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Having a Baby Without Breaking the Bank: Cloth-Diapering (Guest Post)

Do you have a baby on the way, but you're worried about your finances? Read this encouraging series on how to have a baby without breaking the budget! TONS of great tips!

Guest post by Crystal from The Thrifty Mama

Cloth diapers have come a long way from what our grandmothers used to use. In fact, there are so many great options these days when it comes to cloth diapering, that it can be a bit overwhelming for beginners.

To get started, let’s talk about the five basic kinds of cloth diapers which are currently on the market:

All-In-One Diaper (see an example here)This is a tapered fabric diaper that has an outer layer of Polyurethane Laminate (PUL). This is a water-proof material that works very well at preventing leaks. This type of cloth diaper is the most similar to disposables. It doesn’t require a cover, and it usually has velcro or snaps. The only draw-back with this type of cloth diaper is that it can sometimes be harder to clean, and take longer to dry.

Fitted Diaper (see examples here)–This diaper fits snuggly on the baby, is all cloth and it requires a waterproof cover. It usually has velcro or snaps so that it can be easily secured on the baby. This diaper cleans and dries easier than an All-In-One, but it can still take a while for it to dry.

Pocket Diaper (see examples here)A pocket diaper usually has two layers of fabric and has a pocket for inserts. You can place fabric inserts or prefolds in the pocket for absorbency. Pockets can either have an outer waterproof layer so that they are more like an All-In-One when stuffed, or they can just have two absorbent fabric layers so that they are more like a fitted when stuffed. Pockets are very easy to clean and dry, because you remove the inserts when washing.

Prefolds (see examples here)–These are like what your grandmothers used to use. They work by folding the diaper onto the baby, and attaching it with either pins or a snappi (more on snappis later). These can be more work to fit on the baby, but they are so easy to clean and dry. Prefolds require a cover.

Flats (see examples here)Flats are a flat piece of fabric that is folded into the shape of a diaper. It is placed on the baby and then secured with a snappi or pins. Flats are nice because they clean and dry the easiest, and they also give a very trim look, even though they do require a cover.

Flats are one of the least-expensive cloth diapering options. Even if you aren’t good with a sewing machine, you can make some flats out of old shirts, towels and other materials. Receiving blankets are great to use as flats. They are flannel, and flannel is very absorbent.

Depending upon which cloth diaper type you choose, you’ll also likely need a few accessories:

CoversIf you plan on using fitteds, prefolds or flats, then you will want to have covers. There are many types of covers. You can buy covers online or you can make your own.

Fabrics that make great covers are PUL, Fleece, Wool and of course there are the original plastic pants that our mothers and grandmothers used to use. I like using fleece and wool because they allow for breathing of the skin, and they are so cute!

You can easily make your own wool or fleece pants for babies out of your old sweaters and hoodies. Here is a quick tutorial on how to make some recycled wool/fleece pants.

Diaper SprayerYou are definitely going to want one of these. Also known as a bidet, it hooks up to your toilet and is used to spray soiled diapers. [Note from Crystal: I cloth-diapered exclusively with my first child and never had one of these. I used Fuzzi Bunz diapers and got along fine without this. Just wanted to share an alternate opinion.]

Inserts–If you use pockets or want added layers of absorbency, you will want to buy or make some inserts. Usually I just use prefolds or fold up some receiving blankets. Receiving blankets are flannel, thus making them great for absorbency.

Snappi/Pins–A snappi is a little rubber fastener that has hooks. It is used to hold the diaper on the baby instead of pins. You can of course use pins if you prefer to not use a snappi. Here is a picture of a snappi holding together a prefold:

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Wetbag–This is a waterproof bag used to hold soiled diapers. There are many places online that you can buy these, or you can make your own. PUL is a great fabric to make wetbags out of. You can also find the 3 packs of waterproof bags in the camping section at major retail stores. Those are fairly inexpensive, and I’ve found that they work very well for this purpose.

Cloth diapering is a way our family saves a lot of money each year. However, building up a stash of cloth diapers in the beginning can be costly. To build a good stash, if you do it wisely, you can expect to spend somewhere between $200-$400.

