December 19, 2005

Pampers Changes Diapers: "Glitch" or "Enhancement"?

pampers_glitch.jpgI remember when Pop-Tarts got smaller. Not signficantly smaller, mind you, just shorter, a little off the top. And then when they switched from six/box to eight? They started out as a free bonus pack. Those were the days. All of this shifting of weight/size/quantity, and other attributes went on while they juggled prices, and was designed to improve Pop Tarts profit margins without perceptibly rocking the consumer's boat.

It's not clear, but the same thing might be happening right now with Pampers. I've noticed some differences between boxes of Pampers purchased in NYC and DC lately. And here's what DT reader Brad says:

The Pampers Swaddlers and other Pamper diapers seem to have two kind of diaper but called the same thing.
One is soft, well lined, and the logo is printed very clearly on it.
The other has a fuzzy logo sometimes, some kind of mesh net lining that seems somehow half-finished, and the diaper feels like a cheap, bad version of what the diaper should be. Is it just me, or is this a trend?
Shanntastic, a new mom's blog, has a side-by-side comparison. The verdict: one Swaddler is "rough and cardboard-y," and the other is "delightfully squishy and soft and powder-scented." [remember, she sacrificed her weekend for her readers.]

One Shanntastic commenter said the consumer hotline for P&G [Pampers' manufacturer] said they'd changed their manufacturing process, but that "their focus group studies had concluded that most people didn't notice the change."

But on Amazon in October, one reviewer said P&G claimed it was "a glitch in their manufacturing process." When successive packages still showed the "glitch," she called again, and was told there's no glitch, it must be her hand lotion [presumably not a P&G brand].

Unlike the mainstream baby media, Pampers hasn't bought Daddy Types' silence by placing pages and pages of ads each month. [And fortunately for my credibility, you can't see me making the universal thumb-in-ear, pinky-near-mouth "call me!" sign at P&G's agency right now]. So I'll ask the tough questions: WTF is going on with the Pampers these days?

Related: What's that? You get a $20 Amazon credit when you buy $89 of Pampers products? [Offer ends Dec. 31st, some restrictions apply?] Oh, why do you grinches complain about the company that gives us so much?


I was on the babybargains website a few months back and there was some huge thread on people noticing a change in the Pampers diapers. Some of them called the hotline and were able to wrangle credits for free diapers out of the company, but they were told that it was something of a "try-out" by the company.

I think it might have something to do with the channel the Pampers where purchased from. I have noticed a difference between the Pampers we bought at Duane Reade when UPS didnít get to us in time and the ones we bought from Amazon.

This is all a moot point, since I bought (much to my wifeís dismay) a lifetime supply of 7th Gen during Drugstore.comís one day sale a few weeks ago.

[oops. where'd you get a crazy idea like that? -ed.]

I got a pack of the crap Pampers with the mesh inside and complained to them via email. They mailed me a coupon for a free pack.

Seventh Generation recently changed their diapers too -- although they're upfront about the changes, which sound good. (We're still going through *our* bulk purchase, so haven't tried 'em yet.) They claim they're thinner but with the same absorbancy, and have stretcher leg gathers and closure tags. The last thing sounds especially good, because this last pack, I've been accidentally tearing them off way too often -- either Guen is getting too squirmy, or else I'm getting more impatient. :) And they're made in the US.

On the downside, the new packages don't have a built-in handle, which makes 'em a lot harder to carry home from the grocery store.

I love Pampers Baby Dry and happily succumbed to Amazon's offer. (you're welcome, Greg)

The only change I noticed recently was the graphics--our favorite Sesame Street Characters used to be smaller, but now they're bigger. And every bum now sprouts a picture of Elmo.

We were on vacation and got Swaddlers for the first time abou six weeks ago (not as many choices in SW Virginia) and liked them, then came home and bought them and they were HORRIBLE -- that meshy lining being the most obvious difference, but the pee leaks being the most annoying. I thought I was losing my mind.

We gave up on Pampers at about 9 or 10 months, the assplosions and subsequent hull breaches were a bit much.

[it's weird, we had nothing but leakage and blowouts with Huggies, alomst none ever with Pampers. I wonder if there's some correllation, like Luvs are for kids with flat butts, Huggies are for bubble butts, Pampers are for chunky babies, etc. Not that I'm saying the kid's fat, I mean-- I was-- we just give her Elizabeth Hurley baby food with nicotine because she LIKES it, not because she NEEDS it or anything...-ed.]

I got the new 7th generation diapers and love them. Much better than the old ones which were so thick. They are similar to pampers cruisers in fit and bulk now and yes, got 'em in bulk on from daddytypes link. Off topic--never ever buy Tushies. They are so thick it's like wearing brick diapers.

[i'm touched, seriously. not any richer, of course, because I didn't have time to run that link through the affiliate program, but touched all the same. -ed.]

We do Pampers Active Fit (perhaps a "Cruisers" equivalent) here in the UK. No changes here, but we'll keep an eye out.

In a barely related topic, you have to help me. We're going back to the States for Xmas, and I shudder at the horrible powder smell and the misleading sizes (UK diapers seem to be larger vis a vis their American cousins for a given weight class -- we've never had a blowout). We're only there a week, so we could just take our own, but there have to be widely-available diaper brands in the States that:

1) are unscented (I strongly associate the smell of powder fresh with sh*t, more so than the actual thing itself) and
2) are sufficiently technologically advanced (e.g., stetchy sides, velcro and super absorbent space age polymers).

On past visits, I can seem to get one or the other, but never both.

Doug--try the seventh generation ones. They are thankfully unscented. Also fit most like Active Fit (used to use those when we lived in Europe) but make sure you buy the "new ones". The package will say they are new and improved--otherwise very bulky.

