Credit: Vera KratochvilOn average, most infants will have between 5,000 and 7,000 diaper changes from birth to potty training. For a family on a budget, cloth diapers are one item that can lead to big savings over this time. If you factor in the cost of washing and drying, cloth diapers can cost about 6 cents per diaper change. Compare this with the cost of disposable diapers, which is around 36 cents per diaper change.
If you extrapolate this out, the total cost of cloth diapers is around $381.00 vs. over $2,500.00 for disposables.
If cloth diapers are so much less expensive, why do most parents use disposables? This is partly because disposables are so convenient. Cloth diapers must be rinsed off, and parents must dispose of solid waste in them (usually in the toilet). Although parents are also supposed to do this with disposable diapers, it is very easy to throw the entire diaper and the solid waste inside of it in the trash and be rid of the mess.
Additionally, parents will not feel the higher cost of disposable diapers all at once. Instead parents usually buy disposable diapers one pack at a time. By contrast, parents have to purchase cloth diapers up front. This means buying between 12 and 18 cloth diapers at once. When you add in accessories such as closures and diaper covers, this can mean spending as much as $500 all at once. Parents who aren’t sure if they can commit to cloth diapering may balk at spending this much for diapers that they may decide not to use in a few weeks. But there are a few ways to cut down this initial fee.
If you are considering using cloth diapers, it is a good idea to only buy a few initially for a trial. For example, you might start with one or two diapers that you put on your baby in the daytime, as opposed to trying them at night when the diaper is more likely to leak.
You should also buy several styles so that you can see which type suits your baby and your lifestyle best. Flat or fitted diapers are the least expensive types, although many parents find them to be the least convenient. Some parents find Pocket diapers and all in ones or all in two more convenient. However these options can also be more expensive.
Another thing that can drive up the cost of cloth systems is the designer factor. Popular diapers found in designer boutiques with fancy or trendy covers are more expensive than basic diaper styles.
One way to find good diapers is to look for ‘gently worn’ cloth diapers in online classifieds such as Craigslist, Facebook, or a community garage sale. Some of these diapers may have never been used. Others may need minor repairs. Diapers with Velcro closures may need the tabs replaced. However, replacement tabs may be found in many craft and fabric stores.
Parenting message boards and online diaper swaps are another good source for used diapers. Some parents on these boards choose to sell new or nearly new diapers in styles that they don’t need so that they can afford to buy more diapers in styles that they want.
Whether you want to commit to cloth diapers to save money or just to save the environment remember that you don’t have to buy everything at once. Some parents choose to ease into cloth diapering, thereby easing themselves out of throwing money down the diaper genie.