How would you spend $4,500?

Did you know that by buying cloth you could save enough money for a family holiday to Fiji?  Or even all your major baby purchases. It’s true, you really can save a lot just by using cloth nappies.

I’ll admit it, I jumped when I first saw the price of a Birth to Potty pack. My husband was more on to it and thought it was a good deal. I had to do the math. So, being the little saver that I am, I went to my local supermarket and looked at the price of disposables. I added it all up and it didn’t take me long to work out that hubby was right and cloth was the winner.

In fact, I really couldn’t believe how much it does cost to have a child in disposables! So, I wanted to share with you some of the numbers I crunched.  Now, with my math, I tried to average everything and round it to keep nice even numbers, because dealing with fractions is just all too much for one mamma's brain.

Cost of Disposables

Let's start with disposables, cause they're cheap right?  Wrong!!!

The average disposable nappy costs around $0.30 - $0.88. This hugely depends on brand and size and how many you can get in a pack. Specials can also make a difference. But, we'll average it out (I'm all about the averages) and say it’s $0.70 per disposable nappy.

70 cents is pretty cheap, can't really complain....yet.

How many nappies will I need?

Next, we need to work out how many nappies am I going to need, because whatever brand / style / version of nappy I use, this is not going to change. Fact.

You often don't want to think about is how often your sweet little newborn angel needs a nappy change. But, I can tell you now, it doesn't matter what sort of nappy they are wearing, it's about 8-12 nappies per 24 hour period, at least for the first 6 months.

1 day of nappies 1 week of nappies

This adds up over time, by the first 6 months you've used a total of 1,800 nappies 
(6 months x 30 days x 10 changes).  

6 months of disposables
first 6 months of disposable nappies

This image is actually to scale - Take the average height of a female (1.65m) and put a pile of disposable nappies next to her (the pile is 1.62m) and you will need at least 8 piles.

So far, our disposable spending is ($0.70 x 1800 nappies) $1,260.  That's about the same as a fancy new buggy and a brand new set of cloth nappies, and we are only at the first 6 months.

6 months comparison.

Let's keep going...

Once on solids and as bub gets older the bladder gets larger the number of nappies is slightly reduced, so for the next 6 months it's around (6 months x 30 days x 8 changes) 1440 nappies. 

Making a grand total of 3240 nappies for the first year and
a total of ($0.70 x 3240 nappies) $2,268 spent on disposables.  

The next year you will certainly changing less often and usually only one nappy at night. Around 5-7 changes per day, again averaging numbers means... 365 days x 6 changes = 2190 nappies for the second year.

Most babies are potty trained around 2-3 years old, so again working on averages, we say baby is out of nappies at 2.5 years (add another 1095 changes - rounded down), making a grand total of…

6500 nappy changes!!!! 

Related imagePhew - that's a lot.


If you're still following along and the numbers haven't yet scared you off, you'll realise that

  • 6500 nappy changes for baby
  • 70 cents per disposable nappy
  • a grand total of $4550 for disposable nappies!  

It's enough nappies to build a fortress.

Remember this image above is to scale with the average height of a female and is for piles of new disposable nappies, once the nappies are filled the piles would be much much higher!

So cloth is better?

The Real Nappies Birth to Potty pack is $700 - that's way cheaper.  Plus, it comes with a two-child guarantee.  Brilliant.

But hang on you say... cloth isn't just buying the nappies.  There's the washing and the detergent.

Running a washing machine

To work out running costs, I went to the energywise website (you can do this too - it's fun, well, it was for me). I picked the washing machine and selected warm wash, 4kg capacity (I figure nappies aren’t going to take much capacity), 7 days a week (may be overkill), energy rating of 3 stars (average). 

So washing every day for a year will cost $59.49 in power. That's a week of disposables.

But wait, there’s more….Now I need washing liquid. I use Ecostore (you could use something cheaper) for $10/L and apparently will do 28 washes . You are supposed to only use ¼ of the recommended amount, so it’s actually 112 nappy washes for $10. If you really were washing every day then the annual cost is $32.60 (365 days ÷ 112 washes x $10)

Total cost of one year of washing is $92. (laundry liquid + power).  We don't pay for water where I live, so you may need to add that to the equation.

Even though babies in cloth nappies tend to potty train earlier, for consistency let’s say baby is using nappies until 2.5 years, so a grand total of ($92 x 2.5 years + $700) = $930

However, remember I was being very liberal with my numbers and in reality if you are washing the nappies with other clothes or not every day etc, then your laundry costs can be considered less or if you have two children then the washing costs are shared. Especially when you consider that children are messy creatures and you’ll be putting the machine on regularly anyway.

So, you could say anywhere between $800 and $950 for the first child in cloth, and then any additional child is just the washing costs.

Now let's compare...

What have you saved by being in cloth?

Disposables cost $4500.
Cloth cost $930.
Total savings is $3570

WOW! That’s a lot of money. Think how many cute little outfits you could get for that and that fancy new pram and the super safe carseat…. or the trip to Fiji?

More children?  Check out this table below to show you how you could have spent or saved your money.

Number of Children Cost in Cloth Cost in Disposables Savings (if using cloth)
1 $880 $4500 $3,620
2 $1100 $9000 $7,900
3 $1400 $13,500 $12,500



Do you want to work out the math for yourself? I went to Countdown online shopping, found disposable nappies and then ranked by cheapest to most expensive to get each end of the scale. I also used countdown online shopping to find the price of washing liquid.

I used Energywise Running Cost Calculator to figure out the cost of running my washing machine. The nerd in me loved this, it was so much fun to play around with the star rating. It’s amazing how much different the energy stars make in annual costs. Something to think about when buying a washing machine.

I used Baby City to work out the price of $4500 of baby gear.