My cloth diaper career ceased two years ago, but I pulled this article out of the archives any way because cloth diapering posts were always a popular topic of discussion around here.
While it’s true that I am a satisfied disposable diaper user once again, I still love to “talk cloth”!
When I first delved into the world of cloth diapers almost seven years ago, I was so excited at the prospect of shaving thousands of dollars off our spending budget. We spent at least $50 a month just purchasing diapers for one child, and that was using the generic store brands!
I quickly ran headlong into one tiny obstacle: cloth diapers are an expensive investment.
Sure, it sounds great to save, save, save by replacing disposables with washable, reusable cloth. But those nifty little cloth dipes will cost you something!
Thankfully, if you find a good quality diaper system that you like, and stick with it, the upfront cost of cloth diapers is a one-time investment. (Unlike disposables, which you have to buy again and again and again and again.)
While using cloth is obviously a money-saving route to keeping your baby’s bottom covered, it doesn’t always seem very “frugal” when you’re forking over hundreds of dollars in one chunk.
Here are some ideas for minimizing and working around the upfront expense of “going cloth”:
1) Start out with prefold diapers. Prefolds are by far the least expensive route for cloth diapering. You can easily find them for $2 to $3 a piece, depending on what size you need. Prefolds are especially practical if your baby is a newborn, although I know moms who use prefolds all the way up until their babies are potty training age. If you choose the prefold diaper route, you will need several Snappis and diaper covers, as well as a stash of liners for good absorption.
2) Add cloth diapers to your baby registry. Since expectant mamas usually receive at least several packages of disposable diapers at baby showers, why not let people know you are going with cloth instead? Most online cloth diaper retailers offer a baby registry, including two of my favorite cloth resources Nurtured Family and Green Mountain Diapers. I’ve heard of family and friends throwing a “cloth diaper shower”, where every one buys the new baby a cloth diaper or some type of cloth diaper accessory. (Now there’s a neat idea!) Buying cloth diapers in bundles of a dozen or more usually warrants some kind of discount and sometimes even free shipping, so friends and family can easily go together and help you build your stash!
3) Start out “small” and apply the savings toward cloth. I mentioned starting out with prefolds versus the more expensive (albeit more convenient) fitted and all-in-one diapers. We did this when converting Emily over to cloth when she was an infant. I started out with a dozen prefolds and began using cloth part-time. Since I wasn’t buying disposables as often, I was able to save a little every week toward my “cloth diaper fund”. Eventually, I purchased a small set of nicer, fitted Motherease diapers. I used those, along with our prefolds, until I was able to completely build up a good cloth diaper system. Small steps are better than no steps, so start with what you can and go from there.
4) Buy used instead of new. If you don’t mind buying used, you can build a diaper stash for about half the price of buying new. Motherease has a buy and sell forum. I have purchased diapers off this forum that were only used a few weeks and were like new. Occasionally, I’ve seen diaper stashes for sale that were never used (mama changed her mind!). The other diaper forum I’ve purchased from is Diaper Swappers, which offers just about any and every brand of diaper. When purchasing diapers off a forum, just be sure you know what you’re getting (request pictures if there aren’t any posted), ask questions before you buy, be sure the shipping fee is reasonable, and check the seller’s feedback from previous transactions.
5) Check out “seconds”. Occasionally, you can find a bargain by looking for a “seconds” link on a cloth diaper website. Green Mountain offers seconds and sales on select cloth diapers and accessories. Just be sure you’re purchasing a diaper that is good quality and will last! “Cheap” is not always a good thing in regards to diapers!
I’ll throw this one in for what it’s worth… if you’re industrious, have the time and ability, you can make your own cloth diapers. From what I’ve read about this, it can be frugal or quite costly, depending on what materials you use. I have never personally made my own diapers, since I’m not a talented seamstress and I don’t have time to sit at a sewing machine for hours.
If you’re new to cloth diapering, or have considered going cloth but feel overwhelmed, check out Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert, by Erin Odom. This ebook is a great resources that covers all the cloth diapering basics and beyond.
Do you use cloth diapers? How did you cut the initial cost of building a stash?
Kristy Howard is a pastor’s wife, second-generation homeschooling mom of five, and a passionate believer in friendship, coffee, and quiet time! Kristy writes about motherhood, ministry and life at KristysCottage.com.