Diaper pricing pitfalls
Diapers are confusing. They come in almost uncountable varieties, brands, styles and more. Most brands have at least two or three different types of disposable diapers – for example, Pampers has Cruisers, Baby Dry, Swaddlers and Sensitive. After you weed through the type, you buy a package of diapers, including; convenience packs, economy packs, jumbo packs, bulk packs, jumbo box, value box, economy box… What is worse is that many places who sell diapers will actually sell up to 10 to 15 different package styles of the same style of diaper. An example of this is Diapers.com sells 11 different packages (not sizes, packages) of Pampers, Size 3 diapers, of which there are 6 different options of purchasing Pampers Cruisers. Now the purpose of an online store is to give the customer variety, but grocery stores are not much better. A recent trip to Target gave the author the option of purchasing 16 different types of Pampers, of which there were six different package quantities of Pampers Cruisers.
So, how do you make sense out of all this? Well, generally, it is true that the largest package is the best deal. Back to Diapers.com and their Cruisers, the largest package ranges in price per diaper of $0.2687 for size three to $0.4299 for size 6. However, buying just a slightly smaller quantity only increases your price per diaper by $0.0170 (size 3) to $0.0048 (size 6). In essence, there is almost no difference in prices, except that, based on average diapers used in a specific stage, the price savings from size 3 to size 6 will save you $145 over the time your child is in diapers.
Why would you buy a pack for $3 less when you can get more? The answer is simple, and that is in the risk of having unused diapers. For example, assuming again specific averages of time spent in a specific size, buying the package that has more diapers will create 308 unused diapers, while the smaller package will only leave you with 112 unused diapers. Meaning, if you buy the bigger package, you will spend $100.37 on diapers that would not go to use, versus only $39.30. However, this means that you are buying two extra packages of the largest size, and one full extra package of the smaller size.
So, is the answer to buy smaller packages? Smaller packages do not offer better pricing, although, some pricing is decent, especially if you are not able to spend $45 a pop for the biggest packages. In fact, when looking at packages priced at $34.99, the price per diaper was only $0.3016 to $0.4860 for size 3 and size 6 respectively. This means there is only a per diaper price difference of $0.06 to $0.08. This does add up though, and from the cheapest price to this one means that overall, you would spend an extra $286 on diapers. However, when looking at two other packages, one sells for $16.99 and another for $24.99, this skews the pricing. Both offer near identical pricing, except for a key difference, the package sold for $16.99 in sizes 4,5,6 is actually cheaper, by roughly $0.02 to $0.03 per diaper. The $16.99 packages offer a better deal than the more expensive package, except for size 3, which is only $0.005 per diaper higher. However, buying either of these two packages routinely will still cost $487 more than buying the cheapest diapers.
Finally, the worst offender is the “convenience” package. Even on diapers.com, where the site is supposed to offer some of the best prices on diapers – which it does for the most part – will ultimately break your budget. At $11.29 per package, this only saves you roughly $5.00 per package over the $16.99 pack, but, and this is a huge but, the price per diaper increases dramatically $.10 to $.14 per diaper more than the cheapest package. This creates an overall extra cost of $786 (based on average diaper use).
The final way to compare diapers is to look at the package that is the best deal and then figure out what the savings are versus the cheaper package. For example, the best deal (in size 3) is $42.99 for 160 diapers. Compare this to the packages at $24.49, $34.99 and $11.29 that have 76, 116 and 31 diapers respectively. This means, that when you buy any of the following, you are actually spending $9.29, $5.28 and $15.30 less buying the biggest package over the convenience packages.
Keep in mind that the previous discussion only concerns diapers from one size, at one store, and that store is a discount store that prides itself on offering the best prices. When buying diapers at a local store, the pricing changes dramatically.
IntelligentMommy.com has catalogued over 700 different local and online diaper prices. This database shows that there are substantial price differences in diapers. The average lowest cost per diaper is $0.22, and the highest average cost is $.51. Therefore, this means you would spend over $2,025.88 extra on diapers. If you have twins, triplets or quads, you might as well multiply this by that number, which is a decent used car, or a down payment on a new house. To demonstrate the difference in product prices, a comparison of the price difference by brand, type, size and the lowest and highest prices. The price differences range from a mere $0.04 per diaper to $0.37 per diaper. This means that again, based on that 7,000 figure, there is a potential of paying nearly $2,570 more for diapers. Even at $0.04 per diaper though, based on 7,000 diapers, you are spending $280 more on diapers. Of course, the average price difference in the Intelligent Mommy database was $0.15 per diaper, or $1,057.75. The final thing to note is that the Intelligent Mommy pricing database does not list sale prices, but only the regular prices. In addition, the Intelligent Mommy database does not record “convenience” packages, or other items that are clearly a bad deal.
Lastly, buying diapers on sale or by using coupons can further decrease the cost per diaper by $0.05 to sometimes $0.10 or more. This adds up quickly, and can decrease your costs dramatically. Just saving $0.05 per diaper average, on the lowest prices (on average from the Intelligent Mommy database), could mean paying only $910 for your baby’s diapers. This is a stark contrast to the average highest price, which would mean you would pay (on average) $0.39 per diaper or $2,701.91.
 This compares only Huggies, Pampers and Luvs, and in the common sizes. In addition, the author removed” Warehouse” store packages, along with preemie and newborn sizes to illustrate an apples-to-apples comparison.
About the Author
Intelligent Mommy provides diaper-pricing calculators online and on your cell phone, along with other tools, communities and forums to help mothers save on the things that babies use the most. Visit us at http://www.intelligentmommy.com/ for more information.
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Hopefully this is the last box of diapers for me…my son is almost potty trained. But I’ll star it and pass along the info to my friends with newborns!
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