One thing most parents seem to share is dread at the cost of nappies. These things are seriously expensive, and if you chose the wrong option, then you’re talking several thousand dollars over the duration. One friend commented specifically that their grocery bill plummetted after their 2nd child graduated.
To address this dreadful expense my partner and I talked over our options before the wee tacker was born, and settled on re-useable nappies. And he being 8 months old tomorrow I thought I’d give a progress report.
In short: Not so bad.
We thought that things might become… different… when he moved to solid food, but we’ve been lucky and the reusables options has worked out well. The principle of the nappy is that it has a waterproof cover, an absorbent cloth, and a disposable liner. The liner is supposed to act as a “catch-all” that allows you to easily dispose of any offending solids. And that’s pretty much exactly what it does. You just gather up the liner and flush it. Since there are no solids heading in the wash cycle the need for a rigorous soaking/washing sterilisation process is less, and a decent warm wash followed by sunlight by kill any bacteria.
And that’s the next issue. Hot washes. We’re still tracking the power bill compared to last year, but it’s being complicated by bad billing in 2008 (a topic for another day), and this winter being so much more cold. But initial figures suggest it’s not too bad, and it includes the additional washing needed to keep on top of grubby baby clothes (feeding is messy!). Total power bill for 2008 was $1021, and this year to date is $633 (6 months). Mind you, we are only using warm washes, but it seems to do the trick, and every few months we spend a week doing spanking hot washes, just in case.
Meanwhile, costs for cleaning are not substantial. Our entire detergent bill last year was $58 (seriously…), and cost to date (January to July), is $50. That includes concentrate, baking soda (bleach), and white vinegar (disinfectant), the latter two bought from Moore Wilsons, the former from the Warehouse in 5kg bags.
Pretty good right?
But! I hear you say. But the initial cost of he nappies!! It’s a killer!!
Well, total cost of nappies including disposables (used at night or when/if we travel), is [drum roll maestro]… $602.
Compared to the cost of buying disposable nappies that is a fairly big saving. We figure the boy will run through a minimum of 6 nappies a day (not skimping and making him wear them for longer), but at least 8. A 20-nappy pack costs a minimum of $10 on special, but more usually $12. Wolfram Alpha tells me that we have 243 days between 4 December and 4 August. This gives us a potential consumption of 1944 nappies, costing us a minimum of $972. Of course this is in reality likely to be higher.
And, we can change the boy as many times in a day as we want. The most water we ever need use is the minimum setting on the washing machine, so 8 nappies or 15 nappies makes no difference. Plus, the disposable liners are actually good for a couple of washes if they have only been peed on! Another saving!
We’re thinking that we won’t have to make the outlay for the next size up nappy for several months (his growth has evened out at around 11.5kg), so the next $180-odd so a little way of, meaning that from here till then the only cost is cleaning and purchasing additional liners ($10 for 100, cost to date included in the $602).
The final word? Well worth it.