If you are a mother of a baby or young toddler you know that babies need diapers. A majority of parents use disposable diapers for their convenience, but have you ever actually calculated the cost of using disposables? The average baby is in diapers between two to three years and uses between 8,000-10,000 diapers. How much does this equal for the average parent? Allow me to do the math for you: On average, each diaper will cost you about .35.
How did I come to that conclusion? The prices of diapers range between .19 (for the newborn size) to .46 (for the toddler size). So I based the price of .35 on an average of all of these prices combined, because no baby stays in the newborn or even 20 pound range forever. So by calculating the cost of an average diaper by the number of diapers the baby will use, you will spend between $2,800.00 (for 8,000 diaper changes) and $3,500.00 (for about 10,000 changes, which I believe to be a more accurate number). This estimate does not include applicable sales tax or even the gas used to drive to store for those late-night runs for diapers.
So for every child that uses disposable diapers, parents will spend roughly between $3,000.00 to almost $4,000.00 dollars. Unfortunately, when the baby is finished with the diapers, they are gone, poof! You can never use them again. Many parents spend a significant amount of their hard earned money on trash. That is pretty depressing!
However, you will spend significantly less money by using high quality, leak-proof cloth diapers. Now I can hear many of you in the background shouting, “But wait, washing cloth diapers cost money too!” And they do, just not nearly as much as you think. For starters, washing a load of cloth diapers two to three times per week equals the same amount of water that a young child uses to flush the toilet five times a day. And as far as the energy used to wash AND dry your diapers, you are looking at spending a $.69 each time you wash cloth diapers with a gas water heater and electric dryer (including .20 for detergent, a rinse cycle, and drying the diapers). You’ll save even more money by drying your diapers on a clothesline.
The first thing many moms will do after hearing this is rush out to the nearest discount store to purchase some inexpensive cloth diapers, but WAIT! Before you do that, please consider that you will get what you pay for, and in the area of diapers, cheaper is not better! My personal introduction to cloth diapering was not a pleasant one until a good friend told me about the “other” diapers that were available by mail order only. The Gerber diapers just don’t cut it. Believe me, I know from experience that if you use the cheap products from Wal-Mart, you will have leaks, and lots of them.
So what do I suggest? For starters, look up the keywords “cloth diapers” in a search engine on the Internet. Once you start surfing, you”ll find a multitude of diaper companies that sell high quality diapering products that are not available in stores.
How much will you need to spend on a complete cloth diapering layette? You are looking at spending around $314.00 (including prefolds in two sizes, diaper covers in two sizes, diaper covers and flushable liners). This is a “leak-proof” and absorbent diapering system and the baby will be in these diapers until around 30 lbs. Then you will either need to move up to the Toddler size or potty train. Again, the benefit is that you when baby is done diapering, you”ll have diapers to use all over again! You will probably need to purchase new diaper covers for the next baby because after so many hundreds of washings the waterproofing material will wear out. So you may need to spend another $150.00-200.00 on the next baby. This is a far cry from $3,000-$4,000.00! What seems like the smarter choice? We save an additional $50.00 per month that automatically goes to our money market fund just because we do not purchase disposables.
So give cloth diapers a try, not only will your baby has less diaper rash (cotton is a breathable fiber, unlike paper or plastic) but your pocketbook will be much happier, too!
Mary McCarthy is a work at home mom and owner of Comfy Bummy Diapers (http://www.comfybummy.com). She enjoys gardening, reading, and saving money. To learn more about cloth diapering send a blank email to: