Sunday, March 14, 2010

Reasons to Cloth Diaper: SAVING MONEY (part 1 of 4)


Everyone wants to save money where they can these days, and its definitely possible to do that with cloth diapers. So, how much can you save?

One thing we know for sure is that you’ll spend around $2,000 to diaper your baby in disposables, over 2-3 (or more!) years and you have nothing left to show for it in the end. If you choose the more expensive “eco-friedly” disposables or if your kid takes extra long to potty learn, you could end up spending considerably more.

How much does it cost to cloth diaper? Unfortunately there is not one handy figure since it varies widely depending on the type of diapers that you choose. The cost of laundry detergent and any stain/odor eliminators, extra energy and water usage and extra maintenance for your appliances should also be taken into account. I’m not going to go into detail about these costs. With kids, you do lots of laundry anyway. The cost of doing laundry is already part of your budget. Cloth diapers mean an extra load of laundry every 2-3 days. If you line dry, that saves a lot in electricity usage. Even if you don’t, I still think the cost of 2 or 3 extra loads of laundry a week is something most families can handle, especially if you’re not having to purchase disposable diapers all the time!

Here are three different scenarios that show different levels of cloth diaper spending. Keep in mind that when you’re done with cloth diapers, they still have value. They can be passed on to younger siblings or to friends’ babies. They can also be re-sold to friends, on Craig’s list, or online websites.

1. Cloth Diapering on a Shoestring.

Is it possible to cloth diaper without spending ANYTHING on the diapers? Sure! If you have friends that cloth diaper (or can make some) you could easily get used hand-me-downs or borrow diapers and give them back when you’re done with them. Or if you happen to have generous friends and family, it might be possible to get most of your diapering supplies covered at baby showers. Or you could make your own diapers from thrifted fabrics for not much money at all. Cotton receiving blankets actually make very nice and usable flat diapers. If you can sew, knit, or crochet, you can also make your own wool or fleece diaper covers for very little money.

2. An Economical New Diaper Stash

I would guess that most people do invest in new diapers. The most popular economical option is prefolds with PUL or fleece diaper covers. For most babies, you can get by very nicely with infant size prefolds, and regular (Premium) size. I like to have 3 dozen in each size, plus 6 covers that fit well at any given time. With the new one-size or two-size covers, a good estimate for this type of diapering system is $300, but you won’t even be spending that all at once. If you add in some accessories like doublers, wet bags, pail liners, cloth wipes, snappis, and a wider variety of covers, I think you could still be coming in under $500 for sure, a significant savings over the $2,000 for disposables. Plus prefolds are long-lasting and can be used again on other kids.

3. Upgrading to fitteds, pockets, AIOs or AI2s:

If your taste leans towards more expensive diapering options that average around $20 per diaper, than you certainly won’t be saving as much money over disposables. A stash of say 30 new pocket diapers will run you $600 and that doesn’t include any of the extra accessories you will probably want to have. If one-size diapers end up working for your baby, then you may only need one diapering purchase which will last a couple years. However, many babies will fall outside the size range for one size at one time or another. That means if you need a few different sizes, you could be spending $1800, and easily getting up to the $2,000 mark once you add in accessories. Reduce that by buying used, or re-coup that investment by using on another baby.

Tips for saving money:

1. buy used diapers when you can, especially when trying out new brands that you’re not sure you’re going to like. There are lots of places now to look for used diapers – try Craig’s list, local mom’s groups, or online websites like Diaperswappers, Spot’s Corner or Cloth Diaper Nation.
2. Re-sell diapers that don’t end up working for you, or that your baby has grown out of. Many moms sell outgrown diapers and accessories to fund the next size up.
3. Have a “mixed stash” that includes more economical diapers like prefolds or flats for at home use, with some pockets, AIOs, and fitteds for ease of use when out and about and for other caregivers.
4. Line dry your diapers – you’ll save on your energy bill.
5. Learn to knit, crochet or sew in order to make your own diapers and/or covers. There are lots of free and reasonably priced online patterns and tutorials for whatever you want to try and make!

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