Saturday, October 20, 2012

The problem with buying cheap cloth diapers

What is a cheap diaper? 

A cheap diaper is one that is found for a low cost and is made with little regard to quality or standards.


  • 1  a : purchasable below the going price or the real value
  • b : charging or obtainable at a low price cheap
hotel> <cheap tickets>

  • c : depreciated in value (as by currency inflation) <cheapdollars>
  • 2 a : gained or done with little effort cheap
  •  victory> cheap>
  • a : of inferior quality or worth : tawdry, sleazy <cheapworkmanship>
  • b : contemptible because of lack of any fine, lofty, or redeeming qualities cheap
  • >
  • c : stingy cheap
  •  uncle>
  • 4 a : of money : obtainable at a low rate of interest

  • let's compare cheap to 


    •  : reasonable in price :

              Definitions taken from Miriam-Webster online

    What does this mean in regard to cloth diaper purchasing?

    An item can be inexpensive, but it doesn't mean it has to be cheap. Cheap can mean inferior quality or gained with little effort. 

    This is what I think of when I see cloth diapers (as in pockets, all in ones, all in twos) being sold "new" for under $10.  Now sometimes intro prices or "second" or "irregulars" diapers will be less than $10.

    Now here's the thing: With my daughter I was really a cloth diaper whore. I hoarded them. I looked for quality, cuteness and didn't pay attention to cost. I mean, she had used diapers that cost $40, but most were new, hand made by mamas in the US, made of quality material and held up to her use (and many held up even after her brother's use!) :)

    When my son came around, I got some newborn diapers hand made and reused the "boy" stash I had originally, since I swore my daughter was going to be a boy! Thus, we had a lot of blue/green all in ones (mostly Bum Genius). Not for everyone, but I'm also fine with a boy wearing pink and dresses.

    Anyway, since my daughter inherited my sensitive skin, she wasn't able to use pocket diapers (thus the move into super cushy, super soft bamboo fitteds, like Goodmamas). My son didn't have that issue and I wanted pockets to make it easier on our au pair at the time and I didn't want to replace all of our fitteds for "boy diapers" due to cost.

    I found some cheap diapers online that seemed like a good deal. I had them shipped over from China, it took a few weeks to get here, but they made it. Since we bought these cheap cloth diapers, we gave it a whirl. Now, these are super cheap: Like $5-8 per diaper. And now we can get back to the definition. They are cheap. I had quite a few lose snaps right away (most US-based companies offer a warranty). They also have suede cloth that seemed to like to stain a lot more than any of the quality diapers I previously had.

    Then, I started noticing repelling issues. I thought maybe it was detergent. We changed detergents. I thought it was the inserts, we changed inserts. Some of these inserts even started to feel weird.

    This really made me remember why I don't like to shop at under-cutting stores and am against the expansion of places like WalMart into India. Quantity and margin changes when you have mass produced items and no return policy.

    Is it better to have $150 for 7-12 diapers you can rotate through over a day and wash daily and slowly add another diaper every few weeks, or maybe use "old fashioned" prefolds or flats? Or, should we get 30 cheap diapers for that same amount? You do get what you pay for and while there may be some overlap, we often get what we pay for!

    Then the next question is, "When we buy these "cheap" items, who are we supporting?" What are we supporting? Was the design stolen? Are there sweat shops behind what you're buying? Are the fabrics and other doo-dads sourced in a sustainable manner?

    Can't we make a life and teaching lesson for our family by making conscious choices in our buying of cloth diapers and most everything else we decide to purchase. 
    Have you changed your diaper choices or do you have thoughts on buying cloth diapers that you'd like to share? Link up below!


    Kylie Worthington said...

    Great post. I got this advice from another mama before starting my stash and I'm so glad. This is why our stash is built on a bunch of (nice) prefolds, flats, and covers. I will add pocket diapers here and there as I find deals, etc. :)

    Julieann R said...

    Great post....never thought of these issues before for cloth diaper.

    crunchyfarmbaby said...

    Wow that's quite a stash you have there! :) Great post though - I am afraid that a lot of moms new to cloth try to save money and buy cheap diapers, only to get discouraged and switch back to disposables when the cloth doesn't work. :(

    Amanda McMahon said...

    I totally agree. I think if I had started out with the "cheap" diapers I would have given up!

    crunchyfarmbaby said...

    I linked up my cloth diaper care routine. I don't know if that exactly fits your linky or not, so feel free to remove it if that's not what you were looking for! :)

    Amanda McMahon said...

    That's perfect :)