Cost of Diapers Isn’t Cheap: Potty Training is Free

child finally stopping to use expensive diaper to use the potty instead

If you have a child, you’re familiar with the cost of diapers and wipes, and have possibly noticed a bit of a dent in your checking account that could be fixed if only you could stop adding those high-cost items to your shopping list. If you think your baby might be ready to be diaper free, but need a little more motivation before committing to the cause, take a look at the numbers.

Cost of Disposable Diapers

Since the cost of diapers really depends on where you buy them, what brand you get and the fact that nighttime diapers tend to be more expensive than daytime diapers, let’s say that the average cost per diaper is $0.20. (And that is being generous.) If you go through six diapers per day (another generous assumption), that amounts to $1.20 per day, $36 per month and $438 per year. Add wipes to the equation, at $0.017 each, that’s about $65 per year at least. In short, it costs just over $503 per year at minimum to have your child in diapers. Again, that is a very low estimate, considering that puts the cost at $800 per year. While the lesser $503 may not seem much now, it may help make some realistic comparisons. Instead of spending $503 per year on diapers, you could instead purchase:

  • 114 grande café mochas
  • Six relaxing massages
  • A monthly manicure or pedicure
  • Four concert tickets (with really good seats!)
  • Fifty bottles of wine

A little bribery can go a long way to have a diaper free baby. Maybe you can promise a gift for when he or she officially says goodbye to diapers.

Cost of Cloth Diapers

Many people assume that they will save money by using cloth diapers, and that may be somewhat true, depending on how they go about it. While estimated a cost of $800 per year for disposables, it estimated a cost of $584 per year for cloth diapers. That includes the cost of electricity, water, and laundry detergent. Where the savings really come into play, however, is if your child potty trains early because he or she does not like the feel of a soiled diaper on their skin. There are many people who say that cloth diapers prompt children to use the toilet at an earlier age than children who wear disposable diapers. Disposable diapers are designed to hide the feeling of wetness, so children may not mind wearing them for longer periods of time, whereas cloth diapers don’t hide the unpleasant sensation at all.

Environmental Cost

A lot of research has been done on the impact of both cloth and disposable diapers on the environment, and it turns out that both disposable and cloth diapers affect the environment in different ways. Parents need to decide between:

  • Disposable diapers, which require raw materials for manufacturing, create more solid waste in landfills and take a long time to degrade (experts estimate anywhere between 200-500 years); and
  • Cloth diapers, which require electricity and water for washing and drying. In addition, delivery trucks for commercial diaper services consume fuel and create air pollution.

According to a letter from the Environmental Protection Agency to, the agency doesn’t take an official stance on whether cloth diapers are better for the environment than disposables, since disposable diapers fall under the category of municipal solid waste, which is safe to be disposed of in a U.S. municipal solid waste landfill.

Ultimately, it is up to the parents to decide what the best choice is for their unique situation. Nonetheless, the monetary cost of keeping a child in diapers may be tiny compared to the headache of pushing a child to potty train before he or she is ready. But if both you and your child are on board, get ready to cut costs on diapers, no matter what kind you currently use and have a diaper free baby.

Additional Potty Training Resources:

Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable 

Advice for Buying a Cloth Diaper 

Angie Long

Angie is an experienced freelance writer and mother of two. She has extensive experience working in professional training, including the development and evaluation of training and exam material. She has a background in elementary education. Angie has a 4-year-old who still struggles with potty training, yet her 8-year-old nailed it by two years of age.

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