Welcome to the second post in our Minimalist Pregnancy Prep series. If you missed the first post of the series, click here to read about what you ACTUALLY need on your baby registry. Let’s discuss all the details of preparing disposable diapers for baby and all of the diaper don’ts.

Here’s a thought to get us started: Would you order a year’s worth of coffee you’ve never tried just so that you didn’t have to be bothered to buy coffee for a year? Of course not. Substitute any important product into that scenario and you’ll likely come up with a similar answer.

The bottom line is: most of us would not stockpile products that we are unfamiliar with. Things we stockpile tend to be items we love and things we know we will use. Usually, the reason for stockpiling is that you come across a fantastic bargain on a product you love at an abnormally low price, so you buy a whole bunch. This makes sense because you’re saving money on something you would buy and use anyway. Or maybe there is a specialty store that you don’t visit often, so you stock up on their items a few times a year. This makes sense because you’re saving yourself time and aggravation by preventing the need to make an extra trip out of your way. But creating a stockpile of items you’re unfamiliar with and are easily obtained (can be purchased at most grocery, pharmacy, and big box stores) isn’t an efficient task.   

Minimalist Pregnancy Diaper Don'ts

Diaper Don’ts

Don’t stock up on diapers or create a complete “diaper stockpile” before your baby is born. I have seen countless articles and infographics on Pinterest advising you on how many of each size diaper you need to stock up on before your baby is born.

That is not sound advice for every mom

I don’t believe that that there are moms out there purposefully passing on bad information. Things probably went smoothly for those moms and their babies, so they aren’t aware of the issues other babies and moms face with diapers. This is great for them, but not great for the mom who may spend hours couponing, shopping, stacking, and organizing a year’s worth of diapers because someone promised her that diaper stockpiling was a genius idea only to find out those carefully prepped diapers won’t work for her baby.

What IS sound advice for every mom preparing for a new baby is to keep your options and your mind open. Wait to see what products will work for your baby before purchasing anything in bulk.

Downsides of diaper stockpiling

Fits of different brands or different product lines of the same brand might not work well for your baby. In general, all diapers have give and stretch to them. But some have more or less stretch, some fit higher or lower up back and belly, and some have more or less room built in for expansion of the hydrogel.

Also your baby may grow out of sizes quickly or stay in some sizes longer than the average baby. In which case someone else’s chart of how many of each size diaper worked for their baby will be completely different for your baby. No one’s baby is average in any way. Certainly there is a general growth curve that most infants follow, but by no means does every baby grow at the same rate. This makes it difficult to accurately predict how long your baby will be in each weight range for diaper sizing. There is also an average amount of wet and dry diapers that babies tend to produce by age, but you might have an above average producer of dirty diapers (congratulations!).

Another diaper variable is that certain brands are better than others for your baby in terms of absorption and containment. Blowouts are inevitable, but some babies constantly blow out in certain brands but not others. I believe this is probably all tied to the fit of the diaper on your precious individual’s bottom, and whether your baby tends to hold it all in and go at once or go frequently in smaller amounts. You won’t know this until you meet your little pumpkin.

A less likely downside of diaper stockpiling is that your baby could be allergic to a certain ingredient in disposable diapers.

Ingredients in diapers that can cause an allergic reaction on the skin (diaper dermatitis) or other irritation:

  • diaper fibers (although cotton-specific allergy is rare)
  • hydrogel (absorbent gel used to soak up liquid – also goes by the names Super Absorbent Polymer [SAP], sodium polyacrylate, Absorbent Gel Material [AGM], and others)
  • plastics
  • dyes
  • fragrance
  • preservatives

A baby’s symptoms of a diaper allergy can include redness, swelling, itching, pain, fussiness, raw skin, and general discomfort. Allergic reaction to ingredients in disposable diapers is not very common. However, in some ways it mimics the symptoms of diaper rash which can make it hard to identify. A process of trial-and-error with different brands usually takes place until a non-allergy-inducing brand is found.

More likely than a full-blown allergy is just the simple fact that different brands work for different families, and you will very likely find a brand that you love that works better for your baby. And you probably won’t know what that brand is until you’ve tried a few different ones.

Exchanging and returning diapers

Most stores will exchange unopened diapers if you need to swap out sizes. For this reason, I never open a box of diapers until I’m ready to use it.

Some stores will offer store credit if you return unopened diapers without a receipt. The tricky part here is that you often need to know what store the diapers were purchased from. Grocery stores, pharmacies, baby stores, big box stores, and club stores sell different pack-ups of diapers. For example, you might only find a 236 count box of size 3 Pampers Baby Dry only at Costco, BJ’s, Sam’s Club or similar club stores. (Also you usually need a membership to exchange merchandise at a club store). Target might only sell Pampers Baby Dry size 3 in boxes of 180 or smaller. Store will not take a return or exchange unless the item is absolutely identical to the item they sell.

Being stuck with boxes of brand new diapers you can’t use or exchange is a real bummer. Diapers are expensive! You don’t want your hard-earned money or someone else’s sitting in a box in the closet waiting for your guilt to dissipate enough to donate them. 

If you are trying to return or exchange diapers that you received as a gift, you could try downloading an app like ShopSavvy which allows you to scan the barcode and then lists a number of online and local stores that sell the product. I have found that this is not reliable 100% of the time, but it does work to some extent.

More products to hold off on stockpiling:

  • diaper cream
  • lotion
  • baby wash or shampoo
  • healing balm
  • wipes
  • baby’s laundry detergent

It’s very likely that you will identify your favorite products for you baby through trial and error. Don’t invest yourself heavily into a ton of product you may end up not using. 

HOWEVER, I am not an unrealistic person. I realize that you both want and need to be prepared.

My suggestion is to buy a small pack of size 1 diapers in a brand that is sustainable to you (cost-wise). Don’t buy a small pack of the most expensive organic, environmentally friendly diapers to try out if your budget won’t allow you to continue to buy that brand. Buy ONE each of the items above (diaper creams, laundry detergent, etc.) and then wait and see how your baby reacts to it. Use it and see if it’s effective and if you like it. THEN after the brands have passed your scrutinizing mom test, go ahead and stock up to your heart’s content!

Many people want to have every. possible. thing. ready for their baby, and that is fine. Just be sure you’re not setting yourself up for more aggravation down the road! 

Mom on!


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