Doin' the diaper math....

Cloth Dipaers Drying in the WindCredit: Flickr user simplyla


At first, when you hear about cloth diapering, if you're anything like me, you are super gung ho!  It's great for the environment.  It makes me look like super mom (or dad)! I will save a ton of money over disposable diapers!

But then when you see the actual price tag of the cloth diapers, there is a bit of a "wow" factor.  And not in a good way. 

The cheapest way to cloth diaper is to use flats.  These are your grandmas' diapers, and they are a bit complicated to fold and pin (or snappi).  Who wants to do that?  Onward, I say!

Next cheapest initial investment is prefolds.  These are rectangular shaped, and only need to be trifolded and laid inside of a waterproof diaper cover.  They are not too difficult to use, and it will run you about 100 bucks for the initial investment. 

The easiest cloth diapers to use by far are the pockets or all-in-ones.  Pocket diapers are a waterproof outer cover with fastener, and an attached stay-dry inner layer.  Then, you stuff an insert in-between the outer and inner layers inside of the pocket.  These diapers always come with the insert when you buy them, and are very easy to use.  What I do is after I wash all the diapers, I go ahead and pre-stuff all the pockets so that they are all ready to go when it comes to changing time. 

The all-in-one diapers are a) the most expensive  and b) the easiest to use (you don't have to stuff any pockets after you wash them, but they are also c) the hardest to get and keep clean.  When you can't remove the inner absorbent layer in an all-in-one diaper, they are difficult to get completely clean, like a pocket diaper does.  That's why, for ease of use and a middle-of-the-road cost, I use pocket diapers.

StashCredit: moohaha on flickr

And the best of those, as far as price, value, and durability, is the Bum Genius 4.0 Pocket Diaper.   

Let's look at what the upfront cost of cloth diapering and the potential savings that you could see.

Here's a chart comparing the estimated cost of using disposable diapers vs premium cloth diapers like the Bum Genius in a chart from Diaper Co.[5971]

"Disposable Diapers

0-3 months
10-12 diapers/day
90 x 10 = 900
Size 1
3-12 months
8-10 diapers/day
270 x 8 = 2160
Size 3
12-30 months
7-8 diapers/day
540 x 7 = 3780
Size 5
Total number of diapers
Total Cost for Disposables

Add another $200.00 for disposable wipes for a total of $1751.60 for 30 months of disposable diapers and wipes. This is per child.

Cloth Diapers - bumGenius One-Size (fits 8-35 lbs)

36 bumGenius
$16.95 ea.
Total Cost for Premium Diapering System


Add $24.00 for 24 Cloth Wipes and Cloth Diapers cost you $273.00-$634.20 and they can be used for subsequent children as well"


Total Savings $1117.40-$1478.60

And that's just for the first kid!

I think the real kicker is that they can be used for any subsequent children!  Also, this chart suggests that you need 36 diapers, and if you only plan on washing once a week, than you do.  But I always washed every couple of days, and I only found myself using 18-24 diapers regularly. 

Well, there you have it.  Cloth diapering isn't for everyone, but everyone can realize a significant savings.  Especially considering the initial investment is a one time thing (Bum Genius 4.0 are a one size diaper, meaning they can be adjusted from the newborn stage all the way through toddlerhood.) 

Bum GeiusCredit:



Best of luck to all you fellow cloth diaperers!