Credit: CSJW

Becoming a parent for the first, second, or third time can leave you with many financial decisions. With some surveys suggesting that children can cost up to $10,000 over their first year, it’s no surprise that some parents will start looking for ways to save money. You may consider investing in a lot of secondhand clothing and equipment, or if you’ve already had a baby, you may decide to re-use a lot of your first child’s stuff. There is a lot on the shopping list from pushchairs to cots, cribs to car seats, sterilizers to clothing, and much more. Diapers are essential but they are probably not on your list of important things to buy. After all, they are disposable items like baby wipes right? Perhaps, but have you considered cloth diapers?


Some people immediately picture babies wrapped up in hundreds of terry towels,
all held together with giant safety pins. In some cases this is still the case, and it works fairly well for the parents that choose to go down that route, but there are now cloth nappies that needn’t be such hassle.


One of the biggest costs for the first two years of a child’s life is diapers. A baby can wear up to 5,500 disposable diapers by the time they are potty trained and in that time average family can spend around $1000 on disposables. Of course there is a start up cost with cloth, but the average total cost will be around $300. This will provide you with enough cloth diapers to see you from birth through to potty training. A lot of skeptical people will point out the cost of washing
them, but most cloth bum parents will tell you that washing will only add an extra two to three washes a week. Talking of washing, cloth diapers are brilliant for poop explosions as you will
rarely have leaks and that means that you will save having to washing more of your babies’ clothes. It is a definite bonus considering all of the accidents that you can get from disposables. Due to the sensitivity of a baby’s skin, you cannot use fabric conditioner with cloth diapers so the cost is cut down even further. Of course cost isn’t the only reason to use cloth. There are a lot more bonuses.

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Environmental impact.

In the UK market alone 7 million trees are chopped down to make disposables. Every day 8 million disposables are thrown away and 1 disposable can take up to 600 years to decompose at landfill.


No chemicals on your baby's skin.

You might not realize that disposable nappies have chemicals in them but they do. Here are some of the chemicals in disposables and what they can do.


Polyacrylic Acid - These are the small gel balls that line a disposable. They are what absorb urine and they are so absorbent that they can pull the moisture from a baby’s skin and cause extreme diaper rash. This chemical used to be in tampons but has been removed due its link with toxic shock syndrome. Despite its removal from feminine hygiene products, no studies have been carried out to investigate the possible effects on babies.


Styrene & Isopropyl – According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), mice were exposed to nappies that contained these chemicals and they were left with bronchial constriction and eye, nose, and throat irritation as a direct result.


TBT (Tribulytin) & Dioxin – These chemicals have been found in disposables throughout the world and many countries have now banned nappies that contain them. Dioxin has
been shown to affect the reproductive and immune systems, cause skin disease, cause birth defects, and damage the liver.

There are many types of cloth diaper so you can adapt them to suit your needs. Many people think that they will be scrubbing poop out of diapers and boiling them in saucepans but that really isn’t the case. Diaper innovation has come a long way and has kept up with many other modern technologies. Here are some types of cloth diaper.


Flat Diapers - These are the most traditional diaper and they are often the cheapest way of using cloth. There are different ways of making a flat diaper. Terry Squares are just a square that you fold and pin. You can also use simple muslin. Once folded, you can then use safety pins to hold them in place or you can purchase a tool called a Nappy Nippa or Snappi Diaper Fastner. The Nappy Nippa is a safer way of pinning the diaper. Terry Squares and muslin come in different sizes, colors, and materials. You will need a waterproof cover on this type of diaper in order to stop leakage. The design is pretty good for the early days when diaper changing is a very regular occurrence and they are also good to use during the winter months as the drying time is super quick. Some people only use Terry Squares, so if you want to be a “Cloth Bum Mom” then this type of diaper is a good option.


Pre-folds- These are rectangular diapers that have extra layers sewn in to the middle section. These don’t necessarily need a pin or a Nappy Nippa as there are wraps specifically designed for pre-folds.


All in Ones - These are super absorbent diapers that are super cute and fluffy and are shaped just the same as disposables. The entire diaper works as a giant sponge. You will definitely need a waterproof cover on these and you can use the waterproof cover multiple times before washing. These have a slower drying time but are the most simple to use. They have poppers or Applix to fasten them up to further ease use.


Pocket Diapers - These are also shaped like disposables. They have a waterproof outer layer and also have an inner layer made out of fleece or suede cloth. There is a pocket in between the layers which you can stuff with inserts. The Inserts are usually made out of a microfiber material or bamboo. There’s no need for a wrap with these due to the built in waterproofing and the
drying time is good for these as you can take the inserts out and wash and dry them separately. These diapers also have poppers or Applix fastening.


Fitted – Fitted diapers are disposable shaped diapers that have a waterproof outer layer, inserts/boosters sown into them, and then an inner layer of fleece or suede cloth. These
diapers are thick and you can’t take them apart so they have the longest drying time.

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Other Considerations.


Sizing - Some diapers are specially tailored in order to give babies a better fit. They are often sized by weight so there will usually be a small; from 6lb to 18lb (size 1) and 18lb to 40lb (size 2). Some companies cater for really small babies (from 4lb), and if you decide to leave toilet training until later, there are larger sized diapers (toddler sized) too.


Diaper Wraps – Diaper Wraps are the waterproof out-layers you will need for Flat Diapers and All in Ones. These can be made into little pants made out of material called PUL (Poly-Urethane Laminate). You can also make or buy soakers which are pant shaped or you can choose to go with soakers that are essentially just a pair of fleece trousers. If you’re a fan of knitting, or know someone who is, then you can have bespoke wool soakers made.

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With all of these diaper designs, you can choose to use a diaper liner. The benefit of the liner is that it catches poop. You can buy disposable paper liners, which are cheap and friendlier to the environment, or you can use fleece. Fleece is perfect for a baby’s bottom as it draws away moisture. When your baby is very small, you can just rinse the liners under a tap before putting them in the machine. When your baby starts eating solids you can just drop the poop down the toilet using a little technique called the poop flick.


Another bonus to cloth diapers is that they look so much better than disposables. A lot of moms have taken to creating their own fabulous designs and some have even set up their own businesses. There are some amazing designs out there, so you could have your child's favorite cartoon character on them or even your favorite sports team logo.


Even the high street’s cloth diapers can be aesthetically pleasing, and they often come in a wide variety of colors and patterns.
Once your child has been potty trained, you can still benefit from having a supply of cloth diapers. You can either keep them stored away for any future children, or you can sell them as they have a brilliant secondhand value.


So with a safer, more economical and environmentally friendly option out there, why not give cloth diapers a try? It’s never too late to start. You could even use cloth diapers alongside
disposables in order to save just a little bit of money. It may take a bit of experimenting to find out what is best for you and your baby, but once you find out you might never look back!