diapers). The problem is that they are *not* just poop bags. They are primarily pee containment devices. What worked for us was buying them in quantity at a warehouse club, although we still sometimes would buy a different brand for overnight when our oldest son was older — even the supremes wouldn’t always hold a night of pee, and we weren’t going to wake him up in the middle of the night to change his diaper.

  3. says

    We’ve never found a better brand of diapers than the Smiles brand from Sam’s Club. Very affordable, and extremely leak-proof – well, unless it’s a burden no diaper can bear.

  4. Angela says

    I was given a “no name brand” of diapers and it has changed my point of view on diapers also. I think it is the walmart brand no sure but they work just as good if not better then Pampers so there for I will buy the off brand and save that extra few cents each month for education.

  5. Tyler says

    My wife and I are converts to the Target brand diapers. They come in a package of 96 for the price of the name brand 52 (or what ever the biggest quanity at the super market is). We realized early on that on certain poops and pees, there is no diaper that will hold it all. So for now Target is fine with us, and my wife always needs an excuse to go there anyway.

  6. Sean Roche says

    Ditto on the better brands holding more and fewer leaks. One bad thing about leaks: once you finally discover a pee leak (which can be a while), you have no idea where the little darling has sat!

    Better diapers can also be virtual diaper genies. With just a little work, even the smelliest diaper can be wrapped up as tight as an overstuffed burrito. The tighter the wrap, the less smell gets out. But, and here’s the key, a tight wrap only stays wrapped if the tabs hold everything closed. Pampers are number 1. Target house brand are good. Huggies/costco are only decent.

    Random thought: Since the kids don’t really see the decoration on the diaper, why aren’t diapers decorated to please/entertain/stimulate me? I don’t like Care Bears!

  7. Gary says

    My twins have been out of diapers for a while – so YMMV – but Target was one of the “ultra soft-stretch” store brands (muppets on the tapes, by my memory) – also at Walgreen, CVS, and supermarkets. Worked better than “premium” for me.

  8. John says

    We love our Kirkland-brand (Costco) diapers. 200-something for 30 bucks, in our opinion equivalent (if not better) than the Pampers/Huggies supreme versions.

  9. Todd says

    I’m still 3.5 months away from being a father, but I’ve also heard good things about the Target brand diapers.

  10. Hutch says

    Had mostly good experience with generics , and Walmart/Target ones but second kid was starting to develop bad rash/bleeding sores due to one brand that mostly disappeared upon changing back to huggies. Seems some or all of them use some deodarants/chemicals that can be irritating. And for those floks with a baby at the nighttime pee blow-outs try using the night liners that can be used to help absorb bigger qty. of liquids.

  11. Bostjan says

    Perhaps for boys it also matters the type of “pee-containment-device” a diaper has. Some cheaper diapers use chemicals that get very hot when reacting with pee (e.g. containing and locking the pee). Better brands pay attention to that as it is thought that this additional heat on testicles can influence in a negative way.

  12. says

    Another benefit of generics: since they’re cheaper, they often don’t have all the perfumes and chemicals that more expensive ones have. Plus the baby can feel the wetness, which helps with potty learning. Both big plusses!

    And you’ll get heat issues with any disposibles; some studies have linked them with the rise in infertility problems. Cloth is the way to go if you really want to avoid that.

  13. recto says

    Some diapers allow major amounts of leakage, especially in the case of boys. Look around for something that is affordable and effective.

  14. Hillary says

    I agree that with some children cheaper diapers work fine. I have several friends who swear by WalMart’s brand, as well as LUVs. However, with my two babies it is a whole different story. We tried generic (store brand) diapers from several different companies and none held up to the severe “blow outs” of our breast fed infants. After one or two terribly embarrassing incidents, we have returned to the brand we love – Pampers swaddlers for the little ones and cruisers once they are crawling/walking.

  15. says

    “Random thought: Since the kids don’t really see the decoration on the diaper, why aren’t diapers decorated to please/entertain/stimulate me? I don’t like Care Bears!”

