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Why are diapers so expensive? (tampabay.com)
258 points by Avshalom on April 5, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 536 comments

There are a couple of ‘facts’ listed here that don’t line up with my current reality and very recent knowledge (3 kids, most recent is 18mo).

First off, 12 changes a day is a huge outlier - even for a newborn. 8 would be a more reasonable number, and it drops down to the 4-6 range in the first year, and by now we’re at 3 if we don’t go swimming.

Second item that sounds waaay off is $1000/yr for diapers. Again, that has to be an outlier based on the worst possible set of assumptions. A box of 168 diapers lasts about a month and costs ~$40. That doesn’t add up...

And finally, many of the charities I work with will hand out diapers or cards for free diapers to anyone who asks. If you’re really in a bind, call a local church, women’s shelter, or commissary! We really do want to help, but we have to know you need it.

I just had a kid 2 months ago, and 12 changes a day doesn't seem all that unreasonable for a newborn. At our one-month checkup he was averaging 9 pees & 5 poops per day - several of the poops were doubled-up where he also peed, so a dozen per day is about right. It's dropped a bit since, but instances where a single changing results in multiple diapers used (eg. he shits the table right as I'm getting the new diaper on, or he pees all over the table including the diaper that's waiting to be put on) have somewhat made up for that.

Unit cost of a diaper is about $0.25-0.30 when bought in bulk (even with your example), so $1000/year = ~3200-4000 diapers = ~10 changes/day. Change your assumptions on diaper use and everything else lines up.

10 a day may be right for the first month or so, but it doesn't make sense to extrapolate that out for a year.

> or he pees all over the table including the diaper that's waiting to be put on)

Now, that's just you being n00b :-). Source: father of 3.5 years old and 4 month old kids. And yes, I also think 12 is too many. 8-9 diapers a day was max for a newborn, now 4 months later it's around 6-7.

This seems like a classic case of annecdotal evidence being extrapolated into general truth.

Two kids from an identical environment and sharing the same ancestors are hardly a significant sample.

Read anything about child milestones, and you'll see a great degree in variability in the value.

6-7 diaper daily changes. Normal. 8-10 diaper daily changes. Normal.

12 doesn't seem that strange to me. That's every 2 hours on average. 8 a day is every 3 hours like clockwork to keep a fresh/dry diaper on. Add in the unexpected poops that don't land on 3-hour boundaries and it's not hard to do 12. It seems like the upper end of normal but not an outlier.

It's pretty common for newborns to be on a highly regular 3 hours schedule for diaper changes. Happened with all three of our kids. Like clockwork, basically.

I’m going to disagree that this is common. Newborn schedules in general are not super predictable. I don’t know anyone who has described their newborn’s schedule as “clockwork”.

Babies don't read books about how babies are supposed to behave they just do what they do, be it 2 hours, 3 hours or some baby unique interval.

I had the the same issue with my now 5 month old, I'd guess most first time parents do.

This is one of the reasons why I am happy with Kraamzorg [1]. I learned from them that if you got a boy the first thing you do when you change a boy's diaper is put something on their penis (such as a burp cloth) so that they can't pee you in the face (or on the carpet/wall/door or w/e). I remembered that even though we don't have a boy; we had a girl about 2 months ago. :-)

FWIW, we're changing diapers roughly every 3-4 hours. I can pretty much put my clock on it (a blue strip shows if she's pee'd). Every 2 hours is overkill. The strip wouldn't be full blue yet.

There's also (washable) cloth diapers which are better for the environment and wallet though they're also an investment. We're planning on switching to them, but it is too early for now.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kraamzorg

> I learned from them that if you got a boy the first thing you do when you change a boy's diaper is put something on their penis (such as a burp cloth) so that they can't pee you in the face (or on the carpet/wall/door or w/e)

We do this - we've got 20 or so cut-up facecloths we use for this purpose. They are usually the limiting factor on how quickly we do laundry. It's not uncommon to go through 3/day; it's like having a set of cloth diapers we use just for diaper changes. Plus, he's gotten pretty good at avoiding the cloth and pissing out the bottom, or choosing that moment right when I take the cloth off and put the diaper on to unload, or shitting all over his penis (!!) so that I have to clean that first and getting me in the face while I'm bent over him with a wet-wipe.

Someday he's going to win a lot of pissing contests.

That blue strip on newborn diapers must be generating billions of revenue.

Newborns pee so little and diapers absorb so much that one diaper would be enough for the whole day. But with the strip, people switch them every few hours :)

If you rely exclusively on the blue stripe you're gonna develop a skin rash. I would love to see the data on your one diaper a day newborn test.

A whole day? Until poo? Last night I last changed our little one at around 1 AM and my partner changed her diaper at around 8 AM. Suffice to say, she was completely wet.

What makes it too early for cloth for you? They come in all kinds of sizes!

Cloth diapers do cost a little bit more effort whereas the first months with a newborn are rather hectic. More so for 2 parents with ASD. So we've opted to consider going for it later on, when its less hectic. Also, in the beginning a newborn will grow quickly out of clothes. Almost everything she wears right now is too large. But the diapers (some of which were free with a "box") fit her very well.

Not everyone has the ability to buy in bulk. They are considerably more expensive buying them 12 at a time at a corner store.

I feel like this is a problem the non-profits should tackle. The mother in the article does this, it seems she really is trying to work and not depend on charity/welfare. However, there is some financial literacy / access to capital / cashflow planning type issue going on that prevents her from planning properly (buying in bulk ahead of time). If the non-profit simply offered her affordable diapers (I imagine removing the retail markup alone saves a huge amount), a line of credit or something and helped her plan her diaper supply needs it seems like it could be a helpful service (maybe they do that, article only made it sound like they give away diapers to the poor)

I kinda think WIC and SNAP should just cover diapers like they do food. Kids need both.

0.25 - 0.30 is not a bulk price. You can buy a pack of 29 on amazon all in for 0.27 per diaper.

Buying in bulk (200 pack or so) easily gets you at 0.16/diaper or below. And even lower if you look out for deals.

And assuming you need them now and don't have money for bulk buy, a 27 pack at walmart for off-brand is $5.41 at the moment. ( ~0.20/unit )

Not everyone exhibits basic competency and planning ability, but that doesn't magically make other people responsible for setting up surrogates for them.

10 changes/day is a lot, even for a newborn. This number quickly drops to perhaps 4-6 per day, and continues to drop towards 1 year of life. As others have mentioned, it would not be uncommon to get to around 3 per day for a 1-3 year old. I also speak from experience with my own kids and would back that up as true.

Therefore, the cost of diapers is probably quite a bit less than $1000/year even in the worst case.

We've also invested in decent reusable cloth diapers. To buy "enough" of them so we aren't running out or doing laundry on a small set of them every few hours, we spent around $600 or $700 for a good bunch of them. These are reusable for years, and even across children. There's even a decent resale market for them if you can believe it. By far they are the cheapest means of diapering children, especially multiple children over time. However, the downside is quite an increased amount of laundry logistics. And, in some cases, it doesn't obviate the need for disposable diapers. For example, if you're going somewhere for the whole day, it might be easier to use disposables since you don't have to carry around soiled cloth diapers. Or if the kids visit other family... sometimes just simpler to rely on disposables.

Cloth diapers are fantastic, but they're a case of "Sam Vimes' Boots"[0]. Over the course of a year, they're a lot cheaper than disposable diapers, especially if you can get hand-me-downs from a friend or eg. a local parents group on Facebook. BUT, the initial outlay is still way too much for most working-class people, and they're really only practical if you have a washing machine at home. We ended up buying a used dryer when we had our first child, just because the diapers didn't dry fast enough on the line during the winter. The article mentions that a lot of coin laundries don't allow you to wash them there, and besides, you'd be at the laundromat at least once a day.

[0]: http://wiki.lspace.org/mediawiki/index.php/Sam_Vimes_Theory_...

I love what I have been calling the "five second diaper"!

>$0.25-0.30 when bought in bulk

Are these silken luxury diapers? I just bought diapers and they were $0.16/each for Costco brand and that's not on sale. A quick search on amazon shows 0.14 - 0.17 for any bulk buy of brand name diapers and that is not considering the cheaper rate you could get if you subscribe or the frequent coupons and deals that show up.

The only option I see for diapers in the 0.25-0.30 range are a small pack of 29 diapers shipped for $7.97

Google search for [diapers]. 128 Pampers for $35 from Google Shopping Express ($0.27/ct), 88 Pampers for $25 from Target ($0.28/ct), 144 Pampers for $31 from Walmart ($0.21/ct). Other brands do get a fair bit cheaper - 140 Huggies for $21 from Target ($0.13/ct), 256 Luvs for $27 from Target ($0.10/ct), and we just tried buying some store-brand Target diapers that are 40% of the cost of Pampers. We're fairly brand-loyal as diapers go, though, because we've found that the Huggies blow out a lot more than Pampers (at least on our kid, who is pretty thin) and the Targets aren't nearly as absorbent.

And diapers are just the tip of the iceberg in term of spending. /sigh

It was a huge relief to get the children weaned, and off the giant vats of Similac ... I feel that was probably even more expensive than the diapers.

Oh man, diapers pale in comparison to formula costs. My daughter gets changed ~8 times per day, but she eats up to 36oz of formula. That's about $1.76 in diapers and up to $6.79 worth of formula. Add in DI water (since we make it from powder) and the obscene cost of bottles, and it gets even worse.