The average person will spend $1,800-$2,000 a year on disposables for one child. Now, if you use coupons combined with sales to purchase disposable diapers, you’ll not spend that much, but you still will probably spend at least a few hundred dollars, if not more, on diapers per child. So while the initial investment in purchasing cloth diapers might seem steep, if you plan on using them for more than one child, you will likely recoup your investment–and maybe even many times over!

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(My daughter wearing one of the pocket diapers I made for her.)

If you have a knack for sewing, you can sew your own diapers and accessories which will make them much more affordable than purchasing them! I’ve written a post on a quick and easy way to sew a prefold diaper here. I’ve also made my own pocket diapers and show you how you can do that here.

Crystal blogs at The Thrifty Mama, where she posts deals, coupon help, and tips for living a more natural and thrifty life. She’s a stay-at-home Mom to two small children, and does her best to live more green and natural without breaking the bank.

Note from Crystal: Have you used cloth diapers? If so, which kinds did you use and what did you find worked best for you? How did you build your cloth diaper stash on a budget? I’d love to hear your ideas and input!

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73 Comments

  • Jennifer says:

    We used cloth for 3 of the 4 kids. Our favorite was just a prefold with a snappi. We got so good at it, it was just as fast as an all in one. For newborns though, the kissaluvs were the best for us.

  • jessica says:

    I’ve used a variety of fitted, all in one and pocket diapers on my daughter. She is now 28 months old and in training pants, and I use cloth with cover or all in one training pants as well. My favorites were motherease fitteds, fuzzi bunz, and I actually do like the good ‘ol’ Gerber covers- they’re easy to find at Walmart and Target and inexpensive. They do fit rather large though.

  • Lourdes says:

    We LOVE cloth diapering. Great post–lots of good information. We’re currently using bumGenius and occassionally a gDiaper cover with a prefold inside. I can’t believe I love this so much!

  • Alex says:

    I started using cloth diapers after you posted about them last fall. One suggestion you made was to talk to someone else who was already doing cloth diapers before starting yourself. That was just what I needed to jumpstart me into using cloth diapers (after talking extensively to a close friend about it). We use gdiaper covers with a prefold inside. We bought three starter packs (6 covers total) because the diaper covers are cheaper that way. They come with 10 flushable gidaper inserts (which we used up). Regular prefolds work just fine for the medium and large size. I will sew my own cloth inserts for our new baby this summer.

  • Katie says:

    These seem like they are more trouble then they are worth, with all the coupons and CVS deals disposables are free or almost, also my baby, due in May, will be in daycare while I work and they have to have disposables, I think they are better anyway and they don’t leak

  • Lauren says:

    Ooooh! We use cloth diapers and LOVE them!!! My son is 6 months old and we’ve used BumGenius 3.0 (one size) since he was about a month old. We love them and hate it when we have to use disposables…. they last longer ’cause they’re SO absorbent and hardly EVER leak. We probably spent close to $400 but most of it was baby gifts, so we’ve already saved! 🙂

    I’ve also recruited a friend of mine, mom of 4, two in diapers and she loves them as well!

  • LFinn says:

    I was always interested in cloth diapers, but did not have the courage to step onto that ‘wagon’ until my daughter was over a year old. A friend was upgrading from her ‘prefolds and covers’ system to all pocket diapers (BumGenius), so she gave me all of her supplies. I purchased a couple of BumGenius diapers myself, and have used this system on my daughter (now potty training) and my infant son (5 months). My initial expense was low because I had my friend’s hand-me-downs. When I started CDing my son, I needed to fill in a few gaps, which I did through DiaperSwappers.com. I bought more prefolds (washed and prepped, but never used), inserts(used but in good shape) and a couple more pocket diapers–all for around $75. If you don’t have qualms about used diapers, DiaperSwappers is the way to go! Many people buy too many diapers, or something that doesn’t work for them, and they sell for a fraction of the cost. I like my system–we use prefolds and covers during the day, pocket diapers for outings and pocket diapers w/extra inserts for naps (I still use a disposable diaper for overnights b/c my little guy wets a lot–I hope to learn the right combo soon so I can use cloth!). It is easy and very little trouble!

  • We use cloth diapers and LOVE it. We use pre-folds because they were cheaper. Now we started making our own all in ones out of strips of fabric, sheets, etc. They work great. When I think about how much money we are saving and how we are helping the environment- I love it!

