Saving money on diapers

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Early in January 2008, I posted this picture on my personal blog:

huggiesdiapers

and I’m pretty sure some people thought I was crazy. This was the result of a huge Huggies sale at Target. Hi, I’m LauraC, crazy couponer and bargain hunter. That diaper stash lasted us about nine months. Very few people asked the obvious question – WHY did you buy all those diapers? We did it to save money, a lot of money.

The best way to save money on diapers is to switch to cloth. Hands down, cloth diapers are cheaper than any other option out there. Since we did not cloth diaper for a multitude of reasons, I can’t speak to what brand or how to do so. The second cheapest option is to use generic diapers. I have heard good things about Target generics and BJ’s generics. We tried both with our boys and both resulted in such horrible diaper rashes that we ended up at the doctor’s office. (If anyone has recommendations for generic diapers, please leave them in the comments.)

However, most people end up using Huggies or Pampers. The first step of my method is to figure out how much you are paying per diaper. How do you know if something is a good deal if you don’t know how much you normally pay for it? At my BJ’s with no coupons, I pay $0.30 per size 5 diaper (they get more expensive the larger they get). Notice I said “with no coupons.” That is inaccurate because I NEVER buy diapers without a coupon. Every month, Huggies and Pampers issue diaper coupons that appear in the Sunday newspaper inserts. I ask my friends and family to send me any coupons they don’t use. In a real pinch, I order coupons from a coupon clipping service such as The Coupon Clippers.

Since I’m a member of BJ’s, they mail me a coupon booklet every month. Often they have diaper coupons in them. Additionally Target has coupons on their website. Target’s coupon policy is that you can use one manufacturer (Huggies) and one Target coupon per item. This is where the real deals start to happen. Every Sunday when the store ads come out, I look for diaper deals. If diapers cost more than $0.30 a diaper, I don’t buy them.

Every so often, an amazing deal comes along and that’s what happened last January. Target had an online coupon for $3 off 2 Huggies items. I had $1 Huggies coupons. Huggies were on sale. The perfect bargain storm. The per diaper price was $0.16…. almost half price! Jon and I visited three Targets, being very sensitive to leave plenty of bargains on the shelf for other shoppers. We saved over $200 on diapers.

If that picture looked crazy to you when you first saw it, does it seem less crazy knowing that we saved $200?

I know everyone reading this is not going to become a full-fledged bargainer. At the very least, I strongly encourage you to figure out how much you are paying per diaper (per ounce of formula, per wipes container, per jar of baby food, etc). Stores often advertise sales that aren’t bargains at all, preying on the fact that most people don’t know how much they are paying for something. You can do this easily at home by checking how many diapers are in the box you’ve bought and looking at your receipt for how much paid. And if I need to calculate something in the store, I use my cell phone calculator. I may look like a nerd doing it, but I’m a nerd saving a ton of money.

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26 thoughts on “Saving money on diapers”

  1. This breaks my heart for our environment. Love our cloth diapers (we use a service so I am not washing diapers). Also, you can get great deals on 7th Gen diapers –more $ than huggies but you can find deals (amazon renewal service). Anyone have a favorite biodegradable diaper? Signed,
    Working Mom with Twins and a 4 Year old

  2. Laura,
    That is awesome! I wish I had been that planned and organized to save that much money. Really incredible. Start saving coupons now for pull-ups. They are insanely expensive. I could find them at Costco and that helped. My friend said they were call pull-ups because you are always “pulling up to the store to buy more.” My best money saving tip…potty train! Or don’t because I swear it was the hardest parenting I ever did with my girls (now four). Now we spend pull-up/diaper money on preschool. Will it ever end?
    Heather

