Posts Tagged baby care

Cloth Baby Diapers – Worth the Expense?

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

The Background

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.

I decided because of the excessive amount of poop, I wouldn’t try the cloth right away and stuck to our pile of diapers we had received as gifts. I mean, changing 10 diapers a day didn’t appeal to me anyway, let alone all the laundry that would be required with using cloth. People do it though, and they are dedicated and courageous. After giant baby was 4 months old, I put a prefold on him. By this time, he was 18lbs and too big for the diapers!! So, they made really great burp cloths. The bumGenius one size diapers, however, were great! I could adjust the size with the snaps and fasten it closed with velcro on a band of velcro, so the fit was perfect. I haven’t had the resources to try out another kind of all-in-one or pocket cloth diaper, but I figured, if these worked, why switch? I soon realized having only 6 would not cut it. So I bought 2 more. I know, big spender.

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

The reality of laundry: I bought a couple of “odor hiding” bags to store dirty diapers in until laundry time. I open those up when it’s laundry time and stick the velcro tabs down, pull out the inserts and through them in the washer! If my kid was smaller, I would have the snaps fastened to make the diaper fit him, and you have to unsnap them before washing. I only wash 6 or 7 of them at a time so I only use 1/2 tsp. of Planet detergent. Planet is one of many you can use on bumGenius diapers, but it’s one of the more reasonably priced ones. Since you use such a small amount, it lasts forever. I still have much of the 1st bottle I ever bought left! (Granted I haven’t done cloth every day since the day he was born, but I have used them a good amount of times!) They go through a cold rinse with detergent, then a hot rinse with another small amount of detergent, then another rinse ( any temperature- I use cold). Then I throw the covers on the line and the inserts in the dryer on low for an hour. When they’re done, I take the time to stuff all the inserts into the covers and they are all ready for monster baby’s next poop or pee. I am usually anti-chores around the house, just ask my husband, but I genuinely do not mind doing the cloth laundry. I actually just ordered 3 new 4.0 bumGenius diapers with snap closures (instead of velcro tabs) to try them out and add to my stash. I’m excited for them to arrive! The reality of money and saving money:

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

We have 8 bumGenius diapers, with another 3 on the way. We paid $17.95 for ea. That means for 11 diapers we spent $197.45. 11 diapers will last us 2 full days before having to wash. While baby is in bed, I run the load while he still has one on or one to spare, and voila! I have another 2 days worth. Not too shabby. Now, you may not be able to get by when they are newborns with only 11 diapers. I think 20 is the recommended number so you’re not doing laundry EVERY day. Even with 20, let’s do the math. That’s $359. I’m not sure when you add in the water/electric that is involved to do extra laundry what it costs, but I’ll tell you that our bill has never been oodles more than normal before we even had a kid. You could potentially use the one-size pocket diapers until your baby is potty trained, and they say cloth diaper babies potty train faster- so there ya go!

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!

Final Analysis

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 Gift Cards to make a substantial dent in the initial cost.

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Save a Bundle on Baby Formula


Do a Little Homework

Today’s tip will require you to do a little homework before your little one arrives, and it will require you to spend a little time each week keeping an eye on things, and paying it forward. Although there is a little work required, you are guaranteed to save a bundle on baby formula.

As soon as you find out that you will be expecting your bundle, sign up with EVERY baby supply vendor (it sounds so business like, I know) you can find. Tell them it’s okay for them to send you things in the mail and email. You might even want to start another email address for this, so in the coming years, if it gets killed with spam, you can drop it. For now, go sign up. Here are some examples:

Feel free to search around for any other companies offering free memberships, and join.

Make sure you do this as soon as possible. In a few weeks, you should start to be inundated with free samples and coupons. These free samples and coupons will continue to fill your mailbox for the next few months. Save each and every one of them. File them, organize them, whatever you have to do, just make sure you know where they all are.

Is Generic Formula Okay?

