This article comes from new writer, Allison Barnhart. She is not only a mommy, but a freelance graphic designer. You can find more info about her on her facebook page
I was really interested in using cloth diapers on our baby on the way. I bought small prefolds, covers, snappis, 6 bumGenius 3.0s, and cloth wipes. I was gung ho about it. Then I gave birth to Goliath.
My main thought on the whole cloth process is that you need to be realistic. If you are a person who cringes at the thought of more laundry, cloth diapering may not be your thing. Or, if you are a working mom, travel a lot, etc., it could be a challenge, but you can do it! I am a stay at home mom, which is a perk with cloth, but I also have 3 casual or part time jobs in addition to taking care of my little one. We also get out of the house quite a bit and visit friends, family, and take trips. Cloth can be tricky on the go. Who wants to have a car full of smelly diapers in a bag? Not me. So, we have done the trial and error thing with disposables and cloth and realized that what works best for us is to use both! Most people are usually all in or all out, but I believe we still save money by using cloth when we can, and then looking for the sales and clipping coupons on the disposables.
So, these days, I have a 15 month old. He’s pretty predictable, using about 5 diapers a day, give or take. I usually have to do laundry every other day for the diapers. If at home, we have been using cloth during the day and then a good absorbent disposable at night. I have a kid that wets big time. So sometimes even using the 2 inserts for heavy wetters in the cloth diaper won’t hold over night. I use the 2 inserts during the day for him as well, and they do fine for a 2-3 hour span of time.
He is 26 lbs now, and I’m still using the same diapers I did when he was 17 lbs. I could have used those sooner as well, right down to his birth weight of 8lbs. but like I said earlier, I wasn’t ready! I hope to buy a new cloth diaper here and there, so by the time I have a 2nd child, I would be able to use all cloth if I wanted to. I will get to the numbers and saving money in a minute.
The Smelly Reality
To buy cloth diapers, it means shelling out a lot of money at one time. But, it could save you in the long run. So, it depends how your mind works. Spend $300 right now and possibly never again, OR spend $8.99 every 5 days or so for a pack of disposables. For 2-1/2 years. I’ll try to break it down. (Every situation is different, and there are many varied prices out there on cloth and disposables, but you’ll get the idea)
The Cost of Cloth Diapers
The Cost of Disposable Diapers
For a few months you are probably using 8-12 diapers a day. Then it slows down and could go down to only 5 or 6 a day. Let’s just do an average of what you may potentially spend from birth until your kid is 2-1/2 (the average age of the potty trained kid):
You could spend a good $0.19- $.30 per diaper, depending on the brand.
Let’s say the first 3 months you change diapers an average of 9 times a day. The low end would be $154 and the high end would be $243 for the 1st 3 months.
Then about 7 day for the next 3… You’re looking at: $119.70 – $189
And from about 6 months till your child is potty trained, we’ll say 30 months (2-1/2 years old): $684 – $1080
Add it all up and you could be looking at anywhere from $958 – $1,512- let’s face it, your kid may not be totally potty trained until 3 and you’ll be looking at costs from training pants and overnight diapers too!
So, if your cloth lasts you the 2-1/2 years (which it should, if taken care of properly), then there is a substantial pro to using them if you’re up for the little bit of extra work. Even if you add in the few bucks it may cost to do a few extra laundry loads a month, and, if you’re like me, buy disposables occasionally when you’re traveling, or need a cloth break:), you will still save HUNDREDS of dollars. PLUS, if you have more kids, guess what you already have to use on them? That’s right. More money saved. You may have to replace a couple or repair wear and tear over the years, but seriously, we’re talking about spending about $500-$600 over the course of at least 2-1/2 years, if not another 2-1/2 on the next child, or spend $1000-$1500 per child; maybe even up to $3000 if you are still potty training at 3 years old.
I think the numbers, as well as the whole green factor does it for me! You’re saving trees and your not adding to the landfill problem. An added bonus to saving lots of money!! So, it comes down to what will work best for your baby and for you. Just be realistic and get ready to either spend the money, or have a couple more steps in the diapering/laundry process. No one will judge you either way! Well, they might, but who cares, do what works for your family.
Questions? I’m no expert, but I can try. I do have a handful of expert friends though, who have used cloth (and varied kinds) longer than I have, so I can try to get you in touch with them if you need some advice on this subject!
Editor’s Note: When you are having a baby shower, it might be worth mentioning to guests that you would like Amazon.com Gift Cards to make a substantial dent in the initial cost.