Diapers have expiration dates?? Why? How?

While opening up a new mega-box of 116 Pampers for infant RuffLlama, I was surprised to find “Expiration Date 12/31/06” on the plastic wrap encasing the two packages of 56 within.

Diapers expire? And apparently, faster than kitchen condiments? WTF?

I mean…what’s the Straight Dope on that?

It probably means that whatever chemicals and other junk are in the diaper that allow the parents to not have to change it for several hours after the baby pees might stop working by that time.


It might be time for us to switch back to G-Diapers.

What Rhiannon said, plus it could have to do with the stickiness of the fastening tabs. It’s not just food that expires.

my eleven cents,

What Rhiannon said, plus it could have to do with the stickiness of the fastening tabs. It’s not just food that expires.

(yes, yes, smartalecks! people, warranties, yes)

Or you just got an old box and the store you bought it at (I mean, at which you purchased it) isn’t very good about rotating stock.

my eleven cents,

Oh, man! Those are great! I used something like them with my son, only the liner was cloth and I washed them after dropping the poop in the toilet.

It’s to distract you from the fact that they shorted you eight diapers.

Or four.

mumble, mumble…

Dammit! Bad math teacher, bad! Can I blame distraction on my overtired baby who decided to skip a nap today? (Well, he’s down now, but a 7pm nap means a laaaaaaate bedtime, which is no fun either.)

I meant 58, I swear I did.

Dammit, I HATE it when that happens.

I was pretty surprised that the car seat has an expiration as well. My daughter’s car seat very specifically says “DO NOT USE AFTER 3/10/2012.” I assume thats the longest it can, say sit out in a garage (in the sun and freezing cold) before the plastic won’t be able to handle an accident safely. That and/or they want you to buy a new one every five years. What’s odd is I don’t think it says it anywhere in the instructions or on the box. It’s written write in the plastic, just raised up a bit, part of the mold. It’s very difficult to see if you don’t know it’s there.

I believe testing standards and technology change over time, so the standard “expiration date” now for all makes and models of car seats is 5-6 years.

No, no, no. That expiration date is for their “Gifts to Grow” promotion that’s going on now. You enter the 16+ digit code on their website for points used towards small gifts, typically Fisher Price stuff.

If you have no use - please share those numbers with me. I’ve got 40+ points and am shooting for a nice toy.

I’m not at home to look at this, but this isn’t a sticker, it’s actually molded into the plastic itself and as far as I know, there’s no 16 digit code, well their might be, just not one that this date would clearly be referring to. I can’t find a picture, but on the website (gracobaby.com) it says STOP USING THE CAR SEAT AND THROW IT AWAT AFTER THE DATE MOLDED ON THE BOTTOM. So I don’t think it has anything to do with points.

(I’m sorry about this hijack. But I keep reading the OP as “Dopers have expiration dates?” :smack:)

Diaper-slave dad of 2 speaking here…

Somebody mentioned fasteners and tabs going bad with age - not so much a problem with velcro fasteners. I don’t think I’ve seen a sticky fastener since my first was born, but that was only 3 years ago.

I suspect the culprit may be in the gel insert each diaper uses to absorb moisture. (If not a straight-out fabrication to encourage stock rotation…) The gels do change with age - they become stiffer and more prone to breaking when folded. Whether this changes their absorbing capabilities, I don’t know, but I would imagine that crumbling gels would be less effective.

That’s my theory, anyhow.

Ah, my statement was in specific response to the Pampers reference. I’ve never seen expiration dates for diapers, and I know that these stickers have exp dates and that nasty-ass long alpha-numeric code. Again, Ruff, if you don’t want to play can you email me the codes? I’m a promotion junkie!

I can see that car seats could have the plastic break down over time. I’ve some plastic things that sit in the hot (like a car) and will actually crumble when they’re old enough.

In wanton disregard for the wellbeing of my children, I’ve been known to use expired diapers. Specifically, when the oldest was successfully potty trained, we stashed the 2 unused mega-boxes of diapers we had in the basement, and used them on her younger sister 2 years later. I did see the expiration date, but after a quick examination of a sample diaper, I decided to risk it. All the diapers worked fine - no leaks, the sticky tabs stuck, no breakdown of the gel material.

On carseat expiration - here’s a carseat FAQ. They cite 3 reasons - plastic degradation, broken or missing parts, and newer safety standards making older seats obselete.

The gel doesn’t breakdown, exactly, but it does being to absorb water from the atmosphere, especially once you take them out of the plastic bag. Now, this is generally not a problem, as they can absorb much more, but since all (or almost all) manufacturers have some sort of “Leak Proof Guarantee!”, they’re not going to shoot themselves in the foot guaranteeing diapers which have too much atmospheric water in them by virtue of their age.

As the OP notes, they set the expiration date for not very far in the future - only a few months. I’m sure I have some diapers hanging around the house, or that I’ve passed on the the next-smallest-baby in the community, that are more than six months old. They’re a little crunchy with traces of absorbed and then dried out water, but they’ll mostly work just fine. For the one or two that will be used overnight and blow out, oh well. I’ll live with it, but I know I can’t get a refund from Pampers for it, because they’ve “expired”.

The only thing that could potentially break down would be the elastic around the legs and the waist, but that would take a whole lot more than 6 months!

I have never even thought to look for an expiration date on diapers - now I know!

[Emily Lattella]Nevermind[/EL]