What's wrong with tap water? Formula still costs a lot, obviously, but you generally don't need special water for mixing formula unless your kid has an immune disorder or you live somewhere with unsafe tap water.

Depending on where you live, maybe nothing, maybe a lot. For example many areas still have high PPB of lead in their tap water (even if below the EPA guidelines of 15 PPB, or the EU's 10 PPB since 2013, it can still be considered unsafe, just not economical to fix).

Plus even ignoring heavy metal content, in some areas there might be micro-organisms in tap water (since it is sourced from a natural well or similar), so you'd need to be boiling tap water or risk making a newborn sick (even if your body could easily cope with similar water).

> Talk to your baby’s pediatrician and ask what kind of water you should use when mixing infant formula. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends boiling water to remove impurities and kill germs. While most municipal and public drinking water supplies are required to follow strict regulatory guidelines to be safe, pediatricians generally still suggest using boiled water to mix infant formula, at least for the first three or four months. Since there is no evidence that bottled water is safer than municipal water sources, the AAP says that while parents can use bottled water to mix formula, it needs to be boiled first. You can also use distilled water that has already been purified or ready-to-use formulas, which do not need to be mixed with water.

Meh, I’ll take a pass on that. Chlorinated tap water in developed nations should have no appreciable microbial content. If you’re concerned about lead, I can understand that. If your goal is sterile food and your baby is healthy, I don’t really get that. You’re presumably washing your baby’s bottles in tap water anyway.


>Can I use flouridated tap water to mix formula? "Yes, you can use fluoridated water for preparing infant formula. However, if your child is only consuming infant formula mixed with fluoridated water, there may be an increased chance for mild dental fluorosis. To lessen this chance, parents can use low-fluoride bottled water some of the time to mix infant formula; these bottled waters are labeled as de-ionized, purified, demineralized, or distilled, and without any fluoride added after purification treatment. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires the label to indicate when fluoride is added."

Tap water through one of those pitcher filters is fine. It's super easy to spook new parents into buying stupid crap they don't need, out of fear.

So even if ten thousand of me said this a hundred thousand times, people would still buy the "special" bottled water with a picture of a baby on the label. You have to either just let them do it, or start bottling water and printing reassuring labels. They might wise up by the second or third kid.

In fact our Palo Alto pediatrician asked immediately if we use bottled water and said we should use tap water because of flouride and minerals that might not be in the water service water.

DI water? De-Ionized? The stuff marked "Not safe for human consumption: Lab Use Only" because of how dirty the ion exchange membranes get [among other things]?

Or were you trying to say 'distilled water'?

Outside the US, distilled water is often called deionized water. Same thing, different name.

It is not the same thing. Deionized water may contain neutral organic molecules, including viruses and bacteria, as it uses ion exchange resins pre-loaded with protons and hydroxides to remove all other anions and cations. Distilled water has been vaporized out of one container and recondensed into another, so contains nothing but water and molecules that form azeotropes with water.

Distilled water is deionized, but deionized has not necessarily been distilled.

In practice, however, both are overkill for baby formula.

Nobody's arguing that they're identical processes. My point is about the _labeling_ differences. Distilled water is often sold as deionized water in various parts of the world.

But there is literally zero additional printing cost for using the word that precisely matches the purification process. They even have the same number of letters in English. Why would anybody do that?

We use kirkland brand formula from costco. It's repackaged Similac. Exactly the same thing and it is less than half the cost. It even comes in the same plastic containers. They just change the stickers. All the other off-brands are likely just as good as any brand name and usually just repackaged brand name stuff anyway.

Filtered water is fine unless you live in an area with lead problems.

And what obscene cost for bottles? We have exactly 4 bottles so far for our 4 month old and they were less than $5 each. And new nipples are about $2 each when we needed to change the flow.

We managed to save about 50% off the cost of formula by making our own. A can of goat milk powder (Myenberg) costs ~ $10 and makes 3 quarts. Before 6 months we made sure the formula matched breast milk, using a spreadsheet--I'm working on a web app!--but let's say after 6 months it's fine to feed straight goat milk. Assuming a quart (32 fl oz) per day, that's about $3.33 per day, compared to $6/day for Enfamil ($27 for a tub that makes 18 cups).

We buy kirkland brand formula (same as similac). Costs us about $1.67 per day for a 4 month old.

triangle man hates particle formula they have a fight, triangle wins triangle man!

I hope you mean RO or some other purifying process. I wouldn't drink DI water.

Our kids were on formula as well. Between kid 1 and 2 we did buy a Baby Brezza (aka the Formula Keurig) which I'm mentioning here solely because it was such an unexpectedly positive help. It cut the process of mixing+warming+testing the formula down to just hitting a button (and likely saved my sanity).

Warming? Testing? We gave our 3 cold bottles premade a few hours before right out of the fridge. Thankfully they never complained, and made our lives a hell of a lot easier. I weep for the parents who need to do the whole warming thing... seems like a giant PIA

My kid had to be on Similac Alimentum for like a year.

Now that’s a good racket.

12 changes a day is not an outlier for a newborn, it’s normal. My son is 18 months and we change him probably 6 times a day at least.

Diaper pricing is dependent on how many you buy at once, I buy giant boxes so my unit cost is low. If you don’t have $40 to buy the giant box, but only $10 to buy a small package. You are paying twice the unit cost.

I realized in my thirties that if I had just dropped $1000 on a pallet of razor blades when I turned 18 I'd have saved a couple times that. Way better returns than the actual "investment" that money ended up in.

I bought a $30 corded hair trimmer and switched to a buzz cut (I was starting to bake anyway) and a full beard. I use maybe one double edged razor blade or disposable razor per month for the edges of my beard, that's all.

I haven't calculated the savings over the last 6-7 years, but it has to be a lot, compared to shaving daily and going to the hairdresser.

I can't grow a beard. Five days in and I give up. I do buzz my own hair though. It's super easy if you just use the same guard all over.

Don't give up, it takes time. If I shave off everything, it takes around 2 weeks before it's pretty good, and a month before I'm actually happy with it. But now that I have it, maintenance is super easy, I just keep the edges under control and trim any stragglers and stray hairs.

All beards look scraggly as they grow at first, you need to give it time to properly fill in before you give up. If you can, let it grow wild for a month, resist the urge to cut or trim. Then you can start adjusting it.

The most important tips I got were to set the bottom edge right above your Adam's apple, make it mostly a straight line and feather it out, so you don't have a hard edge. Feather in the sideburns as well. For the cheeks, I prefer to keep them natural or just lightly trimmed, but it depends on how hirsute you are.

I buzz my head without the guard, to the shortest possible setting. I did shave my head for a while, but I decided it isn't really worth it.

> Don't give up, it takes time.

It also takes the right genetics. Some of us will not have a real "beard" regardless of how much time we give it.

As a fellow bearded and balding guy, it's not real hard to use different guards, but the motions are new and using two mirrors to cut your own hair are awkward at first. You have to be ready to accept a short single guard buzz cut for your first 3-4 attempts. Having good clippers helps too.

I switched to a safety razor 10 years ago, and ordered 250 science (not shaving) grade blades.

I still have about 150 blades left. The pack cost me <20USD including shipping from US->EU.

Got a link, brand, or model number for these "science" grade blades? I've been an on-and-off DE shaver for some years, and I've never heard of this option. I settled on Feather blades myself.

I guess they're taking about American Personna Super blades, which are commonly referred to as "Lab Blues". They're about 12 cents a blade when you buy them in packs of 100, which makes them one of the cheapest blades around.

There's lots of discussion on shaving forums about exactly why they're called "labs", but as far as I know they're just regular double-edge blades.

I also prefer Feather. They cost about twice as much, but work much better on my tough stubble.

I imagine they're referring to the blades marketed for cutting up samples to put under a microscope. They're commonly sold in packs of 250.




Also interested in link here. Also purchased large size feather blades a couple years ago still on the same box but running low.

I too use a DE safety razor and chose Feather blades after sampling an assortment. Is GP asserting there's something even better?

It wasn't stated that the blades were necessarily better, but the fact these "science grade" blades were chosen over name brands implies there may be some benefit. This was totally new to me, and it sparked my curiosity.

That’s funny. I have been using the same Gillette Sensor for 20 years. Off brand blades were available locally in the USA, but those dried up. Via eBay, I ordered Gillette branded blades “made in Germany” for a fraction of the cost of local Gillette blades. I figured the EU was not ripped off as bad as the USA for razor blades. Maybe that is not the case?

That razor recently broke, so it’s off to eBay again to find a replacement, since I have a box of blades. I refuse to pay for rip-off blades.

You're probably buying fakes, IIRC a study found the majority of name brand razor blades on eBay are counterfeit. Amazon has a counterfeit razor blade problem too, but I don't know the prevalence.

Probably, but if his face can't tell the difference, it's not a problem for him.

Until he gets hep C ( /s kind of )

The recent off-brand ones available in the US will rust if left in the shower. The "German made" ones don't, just like the OEM Gillette.

yes but storing a pallet of razor blades isn't easy and from 18 - 28 (when you would be using these razors) you are going to move a lot, due to work, college, just general renting. So moving a pallet each time is probably inefficient.

It costs money to save money.

