How to Save Cash on Diapers

If you're the parent of an infant or if you are expecting, finding cheap diapers is probably on the top of your must-save-cash-somehow list. Fortunately, diapers don't have to break the bank. Unfortunately, finding these little pockets of absorbency on the cheap isn't always easy. But if you follow a few basic save-cash-on-diapers rules, you can walk away with a little savings in your pocket. Here's what I found through trial and error with my first daughter.

Go Cloth

Before my daughter was born, I had all sorts of wonderful planet-saving, cash-conserving ideas about using cloth diapers. I was going to use only cloth diapers from the get-go, and suddenly the landfills would be less full and my pocketbook would be bursting at the seams. Obviously, that didn't go as planned, and here's why:

  • Cloth Needs to be Purchased Early – To get the most bang for your buck, using cloth diapers in the first three months is key because you'll be going through ten to fifteen diapers per day during that three month newborn stage. At about three months, diapering slows to five to ten per day. Math whizzes can instantly see that at 32 cents per wash load for cloth versus 13 cents per diaper with disposables, cloth wins. (For those less gifted in mathematics, like me, see my long math** at the bottom of the page.) After all the calculations are complete, it's easy to see that buying cloth before baby arrives can help you cash in on savings. Tip: using disposables in the first couple days of meconium poo will save you headaches!
  • Cloth is a Commitment – Realizing that cloth diapering is a lot of work that takes an upfront cash investment and a long term personal investment of time and energy can actually help you stick with it. In my case, I bought two cloth diapers (a total lack of commitment in itself), and I didn't mentally prepare myself for the work involved. So, after I tried it out for a while, it was very easy to decide that my small investment in cloth diapers wasn't worth the hassle. Per my mommy friends' advice, though, purchasing at least two days worth of diapers can increase your personal investment and decrease the chances that you'll throw in the burp rag and quit.

Saving on Disposables

If you know you're not interested in cloth despite the savings, you can still save on disposables in two ways: either buy generic or stack coupons with sales for name brands. I tried out both savings systems, and for my lifestyle and my baby, generic diapers worked best. Why? Well, quite honestly, I don't have the time or inclination to watch sales and match with coupons. For those moms and dads who do enjoy a good hunt, though, many websites geared toward baby savings can help you find the best name brand deals in town. But in my case, grabbing a package of Target's Up and Up brand saves a Buttpaste-load of cash.

So that's my foray into baby diapering costs! If I missed anything or miscalculated, let me know. Otherwise, feel free to chime in with tips on how you save on diaper costs – we love to hear from our MV readers!

**Here's my math for cloth versus disposables: washing cloth costs about 32 cents per hot wash cycle with two cycles minimum needed per diaper load; disposables cost 13 cents per diaper. For the first three months of diapering, cloth costs $73.04 [$0.32 x 2 hot washes x 3 days per week x 12 weeks plus $50 initial cloth purchase (1/4 of $200 total purchase price)]; disposables cost $175.50 (0.13 x 15 per day x 30 days x 3 months). The rest of year one costs $226.80 ($0.32 x 2 hot washes x 3 days per week x 40 weeks plus 3/4 of initial cloth purchase) for cloth and $280.80 (0.13 x 8 per day x 30 days x 9 months) for disposables. As you go through the following months, cloth will continue to cost even less since you'll no longer have to account for the initial purchase price, and if you use the same cloth diapers on subsequent children, the savings will be higher.

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Anonymous's picture

Mandy @MoneyMasterMom wrote:

Tue, 11/06/2012 - 12:41 Comment #: 1

Looks like we have some similar passions. I'm with you, I love saving cash, but I went disposable..... I just didn't have the cloth commitment in me. Great site, I'll surely be back again!

Anonymous's picture

femmefrugality wrote:

Tue, 11/06/2012 - 18:00 Comment #: 2

Just don't get the rite-aid brand! They're terrible. Up&Ups are great. We also do Luvs as they're usually cheaper per/diaper if we know the store brand sucks.

Anonymous's picture

Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter wrote:

Thu, 11/08/2012 - 16:02 Comment #: 3

We don't have kids yet but being the green queen I am we will be doing cloth. They aren't that much work really.

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Fri, 11/16/2012 - 12:20 Comment #: 4

Welcome to the site Mandy, my fellow frugal-yet-use-disposables mom! I look forward to checking out your site!

FF, I haven't tried many of the generics besides Up and Up, but I did purchase my first package of Luvs yesterday when I couldn't make it to Target. Glad to hear they're okay in your opinion...and I'll be sure to stay away from Rite Aid!

Miss T, you are right: cloth isn't a huge amount of work. It is undeniably more work than disposables, but it is quite doable (setting up a baby play area in the laundry room is key, I've heard). As for the environment, thankfully the disposables are made to biodegrade better nowadays. But cloth is definitely still King. Good luck in your future cloth endeavor!

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