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Companies bet parents won't pinch pennies for baby

Are parents suckers for products regardless of price? The news came out yesterday that the makers of both Pampers and Huggies will raise the price of diapers, blaming increased commodities' costs. The Wall Street Journal notes that the companies are betting that parents are less likely to be stingy when it comes to junior's needs. Is it a good bet? Or will we turn to generic or roll up our sleeves and use cloth?

It turns out the same reason you cringe at the gas station is the reason diaper prices are going up. As diaper analyst Andrew Urban told Public Radio's Marketplace, "The absorbency in a diaper is really due to super absorbent polymer, which is a petroleum-based derivative." According to oil products expert Ian Butler, Pampers, Luvs and Huggies are all expected to go up "a couple of dollars a box" in price this year.

Since 90 percent of parents use disposable diapers, could this be the motivation needed to turn to cloth diapering? I doubt it. Could it prompt more parents to go generic? Quite possibly but I do recall finding that with cheap diapers, you had a lot more blowouts and messed up clothes, making the savings feel painful.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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Posted by Sharon Wynne at 7:00:00 am on April 26, 2011