Having two kids in diapers will send shock waves through your bank account… it drove me to cloth diapers! But not before I looked for the best deal I could find in disposables. The first, most basic tip – always buy the largest size box you can because it will always give you the best cost per diaper. Buying 25 packs at the grocery store for $9-10 will cost you 50%+ more per diaper… and considering you will go through more than 2,000 diapers a year, imagine how that adds up!
We examine a range of offerings below – using a constant set of diaper buying assumptions across them all – to determine where you can get the best deal on diapers. Based on our research, it will cost you $580 – $750+/year for diapers and wipes for ONE child. If you have two in diapers, that’s $1,200-1,500/year!!! That’s a lot of money… and more importantly, a HUGE range. Wouldn’t you like to know where to get the best deals on diapers?
Best Deals on Diapers – Key Assumptions
To tackle this question, I built a spreadsheet… once a Finance nerd, always a Finance nerd. For purposes of comparison, I looked at buying the same brand, variety, size and quantity of diapers and wipes across all services. My assumptions are based on my experience and what I used with my own kids – a newborn is obviously going to have far more diaper changes a day, but you also get more diapers per box. By Size 3 (which I found my kids wore for the longest), the assumptions below was a typical daily experience for us. We used Pampers Cruisers by day, Pampers Extra Protection for overnight, and Pampers Sensitive Wipes because my kids have sensitive skin. You can save more by using other brands, but the lowest cost provider will likely still be the same.
- 6 diaper changes a day (5 during the day, 1 overnight diaper)
- 2 wipes per diaper change
- Size 3 diapers
- 30 days per month
We allowed for partial cases per month, as you can always finish the case before ordering more. Annualized costs are a function of multiplying monthly costs by 12.
Sorting Through the Best Subscription Services
There are lots of options out there, and for convenience, and as it turns out cost as well, online offerings are most competitive. The cost of shipping has been removed from the equation because all of these services offer free shipping for orders over $35-50 (which one case of diapers and one case of wipes will tally to), or free shipping with recurring subscription. What does it mean to “subscribe” for diapers? These online retailers save money by tightly managing their inventory – if you are willing to say, “I’ll buy a case of these diapers once every 4 weeks,” it allows them to manage their inventory better, and in return, they pass some savings on to you as a buyer. Good news for you! And better news? You are not bound to this subscription – you can edit it every month, changing diaper brands or sizes, skipping a delivery, etc.
Amazon has multiple options for buying diapers that save you money. There is regular Amazon, Amazon Subscribe & Save, Amazon Prime and Amazon Mom.
As a benchmark, let’s look at just buying from Amazon, no membership, no subscription. You go to Amazon.com, put a case of Pampers Cruisers, Extra Protection and Sensitive Wipes in your cart and check out. This will cost you $57/month, or $685/year.
Amazon Subscribe & Save
Alternatively, you can choose to use Subscribe & Save. S&S does not require any paid membership. All you have to do is choose the Subscribe & Save option on the item instead of one-time purchase. You set the quantity and frequency, and day of the month for the recurring delivery – my delivery comes on or before the 24th of the month. I typically get it well before then. Each month, you will be sent a reminder email confirming what is going to be delivered, and a deadline for making any changes before shipment. My cutoff date is usually on or before the 15th. With Subscribe & Save, you will save 5% off your entire delivery if you have 1-4 items delivered. If you have 5+ items in your delivery, you will save 15% off your entire delivery. I would order diapers, wipes, all my paper products (paper towels, toilet paper), K-cups, Diaper Genie refills. You can find 5 items pretty readily. If you use Subscribe & Save for Pampers Cruisers, Extra Protection and Sensitive Wipes and obtain the 15% monthly discount, this will cost you $48.50/month, or $582/year… the best deal of the bunch. (This does not include the cost of any additional items you order to reach the 5 items/month).
Amazon Prime requires an annual membership for a charge of $99/year, payable annually… or $8.25/month. Prime membership gives you free 2-day shipping on EVERYTHING you order from Amazon. Additionally, you get access to their version of Netflix with 40,000 streamable movie and show titles. You can see all the Prime benefits here. As an Amazon Prime member, you can also sign up for Amazon Mom, for no additional charge.
Amazon Mom gets you a 20% discount to any diaper subscription, no matter how many other items you have delivered. In combination with Subscribe & Save, you would get 20% off your Pampers Cruisers and Extra Protection cases, and up to 15% off your Sensitive Wipes. This will cost you $46/month, or $553/year, before your membership charge ($652/year with membership).