Someone told me that mid-rich people often group together to have a grocery accountant who will do their bulk shopping for them and it ends up costing them less than a supermarket prices for superior products.

In Park Slope we have our food coop, which is co-owned by 16,000 of us and does just bulk buys of everything we need. We also voulenteer to work 3 hrs a month (I do childcare).

Our groceries are the freshest, localist, most responsibily sourced and affordable in NYC 20-50% off other stores.


Thx for sharing this. Really cool. Where I live, I'm pretty sure we don't have a coop...but I want one!

We do about $50MM in revenue a year and also provide startup capital, training and voulenteer labor to help folks start their own.

Drop by for a tour and say hey if you do.

Could you please tell more about this grocery accountant? Sounds super interesting. How does it work? Thank you.

Razor blades are small. Assuming parent poster shaves every single day of that ten years, and each blade only lasts for two shaves, they'd need about 1830 blades.

That's 19 boxes of these, which probably fit in a shoe box.


Given that he mentioned dropping $1000, I'm guessing he's talking about cartridge blades (e.g. Gilette Mach III), that cost a couple of bucks each and take up probably 20x as much space when packaged. Still not that much actual space needed. A small moving box would probably hold decades worth; definitely if stripped of the outer packaging.

> 12 changes a day is not an outlier for a newborn, it’s normal. My son is 18 months and we change him probably 6 times a day at least.

You can start potty training a kid at around one year's age though, which will decrease the need for diapers. That age depends on a kid of course, in my family it has started around when the kids learn to walk so age of 1-1.5.

With my first child I decided pretty quickly I'd had enough of changing pooey nappies once we began with solid food; so we started at c.6 months with potty training. All the guides said don't even try until they're 2½ IIRC. At that age they can't usually sit up, you hold them on first thing in the morning, and any time you're changing them.

Worked quite well. I added in audio cues after reading some Elimination Communication (EC) info.

3rd child, 2½ yo, will now poo & wee in potty a couple of times a day, and can tell us when he needs it. A good strong feedback loop, positive praise, no negativity about lack of "production".

Cloth nappies seem to accelerate potty training too (we've done cloth and compostable, solely the latter with current child), I think they can feel they wet themselves more easily, better feedback. If the nappy is so "good" they don't feel wet then there's no intrinsic incentive and no feedback.

As we did our version of baby sign (with parallel vocalisation) from c.6 months our eldest was able to tell us he needed the potty before he could talk.

Breastfeeding seems to make a positive difference with nappies and potty training too, I think the child has a healthier bowel and so perhaps more control, less gas, etc.

> Cloth nappies seem to accelerate potty training too (we've done cloth and compostable, solely the latter with current child), I think they can feel they wet themselves more easily, better feedback. If the nappy is so "good" they don't feel wet then there's no intrinsic incentive and no feedback.

Modern diapers are so good that they're counter productive to potty training. The innards whick all the moisture so the child's bottom remains completely dry until it gets extremely saturated.

> All the guides said don't even try until they're 2½

That is absurd. I wonder if the diaper companies wrote them?

We did something like 18 months which is far less impressive than yours but was not rocket science or anything. Maybe cheap diapers helped, as they don't feel as dry?

TBH I think that we probably started before we needed to, but poop in the potty means less mess for me to clean!

I suspect you may be right on both questions.

Ask your friends and neighbors. Did they also potty train at 18months?

What? Potty training is dependent on physiological changes around muscle control. It is usually not possible before 18-24 months. I have 3 kids under 5, and 24 months is the earliest that interest to go on the potty started.


I'm a parent of a fully potty trained 24 month old. Mostly potty trained by 18 months, with lots of reminders. It's not easy, takes absolute commitment. The moment you look at your phone your 16-18 month old will be hiding behind then couch peeing (at least ours did).

That being said, it's nearly impossible if you don't have a parent doing full time caregiving. No daycare will do it. My wife used to do it as a nanny, where she learned about it, but that's an outlier. Really not easy to navigate between you and your family or friends who have similar age kids!

There are a bunch of people training them from very young, with baby lead potty training.

It's certainly interesting to see the difference between countries in all baby things, e.g. UK, US, Italy, France and Japan.

- How long kids are in nappys.

- How much food you are recommended to eat when pregnant.

- What foods to avoid when pregnant.

- What foods to give to babies and when.

These all vary massively from country to country.

Sticker books. Just put books that they can't place and match stickers, always leave near the toilet. If you like sticker books, and who doesn't, you know what to do...

Then how do Asian kids do it by age 1?

I assume you're referring to China, since "Asia" is a big and diverse place.

The Chinese use elimination training, or "potty on demand." You place the kid over the potty, make a specific sound they associate with going potty (you created the association previously) and they go. You then repeat this enough times in a day to eliminate the need for diapers.

I don't think elimination training is potty training. In potty training you're teaching the kid to tell YOU when they need to go, in elimination you are telling THEM when to go. Plus in potty training they're doing "active holding" whereas in elimination you're aiming for things to never get to that stage by going "potty on demand" enough throughout a day.

I think elimination training is very interesting and some parents have had great success mixing elimination with diapers to reduce the amount of accidents/cost. But even if they're trained on the elimination technique, they'd still need to be potty trained later, it just might be easier (since, again, you're asking them to tell you, rather than you tell them).

It's elimination communication, not elimination training :) The concept, as you explain, is that the caregiver is alert to cues that a poop is coming, and moves the child to the potty.

> 12 changes a day is not an outlier

> we change him probably 6 times a day at least

Does not compute... 6 times a day is not 12 times a day.

You seem to have cut out the parts that make it compute. Try reading the words in-between your quotes.

I called doctors as I was worried my kid only pooped once every second day, he said the normal range was around 20 times per day to once every 10 day (don't remember exactly).

The price of diapers also have a very large range from a few cent to a several dollar per diaper. So it's worth checking several markets. Poor people usually don't have much free time though. Especially when you have 3-5 small kids to take care of. Taking the buss around the city with all your kids is very impractical. Add the sleep deprecation and you wont have much patience either, and make stupid decisions. It is really hard to imagine the life of a poor family mother/father when you have a nanny that takes care of dressing, feeding, diapers, cleaning, washing, etc. It's basically a full time job.

I think you missed the part of the article where they talked about never having enough cash to buy in bulk, instead buying at 2 or 3x the unit cost in 5s and 10s from the corner shop.

When bulk is $40, you're just making some really, really poor life decisions if you both have a kid, and can't find a way to save that much money in a 30 day window.

"Then you shouldn't have had a kid" is among the most useless, vacuously/pointlessly true at best (and cruelly stupid at worst) statements you can give to any parent, no matter their circumstance.

I guess it's a good thing I didn't say that then.

You are making other assumptions here too, like having a Costco or Sam's Club nearby to buy the giant packs of diapers. Low income people often don't have those nearby.

You can buy diapers in bulk from amazon, Target, Walmart, honest company (more expensive), etc. Costco and sams club have almost nothing to do with the conversation other than being one of many options.

Condoms break, and it’s pretty damn hard to have an abortion if the only place you can get it done is halfway across the state.

I think thats a poor excuse. Even taking a payday loan out to buy a bulk bag(200 diapers) for $30 is more economical than buying a 10 pack every other day for $5. Pay day loan will cost $10 in fees but its cheaper than paying $75/m for diapers. And you just need do it once and save the $5 that you're spending every other day.

Using a legal loan shark to purchase nappies, we're now robbing Peter to pay Paul, the net gain once the legal loan sharks fees are rolled in would be pittance.

How far did society have to fail for us to have to encourage the use of loan sharks so our children can take a shit, seriously?

Edit: in an attempt to lighten the conversation which has suddenly became a class dividing conversation on economics and privilege.

My most highly rated comment on Hacker News is now about shit. Brilliant.

2nd edit: Two people didn't approve and have either removed an upvote, or I've been downvoted.

More drama than a soap box here today.

I don't know if the numbers in the comment you're referring to are correct, but let's assume they're close enough and do the math.

If I pay $5 every other day for 10 diapers, then I'm paying ~$75/month for 150 diapers. $0.50/diaper, $2.50/day.

If I take a pay day loan of $30 for a 200 pack of diapers, then I've just brought a 40 day supply of diapers. $0.15/diaper, $0.75/day.

After 16 days I've recouped my original investment of a $30 loan + $10 fee. By the time day 40 rolls around and I run out of diapers, I've saved $60. I can now afford to buy bulk diapers in perpetuity. For every subsequent month, I'll be spending $52.5 less on diapers.

Good luck finding a legal loan shark that only charges $10.

I can only speak from the fees here in Australia but here, for a small loan. You're looking at a minimum fee of 200-300% and that's assuming you pay on time.

This is why legal loan sharks exist, and if this method actually did work as you intended it, why do legal loan sharks still exist? Couldn't you apply your macroeconomics to everything?

Food? Nappies? Water? Bulk buy all of your items on legal loan sharks just once and you're ahead.

1) Get a small loan

2) Buy all the small disposable/consumables you require in bulk and reap the savings

3) Pay off the loan with 200-300% in fees on top, assuming you pay it off in time

4) ...

5) Profit!

At 200% you still come out ahead after your first packet of diapers.

