Breaking down the costs of nappies – cloth vs disposables

I often get asked about cost comparison between cloth nappies and disposables.  It’s a really hard subject to tackle because there is so much difference in the price of each disposable nappy and even the different types of cloth nappies.  I’m going to give it a go though and try and break it down a little at the same time.  So here we go, what is the cost of cloth vs disposables?

 

How Many?

The first thing that we need to look at it how many nappies babies goes through and at what age.  At Nest, we have found that the average baby will need around 6,570 nappy changes from birth to toilet training.  This can be broken down in the following way;

Newborn (Birth – 3 months) approx 12 changes per day for a total of 1,080 nappy changes,

Infant (3 – 6 months) approx 9 changes per day for a total of 810 nappy changes,

Crawler (6 -12 Months) approx 6 changes per day for a total of 1,080 nappy changes,

Walker (12-18 months) approx 6 changes per day for a total of 1,080 nappy changes, and

Toddler (18 months -2.5yrs the average age of toilet training) 4 per day for a total of 1,460 nappy changes.

If you add in specialised night nappies from 2 years through until 5years of age (the average age of night training) you are looking at another 1,068 nappy changes.

If you have made the decision to use disposables, that’s 6,570 nappies that are going straight into landfill per child.  If you have chosen to use cloth, you will need as little as 24 nappies to do you from birth to toilet training and as a bonus you can use them on future children, pass them on to friends and family, donate them to charity, repurpose them and more.  This means your cloth nappies will take longer to reach landfill, if at all.  Now, while I say that it can be done with as little as 24 nappies, here at Nest, we recommend the following to make your cloth nappy journey that little bit easier;

Newborn (birth – 4/6 months) – 30 – 36 nappies,

One size fits most (6 months – toilet training) 18 – 24 nappies.

If you want a specialised night nappy, as well, Nest recommend three at any one time.  I you choose to go down the one size fits most, these could work from around the 4-6 moth mark all the way through top toilet training.  If you choose a sized option, three of each size will see you through.

Cloth vs Disposables – What does it cost?

Costing is a little harder to work out due to the variance of pricing between shops and regions, brands, styles and also sales and specials.  I decided to jump online and check the pricing* of some of the major brands of disposable nappies across three major supermarkets (Coles, Woolworths and Aldi).  These prices are inclusive of any sales that were in effect at those supermarkets.  I have broken them down into age groups as above.

 

 Newborn 2-5kgsInfant 4-8kgsCrawler 7-10kgsWalker 9-12kgsToddler 10kgs +Total Cost
Mamai by Aldi0.15c ea / $162.000.18c ea / $145.800.20c ea / $216.000.22 c / $237.600.48c ea / $700.80$1,462.20
Coles Comfy Bots0.17c ea / $183.600.18c ea / $145.800.20c ea / $216.000.22 c / $237.600.52c ea / $759.20$1,542.20
Little Ones by Woolworths0.17c ea / $183.600.20c ea / $162.000.26c ea / $280.800.44c ea / $475.200.44c ea / $642.40$1,744.00
Thank You0.26c ea / $280.800.29c ea / $234.900.32c ea / $345.600.32c ea / $345.600.48c ea / $700.80$1,907.70
Baby Love0.26c ea / $280.800.29c ea / $234.900.32c ea / $345.600.32c ea / $345.600.54c ea / $788.40$1,995.30
Mater0.43c ea / $464.400.36c ea / $291.600.36c ea / $388.800.40c ea / $584.000.40c ea / $584.00$2,312.80
Huggies0.31c ea / $334.800.34c ea / $275.400.36c ea / $388.800.46c ea / $496.800.64c ea / $949.00$2,444.80
Naty by Nature0.34c ea / $367.200.44c ea / $356.400.50c ea / $540.000.59c ea / $637.200.59c ea / $861.40$2,762.20
       
Average cost$282.15$230.85$340.20$419.95$748.25

$2,021.40

There are fewer brands of night pull ups on the market and ranged from $1.09 – $1.33 for an average of $1256.68.  That works out to an average of $3278.08 in disposable nappies alone! 

If you choose to use cloth nappies, the cost is up to you and can suit a range of budgets.  I find most people average around the $1,500 mark from birth to toilet training. Here are some costs based on products available at Nest Nappies.

 Cost per NappyNewborn (0-6 months)Infant (6months – toilet training)
Flats$3.74 – $12.95$134.64 – $466.20Nil as you already have them
Prefold$10.00 – $18.00$360.00 – $648.00Nil as you already have them
Fitted$22.95 – $31.95$826.20 – $970.20$670.80 – $766.80
All in One / All in Two$22.95 – $37.95$826.20 – $1366.20$718.80 – $910.80

If you want to add dedicated night nappies to this, I would budget around $150 – $200 for one size fits most and around $300 if you were wanting the sized option.

So, if you decided to use a newborn and one size system with a sized night nappy, even at the most expensive brands, you would be looking at around $1,666.20 in nappies.  Keep in mind that figure would be drastically altered if you mixed your stash up so there was a variety of styles in there and worked out bulk prices with the retailer you were purchasing from. 

