Saving on Diapers: The Bottom Line

My wife and I are the parents of two boys, ages 3 and 19 months. When we were pregnant with our kids (yes, even the second son, because apparently the first one being alive did nothing for our childrearing reputation), the unsolicited advice rolled in faster than a Big Papi homerun ball bounces across Landsdowne Street. “Let him cry it out.”

“Swaddle him.”

“Don’t co-sleep.”

“A little whiskey for teething.”

“Breast is best.”

“Nothing wrong with formula.” 

But the single most shared piece of advice was: “Start a college savings plan immediately.” Education, we were told, will break your bank. 

That may well be true, but it’s not the only king of expenses in a house with kids. The bottom line – literally! – is that diapers can do damage to your budget. No one breathed a mention of these wads of waste or their cost when doling out all that advice! Someone should have told us to open a savings account just for diapers. Thankfully, I was a deal-seeker BK (before kids), so I could navigate the sales and best practices. Read on to find out what I learned. 

Get online 

The deals are everywhere online, but you need to know your prices. I priced out Pampers Swaddlers simply because it’s what the hospital used, and we were first-time parents. Between the diapers and the Genie that would contain the stink, we were looking at close to $800 a year. Multiply that times 2.6 years and we were looking at a couple of thousand dollars — for one kid! That said, here’s where I found the best deals: 

Amazon offers 20% off diaper subscriptions (as well as other items) as part of its Amazon Mom program. Pampers Swaddlers here ran about .245 apiece. has sales all the time, with a coupon for new email list subscribers. 

Target became a good source for us because a few times a year it gives you a gift card for buying specific products. I would wait for these sales and stock up. 

Of note: I tried to cheap out when other brands’ prices dropped, but always paid the price with either a blowout or a rash. 

Total cost for 2.6 years: Roughly $2200 (includes diapers, Diaper Genie and replacement liners for said Genie) 

Cloth is cheaper than disposable 

Trend meets frugality in the recent revival of cloth diapers. Whether you’re in it for the savings or for the cute baby fluff bums — yes, those are real terms in the mom world today —you’re looking at a huge savings. 

CD (cloth diapering) moms typically have a stash of 24 diapers. This amount is enough to launder them every 3 days and not run out. After tons of research, I decided on Charlie Banana brand because they snapped (Velcro tends to dull in the wash) and they were one size, meaning my sons would wear the same diapers birth through potty training, with a simple adjustment on the diapers’ leg openings. The cute patterns were an added bonus. 

For about 8 months, both boys were in diapers. If they were spaced apart more, I wouldn’t have had to buy another stash for my second son, but…new cute patterns made for a great excuse! 

Another benefit? I found BST (buy, sell, trade) boards online with parents looking for used CDs in all conditions — not my cup of tea, but who was I to turn down profit?! I sold one stash a week after potty training for $185! I only paid $350 for them brand new, so I was stoked! 

Total cost: Roughly $740 (includes diapers, water use and detergent; doesn’t include resale profits) 

Our decision

In the end, we used mostly CDs but used disposables when we knew there wouldn’t be in a place where we could lug around a wet bag. On average, we bought a box of disposables every 5 months. 

Now on to potty training #2 so we can afford to put some of that stash money in an education account!

For hundreds of money-saving ideas, follow #CUSave2016 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Over 200 money-saving tips and counting! Find the entire collection here.

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