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I’ve gotten a lot of emails about stocking up on diapers, how many you need, and what is a good purchase price. How about if we just cover everything diaper related and try to answer all the questions in one place?! I’m splitting this over two days. Today we will cover everything disposable and tomorrow a general overview on everything cloth.
What is a Good Diaper Buy Price
The most difficult part of buying disposable diapers is knowing what package to buy and what is really a deal. Every diaper company has at least 3-4 different “brands” under the main brand, and they all come in at least 6 different size packages. Do you want Huggies Snug & Dry, or Little Movers, or Snugglers?? To make it even more difficult some stores, both local and online, will have unique size packages that no other store sells. You can buy Big packs at Rite Aid, Mega Packs at Walgreens and Value packs at Walmart. I’m starting to get flustered just talking about it all…
With diapers, I need you to throw the box size out the window. I know that’s hard. Your grandmother taught you that the bigger the box means the better the deal. With diapers we need to take a per diaper price and stick to it across all package sizes. One big warning… the per diaper price will change per size. In other words newborn diapers cost less per diaper than a size 5.
What is a good per diaper price then?
Broken down by size this is what we generally see:
Newborn: 13¢ – 16¢
Size 1: 11¢ – 14¢
Size 2: 14¢ – 16¢
Size 3: 16¢ – 19¢
Size 4: 19¢ – 22¢
Size 5: 22¢ – 26¢
Size 6: 26¢ – 30¢
How to get this best price?
If you head to Amazon right now and try to buy the biggest box they sell of size 1 diapers, even with the 20% discount from Amazon Mom and Subscribe and Save (plus right now an extra coupon to clip) you still end up at the high range on cost per diaper. So bigger is not always better, I promise!
Generally the best deals are in the drugstores. Seriously, they are. At least once a month CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid will put diapers on sale and make them print a reward at checkout. When we wait for these sales we can get jumbo pack diapers for as low as $4-$5 per pack for name brand diapers. That’s the smallest size package, but compared out by diaper price that may even beat the price per diaper above! One other tip, you will save more when you give up brand loyalties. This way you can snag whatever brand is on sale, rather than waiting for one particular product.
To give you an idea check out this example at Rite Aid:
Get $10 +UP wyb (3) Huggies Diapers, Jumbo pk., at $10 each
(3) Huggies Jumbo packs, $10
(3) -$1.50 off Huggies diapers, SS 8/12
Total Due: $25.50
Then get back $10 +UP Rewards that can be used on any other deal you want this week. In the end that makes the diapers cost $5.16 a pack or for size 1 would make it 10¢ per diaper!!
What about warehouse clubs?
Okay, you are still back at that bigger is the better deal problem… really the best deal is on the smallest size package. The main reason is that a coupon is good for any size package, so buying 3 jumbo packs and using 3 coupons is better than buying one big box (with jumbo packs inside) and using one coupon. To give you an idea though here are common warehouse club per diaper prices:
Size 1: 18¢
Size 2: 21¢
Size 3: 22¢
Size 4: 23¢
Size 5: 26¢
Size 6: 31¢
While size 5 and 6 are at the top end of the price per diaper we see in normal stores, it’s not really a savings when you add in the cost of membership and for some like me driving clear across town to get there. For the smaller sizes you are paying a lot more to shop at the warehouse.
Preparing for Baby: How Many to Buy
We’ve got the great deals, now for the other half of our savings. Just like with groceries when we see a low price we need to stock up on it. We know drug stores typically have the best deals, but stocking up can get tricky as there are limits per household per week. So, you want to start early and maybe even enlist a family member to help.
Personally we started stocking up as soon as I hit the second trimester. Others can start earlier, but I was too busy being exhausted to do much of anything before that. I’m a numbers person so here’s my thinking on packs needed.
A typical newborn gets 8-10 diaper changes per day in our house (changed at nursing time and then if needed). This will reduce to 6-8 times per day once they are sleeping through the night (for my three girls so far this is around 8-10 weeks old – we are a Babywise family that loves sleep).
The next thing to consider is how fast a baby gains weight. The typical breast fed baby gains 5-7 oz per week or basically a little less than ½ lb for the first 4 months. A formula fed baby will typically gain a little more than ½ lb per week. For math sake we are going to assume an even ½ gain each week.
Size 1 is good up to 14 lbs, size 2 12-18 lbs, size 3 up to 16-28 lbs. I would not plan on preparing ahead on any sizes larger than size 3 for right now. You can buy those as deals come along after the baby is born. However, if you are having diaper showers then go for it! This being our fourth girl, we really don’t have any baby showers. So this is all on us to prepare for.
Generally you aren’t going to stay in the newborn size long, nor do you want to when you see that they actually cost more than a size 1. So here’s my plan:
Changing on average 10 diapers per day/night
½ lb growth per week
starting weight of 6 lbs
First 4 Months
Newborn Size: 2-3 packs (not really needed most can go straight to size 1)
Size 1: 840 diapers needed to get to 12 lbs = 16-20 jumbo packs
Size 2: 560 diapers needed to get to 16 lbs = 13-15 jumbo packs
5 months to 12 months
Growth slows to 1 lb every 3 weeks on average
Diaper Changes on average 6 per day
Size 3: 1512 diapers needed to get to 28 lbs = 56-62 jumbo packs
Total Diapers needed in the first year: 2,912
I know that’s a lot of diapers… take a deep breath and remember you are starting early on this task. Just for a cost moment I am going to finish out the math for you though. Based on a average best price in the drugstore of $5-$6 per pack, we are looking at $425 to $582. This is one moment where the joy of couponing really shines. If you were paying retail that cost would double!
Now looking at all of that, what is logical? That’s really up to your space on hand. So far we have about 15 size one packs and 10 size 2 packs, but I also have a spare bedroom to put them in (come spend the night and you’ll be sleeping with a lot of diapers). My goal is to finish stocking up on all the size 1 and size 2 packs we will need before she gets here and we will probably start to work on size 3 after she is born.
Looking for more ways to save? We’ve covered lots of ways to save on baby products over the years, and you can click through the links below to find them.
How To Save on Diapers
How To Save on Baby Food
Other Ways To Save
Baby Product Reviews
See more Frugal Living.