  • Sarah says:

    We are using Chinese prefolds, pins and plastic covers. Very “old-fashioned”, but they do a great job. Our older daughter is already potty trained (at 21 months) which I think may be partly because of using cloth. Our 6 month old is a much bigger baby than her sister was, but because the prefolds are adjustable, we can use the exact same diapers on her!

  • Carrie Kirby says:

    We have been using some cotton fitteds that we got for free on Freecycle, with vinyl or PUL covers. They work ok but sometimes our baby gets diaper rash because they do not wick. When I wrote about our experience on my blog recently, a reader had a great tip: But a piece of fleece at the fabric store and cut into doubler-sized pieces, and just lay the fleece inside the diaper when putting on the baby. This will keep the wetness off the baby’s skin for a lot less than the cost of buying fleece diapers.
    If your fitted has a snap-in doubler, you might want to skip the doubler when you’re using a fleece insert so it’s not too bulky.

  • Lisa G. says:

    I decided to first try cloth when my twins were about 4 months old. I built my original stash for around $200 (total for 2 babies) by getting some different types second hand on http://www.diaperswappers.com. We decided we liked pockets best so I looked for sales on seconds at sites like Abby’s Lane. The “seconds” quality are just as effective, they just have a small flaw in the stitching or something cosmetic. My twins began in medium size fuzzi bunz and one-size bum genius. They are still wearing the same size over 2 years later.

    I cut up a few of the fleece baby blankets we were no longer using and use them as liners inside the diapers. They make it easier to shake the poop into the toilet. They also keep stains from getting on the diapers so it will be easier to sell them later on.

  • Lisa G. says:

    I decided to first try cloth when my twins were about 4 months old. I built my original stash for around $200 (total for 2 babies) by getting some different types second hand on http://www.diaperswappers.com. We decided we liked pockets best so I looked for sales on seconds at sites like Abby’s Lane. The “seconds” quality are just as effective, they just have a small flaw in the stitching or something cosmetic. My twins began in medium size fuzzi bunz and one-size bum genius. They are still wearing the many of the same diapers over 2 years later.

    I cut up a few of the fleece baby blankets we were no longer using and use them as liners inside the diapers. They make it easier to shake the poop into the toilet. They also keep stains from getting on the diapers so it will be easier to sell them later on.

  • Tianna says:

    I haven’t used cloth diapers yet (I’m still expecting) but I’m planning to and am building up my stash now. A friend just pointed out a great deal to me and I used it to purchase my first three cloth diapers recently.

    If you’ve never shopped at diapers.com, you can get a first-time buyer discount. (Use TIAN5467 in your referral code. That will give you $10 off your first purchase. It will also give me a referral credit of $1 per order that uses it, so be sure to find your referral code and share it with others so that we can all get cheaper cloth diapers!) If the code doesn’t work (which it might not, there is some confusion as to cloth diapers really being diapers [rolls eyes]) then call customer service at 1-800-342-7377. They can manually override the code to make sure you get the credit. From the sound of it, they’re used to doing this. Apparently it was a mixup in how they set up the codes. Also, they’re very nice about doing it.

    What can turn it into a steal of a deal is that right now, diapers.com is also offering new customers a free subscription to Parenting magazine with the first order…. OR a rebate of $14.97. For this rebate, you just have to fill out this form and send it in with proof-of-purchase: http://www.diapers.com/HelpCenter/Parenting.htm

    So you can end up buying 3 bumGenius for under $10 each! (They also have Fuzzi Bunz on sale for the same price. I got the bumGenius because it’s one size fits all and we’re not sure when we’ll have the washer and dryer to actually be able to use them. Most people like both brands, but perhaps you should do some research to decide which ones you actually want to use.)

    Once you get the diapers, just make sure you fill out the form for the rebate to get the overall lower price of around $30. (You’ll pay around $43 out of pocket on diapers.com) That’s only $10 each instead of $16-20 each!

  • Abby says:

    For our third child we used gdiapers. We purchased them primarily for their “green”-ness. They are expensive and I have not yet figured out a way to cut corners on cost for them. He also outgrew their largest size by about 18 months, and he’s not fat or tall. We are expecting another baby in about a month and will use them for her as well, but only b/c we already invested in the cloth exteriors and have leftover inserts from our 3rd baby. They do have one redeeming quality (besides being green), his fanny sure was cute in those gdiapers.