Whether you include the cost of the membership as part of your monthly cost or not will determine which option you consider to be the best buy via Amazon. I get a lot out of my Amazon Prime membership – Amazon Mom, for an additonal 5% off diapers (total 20%), free two-day shipping on EVERYTHING I buy, and we stream a lot of Dora and Bubble Guppies on the iPad.
When Big M was first born, I loved Diapers.com. With 24-hour delivery, and free shipping on orders over $50, there was never any reason to be out of diapers. (For the record, they guarantee 2-day delivery, but many areas, get most items in 1-day.) I had sworn off Amazon because when they first launched Amazon Mom on a trial basis, before it was part of Prime benefits, I got denied membership… I held a grudge, and in hindsight, it cost me a lot of money. Amazon actually acquired Diapers.com (parent company Quidsi) for more than $500 million back in 2010, but they still operate under their own brands, though you are beginning to see some overlap in strategy.
The Diapers.com offering has evolved over time – when I used to buy from them, you earned points from purchases to be applied as discounts on future purchases. I used to save points from all the diapers I bought and spend them on beauty products for myself on their sister site, BeautyBar.com. This is no longer the case. Often, they also offer coupon codes for case discounts or discounts off certain brands, or for purchasing combinations of items, but these are not constant.
If you order as needed, going to Diapers.com, putting our list of diapers and wipes in your cart and checking out, it will cost you $63/month, or $753/year, the most expensive option we evaluated.
Now, similar to Amazon’s Subscribe & Save, Diapers.com has an AutoShip offering. Set up a recurring delivery for a designated period of time and save 10% off your purchase. You still need $50 worth of products per delivery to obtain free shipping, but with a case of diapers plus a case of wipes, you easily meet that hurdle. So 10% savings from the most expensive option, gets you down to $56.51/month, or $678/year, which falls more in the middle of the cost pack.
Next, we looked at Target.com. Currently, Target is offering free shipping on everything for the holidays. But most of the time, free shipping requires a minimum purchase of $50, which again, a case of diapers and wipes typically meets. Their largest case contained the same 174 diapers offered by both Amazon and Diapers.com.
Buying as needed from Target.com will cost you $58/month, or $692/year.
Like Amazon and Diapers.com, Target also gives you the option to Subscribe to save 5%. However, this is not offered on everything. We could subscribe for Pampers Cruisers and Wipes, but not the Extra Protection diapers. As we were double-checking our spreadsheet, they were also listed on “Sale” vs. our original data… $24.99 vs. $25 regularly priced. What a deal! In any event, subscribing for part of your order will save you 5%, and cost $55/month, or $662/year.
Wal-Mart offers no subscription options, so their cost calculations are very straight forward. Your monthly supply of Pampers Cruisers, Extra Protection and Sensitive Wipes will cost $56/month, or $675/year.
Stop & Shop – Peapod Delivery
Peapod delivery service also offers no subscription option. Their selection is also narrower (no Extra Protection diapers), and their cases are smaller. Assuming you substitute more Cruisers for the missing Extra Protection overnight diapers, having Peapod deliver your diapers and wipes will cost you $62/month, or $742/year.
Where’s the best diaper deal?
So, let’s line them all up and see who has the best deal… Amazon wins. Their Subscribe & Save option, which requires NO membership fee of any kind, will save you almost $7/month vs. the next closer e-tailer. And whether you ignore or include the cost of their Prime membership, using Prime in conjunction with Amazon Mom and Subscribe & Save, still saves you almost $1/month vs. the next closest competitor, Target with subscription discount.
So while it may only be a few dollars a month, every dollar counts… and when you multiply it by 12, and then double it if you have multiple kids in diapers, those few dollars add up to a lot more.
How does cloth compare?
As I mentioned at the outset, I switched to cloth as a result of all this math. You might be wondering how cloth compares… a stash of 20-24 one size diapers, with a few overnight inserts, depending on brand, will cost ~$300-500, and I can re-sell the diapers when we are done. These will carry you from ~10 lbs through potty training. Disposable diapers for 2-3 years will cost $1,000-$1,500. I still buy disposable wipes ($8/month), flushable liners (for easy poop disposal – $11/month), and do a couple extra loads of laundry a week, but that’s adds up to a lot less than $50-60/month.
Hopefully, this breakdown will hep you save a few $$$ from your monthly budget. If you find a better deal out there, let us know – we are always on the lookout to save our followers money!
This post was shared on the Frugal Family Linky Party.