    The cartoon characters are there so when your baby gets a little older, she can refuse to wear two thirds of the diapers in the package because the diaper doesn’t have her favorite character on it.

  16. says

    LOL Alice.

    Pampers cruisers are the only thing that can stop leaks with my baby. Also, he cried alot in the generics.. aparently has a sensative butt.

  17. chrysis says

    With our daughter generics were just fine, never any problems – but with our son, every time he has a generic brand on (Publix, Wal Mart, Aafes) there was leakage! So the bill was not just for so many extra diapers used but also for laundering 6 or 8 little outfits every day!!!! So in our case the Huggies have worked best. Heard this also from moms who had boys in my daughter’s playgroup.

  18. JMA says

    We’ve used almost nothing but diapers from BJ’s (a warehouse club here in the NorthEast). We did once recieve a gift of a Huggies when our second was born–they leaked so badly with my newborn son that my wife sent a letter to the company to complain! They sent us a $20 coupon for more of their crappy diapers. Being frugal, we used the *almost free* box of Huggies during the day and the cheaper, but more effective, off-brand at night. I know having to kinds of diapers might seem counter to the idea of simplification, but since the kids usually sleep for the night in one place, it worked pretty well.

  19. Ebstar says

    Uh – have any of you thought about the chemicals that go into these things – bleaching them white etc. Let alone the amount of landfill these things take up. Be responsible and get ones that biodegrade (google it for your country). There are good ones from Moltex. See this

  20. ian says

    We’ve tried every brand of generic and “brand name” and keep going back to Huggies. Everything else either leaks or gives a nasty rash (sometimes within one diaper change).

    So we stay with Huggies, and by them at a Warehouse store (Sams).

  21. Brian says

    The Toys ‘R’ Us generics worked okay…until they didn’t. Sometimes a transition in sizes brings with it a complete change in effectiveness, and not for the better. In Toys ‘R’ Us’s case size 2 was fine for our daughter, size 3 was a nightmare.

    The solution, if you need the high-end diapers? Clip a ton of coupons, wait for your local store to put the good ones on sale, and pounce when they do. Do it right and you’ll get the high-end diapers for about the same price as the generics.

  22. says

    2 further hacks:

    1) Teach your child the sign for potty, and get a little potty to prop them on when they signal the need to go. The ASL sign is really easy (right fist with thumb between index and middle finger, jiggle like a doorknob) and the number of diaperss saved using elimination communication (and messy butt-wipings prevented!) is what I call savings! My daughter has been doing this since she was about 8 months old and she really seems to appreciate avoiding the mess too.

    2) Use a cloth diapering system. It’s cheaper. It’s more eco-friendly. It’s legal- as in it is illegal in the US to dispose of fecal material in a landfill, so everyone flushes the dookie before tossing those disposies, right? The only time I’d go with disposies is if you don’t have access to a washer on a daily or every-other day basis. Serious $$$ savings.

  23. says

    For our twins we went cloth with a diaper service and used biodegradable disposables only when we had to. A little more work perhaps, but a little more peace of mind.

  24. nyc dad says

    u do know that cloth diapers cause just as much wastage, i.e. when u wash them using water and electricity and the detregents that get flushed into the sewer not to mention the poop as well. like using paper and plastic, people use paper thinking they are more ecologically friendly, they are not.

    it only makes u feel better, and the ad agencies richer.

    nyc dad

  25. troylis says

    I don’t have anything against disposables, but I’m not sure if it’s accurate to say that cloth diapers cause as much waste. With our kids, we used disposables for the first month or two to catch the tarry meconium and initial baby poops, then switched to cloth when their bums fit the diapers.

    We pre-rinsed the poopy diapers in the toilet, then washed them with vinegar, baking soda and biodegradable detergent. We had enough diapers to do a load about every 2-3 days. I’m not sure exactly how the energy and water from 2 loads of diapers a week compares to the resources used to manufacture and transport disposables, or how the waste water compares to an equivalent mass of diapers (and human feces) going into landfills, but I have a feeling it’s not “just as much.”

