Your average infant will wear over 7,000 diapers before toilet trained. That’s a lot of money you are essentially throwing away. If your goal is to save money on diapers, you really should consider using cloth diapers that you wash yourself. If, however, you just can’t imagine doing so, there are other money saving tips I can offer. But first things first, let’s start by looking at cloth.
The Basics of Cloth Diapers and the Cost
Cloth diapers have changed a lot in the last 20 years or so. Unlike in my infancy where you would pin on a strip of bird’s eye fabric and then cover it with plastic pants, today’s cloth diapers are pre-folded, shaped, and are covered with a variety of comfortable, colorful and adjustable wraps.
The initial outlay is greater than with disposable diapers. You will need at least three to four diaper covers per day, and you should have at least twice that number available so covers can be washed and dried. Good quality covers will cost about $20 each.
The diapers can be purchased by the dozen and you will probably go through eight to ten per day. Again, you want enough for at least two days. Prices vary but contoured diapers will cost more than straight ones which run about $20 per dozen. Different sizes can be purchased to accommodate a growing child.
In the end, you can expect to spend about $20-$50 per month while your child is in diapers. This will include your supplies, washing and depreciation. Of course, you can reuse your supplies when the next child comes along, lowering the cost further.
Disposable Diapers Don’t have to be Prohibitive
If you choose to go with disposable diapers, you don’t have to purchase the most expensive brand. Find the cheapest diaper that fits your child well. It really does vary from brand to brand, by the way. A baby with chubby legs will do well with one type of diaper, while one with slender legs will do better in another. Only experimenting will let you know what works for your child.
Once you settle upon a brand, sign up for the company newsletter and coupon e-mails. This may not save you much, but believe me, this is a time when every penny counts.
You can also purchase your selection of diapers in bulk if you search online. A number of websites offer this service and will deliver to your door, free. Generally speaking you will spend about $40-$70 per month on disposable diapers and supplies.
Unfortunately, one of the costs few people consider when using diapers is that of the environmental impact. It is estimated that disposable diapers account for between 1.5-2% of the total volume of landfills worldwide. Additionally, there are significant concerns involved with the waste material leaching into ground waters. These factors are mitigated to some degree with cloth diapering, but that option increases water usage.
There really is no optimal solution one way or another from the environmental perspective. Financially, you pay more for the convenience of disposable diapers, about $20 per month, adding up to $720 over 3 years. Only you can decide if that price is too much to pay for ease.
This is part of the How to Save Money on Everything ebook. Get your free copy by signing up for the free frugal newsletter.