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An Not-So-Brief Note On Programming

It has now been almost a year since I last properly updated this blog. Unfortunately, this is what happens to me when I try to take on extra projects that require real commitment – real life comes along and knocks the proverbial pen right out of my hand.

It may interest you to know that in the time since my last update, I have taken on the challenges of fatherhood and all the changes to daily life that this entails.

Being a parent negatively impacts upon your lifestyle, your health, your finances and your sanity in nearly every metric I can think of, and at the same time, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Never have I felt the sense of satisfaction with my life that I do now and can’t even imagine ever going back. Everything ai did up until now seems so aimless, so trivial. For those of you so inclined, kids are worth losing a bit of sleep over.

All that said, I still haven’t addressed the problem of my failing to provide my readers with any new content!

Part of the problem has been that I start writing posts that I abandon halfway through because:

1) The subject is too big and what was meant to be a short, simple, food-for-thought item turns into a 3000 word monster without my realising it

2) I’m not happy with what I have written, either because it’s too short or not well enough written

The irony of my failure to publish anything is that I actually do write a lot of stuff, but it’s all in forum posts where I’m crossing swords with someone I either disagree with or am trying to educate. If only I could take the energy and moxie that drives me to bust out this sort of prolixity on forums and channel it into my blog.

Then the answer hit me.

Why not just blog forum posts I’m particularly proud of?

The best part of this plan is that I’m able to use these online conversations as stimulus and inspiration, which is another hurdle I run into.

If you post on NeoGAF and are familiar with my posts there, I do apologise. Original stuff will come, just a bit later.

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Categories: Admin, Parenting Tags: , ,

How Many Nappies Do I Need to Buy?

Baby Love

So, you’ve found out the news that you’re going to be a first time parent!  Congratulations! Apart from being completely intimidating and more than a little bit terrifying a prospect, this is a joyous time, but if you’re anything like me, you want to do a little bit of planning ahead of time.

One of the pieces of advice that often gets bandied about is the tip that you should stock up on nappies early and to purchase them while they are on special at your local supermarket.  This is all well and good, but the next thing that will happen is that you will go to the store and again be completely overwhelmed.  There are at least six different sizes of disposable nappy available from a variety of companies, all offering different gimmicks in order to entice you to buy them over their competitors. Not only that, but they also come in different quantities, so you’re left wondering which packs to stock up on, and how much is enough.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the different varieties are divided up by weight rather than something more intuitive like height or length and they overlap a bit so your little one is always covered.  Again though, there is no real guidance as to which ones to buy and how many to get. Searching online seems to only yield forum posts and thumb-in-the-air estimations from parents, which is a little bit imprecise for my tastes.

So I decided to do a few quick calculations.

First, I downloaded the World Health Organisation’s statistics on child growth from birth to five years old. These are divided up between data for boys and data for girls, which the Victorian state government in Australia helpfully put into a graphical form that you can print out and refer to.  The next thing I did was to look up the Huggies website and looked up their range of nappies.  I chose Huggies not because I particularly trust the brand (My wife and I are still just expectant parents ourselves, so I have no opinion one way or the other), but because they’re reasonably popular here in Australia, have the full range of sizes and are a bit more expensive than most other brands, which for a worst-case-scenario calculation like this one, is perfect. I’ve also assumed you’re paying retail prices and buying in their biggest bulk size ($35/box), which as we know, is very often not the case.

The WHO data is divided up into fifteen percentile categories with the 0.1st percentile meaning that 99.9% of babies are bigger, the tenth percentile meaning 90% of babies are bigger and so forth until you get to the 99.9th percentile, wherein only o.1% of babies are bigger than this set of figures.  For the vast majority (i.e. 80%) of babies, weights between the 10th and 90th percentiles is expected, so don’t panic if your baby is a bit bigger or a bit smaller than the average.

