Everyone knows that babies use a lot of diapers. But until I became a parent and actually bought them with my own money, again and again, I didn’t appreciate exactly how many they need. I didn’t fully grasp the number and bulk of diapers that would be flowing into and out of my house. And since I bought them over a period of many years I didn’t really know how expensive they added up to be. It was only after I was well into the diaper years that I began to do some calculations of how many I bought and how much they cost. The single biggest factor that will determine the number of diapers you need to buy altogether is the number of years your child needs them. The average length of time is around 2 years, but some kids are ready to be potty trained at 18 months and some not until they’re 4 years old.
What I really love about shopping for diapers on Amazon is that they show the cost per diaper for each box they sell. You can also read customer reviews to see exactly what others liked or didn’t like about a particular brand or style of diaper. And I tend to trust Amazon reviews a bit more than on other sites. The cheapest diaper I found was by Luvs and was $0.13 each.
Diapers are messy. But they’re also a temporary money pit. As a new parent, the first few months are a blend of excitement and exhaustion—the result of sleepless nights and frequent diaper changes. But do you know exactly how many diapers your baby will use in the first year of life and how much they’ll cost? Read on to learn about the financial commitment and how you can save some money.
The average infant urinates as often as every 1 to 3 hours or as infrequently as every 4 to 6 hours, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. In hotter climates and during warmer weather, this output can decrease by as much as 50% and still be normal. If you take the average of 3 hours, this equals about 8 pees, or diapers, per day. Some of these will also overlap with poops. As a baby’s bladder grows, the number of soiled diapers will decrease. Each baby is different, so the final yearly count will depend on a few factors. These can include:
As babies’ digestive systems mature and they start sleeping through the night, the number of soiled diapers will decrease once again. By the end of the first year, the average child goes through 5-6 diapers a day. So, based on the average baby’s weight and growth (female and male), and the average number of dirty diapers per day, a baby will need around
2,450 diapers in the first year.
Use the diaper calculator on this page to more accurately estimate the total number of diapers for your baby.
Once you have the magic number, you’ll need to choose a diaper brand that is comfortable for your baby. Consider a few things:
It’s a good idea to try a few different brands before you become a devotee. A service like Diaper Dabbler sends diaper sampler packages to help parents find the right diaper for their baby—a good fit, no rashes or leaks.
When you’ve found the ideal diaper, follow these tips to save money:
IMPORTANT TIP: Don’t overspend on newborn size diapers. Most babies of average weight outgrow this stage and diaper size by 6 weeks of age.
So, whether you’re waiting for your bundle of joy to arrive, or are already in the thick of sleepless nights and the marathon of frequent diaper changes, remember that everything is temporary. One day, your baby will be a potty-trained toddler. By then, it’ll be something else that’s tugging at your wallet.
If I could pass on 2 pieces of advice to new parents, these would be it:
You'll be using it all the time to check on every sound you hear and to check your baby's sleep status. Get a good one from the start. This one gets super high reviews on Amazon.
There's no need to pay a consultant thousands of dollars. And there's certainly no need to suffer through sleepless nights any longer than necessary. I used the simple method described in this book on both of my kids and it worked perfectly.