  3. That picture is hilarious — but only because I have several that look just like it!

    http://studerstories.blogspot.com/2008/02/leaning-tower-of-poop-catchers.html

    The best advice I got with baby #1 was while you are pregnant, stock up on diapers. So you’d better believe when we found out baby #2 was also bringing baby #3 along for the ride (surprise!), I started to stock up. I am much like you — if diapers aren’t on sale, I don’t buy them! I generally don’t buy diapers unless they are less than $0.20 per diaper. We live in South Dakota where the cost of living is pretty low (unfortunately so are the wages, but that’s another topic…)

  4. I am hysterical at this photo because we did something very similar when our local Big Lots store had a sale on our favorite brand – Seventh Generation. The baby was still in newborn size at the time and the big boys were (are) in size 3 so we bought some of every size they had (between the three kids, they’ll all get used at some point). Like you, we tried to be sensitive of other shoppers, but when I went back a week later and saw they still had plenty, the clerk confirmed that brand just wasn’t selling there. WHAT? So, we bought out the rest. Again, it turned out to be around half price of what we normally pay. (Side note: space is at a premium in our house. So, they are currently stacked on top of our treadmill… THAT’S why I haven’t started running, haha!)

  5. I do exactly the same thing. I’ve figured out my “price to beat” on all regularly used items, and with coupons, I figure out if a sale item is REALLY worth buying. I also scour the Sunday paper looking for deals, and it’s nothing for me to have to make four different stops during a shopping trip to get all my essentials. It’s worth it when you buy as many diapers/formula/wipes/baby food items as we buy! :)

  6. A “single” (husband overseas with the army) working mom, I don’t have time to chase down deals. I consider it spending money to buy time!

    I order my Luvs diapers from Amazon.com. 20 cents per diaper and free delivery to my doorstep is just my speed. For a while, I had a delivery of 3 boxes of 180 scheduled every other month, but have cancelled the recurring order since potty-training is going well and I’m looking forward to getting out of the diaper business.

  7. Costco (Kirkland) is the best quality for the price. I tried getting the last “deal” at Albertson’s on Pampers. Pampers $uck. Costco is usually in the 28-32 pd cent range w/o coupon. Unless they poo a diaper lasts from 7am – post nap(2pm-ish) and then one until right before bed 8ish. We have flown through the Pampers because they sag to the knees, even when they are not full. But what I am praying to save us is the “potty” sign. We use it when they big girls go to the big potty, when the twins get diaper changes, and HOPE this will equate to earlier potty training and diaper savings.

  8. Excellent post. And it reminded me of last night’s episode of Jon & Kate Plus Eight, where she berated Jon (in her usual style) for buying something without a coupon. Now THAT’S a woman who prizes her coupons…

  9. Pampers – they’re the best – but SOOOO expensive! We live in France, and I tried several generic brands until I saw many a mamma walking in the streets carrying one particular one, and bingo! Having said all that, when we visited my mom in NY, she stocked us up with Target brand, and they worked great for us. But everyone’s different.

  10. I have to put in an endorsement for cloth diapers, specifically bumGenius one-size diapers(http://www.bumgenius.com/). We use the same set for our 23 month old and our six-week old twins, and our 3 1/2 year old wore many of the same ones as well (we have added to our stash over the years). We probably paid about $600 for all of them, and that is for four kids. We do use disposable (biodegradable) liners (http://www.babysorganicnursery.com/home/dp1/page_9_5/biodegradable_diaper_liners.html) so that we don’t deal with rinsing poopy diapers. We just pick up the whole mess including the liner with a plastic newspaper bag and throw it away, and we wash and reuse the liners that have just been peed on. For washing, we simply throw the diapers in a hot wash/hot dry every other day (we have about 35 diapers). Easy. People are always astounded that we use cloth with three kids in diapers, but I contend that using cloth is as easy as making trips to Target all the time to get more disposables. And on the few occasions that we do use disposables, we often have a poop explosion or a leak, neither of which happens with our bumGenius. They are the best!