As somebody who grew up in abject poverty, and who lived in poverty for the first portion of their adult life, better planning will absolutely make situations like this instantaneouly better. When I was poor as hell I put a huge amount of effort into buying in bulk and doing various other things to avoid all of the blindingly obvious poverty traps that exist. It took some hardship to get everything established properly, but my whole life was hardship, so big deal...

Most people in the west could get away with living a sustainable (although shitty) lifestyle in poverty. It’s only proper planning and effort that will pull them out of it.


I'm from a poor working background too. You can look through my comment history, topics of poverty, drug abuse and macroeconomics are some of the many topics that typically interest me enough to contribute to the conversation here on Hacker News.

Your logic is absolutely sound, but in the event or period where you've taken the loan and have to pay it off in 1-2 weeks. What happens when said parents child gets sick and requires more nappies that day?

Perhaps they need medication.

Maybe they lost some cash walking to the grocery store.

They lost a days work.

There's no room for error and when or if that occurs. The entire benefit goes backwards and you end up losing so much more than you hoped to gain.

There's a whole myriad of reasons that could contribute to this loan going backwards when you have 0 disposable income.

But if you're borrowing $30 for nappies, it would not take much to then push you outside of that fortnightly budget so you are not able to meet your legal loan sharks contractual payments and that, by definition, is a financial slippery slope.

The financial industry relies on people like this, I would assume for every credit card owner that has 55 interest days free or a 0% balance transfer. There's another 9 who don't pay off in time and will incur interest charges and fees and make the entire business venture profitable.

Legal Loan sharks are profit driven, they are not providers of care, and they are not their to help you get ahead so you do not need to use their services again. Their business model is the exact opposite. They assume you will need to go back, and go back repeatedly.

You'd do well to watch Episode 2 of Dirty Money on Netflix - Payday. The entire episode is essentially a business case for why Loan Sharks should be avoided at all costs.

But the thing is, your maths is _correct_. So instead why can't we loan this person who lives in poverty from non-profits and similar who want to _help_ if it's so logically sound that allowing those in poverty to buy in bulk, will allow them to get ahead?

I don’t disagree with most of that. The loan shark maths is just one (rather contrived) example of how a person can break out of a particular poverty trap.

It’s harder to break out of a poverty trap than it is to live with one, but it’s much easier to stay out of one than it is to live with it. My point is that with the correct effort, people can generally break free of most of the poverty traps they find themselves in.

To speak to your last point, there generally are non-profits around who help with these sort of things, and I used some of them myself in the past. The thing that non-profits can provide so simply is the motivation and discipline required to maintain a well planned budget. Each small thing that you improve, like buying diapers in bulk, is a step towards escaping poverty, and everybody has the capacity to do those things.

> My point is that with the correct effort, people can generally break free of most of the poverty traps they find themselves in.

I find 'correct effort' to rather deceptive term, because part of the problem is defining what that would be (and your example failed as a 'correct' one).

Furthermore, I'd say a cursory glance at history shows that what you're saying is not true. Slaves did not just free themselves, the working class did not just obtain the many rights all enjoy by themselves, women did not just gain voting rights and all that jazz by themselves, and all this applies to gays and the mentally disabled too.

I'm not arguing against 'correct effort', clearly many poor, slaves, women and gays fought hard. The crucial bit here is that they did so collectively, that they needed a lot of help from those who were not in their situation, and that a big part of this involved effecting political change.

I've never heard a convincing argument that somehow we're now in a completely different situation, and that somehow now the steps one can take as an individual are 'correct action', even if of course they can't hurt.

It strikes me that this focus on the individual is somehow a problem on both ends of the political spectrum. The one side devolves into perhaps too much identity politics, and the other too much into the "we'd all be fine if we just worked harder on ourselves".

Both sides, meanwhile, seem to prefer to paint the other side as being will-fully <insert shitty ism>, when I think we're all really mostly equally shitty and good, probably partly right, and really we should just be mad at the immense inequality that has left us mis-directing our anger at each other.

Broadly speaking, anyways.

People aren’t property any more, we all have equal protection under the law, we have mostly reliable social welfare programs, and private charitable programs are bigger than they’ve ever been. Your analogy doesn’t hold any water at all.

The correct effort is simply whatever a person can do to make incremental improvements to their lives. It’s going to be different for everybody. Psychologically, part of the reason that poverty traps are so easy to fall into is because people in poverty don’t have the luxury of indulging in much long term decision making. However some opportunity always exists, and finding an exploiting those opportunities is the only way out.

The reason there is any focus on the individual is because you can’t simply subsidize out of poverty. If you want people to get out of poverty and to stay out of poverty, then those people need to take responsibility for their own destiny. Arguably society could do a better job of giving people the tools to do that, but that doesn’t change the dynamics of the problem. The truth is that if I was in that persons shoes, I’d be living a better life than they are. Because I was, and I managed to, and those skills eventually got me completely out of poverty all together.

we all have equal protection under the law, we have mostly reliable social welfare programs, and private charitable programs are bigger than they’ve ever been. Your analogy doesn’t hold any water at all.

Reality is that minorities get charged more harshly for the same crime than Whites and once you have a criminal record, it's harder to get a job.

Studies have also shown that all other things being equal, when a person has a resume that signals "blackness", they get fewer calls back.

Not to mention that because of overzealous prosecutions, poorly funded public defenders offices, and the prominence of plea deals, poor people don't get the same breaks as someone who can afford their own lawyer.

Then let's not even mention the poor state of some school districts since schools are funded by property taxes leading to a cycle of poor schools.

As far as just because you were able to come out of poverty means anyone can is just like saying that because I won the lottery, why can't anyone? Statistically, income mobility is rare.

Most of us went to college and lived off poverty level income. I ate potatoes, and ramen for years with a 10/hr part time job and still managed to save enough money to go on trips.

It doesn't take much time to put together a budget and if you lack the knowledge i am sure you can find free community classes to get basic budgeting skills. I signed up to volunteer at one but they had too many volunteers.

People need to get out this learned helplessness and make effort to improve their lives.

> People need to get out this learned helplessness and make effort to improve their lives.

Surely you see the problem here?

This may be accurate math but it’s also the thought process of a non-indigent person sitting at a computer, not the thinking of someone who works all day for $8.25 and hour and is taking care of a newborn and trying to make ends meet.

If you had the intelligence to do that calculation, you would have the intelligence to not be in such a desperate situation in the first place.

That's not intelligence, it's privilege and having sufficient disposable income to invest in cost saving.

Items like chest freezers that cost more electricity to run, but allow me to buy more food and freeze it. At the cost of larger electricity bills.

It's having enough money for fuel so I can drive 80km to Costco.

It's having /time/ so I can just do the baths of all the above because I'm not working 60 hour weeks to feed the family.

That’s grade school arithmetic. We’re not talking about people who aren’t intelligent enough to do arithmetic, we’re talking about people who don’t have the correct mindset and motivation to make small, incremental investments in their future.

Maybe she could have waited until she had $30 saved up before having a kid? Crazy, I know.

I do not blame stressed people (single mother most of all!) from making decisions based on lack of time.

However, it really IS helpful to make a larger purchase. You can think of convenience-purchase-pricing of things you use regularly at home like loan-sharking at exorbitant rates. It hits those least capable of affording it.

The flip side is you get a huge benefit from scrounging for the money/time to get the bulk package. It's like an small investment that returns 200%.

My wife makes fun of me, but I often buy a large amount/quantity of a few items at the grocery store, i.e. ones that we already use regularly, that I know the usual price of, so I know when a "sale price" (or bulk price) is actually a good deal. This only really works well for things that are shelf-stable, of course.

Diapers are definitely one of the things you should try to buy in large packages when the prices are low. It genuinely is hard for a single mother to do this, but there's a significant payback in both money AND time.

It's not just convenience. Because of cash flow (rent, groceries, etc), people on the poorer end of working class just never have enough money available at one time to do bulk buys, even with perfect money management.

Ultimately, I think the main thing that's interesting about this article is how programs for the poor have so many restrictions on what one can buy with them that can create sorta random hardships (in this case, essentially none of the financial assistance program funds can be used to buy things one might want to spend money on when taking care of a baby, like diapers).

That said, we have a 4-month old, and she still needs 12-15 changes a day (it's only gone down a little since birth) to be happy. She starts crying the moment she wets her diaper, and that and being hungry are just about the only reasons she cries, so it really is important to change her often, and those 168-diaper boxes last more like 2 weeks. For us buying bulk packages at about the same ~$0.25 each price you are, it does cost like of $80/month i.e. $1000/year. My friends tell me the rate of diaper use goes down at about the same rate that the size of the diapers go up (so a box of constant size lasts about a constant duration); I haven't researched the price for larger diapers, but wouldn't be surprised if companies price the larger diapers to keep a constant dollars/month rate.

This is also something that varies a lot more based on the kid than anything else. We have a friend whose kid was born the same week who never cries due to diapers and they have to set a schedule of checking to avoid her kid getting a rash, since the kid never asks for a change.

So I think certainly $80/month is the right number to think about from a policy perspective, since that's what they cost for a significant portion of families (even if you buy in bulk as we do). If some families (like our friends with the kid who doesn't complain about wet diapers) get away with less, that's great for them, but not much comfort to a poor family for whom this is a hardship.

12 changes a day is not a huge outlier, but it is on the high end. Standard pediatrics holds that a newborn - infant that is not dehydrated should be producing 2-8 diapers of urine per day. A newborn should be producing a couple of BMs a day, down to once a day by age four (though IME once/day even relatively soon after birth is pretty common.)

