Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saving Money on Baby's Diapers

Diapers can be an enormous drain on a parent's bank account! We estimated a budget of $40 per month for diapers before having our little one last June. Some things we have done to help meet or reduce this $40/month cost:

1) Diaper samples! I got all the diapers below for free via online samples from Costco (you don't have to be a member to take advantage of samples!) and Walmart. I suggest Googling "diaper samples" or "free diapers" and some of the results will be to enter your name/address/email and they'll send you 2-4 diapers of a new brand or type to try. Sure, it may open you to spam, but my email has a pretty good filtering system. Free diapers are worth it to me.
2) Try Target's newer store brand (Up & Up). They cost quite a bit less than the name brands. Admittedly, we did not use them until size 3, so I can't swear that they'll work as well for a newborn. Beware, they aren't as soft as a name brand. However, they cost approximately $0.13 per diaper as compared to $0.24 for the name brand (size 3 pricing). We were using the Target brand during the day and the name brand at night. It worked for us.

3) We have a friend who works at a hospital. He offered to buy us the name brand diapers the hospital uses at a HUGE discount. We stocked up on the name brand newborn, size 1 and size 2 diapers for awhile and diapered our little one for a lot less. The cost per diaper was approximately $0.18 per diaper.

4) Then we got crazy. We bought some  Cloth Diapers
. I NEVER thought I would be a cloth diaper person.

I researched them and at first was overwhelmed by the choices available for cloth diapering. Prefolds (think old-school) are still common. These are the white diapers held together with a "snappi", which replaces a diaper pin, and covered with plastic pants. Then there are "pocket diapers" which are what we're using. Shown below is the diaper:
It has a pocket on the inside where one places the liner:If the diaper is wet, the liner is removed and thrown into the washable diaper pail liner. I made our diaper pail liners out of fleece (cost: approximately $9 for two bags). They could have been purchased for $12 apiece. If the diaper is soiled, it shakes out into the toilet and then diaper and liner are thrown into the diaper pail .

These diapers were not inexpensive. At about $18/diaper with 2 liners, they must be used about 75 times each before one breaks even on the investment. We have 12 diapers (which is enough for us). 75 x 12 = 900. After 900 changes (at approx. 6-7 changes per day) after 5 months of cloth diaper use, we'll break even.

The reason we went with the expensive diapers was because they actually change size. The legs and the waist have elastic that adjusts with buttons. This means as our child grows, they will still fit. The sizing chart says they would fit a newborn (7#) up to potty training (35#).

The washing isn't too strenuous. It would be much easier if our washer & dryer were not in the basement. We just empty the diaper pail liner into the washer, do a 'cold rinse' cycle with out any detergent. Then we do a 'hot wash' cycle with detergent. I hang them to dry on the rack in the basement to prolong their life. We'd like to use them on subsequent children to maximize our cost savings on disposable diapers.

Two caveats we've found:
~They aren't absorbent enough to be used overnight. We use a disposable diaper for overnight on our little one.
~Laundry detergent without any softeners must be used. The regular detergents found in the grocery store cause buildup with softeners and fragrances. I found a detergent without any additives at Trader Joe's (a wonderful grocery store) that isn't too expensive and appears to be working just fine. However, the 'recommended' detergents are only available online or from fancy grocery stores like Whole Foods. I may try one of these fancy detergents when I run out of my current TJ brand.

At this point, we've got cloth diapering down pretty well. I change our little guy 's cloth diapers 6-7x/day (plus one disposable diaper at night, assuming he sleeps all night!) For us, the cost savings will be worth it. We've been doing the cloth since February, so by July (5 months of cloth), we'll begin reaping our savings. If we cloth diaper a second child, we could be saving over $1,000 just not buying diapers. It all depends on when a child potty trains. Unpredictable at this point.


  1. I admire you for this. I don't think I could do it.

  2. I can't believe we're doing it, either. I was very against cloth before we had G. I simply see it as a way to decrease cost.

  3. there are all kinds of sites to show you how to make cloth diapers. I did cloth at home and when we were out and about the disposables.
    My daughter in law wants to use cloth so I am looking into cost of fabric for that. Am glad to see that lot of folks are doing cloth diapers!


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