  11. Amen, Michelle! We’re in cloth too and I’ve found the same to be true for disposables. They have always just made a mess. We used Kissaluvs while the girls were little, but I just ordered my Bum Geniuses, which I plan to use until we potty train.

  12. I have to recommend http://www.1800diapers.com

    Also, we were a luvs family and found them to work/fit very similarly to Huggies for less money. Luvs and other brands are pretty cheap on this website and they come in big cases and deliver for free. I loved not having to go to the store for diapers! Depending on where you live, you also might not pay sales tax on this internet purchase which is another savings. (Luvs size 5 on here is 24 cents per diaper, to give a comparison)

  13. I loved using Pampers, but they were way too expensive. I’ve had great luck with Sam’s Club’s diapers (Strollers?). If it makes one a nerd to find great deals then count me in. Having multiples means we need to figure out how to multiply the savings. I scour the Sunday paper each week to figure out which store has the best deals based on my coupons. I pick the one store where I’ll save the most… sorry, can’t spend all day driving to more than one grocery store.

  14. Hi Laura!
    Just wondering where you get the coupon from the Target website? I get the occasional ones in the mail but never online.
    Thanks!

  15. We switched to Baby Basics, the Jewel grocery store brand. Consumer Reports rated them as good as Huggies. When Jewel ran a sale, we always stocked up. And, when Baby Basics are on sale, they were cheap!

  16. This post really has made me consider *thinking* about cloth diapers, for lots of reasons. We use disposable {gasp} and they are Pampers {double gasp} 😉 I have some questions about cloth, though, and I couldn’t find a post on this site about them. I’d love the honest input from other multiple moms who use them vs. disposable.

    For all the cloth diaperers out there….
    I see a lot of figures for how much cheaper they are, but, as far as time goes, how much time per week do you spend washing, etc?

    My twins are 7 months, just starting solids. If I were to make the switch, how many diapers would you recommend?

    I see on various cloth diaper websites that you must change after they’ve “soiled”. My daughters seem to pee a little bit at a time, I change them after every nap, unless there’s poo or pretty wet {every 3 hours or so}. Do you find you change diapers more frequently with cloth?

    I read on the Fuzzi Bunz site that you can’t use diaper cream on babies who use their diapers – something about the buildup. So, if they get diaper rash – what are you supposed to do?

    What brand do you like the best and why?

    My greatest hesitation is that our laundry is in the basement….out and around to the back of the house and I don’t always have the time to get down there daily, let alone several times/day to rerun the rinse cycle, etc. I know there’s lots of people who use them who don’t even have a washer/dryer and I really admire those people. But, realistically, I’m just worried about the time factor.

    Thanks!

  17. Hi, Kim.

    I’m happy to answer your questions. I had a lot of the same ones before we started to use cloth.

    Regarding the amount of time involved, for us it is probably five to ten minutes each time we do a load of diapers, which for us is every other day. When we take a diaper off one of our kids, we put it in a diaper bin/pail/garbage can lined with a mesh laundry bag in our garage. When we have only a few clean ones left, we dump all of the diapers into our washing machine along with the mesh bag. We add detergent (we used to use regular old Tide but switched to Charlie’s Soap recently to save cash and the environment–http://www.charliesoap.com/), and wash on a hot long cycle. We have a front-load washer, and for us, this cycle is called “whitest whites.” When the cycle is done, we throw them all into the dryer and dry on a regular cycle. When they are dry, we just dump them into our diaper basket and bring it back upstairs. So, as you can see, it is just like doing a regular load of laundry. Keep in mind that we use disposable liners to deal with the poop (see my explanation above), so we never rinse or do anything extra to the poopy diapers. I highly, highly recommend the disposable liners.

    Regarding the number of diapers, we had 19 bumGenius diapers for our two older boys who are 22 months apart, and now we have 35 (I think) for our newborn twins and for our 23 month old. Both times, the older one was starting to potty train when the younger was born, so we didn’t have too many months when we were diapering multiple kids (in addition to the twins). I would probably recommend starting with about 25 diapers and then adding a few at a time until you reach a comfortable point in regard to how often you wash. We prefer to wash at the beginning of every third day (which is what we did with 19 when we had only one in diapers), but now that we have three in diapers we are washing every other day with 35.