And the articles does say “as many as 12, though older kids need fewer.” So, that seems spot-on.

Why would people bring a child into the world if they can't even afford diapers, will always blow my mind.

It's not about affording diapers, it's about affording clothes and food and healthcare and baby strollers and a bigger apartment and babysitting and diapers.

The costs of everything you need to raise a child come as a surprise to most middle-class people. How would they not to the poor. Common sense says that people raise kids in developing countries and they have nothing, so it can't take money, right? But in a western society with a western standard of living, that common sense is wrong.

Or to put it differently: If you raise a child like in a developing country, but you are in one of many developed nations, the government will come and abduct your child.

Because they got pregnant. And an abortion wasn't possible, for medical or ethical reasons.

Edit: Or for other people's ethical reasons, manifested as laws against abortion.

Or political. Abortion is not accessible in all parts of the country.

With all due respect, I never understood the prevailing attitude in the US to do everything it takes to make you keep that „sacred life“ if you get pregnant by accident – and then once it‘s there, drop it like a hot potato and do exactly zero to make it a tax-paying, happy and productive member of society. The hypocrisy of it all just blows my mind.


Yeah, they wail and wail about murdering children and then are all too pleased to scorn and segregate the mothers (but not so much the fathers) of these children so they have the worst possible chances.

Right, political. I was including that in "ethical". But I see my error.

Or in all western countries.

> "Because they got pregnant"

Really? In 2018, given the myriad of ways you can cost-effectively prevent pregnancy, I hardly accept "because it happened" as an answer.

Yes, birth control sometimes fails. That statistic alone cannot explain the quantity of individuals having children, who simply shouldn't be. People can down vote me all they want, but what I am saying is true: Having children when you cannot afford to take care of them is reckless and incredibly selfish.

People screw up, all the time.

But yes, sometimes people have kids, realizing that they have no clue how they'll afford them. Call it desperation, if you will. Or rebellion against an unjust society.

Or maybe they don't really think it through. Much of the time, I suspect.

Put it to adoption ?

Because the color of your skin matters. African American babies are cheaper to adopt but stay in the system longer because they are harder to place in adoptive homes.

Not really relevant to solving the problem of getting rid of the baby. Any parent who's OK with aborting that baby probably doesn't have any issue with how long the baby stays in the system.

Totally relevant. The original statement was (paraphrased) "Someone might have gotten pregnant even if they can't afford kids," to which someone replied "Put it to adoption."

First, this seems incredibly heartless -- poor people should just give their kids up to adoption -- and second, it only makes "logical" sense if you assume that adoption is a better outcome for the kids than growing up poor. But if, as stated, some kids are going to end up in "they system" for years or decades, instead of magically getting adopted into some rich family, then putting them up for adoption may well end up much worse.

What a fetus comprehends is different from what a toddler comprehends. Many people assume (whether correctly or incorrectly) that a fetus has the level of consciousness of an animal, or perhaps even less than a companion species like dogs.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it can actually cost money to put a child up for adoption in some places.

You're wrong in the US, which is where this story is. In fact adoptive moms get healthcare, and sometimes even room/board/food etc paid for them.

I agree. Birth control is much cheaper than diapers, and a lot cheaper than raising a child to adulthood. The person this article focuses on was chosen carefully. Most readers will feel sympathy for her, but in reality, the consequences of her decision to have unprotected sex out of wedlock while working at a low-paying job and living with her parents as an adult is her responsibility. And clearly, she's irresponsible. And there are people who don't think adult humans should be responsible for themselves, which is who this article's aimed at.

Birth control fails. Approximately 8% of women still end up pregnant during their first year on birth control, and even after the first year the percentage doesn't fall to 0.

There are many reasons that it fails, although missing a dose is the largest reason. Other reasons can be improper storage, using certain drugs (prescription or otherwise), or even consuming an unusual amount of some foods or supplements. Even if you do everything right there's a small chance that it will happen anyway.

Now, people like to claim that if you skip a dose or mess up taking it at the wrong time of the day it's your fault, but it can be complicated due to the different types of pills available, and if you get switched to a different brand, it can be easy to mess up. Typically pills come in a 28 pack. The first 21 or 24 of those will have the hormones used to prevent pregnancy, and then either 7 or 4 will be placebos. But some schemes only give you 21 pills and then you go a week without taking any before starting up the next set. There's also now larger packages and the hormone concentrations and days without taking them vary as well.

Condoms have certain advantages, but they break. And other forms of birth control tend to be more expensive and out of the reach of people living in poverty.

IUD anyone ?

They're more effective, yes, but carry more risks since you're keeping a foreign object in you for up to 10 years at a time.

You can see the various options and pregnancy rates (both based on the typical use and the perfect use case) for the first year: http://www.arhp.org/Publications-and-Resources/Quick-Referen...

Personally, rates like these makes me glad to be a gay male.

> carry more risks

Citation needed, and good luck finding one considering the long list of pills side effects.

Also all your previous objections to birth control are invalid in the case of IUD.

Very effective and a good choice, but I know someone who had a child after getting an IUD.

IUD pregnancies are often extrauterine (which are mostly non viable, so that solves the unwanted pregnancy problem). And there's still abortion. I wonder to what point having a child was a choice in the case you evoked.

As someone who had a very wanted (married, secure in our careers) pregnancy end up being “extrauterine” (tubal, if you must know) and therefore requiring emergency medical intervention to not kill me, I think you may want to reconsider that as a better or more economical outcome.

Well, there is one form of birth control that's both free and 100% effective.

In the same way, although cooking doesn't always make food safe to eat, there is a form of cooking that's simple and 100% effective: not eating.

And although the various safety measures rock climbers use sometimes fail, there is a method of rock-climbing safety that's 100% effective: not going rock-climbing in the first place.

And I have a perfectly safe car: that is, I never leave my house.

I take it you can see how ridiculous these are. The point (well, one point) of cooking is to be able to eat food and not get food poisoning. The point of all the ropes and things is to be able to climb rocks and not fall to your death. The point of seatbelts and crumple zones and antilock braking is to be able to drive from place to place and not get killed in a car crash.

Not having sex -- which I assume is what you are referring to here -- isn't a form of birth control, because it doesn't accomplish the objective of having sex and not making babies.

It might still be a good idea, of course. Just as it might be a good idea never to go rock climbing (maybe it's just too dangerous to be really worth it for anyone who's thinking clearly) or never to drive a car (it's bad for the environment in lots of ways, after all). But that's a separate argument, and the case needs to be made honestly (cost/benefit on failure rates, appeals to alleged rules handed down by alleged gods, etc.) rather than by snarky one-liners like the one above.

You need to eat. You need to leave the house. You need to use some form of motorized transport to partake in society.

You don't need to have sex. Abstinence is a form of birth control as much as being bald is a hairstyle.

So pleasure should only be for the wealthy?

I know that this may sound strange, and I don't share this trait myself, but for many people sex is a critical part of forming a romantic bond with their partner. Without sex, they feel unloved and invalidated in the relationship. That's just part of their emotional needs. So for some people sex is indeed a psychological need.

You don't need to do any of those things. You can subsist on liquid diet-drinks. Plenty of people never leave their homes, either by choice or because for some reason they can't. Plenty of people don't have cars. (I didn't until I was 36 years old.)

But a large fraction of people would find their lives made much, much worse if they were unable to eat solid food, to leave their house, or to drive a car.

Exactly the same goes for sex.

Brief reminder of the context for this discussion: the person the OP is about had a child despite not having much money, various people here said you shouldn't be having children if you're too short of money, others pointed out that not having children is sometimes difficult, and that is when user rubidium suggested that total abstinence from sex might be the answer.

So we're talking here about whether it's reasonable to say that poor people should just never have sex.

I guess opinions on that might vary. My opinion is: duh, no, what an absolutely terrible idea. You don't literally have to have sex any more than you literally have to have friends or holidays or music, but just like any of those it's a hell of a thing to say whole classes of people should just do without.

Speak for yourself.

Only the rich should be able to have the fulfilling romantic relationship they desire, right?

Make that 99.9999999999% effective, according to "sources".

"source". Just one, The Bible.

AD&D sourcebooks, 2nd edition, salvaged from the trash?

So unmarried women who can’t afford birth control, or who live at home should be forced into abstinence?

Your entire comment is incredibly entitled and condescending. Have a look through the other comments on this thread for some reasonable discourse on the subject, plenty of people have commented on how the issue is far more nuanced than you make it out to be.

That's exactly the point some of us are trying to make:

This issue is incredibly nuanced, but people like you (and the authors of the article) never want to talk about one side of it: Personal responsibility.

The second we bring it up, we're denounced as callous, entitled, naïve, etc. etc.

It's surprising to me how often those pronouncing the complexity and nuance of an issue are almost always just fierce defenders of ONE side - the other side - of the issue.

One factor to consider is that it might, even in the US, be one of the few ways to make sure you'll (eventually) have some helping hands and be (somewhat) taken care of in older age.

Maybe because they also couldn't afford contraception?

Life just happens, as nice as it would be for all children to be born planned into stable circumstances, afaik the reality is often quite a bit more unpredictable than that.

Rape is a thing.

Failed contraception is a thing.

Lack of access to contraception or abortion is a thing.