When baby arrives and it’s time to decide on a formula brand (this is assuming that you will be feeding formula at some point), you will be faced with the very personal choice of which brand to feed baby. While I am all for substituting generic brands for some things in my kitchen, I made the conscious decision not to buy generic baby formula. After seeing so many news stories of tainted baby formula, I thought this would probably be a wise choice. The idea of rat poison or surplus WWI ammunition in my baby’s formula was a risk I didn’t want to deal with.

A few years ago, I also made the conscious choice to refrain from shopping at a certain chain that rhymes with Ball Bart, so part of this solution relies on shopping around a little bit.

Step One – Gather your Coupons

Now that you have made a decision on which formula to feed baby, gather all the coupons you have for that brand. Whatever you do, do not throw out the other coupons. We will need those in an upcoming step.

Sort the coupons for your brand by denomination and possibly expiration date. This is the order you want to use them in.

One more thing I should mention. Without even doing the math, I decided to go with powdered formula. I knew it be would really expensive to pay someone else to process, package, and ship water. If anyone wants to see the math, we can do it, but my guess is that it’s a waste of money. Plus, you have to throw all those bottles in the trash.

Step Two – Scan Your Circulars

Since I made the choice to refrain from giving my money to the store that rhymes with Ball Bart, I started paying much closer attention to my spending and seeking out bargains. Over the years, I discovered the magic of CVS and its extra bucks system. What I learned was that every week, something that I needed on a daily basis was on special.

While I could write a whole article on taking advantage of CVS’s weekly specials (and maybe I will in the next few months) I found that not only was I saving a fortune on my regular household needs, I was racking up a significant fortune in Extra Bucks. Extra Bucks are just currency that you can use only at CVS. You gain them buy buying certain items, and sometimes, the cash register just gives them to you (my wife and I call this “jackpotting.”) You can also get random $5 off on $15 purchase bucks, too.

Without spending all day gushing about CVS, suffice it to say that we always saved our extra bucks. Then, we would sit. Sit and wait. Wait for our forumula (Enfamil) to go on sale. My gut feeling says that it went on sale once every three weeks. Then, we’d pounce. Here’s How it would go down:

25.7 Ounce Baby Formula$26.99
CVS Sale Price- $3
MFG Coupon from Step 1-$7
Extra Bucks-$5
Total Cost$11.99

Okay, we have cut fifteen bucks a can off the cost of baby formula. But wait, there’s more. This will cost a little bit of time, but it will pay back, and forward.

Step Three – Share the Wealth

Now, we can take the above ideas, and blow them through the roof. Everyone who signs up for the offers I mentioned in the beginning will receive and endless stream of coupons and samples. Once you dial in your brand, you will not have any use for the other brands’ coupons and samples. BUT! Someone else will.

If you are not familiar with Freecycle, you should head over there after you read this and get familiar. The gist is, if you have something that still has some use in it, and rather than try to make a buck off it, you would rather just give it away, you post your listing there. If you see an offering you would like, you can email that person, claim it, and go pick it up.

There is an unlimited supply of curios on freecycle, but one of the best uses for you and baby is to post your unneeded coupons and samples to the list. Since you saved all your coupons from step one, you can post them to the list. When you see your brand come up, you can claim it.

Here are some of the things I have claimed:

  • Several 25.7 ounce samples of Enfamil. Each is worth $26.
  • Several formula coupons, each worth between $5 and $15. In many cases, with my extra bucks, I ended up getting my baby formula for free. In retrospect, I never paid more than $12 for a $26 can of formula. In LOTS of cases, I ended up getting my can of formula for free.
  • Coupons for other people who were using other brands of formula but weren’t on freecycle.

Final Words

Your freecycle group may not have a very active baby coupon trading group yet. If it isn’t very active yet, I urge you to start posting your coupons and samples now. Post a link to this article. Do whatever you need to do (tastefully) to raise interest.

Also keep in mind that many mothers out there don’t have the free time or the computer time participate in trading coupons and samples on freecycle. If you know any of these mothers, find out what kind of formula they use, and what coupons they have and help them out a little bit. I am sure they wouldn’t mind saving at least $15 a week for their babies.

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