    Regarding your question about how often to change, of course we change as soon as there is a poop, but otherwise we change probably every 2 1/2 hours. The great thing about bumGenius diapers (and other pocket diapers) is that you can adjust the absorbency depending on how much your child “goes.” So, for example, during naps and at night for our 23 month old, we stuff our diapers with the liner that came with our bumGenius diapers, and then we also add two microfiber cloths that we bought from the automotive department at Target. They are cheap and really absorbent. You wouldn’t need to change your routine of changing every three hours, even if your daughters go a little at a time.

    Regarding diaper cream, we use Desitin with every change, but because we also use the disposable diaper liners, we don’t have any problem with build up. I don’t know how people handle that issue if they don’t use the disposable liners.

    Regarding the brand, we LOVE bumGenius. We have tried Fuzzi Bunz and another SAHM home-made brand, and we liked both, but we LOVE bumGenius. They are expensive, but well worth it. Because they are designed for babies from newborn to potty training, you will not have to buy any other diapers.

    Regarding the laundry, you won’t need to go to your basement other than when you are running a whole load. We don’t do any rinsing, other than the one that is included in the regular wash cycle.

    If you have other questions, feel free to email me. I am happy to help. For us, the hardest part of cloth diapering was figuring out our system–all the same sorts of questions you are asking. Once we had our system figured out, it became much, much easier. My email is michelle.h.simmons at gmail.com. Good luck!

    Michelle

  18. When my kids were small, we used the Sam’s Club brand, and they worked fantastic. Best deal around. When they got to be around 18 months to 2 years old, though, they LEAKED. So we switched to Luvs, which I really liked for the cost. I, too, had the cost per diaper figured out and I whipped out my cell phone calculator at Target and Wal-Mart MANY times! It’s so interesting to me to see how we twin mamas figured it out as we went along, and how we ended up doing so many of the same techniques!

  19. Hi, we do cloth on the twins also, using Mother-ease one-size and air flow covers. The diapers fit newborn up to 35 pounds, so a large initial investment $800 for 60 diapers. The covers need to be purchased as the babies get bigger. I’m on medium size covers now, and won’t need large for a while. LOVE THEM! Never any leaks, barely any rash. I do wash my own, but it’s no big deal. They’re so cute too! Use Target disp sometimes when we go out, but had a poop leak last time with those.

  20. Look for a cloth diaper service in your area. Reasonably priced and they do the laundry for you. Another perk is they deliver.

  21. I wait until Babies R” Us has a great sale. I use both manufacturers coupons and the BRU coupon. I usually end up spending between .13 and .17 a diaper–depending on sizes. I have 8 month twins and a 2 1/2 year old in diapers. On one buying spree they were giving out $10 gift cards for every 2 boxes you bought. I bought 8 boxes first and then used my free $40 gift card to buy a bumbo seat! It was awesome!

  22. So, I realize this is a really old post, but as it”s still showing up on Pinterest, I’m assuming people are still reading it(as I am).
    Luvs work pretty well, and there are just as many sales and coupons on them- they are made by P&G, the same company Pampers comes from. And if you every have a problem, write to them.
    Another teick- if you have any friends or family that work in hospitas or as social workers, ask them if their employers have diaper deals. For the first year of my daughter”s life, this was how I was consistently getting diapers for less than 10 cents a piece with no coupons or deal chasing.

  23. Do you seriously go that long between diapers changes? 7 hours! That may save you money…but I feel bad for your kid having to walk around with that diaper on. I’d like to see you put on an adult diaper and use it for 7+ hours! Sometimes being a better parent is worth the extra 15 cents per diaper! You should try it!

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