  26. says

    Don’t believe the hype: Target brand was the only one that would hold leaks (and what we called SUPER-leaks), not to mention the only brand that we could guarantee would really truly bee hypo-allergenic. Huggies’ and Pampers’ top of the line diapers did nothing but give him a rash.

    Second best? Luvs. Try it yourself.

  27. says

    nyc dad: With cloth the poop, etc ends up in the water treatment plant and is dealt with. With disposables everything ends up sealed in plastic at the bottom of a landfill.

    I don’t hold anything against people who use disposables. Parenting is hard and everybody gets decide where they want to draw their lines. Frankly the only way we managed cloth was with a diaper service.

  28. Anonymous says

    A set of Terry Nappies (Cloth Diapers) is a renewable resource. You can even buy them second-hand and sell them on when your child is potty trained, making the overall capital cost virtually nil. Running costs vary on how you do your laundry but at most only ammount to the equivalent of an extra couple of towels a day.

  29. Molly says

    Target supreme, CVS explorers and Babies R Us/Especially for Baby supreme are all manufactured by the same company and all are wonderful!! I’ve never had any leakage or “blow out” issues with my daughter, nor diaper rash; unlike diaper rash and/or leaking with both Pampers Cruisers and Huggies Supreme. I’ve been using these generic brands for the last few months after a year and a half using Pampers and Huggies exclusively. I’ll never go back to the expensive name brands.

  30. Damon says

    At risk of being in the (vast!) minority, why doesn’t anyone use cloth? I realize that they can be more work, but surely with a service and modern diapers someone must be using them? My delivery is still on the way, so I wouldn’t mind hearing both sides of it…

  31. Christine Branch says

    As a childcare provider for 8 little ones who are either still in diapers or making that transition into pull-ups…the most successful and highly recommended brand-for me-was, is and will always be Huggies brand. No problems with rashes, leakage or anything else. I also raised 3 boys on that brand and had no problems. Good luck to everyone!!

  32. LaShun says

    When my daughter (who is now 9 months old) was born, the hospital sent me home with a package of Huggies. They leaked like crazy. I tried Luvs, but they were flimsy. A friend of mine had a Costco membership and was kind enough to share her large box of Pampers Swaddlers with me. They were FABULOUS! The Pampers Cruisers were also good as well.

    However, in my attempts to be frugal, I tried my daughter on Wal-mart’s Parents’ Choice brand. They worked well for quite a while, but now that my daughter has gotten bigger, I’ve noticed leakage (the diaper doesn’t seem small). I am now trying the Target brand diapers, and so far, so good.

    I used to think that “name brand” diapers were the only way to go. But I have since learned that quality can be found in generic brands. My daughter hasn’t had a diaper rash since she was 3 weeks old, and her tush is fine. It’s just a matter of finding what works best for your baby.

  33. says

    Have you checked out cloth diapers lately (Fuzzi Bunz, Happy Heineys, etc)? They’re simple to use (no pins or nasty plastic covers) and you don’t need a diaper service–you wash them yourself. It’s better for the environment and costs much less (about $600 for cloth compared to $2700 for disposable,including wipes, from 0 to potty training age). It’s silly to think that a disposable sealed in plastic at the bottom of a landfill is better for the environment than using cloth where you flush the poo (which then gets treated at a sewage treatment plant as it was meant to) and do a load of laundry at the end of the day. Use an environmentally friendly detergent (Ecover, 7th Generation)and there’s even less pollution. Disposables are the 3rd largest consumer item in our landfills. There are lots of great articles on that debate the cloth v. disposable issue.

  34. Amber says

    The thing that I like is that Pampers has the Swaddlers version for little ones. I’ve used Huggies or Luvs when money is tight but honestly I’ll be really sad when she grows out of Swaddlers …they only come in up to size 2. I can get a Swaddler comfortably tighter around her belly than any other brand.

  35. Paul says

    “If your baby uses disposables, you’ll buy thousands on the way to the Golden Throne.”
    Exactly. And for this reason, we don’t use them.
    I know that the convenience factor is huge, as is the overnight comfort factor. To say nothing of the simplicity when you need to go out. But these things account for millions of tonnes of waste in landfills every year, and use petro-chemicals to make the plastics etc. An enourmous waste.
    We use a re-usable product called “Fuzzi Bunz”. If anyone would like a review, let me know and I will post one.