Some things/ideas/comments are best kept in our thoughts. Your comment qualifies; I mean it as a feedback.

Yeah, lets not talk about icky things like people not being responsible.

I work in Family Law and these type of statements can be said about any group: wealthy, middle class, poor.

Middle class: "That people who work all the time and never spend time with their kids are allowed to have children will always blow my mind. What is the point of having a child if you never see them."

Rich: "That people who will rob their kids of their self reliance, by buying them everything they want, are allowed to have children will always blow my mind. What is the point of having child if they just end up leeching on their parents."

I mean we can come with all sorts of irrational and judgmental comments.

They shouldn't, but now that it's done, should the child have too suffer for the mothers mistakes?

So, only the wealthy should have kids? Because if you factor everything in that we "should" be doing for kids, only the wealthy could afford it.

Seriously, why don't we leave the decision of who should be allowed to have kids out of the conversation and we as a society buck up and help take care of the ones who need help?

Why should middle-class people be the only ones who can have children? I find it much more mysterious that we have people who work full time in this country who can't afford diapers.

My son is 4 months old. For the first few months, 12 changes a day was definitely not an outlier. However, we were very quick to change his diaper once we noticed it was wet.

$1000/yr for diapers is definitely possible. You and I may have the luxury of purchasing diapers in bulk, but for many people (such as the young woman in the article), 32 diapers for 10 bucks is reality.

This article was from Tampa Bay, Florida. Different states have very different social services nets. And it also varies by metro area. Also, prices are often (perversely) cheaper for basics like food, gas, and diapers in wealthy areas vs poor areas.

I have a 10 week old and we've kept meticulous logs of diaper changes[1] (and everything else). We get 12 diaper change days a couple times per week. 9 is more typical. $1000/yr is pretty high but not unbelievable. A lot of grocery stores and small shops don't sell diapers in cost saving bulk packages so it really just depends on where you live and your access to more economical options.

1. https://i.imgur.com/IAFAu18.png

$1000/year seems normal to me.

Even when they start using less the older kid pack costs the same for fewer diapers... plus night diapers etc.

Add wipes etc and you hit over $1000 easily.

Anecdotally I agree. Especially if you are buying the Costco branded diapers in the 168-count boxes.

The Costco diapers (and formula actually) are the same mfgr as the name brands, at a significant discount.

Unfortunately for families that struggle with finances and like many other issues — it takes money to save money.

People buying small packs as needed will end up spending significantly more than those who can afford to stock up at places like Costco.

I also use Costco diapers, and I basically only buy them when they're on sale at $8 off per pack, which is a 20%-25% discount, depending on diaper size.

To do this you have to:

- be educated about looking at unit prices and be able to think through these issues

- afford a Costco membership in the first place. Yes — it "pays for itself", but you have to afford it in the first place and have the self-control to not spend more than you should.

- afford and plan accordingly to stock up by buying multiple boxes of diapers at a time when they're on sale. You have to buy enough that you don't need any for the 3-4 month gap between sales.

Besides Costco, I've found that the Target brand is priced rather reasonably, even at the smaller quantities.

The difference between buying newborn diapers at Costco sale prices vs a normal-sized Pampers box is $0.11/unit vs $0.28/unit. It's huge, and remains high as sizes go up ($0.21 vs $0.40 for size 5).

> afford and plan accordingly to stock up by buying multiple boxes of diapers at a time when they're on sale. You have to buy enough that you don't need any for the 3-4 month gap between sales.

Right, and “afford” doesn't just mean the price of buying the diapers in one shot (which is simply the discipline of saving for intermittent purchased) but also affording adequate storage space for the stockpile (including after all applying a similar strategy to any other productd for which it provides a higher return.

The “cheaper if you buy bulk packs at Costco, and cheaper still if you buy multiple of those when they are on sale” thing is true, but is equivalent to “cheaper if you have a big chunk of storage space you can devote to it, and cheaper still if you have a giant chunk of storage space.”

Our pediatrician explained that the frequency of changes varies. Some children go more than others, some less.

What about diapers not pumped full of BPA and other chemicals?

Just to provide some perspective, I have worked on the structural analysis (FEA) of diapers for P&G, when I was working at an engineering consulting firm. As the article states, these companies pour millions into R&D, and for me that included running simulations to determine if the diaper's material properties were appropriate. To do this, I was running simulations of a diaper being wrapped onto a baby, the baby walking, and then pooping. The pressure, forces, stresses on the diaper were calculated and we drew conclusions based on these simulations to improve the quality. When I was working there, I also worked on new razors, loofahs, bottles, etc.

As a parent thank you! It is amazing the things a diaper managed to neatly contain. I always imagined there was a group dedicated to design things the elastic catch on the edge of the diaper.

My wife and I cloth diapered both of our children. In addition to being radically cheaper it also resolved rashes/eczema in both kids as well as accelerated potty training.

There is an 'ick' factor but liners and a toilet sprayer take care of 99% of that.

We cloth diaper too (3 kids, a two and a half year old potty trained for about a year now, and 5 month old twins). Personally, I find disposable diapers to be way more disgusting than cloth. With cloth, you rinse it out and the majority of the gross stuff is down the drain. With disposables, you end up with a garbage can literally full of poop. Its like having a mini pit toilet in your house.

We have also noticed, like you mentioned, that cloth diapers are easier on the babies' skin and makes potty training significantly easier.

For anyone who is reading this and may be interested in cloth diapering: Get some quality covers and then buy a ton of flour sack towels. They make the best inserts. Super absorbent, cheap, and unfolds to a single layer, which means they get cleaner and dry faster.

Props for doing that. We tried with our twins, but eventually decided cloth diapers are for people with single kids that aren't burnt out.

Ugh. Yeah, I regret deeply buying cloth diapers for my twins. The economics looks better for twins, since you only need like 50% more, but the time premium is higher than expected with twins, so it ended up eating into too much prescious downtime. Worse is we couldn't get them to stop drinking the majority of their fluid intake before bed, and the pee at night required us to use absorbant disposables anyways. In the end I'm not sure they were a net positive investment, even ignoring the higher than expected opportunity cost of havings twins.

"cloth diapers are for people with single kids"

Maybe not for twins, but "one kid at-a-time" is more than doable and the second kid is where the real money savings come in.

Yeah, I meant that by single (English is my second language).

And of course cloth diapers are probably a good idea for twins too, but I just couldn't handle it. There comes a point where you'll give almost anything to get five minutes of free time every now and then.

Sister had twins - I totally get it. Their house was crazy for the first couple years. You do what works ;)

> With cloth, you rinse it out and the majority of the gross stuff is down the drain. With disposables, you end up with a garbage can literally full of poop.

Worth pointing out that just because you use disposables doesn't mean you can't rinse it out / dump into a toilet. We used cloth for 8 months and then transitioned to a daycare that wouldn't let us use them. I still dump all solids into the toilet because I don't want my baby's room to smell like poop 24/7.

Also, if you read the box, most diapers will instruct you that you are supposed to do this, as human waste doesn't belong in landfills.

The thing that grosses me out when I attempt to do that is then the polymer filling stuff gets all wet and nasty. That stuff just weirds me out...

Our twins are currently just breastfed, which means their poop is basically yogurt. So nothing to dump in the toilet yet. I remember we would dump the harder poops out before we threw the diapers away if we were out of town and using disposables.

Disposable diapers are actually a burden on society in many places even beyond the obvious problem of essentially putting sewage in the trash; https://www.nearta.com/Papers/GovernmentDiapers.pdf

> you rinse it out and the majority of the gross stuff is down the drain.

How do you rinse it? What drain?

> Get some quality covers and then buy a ton of flour sack towels. They make the best inserts. Super absorbent, cheap, and unfolds to a single layer, which means they get cleaner and dry faster.

Don't understand this whole paragraph.

Many people have a laundry room (or area) with washer, dryer, and utility sink. For example, see http://www.mlexecutiverealty.com/_account/images/listing/122... .

Taking care of a baby requires specific education. You should not expect to know everything about the topic if you have not researched it.

It is rude to express your confusion this way. As written it implies that the author did not express things well, when it appears instead to be that you are ignorant of the topic and don't feel like doing the research. I'm often that way, but since no one else cares, I don't comment about it.

How is it that you did not think to do, say, a DDG search for "diaper insert", or even better, "diaper insert flour sack"? The first hit for the latter is http://mamanloupsden.com/2014/10/29/whats-deal-flour-sack-to... , which seems quite relevant.

I've seen people hook up a hose to their toilet and just spray the diaper "into" the toilet, I guess it could also double as a bidet too if you wanted.

I don’t agree, it was terse but didn’t intend it to be rude, and there is some responsibility to use clear wording without obscure terms or jargon. Raised a child and never heard any of those terms before.

Reminds me of many tech articles here where obscure acronyms are never explained.

Also putting feces down the sink doesn’t sound like a great idea, though maybe it’s fine. No explanation given either way.

You don't put it down the sink, you rinse off the diaper into the toilet.


The sink and the toilet connect to a drain pipe within probably 5 feet, so its really not as gross as people tend to think. Also, no matter what you are going to get poop on your hands and wash that off in the sink, so poop is going down the sink either way.

