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The Real Cost of Diapers

Have you ever wondered how much it costs for baby diapers. I think you may be shocked when you see it written down. I know that I certainly was. Diapers as you may be aware are made by several well known brands like Pampers, Huggies and Luvs. If you ignore all the advertising and the marketing gimics that go on, and get right down to brass tacks, the average cost of a disposable diaper is $0.25.

​The way I like to remember that is for every 4 diapers used you will spend $1. Now please note that this will vary depending on which type you buy, but on the law of averages this is what I have found, an average cost to be.

​Cost of Disposable Diapers

​This varies quite a bit and a new born will change diaper sizes throughout their first year. However we have looked at averages to give you a pretty accurate indication. A new born baby gets about 8-10 changes per day at the start. As they start to sleep through the night this drops to around 6-8 changes per day. It will eventually reduce down to around 4-6 diaper changes a day.

​When you do all of the sums, the figure for this comes in at a pretty staggering 3,000 in the first year. Now take the average cost at $0.25 per diaper and multiply them together and you get $750. Well that shocked me for sure!!! 

What Options Do You Have To Reduce This Cost?

Well, the baby needs to be changed regularly, so it is not possible to cut back on the number of changes. Therefore you can really only do one of two things. That is consider the options of:

  • Using cloth diapers
  • Try buying them cheaper or getting coupons

Most Moms have never considered using cloth diapers, mainly because of the hassle and actually having to clean them. The other question is do they really save you money in the first place. Let's have a look at that and see if in fact, cloth diapers actually do save you money at all?

The Real Cost of Cloth Diapers

The manufacturers of cloth diapers go to great lengths to point out, that one of the main benefits of using these, rather than disposables is the amount of money you can save. Let's check that out and see if they are right in making such a claim. I think it is also worth pointing out at this stage, that this debate has raged for many years as to which is the cheapest. People do have different opinions on this. What I have stated below is from my own experiences.

The average price of a cloth diaper is approximately $1.25 and you will need to make around 8 changes a day. So to be able to change a baby 8 times a day, and do one weekly wash, you will need around 60 of these. When you look at the different sizes required this will probably go up to around double that figure. So your total outlay on cloth diapers would be 120 x $1.25 which is about $150.

 Then you also have the cost of liners for these and on average they cost about $8 per 100 liners. So in a year the cost of those would be 3,000 changes that need 3,000 liners, which is 30 packs at $8 per pack and that is $240. So the cost so far is $150 for 60 cloth diapers and $240 for liners which is $390 so far. Now again many ladies say they don't use liners, and some say they use sprays instead. When I used cloth diapers I used liners.

Remember that the cost of disposable diapers for a year was $750. So far ten cloth diapers are around half the price of disposables. However they need to be cleaned and you have to figure in detergent, power costs and drying costs.

I don't want to get over technical in this, so I can reliably inform you that the cost to wash per cloth diaper for both detergent and power is about $0.20 cents per diaper. So, if you wash 60 diapers a week the cost would be $12, and if you multiply that by 52 weeks, the cost would be $624. So add that cost to the $390 and you get a total cost of $390 plus $624 which is $1,014 compared to the $750 for disposables.

Now I know that many people will disagree with my figures and I fully respect that. I can only talk about my own experience. The cost of energy varies a lot depending on where you live. It also depends on the weather as well. If you are in a warm climate then clearly your energy costs will be a great deal lower.​

So the next time you hear someone "lecturing us" on the cost saving benefits of cloth diapers, you may want to ask them to justify those claims. I didn't even bother to add on the cost of plastic pants. There will always be people who swear that cloth diapers are cheaper. Personally for me I found that was just not  the case, never mind the inconvenience.

These same people also talk about looking after the environment by using cloth diapers. Let's have a very brief look at that as well.

Yes, disposable nappies do cause a land fill problem but will eventually disintegrate. Surely liners for cloth diapers also need to be disposed of, and then you have the environmental cost of producing the power to wash them. Now I am no expert on the environment, but I will wager that one cost will easily balance out the other.

cost of diapers

Try Buying Your Disposable Diapers Cheaper

There are a number of ways that you can try and do this. There are cheaper brands, the option to buy in bulk, find coupons and look for special offers. All of those should be considered if you have the time to do that. The problem for most busy Moms is they they simply don't have the time.

Understanding Disposable Diapers

You may find this helpful as I know I did when I first encountered "Diaper World." They come in size different sizes from 1-6. Now here is a table below showing which size you need for your baby.

SizeWeight Range
Newbornup to 10 lbs
1up to 14 lbs
212-18 lbs
316-28 lbs
422-37 lbs
5More than 27 lbs
6More than 35 lbs

So as you can see from the table, these sizes can change very quickly, and in some cases in a matter of weeks. Personally I would avoid cheaper brands. I tried this myself and they were useless in terms of a proper fit and leaking.

The other myth I would like to dismiss is this notion of buying in bulk. Please don't do that as the sizes change too quickly, and you can left with many diapers that will never be used. Coupons and offers are the best way to go in my opinion. Most Moms find a brand that they like and work best for their baby. After that, you want to check if there are any coupons available.

There are always good bargains to be had if you just look for coupons, or special offers for your chosen brand. Like many new Moms I had to make the decision about which was the better option for diaper choice. In the end I opted for disposable instead of cloth diapers. Primarily my reason for doing this was convenience, but I was glad to find out that going for cloth diapers, would have in reality not have been the cheapest option.