  36. says

    I use cloth diapers and then then generic versus brand name issue is non existent. But of course then you are left with the WAHM made verus Hyena brand issue so I guess maybe we are in the same boat.

  37. Lynn says

    When my nine month old son was smaller we used Pampers Swaddlers, and LOVED them. When he outgrew Swaddlers we tried Pampers Cruisers, and a couple of generics, but finally ended up falling in love with Huggies. We have never had a real problem with the absorbancy of any diaper – for us, the huggies and swaddlers just seemed to fit better, and were easier to get on.

    Also, I hear this $2,700 cost for disposables a lot. I guess that might be the case if you changed your baby EVERY time they wet… but with the better quality of disposables I only have to use about 3-4 diapers per day. I buy my diapers at Sam’s Club and my wipes in bulk, and by my most generous estimate spend aprox. $30 per month. That’s $360.00 per year. And if this baby is potty trained by age 2 like my previous 4 children (even accounting for less diapers per package as he gets older) I will have spent less than $1,000 total. If he stayed in diapers until age 3, that would still only come to around $1,500 (aprox half of that $2,700 figure I hear all the time… and I’m talking for name brand diapers)

  38. Suzi says

    Has anyone tried gdiapers? They are flushable disposable diapers. They look good to me, but I would like some feedback.

  39. Serena says

    I have lived both sides of the spectrum Daughter (now 18) could wear any diaper any length of time no rash. Now my son (age 2) can’t do cloth because the detergent used to wash them gives him a rash (even with a triple rinse) so we ran the gambit and settled on Huggies no leaks no rash no worries and the landfill problem . Well we have an energy plant so everything gets burned so no worries here!

  40. Laura says

    I use fuzzi bunz with my eight month old boy, and I love them. I change him often during the day, and then use whatever cheap paper diaper is on sale for the nights. Any tips for using the fuzzi bunz at night without leaks? I love them, but they always leak at night, and I got tired of changing and washing sheets every day.

  41. Amber N says

    After three babies and using lots of different brands of diapers, I have found that Target brand diapers work very well and are half the cost of Pampers. (Pampers may work slightly better, but not enough to pay double!) To avoid leaks all I had to do was be very meticulous about how I put the diaper on, making sure it was snug and even. I also changed diapers every three hours and avoided all wet leaks. If I had a leak during the night, that told me it was time to use one size larger for night-time diapers. Worked like a charm! Also, I never used wipes for wet changes, only for poopies, this helps cut down on diaper rash and on spending money on wipes. *For occasional diaper rash, use TONS of diaper cream, will usually disappear in a day unless yeast rash, then you will need to see the doctor.*

  42. Barb says

    I used Pampers Swaddlers when my baby was smaller newborn to size 1. After that I have been using Huggies and love them. I also bought Eckerd(store brand) they worked pretty well. However I only trust Huggies at night.

  43. Lisa says

    We’ve had some good luck with gDiapers – had to stop using them for a while when my son had some gas/GI issues (the waistbands on the covers seemed to make him uncomfortable) – but now we use a combination of gDiapers and 7th Generation disposables.

    The latter are unbleached and unperfumed – seems to be the best choice of the disp’s – least of those evils :-> – for sensitive skin and the environment. (The Tushies diaps are bleached and also leaked a lot.) We buy the 7th Gen ones at, which also sells all the usual suspects.

    Re the gDiapers: no flushing probs, better for the environment than disposables, arguably better than cloth delivery, and cute covers that fasten in the back (great when your toddler likes to streak at inopportune moments).

    No laundry in-house, so we haven’t tried FuzziBuns and the like, though friends say they’re comfy, easy, cheap.

  44. says

    I recommend gDiapers. Only thing that made me question using them is that they are costly. The insert pads alone cost a little more than disposable diapers, and the covers need to be upgraded as your baby grows (S,M,L). This is costly, since you’ll want about 6 or more covers and liners on hand.

