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The ‘poop’ on diaper pails

Consumer Reports News: December 31, 2008 11:08 AM

In the market for a diaper pail? Here’s the lowdown on this necessary nursery product to help you pick the right one and make diaper duty easier.

Don’t be swayed by capacity. Diaper-pail makers claim pails hold between 24 and 50-plus disposable diapers, although our tests have shown that capacity is often overstated, so you have to empty the pail sooner than you think. Keep in mind that diaper-pail capacity decreases as your baby grows into bigger diapers.

Look for a child-resistant lid. A disposables pail, which can also be used as a “dry” pail for cloth diapers, should have a child-resistant locking button or mechanism that makes it difficult for a child to break in, such as a step-pedal opener. Be especially careful with pails that use regular garbage bags; this thin plastic film is a suffocation hazard. A wet pail requires a locking lid to prevent any young child from falling in; children can drown in an inch of water.

Consider comfort. If you’re going the cloth route and choose a wet pail, pick one with a pouring lip and comfortable handles.

Ease of use. In general, diaper pails have gotten easier to use, but a pedal or motion detector opening mechanism makes disposal faster and easier. Consider height, too. A taller pail, such as the Diaper Genie II Elite, means you won’t have to bend as far to ditch your diapers. When you’re changing diapers all day, every day, anything that helps you out is a plus.

Consider add-on costs. Some pails require special plastic liners, which add to the cost of diapering, while others use regular garbage or plastic bags. The cost of refills will depend on the brand of diaper pail you choose. Standard garbage bags are not specially designed to trap odors, but diaper-pail liners are, which contributes to their cost. Depending on the sensitivity of your nose, you may feel the extra cost is worth it.

See our reports on diaper pails, disposable diapers, and cloth diapers for related information.


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