  • Katie says:

    I use Fuzzi Bunz and Bum Genius primarily, although I’ve picked up an occassional WAHM’s dipes. I love that I’ve spent $250 on used dipes and haven’t spent anything other than that in over a year. I wash, then usually hang the dipes to dry, and we’ve saved so much in our diaper budget, especially by getting diapers from my local mommy network (peninsulamommies.com) or from diaperswappers.com. It’s a rather amazing number of mommies who have switched back to cloth for a variety of reasons, but the knowledge and availability is amazing!!

  • Anne says:

    This is interesting and informative. My sister is considering switching to cloth diapers. I did think the figure for the cost of disposable was a bit high. After the initial newborn stage when you go through 8 or more diapers per day, we only spend about $20 per month (without coupons) on diapers by buying in bulk- making the cost closer to $300 per year, not in the thousands.

    My personal opinion is that using cloth diapers is probably more an environmental choice than a cost saving measure – which is a good reason in and of itself.

  • Laura says:

    I have used/do use both Happy Heiny and BumGenuis. Out of the two, I recommend BumGenius. Although both are good, I like the way that the BGs fit better than the HH. I currently do not have a leakage problem, but I did with Happy Heiny for a little while because my daughter was in between sizes on the snaps. This only lasted about a month. I never had that problem with BG and that is a big reason why I recommend them. They are both pocket diapers. I have never had to use one of the diaper squirters that hook up to the toilet. I simply dump the poop and go. No soaking is necessary with these diapers. They have very good cleaning instructions on the manufacturer’s websites. I have found that different retailers will say to wash the diapers differently than the manufacturer’s websites. This can mess up your warranty. I did have a warranty issue with some of my diapers because the velcro quit sticking to the laundry tabs after about 5 months. They replaced my diapers and were very easy to work with. I did not start using cloth until my daughter was 10 months old. I will start using cloth earlier with my second child who will be born in a couple of weeks.

  • Karen says:

    I love my cloth diapers! For me, it’s so much easier to run a load of laundry than it is to load up the kids and head to the store when I get low on diapers.

    I use Motherease One-size on both my kids (1 month and just over 2 years). By snapping them in different ways they fit from 8 pounds to potty training so you can really get your money out of them…you just have to get larger size covers as the little ones grow.

    We got our supply buying some at full price, getting some as baby gifts, and getting a few extras second hand when we found out baby # 2 would arrive before # 1 was out of diapers. Totally worth the couple hundred dollars that we’ve spent. Oh, and we’ve never had a sprayer; I just swish out the mess in the toilet before they go in the diaper pail.

  • Jullie says:

    I used prefold diapers for 5 of my seven children (didnt know better for my first and super sensitve skin on my seventh) and found that the best price was to be found at consignment and re sale shops. Many people buy the prefolds to use a burb cloths, so they show up at resale in remarkable condition. Buying new, the best price I found was $1 a diaper (Target and Walmart). I often recieved gift cards to these stores before and after the baby was born and used these to buy my diapers 🙂
    I used vinyl pants with my kids, which are getting harder to find, but the Gerber website had the best deal when my 3 year old was born! A word of advice on diaper care, sunshine will remove almost every diaper stain and will keep your diapers in good condition much, much longer than using bleach!
    Julie

  • shel says:

    I have diapered 7 babies so far and I have tried all kinds of popular diapers over the years. The one tried and true that I always go back to is plain old chinese prefolds, diaper pins, and nylon pull-on covers (I use Dappi or Bummi’s brand covers). They’re not as fancy, but they’ve held up the best and they’ve been the most leak proof. They’re also most economical because they fit a 2 month old up to toddlers. (I use disposables for newborns, it’s just easier at first.) I’ve only had to buy the diaper covers for a few dollars each as the baby grows. Also, these diapers and covers can be washed in the machine and dried in the dryer together without being ruined. I wasted a lot of money in the past trying out so many latest-and-greatest diapers and covers. I wish I had just stuck to the simple stuff and saved all that money.

  • Olathe mom says:

    Though I think cloth diapering is great for the environment and thrifty, I have to STRONGLY DISAGREE with the estimate for using disposables…$1800-2000 a year is ENTIRELY to high. It has never cost me anywhere near $150 a month to diaper a child! In the infant stage, when I use premium diapers and approx. 10 diapers a day, it likely costs me $80 a month (or about $960 per year) After that, when I move to generics (at about 6 months in our home) and change less frequently, I would estimate the cost at no more than $50 a month (or $600 a year.) I am not arguing that this is a large amount :), but considering that I receive diapers as gifts and use coupons/promotions to get them for free, my actual cost per year is likely lower than this $600-960 estimate.

