In this three part series, we will look at the myriad of choices that parents new and seasoned alike can choose from to keep their little one’s bums squeaky clean.
In case the title wasn’t enough to tip you off, this series will include a considerable discussion of poop. If that isn’t your thing, you should probably turn back now.
Okay, now that we have weeded out the faint of heart, let’s talk about poop. Everyone pees and poops, and if they don’t, something is seriously wrong with them and they should probably go talk to a doctor. Babies are little people too, and because they don’t have the motor skills, cognitive ability, stature, and a wide variety of other prerequisites necessary for using commodes like the rest of the civilized world, that means we need to wrap their little bottoms in something.
A long time ago..
in the 1800s parents would use squares of linen and cotton folded and safety pinned to keep solids and liquids from dribbling out. Not much changed in the following decades in diaper technology until the 1940s when the first disposable insert came along. It fitted inside the normal cloth diaper shell and reduced the amount of laundering required.
The Safe-T Di-Dee diaper was a breakthrough in 1950 due to its patented use of snaps instead of safety pins but it was too little too late. Major companies such as Procter and Gamble and Johnson and Johnson began to aggressively target the diaper market in order to expand their product and bottom lines. By the 1960s fully disposable diapers were making major head waves into the marketplace. The 70s and 80s continued this momentum until disposables held a staggering 95% of the diaper market.
Consumers loved disposable diapers for their no mess, no fuss, and time savings. I even read one analysis that claimed the rapid adoption was due in part to the burgeoning Women’s Rights movement. Mom’s that switched to disposable diapers had more free time to pursue their interests, and disposables were so easy to use that even dads could change them.
By the 1990s cloth diapers, once the de facto standard, had been sidelined to the fringe community of freegans and hippies. The occasional parent would craft his/her own stash of custom cloth diapers or use the tried and true cloth squares and safety pins.
20th Century Winner
According to WebMD, the average child potty trains between 22 and 30 months of age. For shits (hehe) and giggles let’s play with some numbers and see how much money it takes 95% of parents to diaper their child.
A short analysis
I am going to use 25 months as the age of potty training. I chose that number based on the aforementioned 22 month lower age boundary plus an additional three months for the potty training to be complete (3 was another number given by WebMD).
Another variable that I am going to cut out of the equation is the cost of wipes. You will see why later in the series.
Disposable diapers range widely in price due to three main factors:
- Unit Count
For this analysis, I am going to “shop” at Walmart and use the largest unit count packages in order to get the best value. For brands, I will use Pampers as my name brand and Parent’s Choice as my store brand. The last variable is the toughest, because it varies considerably from baby to baby. To (over)simplify the problem, I will use National Geographic‘s number (3796) of lifetime diapers along with the average unit cost for sizes 1-5.
Pampers cost an average of 29.2¢ per diaper
Multiply that by how many diapers a baby will use until they are potty trained (3796) and you end up with a total diaper cost of $1108
How about the store brand? That comes out to 16.8¢ a diaper and $637 overall.
Wow! That doesn’t sound so bad does it? Seriously, according to that, you can diaper your baby in name brand for only $1108. Something doesn’t smell right though, because that number is about half of what I have seen elsewhere on the internet. Let’s see, if your toddler potty trains at 25 months then that is the equivalent of 750 days. 3796 diapers divided by 750 days is equal to 5 diapers a day. YIKES! I don’t think any responsible parent changes their baby’s diaper once every 5 hours. How about once every 3 hours, then how many diapers would you go through until you made it to potty training?
6,000 diaper changes.
Pampers: Approximately $1752
Store Brand: Approximately $1008
Part 1 Conclusion
Parents who choose disposable diapers can expect to pay at least one thousand dollars in diapers. In my opinion, the store brand diapers are terrible and are about as much good as a paper sack. I’m positive some other parents agree with me, otherwise there wouldn’t be name brand diapers. In my analysis, I was very optimistic about the age of potty training. While I have no doubt that some children potty train at the age of 2 years and 1 month, I am very skeptical that many parents achieve that nirvana. I would guess that the true cost of disposable diapers for the average child is closer to $2000.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series where Shae talks about the resurgence of Cloth Diapers in the 21st Century!