“Chinese cheapies” – good or bad?

First to start–a lot of people take offense to the term “Chinese cheapies”. It’s loaded term, so of course asking if it’s good or bad, more people are likely to assume they’re bad right off the bat. I even cringe when writing it, so for the rest of this post, I’ll be referring to them as LPD (low-priced diapers) because it’s more neutral, not all of them are actually made in China, and the cost is one of the biggest things to set these apart from bigger name labels and from WAHM diapers. (Note: If someone does have a better term, let me know and I’ll update this post. I just haven’t read any others that define them as a subset of diapers.) Some of these brands include Alvababy, Kawaii Baby, Langsprit, Babygoal, and Sunbaby. You can look at places like Amazon, ebay, and Alibaba if you want to find a bajillion other brand names. Protip: Some of these are even the same diapers, just produced under different brand labels. For example, Alvababy is known to produce diapers for other companies.

So why do LDPs create such divided opinions?

There are actually a lot of reasons people choose to stay away. Let’s go back to high school economics and remember that to reduce prices, you have to reduce costs. To make a cheaper price point, they likely divert money away from other parts of production such as:

    Materials – Like using synthetic fibers over organic bamboo and hemp materials
    Construction – More prone to cause rips, delaminations, relaxed elastics, or other damages

    Quality Assurance – Warranty might be shorter, require you to pay postage to return it, or not have a warranty at all

    Certificates – Doesn’t follow standards compliance from Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) or requirements from Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC)
    Customer Service – Poor or non-existent
    Workers – Poor wages or working conditions
    Copyright – Stealing designs or not using original, hard-to-find designs.

There are ethical implications when thinking about worker conditions. Factory conditions in China and abroad are well beyond my knowledge, so I won’t pretend to be an expert. Certainly not all factories are horrendous, but it can be hard to tell which manufacturers might be. Needless to say, those who care deeply about this topic might be more inclined to pay a little more knowing the workers are taken care of.

It’s important to keep in mind that not everyone cares about all of these areas of production. If you wouldn’t reach out to customer service even if your diaper broke, then what would it matter if they are really slow to answer emails?

On the product-side, you get what you pay for. Going cheaper will always be a gamble in quality. And quality may be inconsistent from diaper to diaper. Buying replacements might end up costing you more in the long run. True, higher end brands can fall apart and be inconsistent as well, but they generally have more quality control and are more willing to replace any defects.

There’s the reality that not every mom can afford a full stash of quality expensive diapers. For those with limited budgets, it can be a godsend. Personally, I likely wouldn’t have tried out cloth diapering if it weren’t for them. I say this because when I originally looked at high-priced diapers, I was discouraged. It looked like a huge investment up front for something I only wanted to experiment with. Once I saw that cheap options existed, I felt a lot more comfortable trying it. I’ve seen arguments that some who started with LDPs and had them fall apart ended up running for the mountains, thinking they were all like that. They still had to try it to decide it wasn’t for them. I wouldn’t have even gotten scared off if I never tried.

It also disheartens me to see mom-shaming going on when people admit they use these cheaper brands. As if they are less of a mom because they don’t have the resources for more expensive brands or they just don’t care for higher quality ones. Just like the argument about breastfeeding vs. formula… go with what works with you. It may just be worthwhile to take some time and explore both options so you can make an informed decision about what aspects you value, how much you are willing to risk, and how much you want to pay upfront.

The point I want to drive home is that don’t be a jerk and mom-shame. And do research before you buy, regardless of which route you take.