Saturday, April 20, 2019

Little Journey Small Strides Baby Diapers (Aldi)

Solid performance at a great price!
As pretty much everyone in the world knows, diapers are expensive. Even if you don't have children, your parenting friends have probably casually mentioned this to you at least a thousand times over the course of conversations that have nothing to do with babies or finances. Unfortunately, they are also completely necessary. As tempting as it might be to tape a plastic bag to your child just to save a few bucks sometimes, that's obviously not a logical (or hygienic) approach. (Can you imagine the looks on the faces of stunned parents as you whipped out a tape gun and plastic bag in the changing station of your local mall? Come to think of it, that could be a funny public skit idea...) 

Of course, there are alternatives—the main one being cloth diapers—but those require higher upfront costs and ongoing maintenance (constant washing), not to mention the learning curve of figuring out which of the half-dozen different kinds of cloth diapers will work best for you. There's a big reason disposables are the most popular kind of diaper on the market, and it's the same reason most things become popular: convenience. People are lazy, and no one wants to deal with extra loads of laundry every couple of days. At least, I know I don't. 

It shouldn't come as much of a shock that Aldi's Little Journey line, which showed up in stores literally two months before we had our little guy back in 2016 (I swear they plan their product lines around us half the time!) offer some of the most “inexpensive” diapers on the market, even besting the prices of those in some membership clubs. But as we also know, price is only half of the equation: a good price just isn't a good deal if a product sucks. So how well do Little Journey diapers perform? Let's take a look! 

Each pack comes with two styles: "Animal" (left) and "Boring" (right)
Just to reinforce parenting stereotypes, I'm pretty laid back when it comes to most aspects of parenting. My wife, on the other hand, is the polar opposite of me: This is the woman who refused to take our son ice skating at two years old because she was afraid he would fall too many times and hurt himself (actually, when you're a kid, falling and sliding on the ice is the best part anyway, and I swear kids don't feel pain when they're having fun). She's also the reason why I had to literally wait until she left the house to change his diaper for the first time when he was three months old, because she was afraid I would do it wrong. (Aww, her heart's in the right place.) Needless to say, she's also the type that has to make sure all of his clothes are carefully coordinated to match, down to the socks, any time we go out in public. 

For these reasons, I just give her free rein to decide every aspect of the products she uses on our child, from wipes, to lotions, to shampoos and soaps—and of course, diapers are included in that bunch. Thanks to a baby shower, we had quite the stash of various name brand diapers to test out, and after going through those, she bought even more brands to try, attempting to find the perfect mix of performance and value. It probably wasn't until some time after the six month mark that she even gave Little Journey diapers a try, hesitant that they would cause some kind of rash, or constant blowouts. As such, this review also blends her perspectives along with my own to give you a more accurate, thorough examination.

Let's just say after she was finally willing to give them a shot, we haven't gone back to using anything else (except for the odd “emergency situation” where they were out of stock, or whatever.)

Now that's not to say they are her favorite diaper overall, or that they are even the “best diaper” on the market...and probably not by a long shot. She prefers the more “natural” brands, that “naturally” cost twice as much (or more!) than other disposables. You know, the ones with names and packaging that look like they're trying too hard to convince you that they are worth the price increase, because piss and shit looks better in their diapers, or something. However, when cost is factored in, she finds that Little Journey offers the best balance between the two: blowouts and leaks are rare (and generally only happened when we needed to go up a size), they have never broken out his skin, and they can hold a lot (how can such a little person have so much waste?), arguably the three most important features of a diaper. Leaks have occurred a few times overnight, but not enough to where it's any sort of ongoing problem (and could also be from user error, or extra liquid intake the night before), they are very stretchy and easy to put on (as most are) and seem to be comfortable for him, as he's never complained or acted like they bother him. The light animal designs are also cute, and make them a little more “fun” than a plain diaper would be. 

If this lining doesn't scream "Comfort!", I don't know what does.
The only downside I can think of (aside from the occasional leakage) is that these don't have the color-changing “wetness indicator” strips that other brands have (though maybe that's why they're cheaper?). My wife was disappointed to learn these were without, but has easily adapted to where she no longer misses it. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, it's really kind of a pointless feature—how hard is it to tell if a diaper is full of piss or not?--but it can be nice to have in certain rushed situations and save you from wasting a diaper by changing one that doesn't really need changed.

Onto the value: Aldi offers their diapers in two case sizes: soft packs, which surprisingly come in soft packs, and club size, which are larger and come in boxes. Curiously, club packs are only offered beginning with size 3 and up through 6, though I guess from their limited-inventory standpoint that makes some sense as babies seem to grow quicker in their early years (we had to give away several packs of newborn and size 1 diapers that we had received because he outgrew them so quickly). However, the price for all soft packs (with varying numbers of diapers in each) are $4.99 in our area, while the larger club packs offer almost three times as many for $10.99—even at size 6 where you only get 60 diapers per box, that works out to just $.18 per diaper! (Keep in mind that pricing varies by region, so your stores might be more or less expensive.)

If you're a parent looking for ways to cut some costs--and unless you're a rich prick, you should be--the whole Little Journey's line offers up some great products for your little one, and at great prices to boot; their diapers are no exception. A reminder if you're still a little hesitant about having your baby soil an unknown brand of diaper, remember that you really don't have anything to lose thanks to Aldi's money-back satisfaction guarantee!

Overall: 8.5/10. They aren't perfect (what is?) but Little Journey diapers provide the best balance of performance-to-value out of any brand that we've tried (and we've tried at least a dozen): Blowouts and leakage are rare, they've never broken out our baby's skin, have cute little designs, are easy to put on and remove, and seem to be comfortable for him. They are missing the color-changing wetness indicator that many brands have, but despite being disappointed by that at first, we've learned to adapt to it and only miss it on rare occasions. They have two sizes available: soft packs, which are smaller, and club size boxes, with prices ranging from around $.10 per diaper, up to just $.23, offering incredible value compared to most other brands. If you don't have time to clip coupons or hunt for deals, these are a great go-to option, provided you have an Aldi store near you. If they can win my wife's seal of approval, then they will more than likely do the same for you!

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