Diaper Cost Analysis

Having a child is expensive no matter what study you look at. A major expense of course is diapering the child. In recent years strong competition has come from manufacturers, retailers, and dotcoms to acquire the coveted loyalty of new moms.  This diaper analysis compares these leading diaper savings retailers and programs:  Amazon Mom, Sam’s Club, Stop & Shop, and Babies “R” Us VIB program.

Assumptions

  • One month in this study is equal to 30 days.
  • Age 3 is the average age of transition from diapers to full time toilet use.
  • Based on multiple sources, on average, wipes cost $20/month.
  • No other diaper changing costs are part of this study.
  • Babies use less diapers over time with a range of 10 diapers a day as a newborn to an average of 6 diapers a day to age 3.

Data Collection

Results

Amazon Mom pricings came in the cheapest followed by Sam’s Club. The difference between the two stores is only $86.02. Such a small difference could disappear if you vary the assumptions or change the time period the child is in a particular size of diaper. There is a $335.55 difference between Stop & Shop, the local grocery store, and Amazon Mom. That difference is less likely to change with changes in the assumptions. If you’re trying to make a decision between the local grocery store and a subscription service like those evaluated in this study, the data suggest that the subscription service would win every time. Babies “R” Us can in as the most expensive. Although, Babies “R” Us diapers are cheaper than the grocery store for sizes 1-3, size 4 diapers were $.07 more per diaper than the grocery store. This is compounded by the fact that size 4 in this study was used for the longest period of time.

Other Considerations

Brand & Product : In order to get an accurate comparison across stores I had to use two different products, the Pampers Swaddlers and the Pampers Baby Dry. At the time of the study Sam’s Club did not carry Pampers Baby Dry for sizes 1 & 2.

Sizing Diapers with Child’s Age: Every child is so different it is hard to come up with the right length of time a child will be in a particular size diaper. In order to assist with that problem, I used the CDC growth charts for girls and used the 50 percentile line. Therefore, baby boys or your child may be in different sizes than this analysis outlines. See conclusions for helpful general observations.

Coupons: This study does not take into consideration the availability of manufacturer’s and retail coupons since they are hard to count on consistently. More savings may be possible by using coupons. Furthermore, retailers like Sam’s Club and Amazon don’t typically accept manufacturer’s coupons.

Other Costs: There are other costs to changing diapers that are not included in this study. Things like diaper bags, rash creams, diaper disposals, special trash cans and liners are not included in this study. Save $1.50 on any one pack of HUGGIES diapers

Quantity per Box and Partial Boxes: One of the limitations to buying in bulk is what happens with leftovers. Since diapers are nonperishable, we chose to not address this. In this situation it might be more profitable to buy during those in-between growth spurts from a store that accepts returns. Others will simply choose to sell extra diapers online or save them for the next child.

Discussion

What about Other DOT COMS? There are other websites that offer competitive programs & prices on diapers. Diapers.com offered all sizes in this analysis for $49.99 December 2012. However the number of diapers in the case varied and didn’t end up being cheaper.

What about Store Brands? In order to do a cost comparison I needed the same item but of course there are store brand diapers. The problem is that they don’t work for some people because of the quality—just read the online reviews. Wal-Mart’s Parent’s Choice brand cost $.15 each for size 1 & 2, $.14 each for size 3 and $.16 each for size 4 diapers. However, you have to shop in stores or spend $45 online to get free shipping.  It may not be a bad option since it is cheaper than even Amazon Mom’s prices.

 

 

Shipping vs. In Store Pickup At first glance it seemed like maybe this variable would be a deciding factor between say Babies “R”Us and Amazon. However, surprisingly, every retailer but the grocery store offered free shipping or free shipping on orders over the price of a big box of diapers anyway.

Memberships & Subscriptions: Are they worth it? It was unclear if the subscription and membership fees would outweigh the savings at first glance. We’re talking pennies per diaper difference. Could they really add up? Well, at the current rate of the Amazon Mom membership of $79.99 per year, yes, it appears worth it. That is if you’re going to buy the Pampers outlined in this study.

Conclusions

The longer you can keep your child in the smaller diaper size, the cheaper it is. In reading many mom forums and blogs it seems that there was not a real consensus on sizing diapers with children’s age. Some moms liked tighter fitting diapers. Some moms even said their child never wore size 4 diapers.

The Sam’s Club membership or Amazon Prime membership is worth it just for the diaper savings. This is assuming the costs of the memberships and the price of diapers go up proportionately with inflation, barring any other new companies and/or promotions entering into the competition.

Current Netflix customers can save more. If you are already paying for Netflix and would cancel your Netflix subscription in exchange for watching streaming TV/movies on Amazon Prime, then your savings would be an additional $287.64 over three years.

Run Your Own Numbers

All babies are different and maybe you want to see how this works under your specific assumptions. Download the Excel file and play with the numbers yourself.

Diapers Analysis (Excel)

 

What about cloth diapers aren’t they the cheapest?

There is a pretty good selection of cloth diapers and a good analysis of the costs here. Remember that you may not use cloth diapers exclusively so these numbers may be off if you use disposable diapers on trips, at daycare or for other special circumstances. The most similar type of diaper to a disposable diaper is the all in one diaper like the BumGenius type. According to their analysis using this type of diaper costs $1443.48 (adjusted to last to age 3). The difference in the cost between the cheapest program, Amazon Mom and using the all in one diaper is $681.33 + your time doing extra loads of laundry. So yes, cloth diapers can be significantly cheaper if you’re able and willing to go that way.

 

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