I also assumed that a newborn baby will need a nappy change once every sleep / waking cycle, which for most babies is between two and three hours (which works out to be about 9.6 nappies used a day) and that a month is 30.4167 days long.  The assumption is also that this rate will never change. Remember though that this is a worst-case-scenario calculation and many babies will use fewer nappies, especially after they start on solid food.

Here below then, are the tabulated results for girls with the average sized baby highlighted in red:

Percentiles P10% P15% P25% P50% P75% P85% P90%
Girls Months spent at various weights (up to 36 months)
Mths Newborn 3 2 2 2 1 1 1
Mths Infant 6 6 5 4 3 3 3
Mths Crawler 19 18 17 14 12 10 8
Mths Toddler 9 11 13 17 15 14 14
Mths Walker 0 0 0 0 6 9 9
Mths Junior 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
Girls Number of nappies required @ 292 nappies / month
Newborn 876 584 584 584 292 292 292
Infant 1752 1752 1460 1168 876 876 876
Crawler 5548 5256 4964 4088 3504 2920 2336
Toddler 2628 3212 3796 4964 4380 4088 4088
Walker 0 0 0 0 1752 2628 2628
Junior 0 0 0 0 0 0 584
Number of boxes required
Newborn 8.2 5.5 5.5 5.5 2.8 2.8 2.8
Infant 18.3 18.3 15.3 12.2 9.2 9.2 9.2
Crawler 61.7 58.4 55.2 45.5 39 32.5 26
Toddler 36.5 44.7 52.8 69 60.9 56.8 56.8
Walker 0 0 0 0 27.4 41.1 41.1
Junior 0 0 0 0 0 0 9.8
Total Boxes 124.7 126.9 128.8 132.2 139.3 142.4 145.7
Total Cost $4364.5 $4441.5 $4508 $4627 $4875.5 $4984 $5099.5

And the same results for boys:

Percentiles P10% P15% P25% P50% P75% P85% P90%
Boys Months spent at various weights (up to 36 months)
Mths Newborn 2 2 2 1 1 1 1
Mths Infant 5 4 3 3 3 2 2
Mths Crawler 17 16 15 12 9 8 7
Mths Toddler 13 15 17 18 15 15 14
Mths Walker 0 0 0 3 9 9 9
Mths Junior 0 0 0 0 0 2 4
Boys Number of nappies required @ 292 nappies / month
Newborn 584 584 584 292 292 292 292
Infant 1460 1168 876 876 876 584 584
Crawler 4964 4672 4380 3504 2628 2336 2044
Toddler 3796 4380 4964 5256 4380 4380 4088
Walker 0 0 0 876 2628 2628 2628
Junior 0 0 0 0 0 584 1168
Number of boxes required
Newborn 5.5 5.5 5.5 2.8 2.8 2.8 2.8
Infant 15.3 12.2 9.2 9.2 9.2 6.1 6.1
Crawler 55.2 52 48.7 39 29.2 26 22.8
Toddler 52.8 60.9 69 73 60.9 60.9 56.8
Walker 0 0 0 13.7 41.1 41.1 41.1
Junior 0 0 0 0 0 9.8 19.5
Total Boxes 128.8 130.6 132.4 137.7 143.2 146.7 149.1
Total Cost $4508 $4571 $4634 $4819.5 $5012 $5134.5 $5218.5

The thing that jumped out at me was how little difference it makes if you have a little boy or a little girl. It adds up to maybe a few hundred dollars over three years. I’m sure other things factor in, but for nappies at least, boys and girls are evenly matched.

If you wanted to do your own calculation and modify it to suit how many nappies your baby uses after they are on solids (which I unfortunately couldn’t find reliable data on), I think the important takeaway here is the part of each table that shows how many months your baby is likely to be in each weight category.  If your baby cuts down to (say) five nappies per day after starting solids, then you might only need half the boxes I calculated here from there on in. Every kid is different, however, so if you use this information as the basis for your own calculation, remember that the WHO statistics are just a rough guide, not the be all and end all.

I hope this helps you first time parents out there.  I know I felt a little bit better myself once I worked out what to expect.