Cloth diapers are one of those hot topics when it comes to parenting. Some claim you MUST use them and others want nothing to do with them. But cloth diapering can save you money. Learn everything you need to know about cloth and how it helps your budget.
I remember when my son was a baby, a large amount of our budget was dedicated to diapers. My husband and I hated that we paid for something we would throw away and would end up in a landfill.
Shortly before our daughter was born in the fall of 2008, I started researching cloth diapers. I did a LOT of reading. Even more important than the research was the cost analysis. I was curious if this initial cost would end up saving us money.
It turns out – it did! Crazy idea – huh? Sure, we had to pay money up front, but in the end, we came out much further ahead. For us, it ended up being a no-brainer.
WHAT TO CONSIDER BEFORE YOU CLOTH DIAPER
How much longer will your child be in diapers?
If you are getting ready to begin potty training, switching to cloth may not be cost effective for you. However, if you purchase gender neutral diapers (or a color based upon your children’s genders), and have a younger child, you could quickly recoup your investment.
You will want your child to be in the diapers for a period longer than it would take to make your money back. For us, we knew it would be at least six months – therefore, we saved money.
Will we save enough to make it worth it?
While cloth diapers are good for the environment, the main reason many use them is that they can save money. But, you must know if that is the case for you or not.
Before you jump onto the cloth diapering bandwagon, you will need to do some math.
Look at how much you spent on diapers the last time you shopped. Also, notice the number of diapers in the box. Next, estimate how many diapers you use a day. Then, determine how much you spend a month. Multiply this number times the number of months your child will be in diapers to get an overall cost.
Next, you need to calculate the cost of the cloth diapers and liners. Make sure you also add in the cost of a few extra bottles of detergent, as you will have more laundry to do. The final step is to compare the two figures to see which is the lower amount!
Here is a simple example:
One box of Size 3 Huggies Little Movers, 174 count, runs around $39. If your child goes through six diapers a day, that is just about one box a month. If your child were in diapers for 24 months, your total cost over that time would be $936.
You can purchase a six pack of pocket diapers for around $120 from Cottonbabies, which means you need to buy two for a total of twelve diapers. It would be smart to pick up 4 – 5 more liners, which run $12 each. The total cost would be $300.
Even without adding in additional detergent or utility costs, cloth diapers provide significant savings.
What kind of diapers do I need to get?
Cloth diapers of today are so easy to use and come in so many colors and styles. There are several different types of cloth diapers and will want to test out a few to find the one that works best for you.
These are a diaper that has a pocket where you slide in liners. The liners absorb the moisture. You can add one or two liners, depending upon the amount of absorbency you may need.
For example, you may want to use an extra liner during the night. However, during the day, a single one might work. These diapers also close like regular diapers with hook and loop closures (a/k/a Velcro) or snaps. So, that means NO PINS.
The all-in-one cloth diaper is just as the name suggested. It is a diaper without any insert and most like disposable diapers. However, they take longer to dry than other diapers. But, they are very convenient to use.
Flats are the “old” diapers with which many of you are most familiar. You can fold these in a variety of ways. You must use a cover with these diapers as there is no waterproof liner.
Fitted diapers are not waterproof, so you will need to use a cover with them. These do not require a liner nor folding to use, making them a convenient option for parents.
Contour cloth diapers are a cross between fitteds and flats, however, will require a pin for closing. They also are not waterproof, meaning you must use a diaper cover.
Hybrid diapers are a cross between disposable and cloth diapers. The outside of the diaper is washable, but the inside is disposable. A common type of hybrid is the gDiaper.
Sleeve cloth diapers are similar to pockets, but with one slight difference. These diapers have a slot on both sides of the diaper for the insert. As a result, you do not need to remove the inset to launder them as the agitation of the washing machine will force them out.
How will I handle waste and launder them?
Some parents have a sprayer that is attached to the tub so they can spray them down after they dispose of the waste in the toilet. You can also use the old school “dump and swish” method.
Once you do that, you can place them in a wet bag to contain odors. However, if they smelled very strong, you can toss them into your washing machine and run a quick rinse.
There are special washing steps to follow — but they are not hard. Each manufacturer will advise you as to how to wash them. But, you have to wash them on their own (not with any other items), use a dye free, perfume free, chemical free detergent (i.e., Seventh Generation or something like that) and do an extra rinse to get the residual detergent out.
There are times when stripping your diapers is required. This removes the build-up of soap, smells, and stains. Review the manufacturer’s instructions on what to do to strip the diapers you purchase. However, in most cases, you will add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle of your machine. Then, run one final rinse afterward to remove any vinegar residue (so it does not chafe sensitive skin).
Once you get used to washing them, they will be part of your routine laundry schedule.
How many diapers do I need?
It depends on how many your child goes during the day. A good number would be 10 – 14 diapers per child. This number will require washing every other day.
Where do I find them?
Most of the time, you will not find them in any stores. There are some sites you can go to for research and make your purchase. Some sites include:
You can even visit online sites where parents sell their diapers – at huge discounts! One site you can look into is DiaperSwappers.com. Make sure you check out the lottos section – you might even score FREE DIAPERS!
HOW TO USE CLOTH DIAPERS
Cloth diapers work the same way as disposable diapers do. The difference may be the closure. Rather than plastic strips, you may use snaps, velcro or pins to close your diapers. Some require covers (as noted above).
Rather than toss the diapers, they are rinsed and laundered, so they can be used again. It take a bit more work to use cloth, but the cost savings can make it worth it.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON CLOTH DIAPERING
If you are considering cloth, do your research. Ask questions. Find other moms who cloth to find out what works for them. You also may want to purchase a sampler pack, which can include different styles as what works for one person may not work for another.
Now, the most incredible thing of all is that when your child is potty trained or outgrows the diapers, you can turn around and re-sell them. Try doing THAT with your previously used Pampers or Huggies!!!