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Image: Diaper shopping
Chris Hondros  /  Getty Images file
The bigger box might not be the better deal if you sense your child is about to change sizes.
By Laura T. Coffey
TODAY contributor
updated 7/31/2008 5:33:59 PM ET 2008-07-31T21:33:59

Ah, life with a newborn baby — admiring those cute little hands and feet, picking out those cute little outfits … and changing as many as 10 diapers a day?

If you’re a new parent, you may be far less concerned about saving for college right this minute than you are about finding ways to pay for all those diapers. Who knew this one category could be this expensive? Don’t panic, though. The following tips can help.

1. Cloth or disposable? This question can cause as much angst for some parents as the “paper or plastic?” question in the grocery check-out line. You could definitely save money over time by going with cloth diapers and washing them yourself. Many parents reject this route, however, citing the inconvenience involved.

2. Do a little homework. Before nixing the idea of cloth diapers altogether, do at least some research into the options that exist today. These include the all-in-one cloth diaper, which features a diaper and a moisture-proof cover as one unit, and the diapering system, which has you insert a diaper inside a protective cover. These are nearly as simple to handle as disposable diapers, and neither uses safety pins. You do have to wash them, though.

3. Focus on fit. The real key to effectiveness for any diaper — whether it’s cloth or disposable — is how well it fits your child’s shape. If you spot any gaps or sagging anywhere, be forewarned: leaks happen.

4. Be open to store brands. If you, like many parents out there, decide to use disposable diapers, don’t feel compelled to buy a premium name brand. A recent Consumer Reports test revealed that store brands of disposable diapers performed exceedingly well. Costco’s “Kirkland Signature” brand and Wal-Mart’s “White Cloud” brand earned especially high marks. By going with a store brand, you can save about 10 cents a diaper, or nearly $200 a year.

5. Don’t be overly swayed by absorbency claims. Despite the emphasis placed on absorbency in TV commercials, just about every diaper on the market today can absorb far more liquid than would ever normally be required.

6. Buy in bulk in person or online. Considering how many diapers you’re using in a given week or month, shopping in bulk really can help you save. It could be well worth the membership fee to join a warehouse club such as Costco or Sam’s Club. You also can search for diaper deals online at sites such as Amazon.com, drugstore.com and CVS.com.

7. Choose small diapers in big boxes. Opt for the smallest possible size that fits your child well, and then buy that size in a large container. More diapers will fit inside the box that way, and you’ll spend less money per diaper.

8. Just make sure the box isn’t too big. In the early months of your child’s life, he or she is likely to grow so fast that you might not be able to finish an entire giant mega-box. If you can sense that you’re closing in on a size change, go ahead and buy a smaller package.

9. Hunt down diaper coupons. Look for them in your local newspaper, and sign up for special offers and coupons via diaper companies’ Web sites. Just be aware that this step could land you on multiple mailing lists.

10. Reflect on the pros and cons of disposable training pants. These pants are essentially diapers that look like underwear. They work well and make it easier to clean up accidents, but they pretty much do the same job as diapers for as much as 15 extra cents a pop. If you do decide to use these pants as underwear, make sure your child has mastered using the toilet first. That way the pants could come in handy if your child still needs a little extra protection overnight.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

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