    I’ve used gDiapers and stopped when my son outgrew his Smalls. They are not sold in France, where I live, so having the compostable/flushable insert pads shipped to me would have been environmentally irresponsible (and really expensive, on top of base costs).

    They took some getting used to in the beginning and Max was leaking each time. When I finally (!) watched the gDiapers video on how to put them on, I figured out what I was doing wrong, and everything was great from that point on. No leaks, they’re cute, and I was able to flush the pads with no problem. Unfortunately, I am unable to remark on how they compost, as I live in an apt and am unable to compost, but have read reviews that give compostability a big thumbs up.

    I’ve posted quite a bit about gDiapers in my blog (link above). If you have more questions after reading that, feel free to email me.

    In short, highly recommended if you’re willing to spend a little more. Again, I thought that the extra cost was worth minimizing my impact on the environment.

    Our new diaper system is Bum Genius 2.0. With knocking most poops into the toilet, environmental detergent, and a regular wash, they clean and dry easily. Additionally, I use small, soft cloths to wipe, and throw those into the wash with the diapers. chemical diaper wipes, either.

    Those who bemoan the water issues (not that there aren’t any, just not nearly as much as most believe) are thinking of diaper services, and these definitely do not need to be ‘serviced.’

  45. says

    One of things I keep seeing here over and over again in the comments (and I realize that this is an older post, but people might happen upon this post via google, so I felt the need to comment) is that as one other reader pointed out, the chemicals used to make these diapers, are not only harmful to the environment but are known carcinogens as well. I don’t judge people who use disposables. They’re convenient for a reason. I’ve used them, but switched to cloth (and if you do it yourself, you do laundry anyway, and use an all natural soap, there’s no ill effect on the environment or water supply) when I found out, and still use an unbleached diaper, or a compostable one when we travel.

    The other thing I see a lot is the absorbency issue and how people don’t spend the average $2700 because they go through about 3-4 diapers a day. Just because the diaper is that absorbent doesn’t mean that you should leave a baby in one for 4-5 hours. Obviously there are exceptions, but a diaper should be changed every 2- 2.5 hours. Would you want to drag around 6-12 ounces of your own urine in your pants? Of course then there’s the argument of more diapers in a landfill, but there are more and more compostable and biodegradable options popping up out there if cloth isn’t for you.

  46. Shelly says

    I have not ventured out into generic diapers yet. I have my 7 mo old on generic formula and love the results. I have bounced back and forth on diapers though. Huggies at birth were nothing but blowouts after blowouts, so we changed to Swaddlers (which are fantastic, yet pricey). We tried regular Pampers to save money, but got a bad rash on day one. Once she hit size 3 on the Swaddlers, I went back to Huggies and now love their protection and that they hold her through the night. Not only does it allow her to sleep through the night, it allows me to sleep through the night as well. Is this something I should consider changing even though I am currently having great luck with a name brand? With coupons and sales I don’t pay more than .25 per diaper. Thoughts?

  47. Joann says

    I’m currently using Parent’s Choice brand Size 1 diapers from Walmart on my 22″ newborn baby girl doll, and while they fit just fine, and I’m finally almost out of them, I’m actually looking forward to and anxious to buy Pampers Baby Dry Size 1 diapers and use a case of 320 Curity brand Size 1 diapers that I have waiting for me at my friend’s house (I’ll be moving in with her). I also want to try Huggies Supreme Size 1, Huggies Snug & Fit Size 1, Luvs Size 1, White Cloud Size 1, and Pampers Swaddlers Size 1 (and maybe even the Walgreen’s brand) just for the fun of it. I do have some cloth diapers, but since I like disposables better, I’m only going to use my cloth diapers when I run out of disposables and can’t get to the store to buy more (which is why I’m buying my diapers by the case). The Parent’s Choice diapers are nice, and they fit pretty well, but I wish they had stretchy sides and stretchier grip tabs for an even better, more comfortable fit. But as with any generic store brand product, especially with diapers, you get what you pay for, right?