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Go on, admit it. You saw a great deal in your local store for diapers and stocked up on them, thinking you were saving money. However when you got home, to your horror you realised they were too small, too big, or you bought the wrong ones by mistake.
Buying a large number of diapers seems like a good idea, as you can save money and it means you don’t have to purchase them again for a while. But if you’ve made the mistake of buying the wrong diaper size, or if you’ve bought in bulk only for your baby to outgrow them, don’t worry, as there’s usually a solution. Fortunately, most stores will allow you to return or exchange diapers for a different size. You should just ensure the packs are unopened and you have some proof of purchase i.e. the original receipt or credit card statement. Furthermore, most online retailers and baby registry services should also allow you to exchange diapers for another size.
Why do some parents buy the wrong diaper size?
There are a few different reasons why parents end up buying the wrong diaper size (and sometimes it really isn’t their fault).
- For example, many parents buy diapers with the plus symbol i.e. 3+ or 4+, thinking it’s a mid size between two different ages e.g. 3+ is for kids between 3 and 4. However, it doesn’t mean this at all as it refers to the added absorbency of the diapers, which provide more leakage protection.
- Another reason might be when parents stock up on a newborn size nappy before the big day, only for their baby to be bigger than they expected!
- Thirdly, parents might buy too many of one size to save some money and their baby has a growth spurt and the diapers become too small.
Can you exchange diapers for a different size?
The short answer is, yes. You shouldn’t have any trouble exchanging diapers in most stores providing you show the receipt at customer service and return the unopened pack of diapers. Of course there will be some slight different policies between retailers, such as how long after your purchase you can exchange them, and whether you can return a pack of diapers you’ve opened accidentally. Here are the policies of some of the leading retailers:
As of 2022, Walmart will allow you to return or exchange diapers as long as you do it within 90 days. Furthermore, even if you have opened up a pack of diapers, you can exchange them but only for the same product or another item which has a similar pricing point.
Target have a very similar policy to Walmart. You can return opened or unopened packs of diapers as long as you do it within 90 days and you will receive a refund or you can exchange them for something else.
Costco have a very generous return policy. They don’t put a time limit on when you can return or exchange diapers. You’re free to pop into the store, show your receipt or membership number to show proof of purchase and get a full refund or exchange it for something else. However, if you’re thinking of returning other items, make sure you check their website carefully as some things have to be returned with 90 days.
What if you don’t have a receipt?
If you’ve misplaced your receipt you don’t need to worry. As long as you have some other proof of purchase, such as a credit card statement then you should be fine. Alternatively, if you have a store loyalty card you may be able to see your purchase when you login online.
How do you exchange diapers you received as a gift?
If you’ve received some diapers as a baby shower gift from a friend of relative, you can exchange them. Depending on the retailer policy you should be able to pop in to most stores or ship it back. You’ll either get a refund on the gift card or you can exchange the diapers for something else.
Exchanging diapers online?
If you’ve purchases some diapers via an online retailer, you should be able to easily initiate a refund via your account. There should be an option to select ‘return item’ or something similar, and then you can print out a label and send the product back. However, you may be able to get a replacement item instead of a refund (Walmart offer this service).
Can you exchange cloth diapers?
You should be fine as many retailers will have the same policy of returning cloth diapers as disposable ones. However, it may be tougher to return cloth diapers if the pack is opened, and you certainly won’t be able to give them back if you’ve already used them!
What can you do if you can’t exchange a pack of diapers?
If you’re in the unfortunate position that you can’t exchange a pack of diapers, then you could donate them. You may have a childcare centre near you who would be grateful for some baby products. Alternatively, you could give them to a local shelter. Some charities may come round to your home to pick them up if it’s more convenient. However, if you’ve already opened the pack of diapers, just check in advance if these places will still accept them. Finally, you could always just give them to a friend who’s expecting a baby, or if the diapers are too big, just keep them for when your baby needs them!
Is it better for diapers to be too big or too small?
It depends on when you need to use the diapers, but neither are good options really. If you’ve bought some which are too big, you can obviously keep them for when your baby is bigger. But if you need to use them right now, a diaper that’s too large can leak. However, this can also happen with smaller diapers as they won’t have enough absorbent material to soak up all the pee and poop.
How can you tell if a diaper is too small?
Here are some signs that a diaper is too small for your baby, and you either need to return or exchange the pack for something else.
- The fastening tabs on ordinary diapers (not pull-ups) don’t reach the centre of your baby’s waist.
- There are red marks around the waist and thighs when you take off the diaper.
- The diaper is really soaking wet when you only did a recent nappy change.
What can you do with diapers that are too small?
If you can’t exchange them or get a refund, you can give them to a friend, keep them if you’re planning on a second baby or donate them to a shelter, charity or childcare centre.
How many diapers do you really need?
One the main mistakes parents make with diapers is buying too many of them. Babies can get through a staggering 2000-2200 diapers in their first year so it’s easy to see why it makes sense to stock up on them. However, you have to remember that newborns have more frequent bowel movements than older babies, so the number of diaper changes should reduce month by month in the first year. On average newborns may need 10-12 diaper changes per day in the first month, which is a whopping 300 diapers! But by month 5, they may only need 8 diaper changes a day.
Essentially you shouldn’t have anything to worry about if you purchased the wrong size diaper for your little one. Just return them online or face-to-face in a store and exchange it for a smaller or larger size. However, just check the return policy carefully. It seems some places have a strict 90 day policy where as others don’t have a time limit at all.
Try to avoid buying too many diapers in bulk. An offer may look enticing, but if your baby has a growth spurt you might be stuck with loads of extra diapers that you don’t need. If you see a reduction on some diapers in a store, by all means take advantage of it. Just don’t fill the trolley with them!
Graham is a father of two who founded Dadometer to share his parenting journey with other moms and dads.