    Perhaps a more accurate estimate for using disposables would be $1800-2000 to diaper a child over his/her diapering years!!

    My children were all toilet trained by 2 1/2, so for some I understand the cost would be greater.

    Anyone have a differing opinion?

    *********************
    Money Saving Mom here: I would agree that the estimate is high–and it’s *very high* compared to what you spend if you’re stocking up when diapers are on sale and using coupons.

    I spent almost $0 on disposables when I lived where we had CVS stores just by working them into deals and using overage towards them and combining that with sales and coupons.

    Now, without a CVS, I’d say that I spend approx. $5-6/week on diapers. I just watch for sales very closely and always use coupons and stock up when I get a good deal. I’ve also purchased some of my diaper stockpile for the baby from Amazon using Swagbucks gift cards.

    However, while $5-6/week is something we can afford now (and my daughter breaks out horribly if we use anything but Pampers), with our first daughter we couldn’t afford that additional expense on our beans-and-rice budget, so I was very thankful for the cloth diapers we were given as gifts. They saved us a lot of money!

    And I’m hoping maybe we’re able to use them again with Baby #3. We’ll see!

  • Marla says:

    I love using cloth diapers. A lot of what I love about them has already been discussed, but I wanted to add that once you are done with them, if you care for them well, you can resell them to get back some or even all of what you spend initially. Even if you get all of your disposables for rock bottom prices, you can’t resell them after you’re done. 😉 Also, it’s not an all-or-nothing thing. I always tell friends that if they use just a few cloth diapers a week, they’ll save money! Ah, and I do like that when I use cloth, I’m not exposing my daughter to the chemicals that are used to make most disposable diapers absorbent. Fabulous post!

  • Michele says:

    I love, love, love cloth diapers! I have used them for all three of my children. I primarily do it because disposables are horrible for the environment, and I believe in being a good steward of the earth’s resources. The fact that is saves me money is the cherry on top! I use MotherEase diapers exclusively and most of them have held up through 3 children, although a few of my AIO (all-in-ones) have worn out. Fortunately, I was able to buy a huge stash of new ones on Craigslist. Cloth diapering is the best!

  • LK says:

    We use cloth, and love it. But we use an occasional disposable diaper for occasions where we have a sitter or are going one somewhere where changing is less convenient, and so it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition.

    As far as the diaper sprayer and Crystal P. saying she didn’t need them with Fuzzi Bunz, that’s totally true! The fleece inner of the FB releases the ‘solids’ into the toilet with very little left over to swish/rinse. But if you are using all cotton diapers, which we do most of the time since we don’t like synthetics, the ‘solids’ stay stuck to the cotton much more and the sprayer is a lifesaver. Not necessary, but really really nice to have for a busy mom with two in diapers.

  • LK says:

    Oh, and contrary to what you might think, disposables don’t leak less on babies than cloth. I get a leak every single time I diaper my child at night in a disposable, but never a leak in cloth yet in 2 years (cotton with a wool cover). Saves me a lot of bedding and pajama laundry!

  • Emily says:

    Love the homemade pocket diaper! Very cute pattern – I wish I knew how to sew when I was stocking up on cloth diapers – it looks like a fairly simple pattern.
    I was also thinking that cloth diapers would make great baby shower requests – the big stores don’t usually carry much of a selection – so you would probably have to specify an online shop. I think people would feel good about that gift. Keeps on giving!
    Also, I would suggest researching these types of diapers and once you’ve decided what is for you. Buy just a few and then try them on baby – that way you can feel more confident about making a bigger investment.

  • Amy says:

    I also LOVE my cloth diapers. I have an almost 2 year old (plus one on the way!), and I have spent a total of $200 on diapers and wipes (I bought fabric and sewed wipes- so easy. If you are doing cloth diapers, cloth wipes make sense) for her.