Obviously when the baby is old enough to have well-formed poops, you dump that in the toilet. Otherwise we just rinse them in the sink, put them in a 5 gallon pail, and then wash them in the washing machine every day or two. (More often because of twins)

Diaper covers are basically the water-proof outer part of the diaper. Then you put cloth inside to handle the absorbing liquid.

For example: https://www.amazon.com/Thirsties-Wrap-Cloth-Diaper-Cover/dp/...

Flour sack towels are thin kitchen towels, I assume named how they are because they are the same material that people used to buy bulk flour in.

The picture is bad, but these are what we bought: https://www.theisens.com/products/flour-sack-kitchen-towel/8...

Basically its a towel a little less than 3 feet on each side. I fold it in half the long way, in half the other way, and then in thirds the original direction. You put that inside of the diaper cover, and then put it on the baby just like a disposable diaper.

When the baby pees, you replace only the cloth part. When they poop and it gets on the cover, you get a new cover as well.

A lot of people don't live in places with an in-home washer/dryer. They have to go elsewhere in the building for pay laundry or to the laundromat. This makes it logistically and financially nearly impossible to use cloth diapers. Not to mention the substantial up front cost for cloth diapers, which makes them inaccessible for people living paycheck to paycheck. This is an example of how having money allows you to save money.

When I think about UBI I worry about responsible spending and wonder if just subsidizing common items food, clothing (diapers) and household goods wouldn't be a smarter solution overall.

In relation to the case in the article, I wonder if we couldn't subsidize certain items and allow parents to receive a one month supply at low to no cost? Why should we give disadvantaged people $180 a month just to let several middlemen take a cut via the corner drugstore?

The main idea behind UBI is that the government doesn't know exactly what each individual needs at any given time, but does know that those things can probably be bought for money. One person might need diapers, another socks, and yet another a car payment to take their child to school. Given money increases flexibility, as opposed to a fixed list of items that may or may not be needed.

How is the package distributed? If the parents are homeless, where is it sent? If the package is stolen or damaged, how do they get a new one?

What is the basis if your concern? Over and over again studies show that poor people are no worse at managing money than non-poor people. Probably better, since they have so little to waste.

In this weird present where Gawker now has decent journalism, I'll quote from http://gawker.com/poor-people-do-not-just-blow-any-money-the... :

> The popular image of the "Welfare Queen" is one that is seared in the mind of many Americans. No big surprise, since countless millions of political advertising dollars were used to put it there. Nevertheless, evidence shows that the welfare state in the US, to the extent that we have one, works—that giving poor people tax breaks, and social welfare, and, yes, cash aid helps to bring people out of poverty and allows them to lead more bearable lives. ...

> I will politely refrain from addressing the racist overtones of the "poor people are lazy and stupid" position because they should not need lengthy explanations to debunk.

> Poor people are not perfect. Nor are middle class people, or rich people. Wasting money is a possibility, among humans.

This has been done in the past, e.g. government cheese.

It turns out that letting the market deliver necessities based off of demand is far more efficient than the alternative. That would be a government anticipates how much a community will use, what styles of diapers they'll want, etc.

Really? Do tell me more about the benefits of water system privatization in the US.

Story upon story like https://heavy.com/news/2018/02/risks-costs-private-water-lea... doesn't make me conclude that letting the market deliver water is "far more efficient than" a public water system.

Calm down. Assuming bad faith is for Reddit, not here.

Your argument is making a straw man. You are the first commenter to bring up public utilities. Everybody needs water. Systems that are accountable to local government are the most effective way to get it. Usually that is with a publicly-owned water corporation.

A basket of goods is far different. Back to the subject actually at hand: some people will need cloth diapers. Others disposable. A government employee would need to administer the program in that town or district.

The inflexibility of the program would mean that some parents would not use all their diapers and would dispose of them. Other unfortunate parents would need way more. Also, what size diapers? Benchmark this against weight? A physical bottom measurement? Not all children use diapers at the same rate.

Hopefully this example gives you an idea of the complexities involved in centralized management. Empirically, baskets of goods are less efficient and more costly when centrally administered.

And tone policing is its own uncharitable rhetorical style.

You said "letting the market deliver necessities". Water is a necessity.

I'm also for single-payer government run state-wide/national health systems. Somehow those work and are more cost-effective for overall public health, despite a variability of need which is far higher than that of diapers.

Now, I agree that akira2501's proposal isn't tenable, and in a parallel thread (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16763183 ) you see I list some of my objections.

What I disagree with is your broad and non-nuanced statement regarding the supposed efficiency of letting the market deliver necessities.

I disagree you have parsed my response correctly. I do not know why you or the previous poster choose to mischaracterize a narrow statement as a broad and universal one.

If you re-read my comment, you will see that I provide a counterexample to the "all markets for everything" narrative.

Your response indicates that you think I'm a member of the opposing intellectual "team" and you need to defend yours. Not only do I acknowledge that single-payer is effective in several countries, I believe that it is one of many possible solutions to the U.S. healthcare problem.

My comment was narrowly disputing the effectiveness of a centralized planning system for market commodities. Even the NHS has considerable decentralized aspects.

[[citation needed]]

And I mean a comparison between governments of equally developed nations. That means that you compare the USSR to Brazil and not the USA. Since the difference in HDI between the USSR and Brazil was smaller than that of the USSR to the USA.

Because those same middlemen are the ones who would benefit the most from UBI.

Of course subsidizing goods and services means we will have to stop pretending that all choices are equally good and start acting like adults again, where just because you really, really want to do drugs and have 8 kids doesn't mean you will get to do that regardless of how much money you have.

How exactly does subsidizing goods mean someone won't do drugs or have 8 kids? Do you think the folks addicted to drugs want to be?

Most folks don't do drugs excessively. But if it is OK for a middle class person to drink once a month, I'm OK with poor folks drinking once every few months. Or other drugs infrequently (i'm pro-legalization of many things). If you don't want folks to do drugs all that often, the only tool available with subsidies is to subsidize rehab and/or medical care and the family care that might come with inpatient rehab programs.

8 kids? How the heck do you expect to combat that with subsidies except though making sure birth control is nearly free (including the doctor's visit for women to get it, and actually offering low-cost sterilization). This completely glosses over the need for fact-based sex education (rather than the abstinence-only sort popular in some areas), for instance, and does nothing to deter folks that want 8 children.

>Most folks don't do drugs excessively. But if it is OK for a middle class person to drink once a month, I'm OK with poor folks drinking once every few months. Or other drugs infrequently (i'm pro-legalization of many things). If you don't want folks to do drugs all that often, the only tool available with subsidies is to subsidize rehab and/or medical care and the family care that might come with inpatient rehab programs.

You don't subsidize alcohol, you tax it. Then you borrow a leaf from the Australian playbook and add a puke green coloring to it and force it to be sold in brown cartons with pictures of dissected livers.

>8 kids? How the heck do you expect to combat that with subsidies except though making sure birth control is nearly free (including the doctor's visit for women to get it, and actually offering low-cost sterilization). This completely glosses over the need for fact-based sex education (rather than the abstinence-only sort popular in some areas), for instance, and does nothing to deter folks that want 8 children.

You force sterilize people after the second child. And pay people to get sterilized with one or no children.

Unpleasant but when we are hitting the limits of what the planet can sustain and the best hope is 'we will go to Mars', doing unpleasant things so we survive is the better alternative to the cannibal holocaust we are setting ourselves up with.

Sterilization in first world countries isn’t useful to solve world population as a whole because most/all first world counties actually have negative birth rates and are only bolstered by immigration. Furthermore, birth rates globally are slowing down as it is. There’s no need to go down to forced sterilization or other barbaric methods.

> When I think about UBI I worry about responsible spending and wonder if just subsidizing common items food, clothing (diapers) and household goods wouldn't be a smarter solution overall.

Irresponsible spending is precisely what will happen with UBI. When you cut a check not earmarked for a specific purpose (food, rent, clothing, etc.) you will inevitably end up with people mismanaging their money and coming back for more ("but I'm broke through absolutely no fault of my own, how will I afford to eat?"). This will lead to backstops beyond UBI for people facing emergencies, which will lead to a small but significant portion of people gaming the system by, well, having "emergencies" every month that leave them unable to afford necessities.

The fatal flaw of UBI is assuming that there will be no abuse.

There is abuse of earmarked assistance. UBI isn't unique in that regard.

Trading food stamps (or food purchased with them) for drugs. Etc. The drug addict is going to get drugs one way or another; we may as well reduce the friction (and use the savings to pay for rehab).

Regardless, most of the poor are just trying to get by and not prone to abusing whatever assistance is available.

Right but each step required to convert a food stamp dollar to something you arne't supposed to buy with foods stamps adds friction and inefficacy.

By handing out food stamps that can be used for X you make X the default for that thing and require user to go out of their way to use the food stamp money for something else.

If people are using food stamps to buy food to sell to a bodega at 50% value and then using that to buy beer you've effectively doubles the price of beer (or diapers) for people buying it with food stamps.

It's mind-boggling that a bunch of tech people who are well versed in the various tricks employed to get users to do things don't understand this.

It's not like anyone who's on welfare/ebt/food stamps doesn't know exactly how to convert those dollars to cash if they want to. It's just not an efficient use of those dollars compared to buying what you're expected.

Replacing all those with UBI just removed the extra steps and cost penalty for using welfare/ebt/food stamps on things you're not supposed to.