As you can see, cloth nappies can save you about half of what you would expect to spend on disposables per child.  If you are planning on having more children, think of the savings you could expect then!

Wipes

Using cloth wipes can drastically reduce your nappy costs as well.  Cloth wipes are easy to use and multi purpose as washers for hands and faces or spills on floors.  I have even been known to shove one in my bra as a make shift breast pad!

How many wipes you use each change will depend on the contents of the nappy and how skilled you are with the wipe.  I used to have the devils own time get one disposable wipe out of the packet at a time and often the sticky big poos would end up taking 6 or 7 wipes to get everything clean. 

I have worked out  how many wipes you would use based on the number of changes as above with an average of two wipes per change.  Now, I know that a lot of changes will get away with just one wipe (typically as you near toilet training) but there are also a good chunk of changes that will use up more than the two (those early poop filled days especially). 

Wipes0-3 months   (2,160 wipes)3-6 months     (1,620 wipes)6 12 months  (2,160 wipes)12 – 18 months (2,160 wipes)18 months – 2.5 years (2,920 wipes)Total Cost     (11,020 wipes)
Comfy Bots by Coles          $2.08 – $7.50 per 100 wipes$44.93 – $162.00$33.70 – $121.50$44.93 – $162.00$44.93 – $162.00$60.74 – $219.00$229.22 – $826.50
Mamia by Aldi                 $2.36 – $3.20 per 100 wipes$50.98 – $69.12$38.23 – $51.84$50.98 – $69.12$50.98 – $69.12$68.91 – $93.44$260.07 – $353.64
Little Ones by Woolworths $2.50 – $3.75 per 100 wipes$54.00 – $81.00$40.50 – $60.75$54.00 – $81.00$54.00 – $81.00$73.00 – $109.50$275.50 – $413.25
Home Brand by Woolworths $2.95 per 100 wipes$63.72$47.78$63.72$63.72$86.14$325.09
Curash                             $3.65 – $6.25 per 100 wipes$78.84 – $135.00$59.13 – $101.25$78.84 – $135.00$78.84 – $135.00$106.58 – $182.50$402.23 – $716.30
Huggies                             $4.17 – $18.75 per 100 wipes$90.17 – $405.00$67.55 – $303.75$90.17 – $405.00$90.17 – $405.00$121.76 – $547.50$459.53 – $2,066.25
Gaia                                     $4.38 – $5.58 per 100 wipes$93.96 – $120.53$70.96 – $90.40$93.96 – $120.53$93.96 – $120.53$127.90 – $162.94$479.37 – $614.92
Johnson & Johnson             $4.58 – $5.61 per 100 wipes$98.93 – $121.18$74.20 – $90.88$98.93 – $121.18$98.93 – $121.18$133.74 – $163.81$504.72 – $618.22
Naty by Nature                     $6.71 – $8.93 per 100 wipes$114.94 – $192.89$108.70 – $144.67$114.94 – $192.89$114.94 – $192.89$195.93 – $260.76$739.44 – $984.09
Tooshies by Tom                   $7.14 – $7.86 per 100 wipes$154.22 – $169.78$115.67 – $127.33$154.22 – $169.78$154.22 – $169.78$208.49 – $229.51$786.83 – $866.17
Thank You                         $8.13 per 100 wipes$175.61$131.71$175.61$175.61$237.40$895.93
Water Wipes                       $12.50 per 100 wipes$270.00$202.50$107.52 – $163.82$107.52 – $163.82$159.46 – 1278.74$561.29 – $838.06
       
Average Cost$107.52 – $163.82$82.55 – $122.86$107.52 – $163.82$107.52 – $163.82$159.46 – 1278.75$561.29 – $838.07

If you choose to use cloth wipes, Nest recommends about two cloths for every nappy.  This means that you have extra for those big sticky messes or you can use them for hands and faces as well.  Based on the wipes stocked at Nest Nappies and having two wipes for every nappy, you could spend any where from $60.00 – $159.60.

Washing

But what about the cost of washing I hear you ask.  Surely all those extra loads each week will add to the electricity and water bills and surely I am going to go through a massive amount more in laundry detergent!

Well, the short answer there is, NO!!!  The average cost of laundering your nappies is not going to have a noticeable effect on your household bills.  The cost of laundering will vary greatly depending on your electricity supplier, the temperature of the water you choose to use, your machine and your detergent.  I have found very little increase in my household bills while using cloth nappies and while I haven’t worked out the exact figures, there are groups out there that have.  The general figure that seems to be bantered around is anywhere from $50 per annum to $170 per annum plus detergent.

cloth vs disposable

An example of how much rubbish is produced from disposable nappies compared to a stash of cloth nappies. Source unknown.

 

So, while the upfront costs of cloth nappies may make some people balk, when you look at the total cost of cloth vs disposable in a purely monetary sense, cloth nappies definitely stack up better!

 

*All prices have been taken from Coles Online, Woolworths Online and Aldi Online as well as Nest Nappies.  Prices are as at Nov 17.

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