I think it might be a glitch in their manufacturing process because we bought a pack that had 6 diapers with where the right hand tab/strap was missing. Of course, whenever the baby was fussy and not cooperating is when I would pull out the diaper with the missing tab! I've complained about this but haven't heard back from them.

I've noticed the varying quality as well--the fuzzy logo versus the clear logo with the softer diaper. I expected it to be a transition. Since my son keeps growing taller but not wider and has been in size 4 Pampers for almost 6 months, I can say there does not appear to be a transition in manufacturing. I usually buy at Target, and some weeks you get the good ones and some weeks you get the weird ones. Glad I am not alone in noticing this...and caring.

Hi there,
I know you're all talking quality changes. But you sound unhappy with Pampers so I thought I'd chime in: I was a Pampers user for my first two children (born in '98 and '02). But even with a dollar coupon they are at the cheapest still around $9 a jumbo pack. Then a friend recommended CVS diapers and I have used them exclusively with our baby (14 months). I love Baby Snoopy on the Explorers Supreme. I've not felt the need to go back to Pampers. The price is terrific- I usually stock up when they are buy one get one free- (8.99 for a jumbo pack). We are using size 3s right now and I recently noticed the number of diapers has been reduced again, which will be universal. We had 42, now only 38. But gosh the price can't be beat- it is a very good diaper. I've had fewer leakages with CVS than I had while using Pampers. I see no reason to ever buy Pampers again, unless they can beat the 2 packages for 8.99 price. My only regret is all the money I overspent on Pampers for my first two children. I'm interested to find out if other Daddy Types have tried/are using CVS diapers. Oh, and you get a free package for every 10 or 11 (I forget) you buy. Makes up for all those expensive antibiotic prescriptions (maybe!)

[I read good comments on CVS diapers at, too. Frankly, I'd be happiest with a character-free, white diaper. 7G's the next best for looks, at least, just because that two/three-tone and all the cartoon characters show through Onesies and tights, etc., creating some pretty heinous VDL (visible diaper lines). -ed.]

Greg, the Pampers were fine until he really started to crawl and walk etc.. and then it was all leak all the damn time.

We're useing Active Fit here in Germany with no problems or changes that we can see.

Funny this seems to be the Diaper equivalent to the Sony Rootkit incident :D

We'll keep an eye out on the German market to make sure Pampers leaves our childrens butts alone ;)

Finally some resolution to this mystery. My boy Ben was born at St. Luke's Roosevelt on Sundat, Dec. 11th. The diapers they used there for new borns were the ones on the right, however when buying Pamper's Newborn Diapers at my local Eckerd or CVS what I brought home was almost twice the size.

Before we brought Ben home, I made sure to ask what kind of diapers they were using and made sure to pocket a few to boot (I think they expect you to take a few as they kept leaving us loads and loads).

I looked all over Brooklyn but came up with nada. I found some "preemies" at that looked like the same kind the hospital had. They were described as fitting up to 6lbs (Ben was not premature but was born 6.15 lbs). I order a couple and hope that jr. hasn't grown too big for them.

Another pal told me about Huggie's "Supreme" Newborn (which I can't seem to find anywhere in NYC). Guess he'll just keep soiling his Petite Bateau outfits until he grows into his diapers.

Now I am thinking that Pampers just made a goof. Man, I wonder if I should sneak back into Roosevelt Hospital.



Jonathan, I liked the Huggies supreme newborns. Bummer that you can't find them. Luvs newborns also worked great with the preemies I take care of!
And Greg, I'll take the white-character free diaper too. I love your comment re VDL!

I first encountered the "webbed" Pampers in a Costco box (back in the good old Costco Pampers days). They had a card inside that said something about them being an experimental model with a phone number to call with feedback. I actually found the webbed ones to be nice in the pre-solids days as they seem to keep the softer poop off the tenders bums a little better. However, now that we have the more solid poops and more voluminous pees, I much prefer the non-webbed version. I wish they gave you the choice.

I too saw the two types of Pampers swaddlers from June 05 to Nov 05. The "problem" existed in all sizes, N, 1, and 2. I don't think the core material was much different so I didn't see a leak issue, but the overall sizes were different so when you got to the limit of a size one would work and the other would simply be too small. The logo of course on the smaller one was also pretty faded and poor but at that age I don't think it matters much.

We have since switched to Pampers Cruisers, there high end line in sizes 3 and up and I have to say they are fantastic. The material is super soft, build quality is uniform, logos are bright and fun, and they can store so much without leaking it stretches the boundaries of chemistry and physics.

A little Haiku for y'all.

Twins. Change 10x/day.
Sam's Club by the case. Oh, they're
fabulous diapers

Check and see which country the poor quality Pampers are made. I was suprised to see a batch of the inferior Pampers we had were made in Mexico. (no offense to any Mexican readers)

We're happy with Huggies and Huggies are all still proudly made in the U.S.

I agree with the CVS comments above....I've been using them since newborn size...EXCELLENT.
I've tried other types here and there, but always stock up on CVS when they have the buy one get one sale...

we've tried 'em all and hands down prefer the el cheapo babies r us store brand. despite not being bulky, they're heavy doodie. we love 'em b/c: no leg gusset blowouts! nice roomy poo pouch and high waisted enough not to extrude up and out the bum crack! holds all the overnight pee output, thank god (he sleeps with us), and the velcro has a better grip than national brands we've tried. i think the best diaper depends on the baby's shape--ours is a beanpole no junk in the trunk boy. if you have a squid like ours, give them a try.

[you've definitely raised the descriptive bar around here, fp. nice work -ed.]

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