Diapers – How to Save Money

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There’s an argument to be had for both sides of the great diaper divide. For us, cloth diapers are a no brainer. In all the prior generations, my family never made the switch to disposables. Cloth was always the answer.

It doesn’t make sense to use disposables, especially when the “affordable” ones can contain chemicals and plastics. It’s something babies don’t need against their skin and something the landfill definitely doesn’t need. The traditional sense of diapering for our generation has moved towards disposables, as if creating tons of waste and literally throwing money away is what we were born to do.

In order to make the case for cloth diapers, we’ll look at 2 years worth of diapering for one baby. It’s important to preface that much like disposables, commercialism has changed cloth diapers with it’s themed covers and “trendy” fashion fabrics.

Along with cloth diapers typically comes cloth wipes and liners. While family’s can mix and match their needs between cloth and disposable items, for illustration sake, we’ll be doing all cloth for the cloth calculations and all disposable for the throw-away calculations.

Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapering usually has a larger upfront cost but the long term is where the savings adds up. It’s also something that can be accumulated over time during the pre and post natal periods. Looking for holiday sales and used lots from other cloth families can help. **If getting cloth diapers used, make sure to thoroughly strip and sanitize them!

Thrift/sale diapering start up cost:
Fabric specific/fashion diapering start up cost:

If you’re leaning into the hype around fashion diapers and specific fabrics, then we’re talking anywhere from $5 to $16 per diaper. This drastically changes one’s start up costs, we’re looking at $180 to $576 for 36 diapers.

Typically cloth diapers, no matter the price, will come with inserts. We may also need to consider cloth liners and wipes to make clean up easier. Cloth liners are usually made from fleece or bamboo. We prefer fleece but it’s not a big deal if all you can find is bamboo.

Cloth liners are great because you can usually find them for just $0.70 to $1. I’d recommend keeping at least as many as you have diapers, if not a tad more. So for 36 liners, we’re looking at $25.20 to $36. Cloth wet wipes are similar in cost, running around $40 for a 80+ pack with a wet and travel container. Let’s also not forget the wet bag, we recommend having at least two and these typically run $10 each.

Total cloth diapering estimate (higher side)

Thrift/on sale: $231

Fashion diapers: $672

While cloth diapers can wear out or become damaged with time, wear and tear, and incorrect washing habits – the higher-end costs still align with cost saving goals of many families. Alternative to fitted cloth diapers, receiving blankets or potato sack cloths can be used.

Disposable Diapers

Disposable diapers have come a long way. There’s plastic and non-plastic options, some services even offer composting. A lot of the brands that are better for the environment and land fills are significantly more expensive so let’s look at the options.

In all my research, the cheapest disposables by far are the ones purchased in bulk at Sam’s club. We’re talking 16 cents each. The typical baby will go through about 6,200 disposable diapers over the course of two years. That mean’s we’re looking at about $992 for the cheapest diapers. Keep in mind, I’m unsure how well they hold up and it’s possible more would be needed.

The more popular consumer brands like Huggies run about 33 cents each – costing $2,046 over two years. While premium organic brands run about 40 cents or more, coming out to $2,480.

In addition to diapers, we also need to run the cost of potential liner usage and wipes. Disposable liners cost about 11 cent each meaning they’ll run a minimum of $682 while wet wipes average 5 cents with most parents using about 30 wipes per day. That’s 21,900 wipes over two years, running $1,095.

Total disposable diapering estimate

Cheapest: $2,769

Popular Brand: $3,823

Luxury/organic: $4,257

The numbers speak for themselves. One could save nearly $2,538 over the course of two years with the cheapest option and $3,585. While it may not seem like a lot, in the grand scheme of things, we can set that money aside in a custodial account. After 21 years, the account would be turned over to the young adult with around 57k to 85k depending on initial opening amount invested with $0/m contribution. Maximize the return by matching to make a flat $5,000 investment for the child’s future and come out on top with around 110k ($0/m contribution) to an estimated 195k ($50/m contribution). They may not go to university, a degree is pretty meaningless now, but it’ll give them a safety net with little cost to the parents!





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