I think we're making the same point, but I see removing that friction as a good thing, while you don't.

In your example, the bodega is getting a 50% cut of the aid that it shouldn't. Instead, we can give the recipient 50% of the current amount in cash, and let them buy the drugs directly. The extra 50% can be used in several ways... pumped into rehab or education, reducing tax burden on others, whatever we decide.

In both cases, the drug addict uses all their aid for the same amount of drugs. In my scenario, society spends less for that outcome.

In the current scenario there's an incentive to not spend your welfare money (taxpayer money) on drugs. I think that's worth letting the middle man take a cut of.

You seem to be under the assumption that welfare is supposed to be income. It's not. It's aid, financial assistance for near-necessities. If you want drug money without hurting your eligibility it's not that hard to work under the table.

In the case of the drug abuser, I'm not sure that incentive to spend appropriately applies. They're a drug addict after all - they really don't have a choice (other than rehab, but that also costs money).

Regardless, I'm much more concerned about the average recipient, who may need more gas than bread some weeks, or some other completely reasonable situation. As noted in a sibling, it's been proven that the poor aren't any worse at budgeting/spending than the not-poor.

I imagine for those, you could use a washboard in a shower/tub. It's not a huge volume and the "dirt" is not caked in, for the most part, so it should be a fairly easy wash.

You don't need a washer / dryer. You wash them in a bucket with soap. Only takes a few minutes.

You can hand wash them in a bucket with washboard (though we didn't) and line dry them. We actually line dried ours about once a month to air them out and sun-bleach the cloth. About 30 $5-15 cloth diapers lasts you 3-4 days between washes.

where are you line drying them? In your bathroom, most people are lucky if they have an outside space to do this when living paycheck to paycheck

Correct. In your bathroom.

Honestly, there is an epidemic of self defeatist in our day and age.

I've lived with people who did that. You put a used diaper in the toilet, and do a couple stir and flush cycles. Then you put them in a bucket with detergent. Once a day, you hand wash those, and hang to dry. With about 20-30 diapers total, you can manage.

But damn, finding used diapers in the toilet is annoying. Plus wet diapers hanging all over to dry. If it's your kid, though, it's not a big deal.

In my area, where relative humidity is often 60-90%, this form of drying would result in moldy cloth, not dry diapers. My guess is Tampa's microclimate is probably similar and line drying isn't an option.

People line dry everything in south-east Asia, in >90% RH. Though I suppose that’s usually out a window or on a balcony.

How do you think people washed and dried clothes there 100 years ago? How do you think they do it in more humid and poorer places today? Do you leave your towel on the towel rack and let it dry there or do you throw it in the dryer every time?

Mold thrives in moist, dark places, not most sunny ones.

A 100 years ago housekeeping was a full-time job, and quality of life was generally pretty bad.

Also the society functioned differently; one middle-class salary could sustain a middle-class family, for one.

We no longer live in that reality, nor would anyone want to.

It's like saying that homeless people are OK because there were no buildings in prehistoric times.

Neither societal structure or quality of life affect the drying time of cloth diapers in humid places.

Edit - and having lived in both, you're much better off drying things in a hot humid place than in colder ones.

We used cloth diapers in a place that's hot and humid but seasonally cold (the US Deep South). Outside on the line, diapers dried a lot faster in the summer than the winter. We ended up having to buy a used dryer for winter use, because they simply didn't dry fast enough to be ready by the time we needed them.

Even if you go with a diaper service instead of washing them yourself, cloth can be cheaper than disposable. It depends on your local rates and the number of diapers you need per week; typically the more you need the cheaper a diaper service is per-diaper.

Well, I mean, I personally know people who are living paycheck to paycheck who cloth diaper, it's not basically impossible like you suggest. It's really, really not.

Serious question(s) from a father of 2 under 2...

How do you get the cloth diapers clean? Like, really clean so they don't still smell after they've been cleaned?

My wife and I were planning on cloth diapering. We bought some high-end cloth diaper and liners and started on our merry way. We found that no matter what we did, our little guy smelled like piss all the time. My wife was washing diapers 2 or 3 times in between wearings, "stripping" them to remove remaining smells, etc., etc.

Our water bill went up by literally $50 a month, we were buying all kinds of detergents to try and get the smells to go away, and we had already invested a ton of money actually buying diapers in the first place. Not to mention that my wife was spending all her time washing, re-washing, and folding diapers _and_ our kid still smelled like piss.

In our case, disposables were a god-send. The little dude is happy, he doesn't smell, my wife doesn't spend half her day cleaning diapers, and (especially since we buy diapers in bulk on good sales), we've found disposable diapers to actually be far _cheaper_ than what we were paying for water, detergent, startup costs, etc. on cloth.

I would never go back, just because of the time savings alone.

We used cloth diapers on my son (who is now almost 4). Our technique was as follows:

-One wash cycle in warm water using no soap.

-One wash cycle in hot water using soap.


Every couple weeks we would put white vinegar in the no-soap cycle. This helps cut the smell down.

Every couple months we would put a small amount of bleach in the no-soap cycle. Any more frequent than this and we found the diapers then irritated our son's skin.

If I had to do it all over again, not sure how I would choose. As you call out, there are additional costs to the cloth diaper approach (water, detergent, etc) that add up, plus it takes quite a bit of time.

One advantage that we found is that our son, and other folks we know who used cloth diapers, all had kids who ended up potty training sooner (anywhere from a couple months to 6+ months earlier) than kids wearing disposables.

Why do cloth diapers result in faster potty training? Is the urine/feces felt by the child (ie, all that fancy absorbent material in disposables is harmful to training)?

My wife is a member of a diaper science community on facebook group called fluff love. They have extensive information about how to get your diapers really clean, with targeted information for specific situations like water hardness, washing machine type, materials, etc. The folks there are very helpful and responsive to issues.

What we ended up doing was 1 "power wash" cycle, followed by a regular wash cycle each time, and just regular ol Tide detergent. Sorry for the tide ad.

Short answer: it's hard to say specifically, because it depends on a ton of factors.

Have you tried putting them in the sun? Sunlight does a lot of good on diapers. If you have the option I'd put them on a line outside.

As for the other stuff, we used a double-rinse with powdered detergent and things seemed to work pretty well.

The time factor was _super_ annoying. Maintenance for cloth diapers is a full-time job sometimes, but it felt good not to add a billion pounds of waste to the landfill.

Full disclosure: Now that we travel a lot more, we're pretty much only in disposables.

Yep, we had a similar experience trying to do it ourselves with our first two (also under two at the time!) - see my other comment for some of the reasons why this is a thing - but got back on the cloth diaper train when a relative exposed us to the magic that is cloth diaper service. Best of luck with two under two!

Our routine: Warm wash with Oxi-clean, Hot wash with detergent, air dry the covers, tumble dry high the inserts. Baby is 8 months and so far no smell and very little stains on the inserts.

Yes, that's exactly what we did.

You need to soak them in something stronger before washing - something bleach based. Napisan is great for this (and also for any white shirts etc).

Same, at first I wasn't sold on the concept but my wife wanted to try. It's way cheaper and better for environment. Now I don't regret it and find the idea of using 100% disposables silly. We still use one disposable each night because they absorb better or one here and there when we're out.

The upfront cost was $150 so that might be an issue for some.

If you didn't have in home access to a washer and dryer (that is, assuming you do) would your opinion change?

It depends. If I can afford it then I'm likely to exclude any residence that doesn't have a washer and dryer. And if I can't afford it then I'm more like to use cloth diapers because then the savings is significant.

I found with liners it was even better than diapers. No smell because everything goes down the toilet. Mind you, my kids were eating solids before we put them in cloth.

We did the same. Putting this thing into cloth removed ‘ick’ factor: https://www.amazon.de/gp/aw/d/B00E5NN4KQ/ref=mh_s9_acsd_top_...

It can be washed 2-3 times if nothing serious happened.

Its a whole lot more environmentally friendly as well. And that's something that will probably affect your kids more than you.

how does this not contaminate your washer with feces?

Do you think your washer is somehow not already contaminated with feces, from washing underwear?

I read an article a while ago that tested and found substantial fecal residue in typical washing machines, without cloth diapers going through them. Can't find it now among all the cloth diaper related search hits.

My grandma always used to wash undies by hand separately and then pour boiling water over them. I found it to be very weird when I was a kid, but she might have been onto something. I would do this if I was living with an immunocompromised person but its probably overkill for a healthy family.

It's also suggested you clean the washer every once in a while too.

Fecal bacteria is found everywhere it seems, so that's why frequent hand washing (especially before food prep) is important.

Good point.

Detergent and water gets just about anything clean..

However, you presoak them, and scrape a majority of the feces off into the toilet at change time.

You rinse diapers in the toilet before washing them.

We're also using cloth diapers, except when travelling (which is pretty rare), but it has had no impact on the childs exzema.

(As expected really, half of the rashes are on his arms/torso and completely away from the diaper-end!)

Where did you get cheap cloth diapers? I haven't looked too much into it but some women in my family recommended against it because they said cloth diapers are expensive.

We travel a lot with our son. No way we were gonna do that with cloth diapers.

Diaper services can also be better for the environment and the wallet.

That depends on your location; my experience in NYC was that diaper services were just a little more expensive than buying small bags of disposable at CVS, and vastly more expensive than ordering bigger bags of disposable at Amazon.

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