    I tried some pocket diapers when I started- Fuzzi Buns and BumGenius- but found that I liked plain old Chinese or Indian prefolds with Bummis covers the best. I don’t use any pins or snappis. I don’t think it’s necessary with the Bummis. I don’t have leakage problems at all with this system, but I did with both kinds of pocket diapers. It seemed like pee didn’t absorb into the diaper after maybe 4 months of use.

    And I also don’t have a sprayer- just dunk and swirl in the toilet. Don’t be intimidated- cloth diapering is so easy!

  • Amy says:

    I LOVE cloth diapering. Whenever I use a disposable, I am always glad to get back to my cloth. I bought everything from greenmountaindiapers.com. I use Chinese pre folds and covers (Thirsties are my favorite, Bummis are also good). There is no need for a pin or snappi if you use a cover with velcro. I do not use a sprayer, I just flip the poop into the toilet and then wash them every few days. All that to say that it really is very easy to cloth diaper. My baby started leaking and night, so we switched to the Stacinator cover which is huge and ugly, but does the job and has lots of room for extra padding to help us make it through the night leak free.

  • Leah says:

    After trying several brands and types we decided Fuzzi Bunz was the brand for us. They work the best for my son.
    I used cloth because I liked the fact that all those chemicals weren’t sitting on my sons body.

  • elizabeth says:

    we’re another cding family, though my husband uses disposables when he thinks he can get away with it. I encourage moms not to think of it as an all or nothing… we mostly CD, but uses disposables for daycare, when he’s sick, or when he has horrible diaper rash (b/c you have to be very careful with diaper cream with CDs). I agree that you probably don’t save all that much money (though if you can buy used or use them on the second kid you will), but think of all those diapers in the landfill. Ugh.

  • Amy says:

    I have 6 kids and I’ve used both cloth and disposables over the years. I go back and forth depending on how crazy life is. My second child couldn’t wear disposables at all. She broke out in horrible rashes when she wore them so we mastered traveling with cloth and using it overnight. I’ve now gotten lazy and just use disposables at night and out of the house. None of my other kids have had such sensitive skin fortunately.

    The one thing I’ve found is that cloth diaper users always way over estimate how much using disposables costs. But I also think disposable users tend to underestimate how much they cost too. I know it seems like we are always running out when we use disposables. I can get some on great deals at CVS but with 2-3 kids in diapers at once and the CVS deals usually have a limit of 1 I can’t get all my diapers that way. I guess I could use multiple cards but I really only have time for the 1 card. The overage at CVS is nice but if I wasn’t using the overage on diapers I could use it on toilet paper or other household items we need.

  • Nancy K. says:

    We also love cloth diapers and have been cloth diapering for 2.5yrs.. making them yourself is a good idea, buying second hand or getting used for free off freecycle is good. There are also some really good websites, not mentioned, that sell great quality cloth diapers and are made by “work at home moms/dads” that I would like to share- http://www.hyenacart.com and http://www.etsy.com so definitely look there, too:) While they may be more expensive than making your own, getting for free, etc. your money goes to a better place than a corporation;) hehe

  • Lindsey says:

    Hi. This is by far the most informative cloth-diapering write-up that I’ve seen (though I haven’t looked too hard), and I think it’s fantastic that you use cloth diapers, both for money reasons and because you don’t deposit hundreds of nasty disposable diapers into landfills each year. I will say, though, that disposable diapers don’t have to be nearly as expensive as you mention. I have a seven-month-old and a two-year-old, both of whom are in diapers, and I spend about $50 a month on diapers for the two of them (though that number was higher when my baby was a newborn since newborns go through so many diapers). Of course, that’s more than you’re spending and I understand that, but it’s not the $1800-$2000. I buy all of my diapers at Sam’s Club. I buy their brand, Member’s Mark, which are nicer than Luv’s but less nice than Pampers, and I’m very happy with them. The size threes work out to 16 cents a diaper, and I don’t have to worry about sales or coupons. Anyway, I promise I am not trying to sway people away from being more responsible than I am and choosing to use cloth diapers–I think that’s fantastic. But for someone who might be overwhelmed by cloth diapers, disposables don’t have to break the bank and send you to ten stores looking for great sales/coupon opportunities.

  • Courtney says:

    I wanted to mention, I did have my daughter in daycare and they used my cloth diapers happily. I would advise bringing a stuffed and ready pocket diaper (or AIO) with you and ask them if they would use them, as opposed to just asking “will you use cloth diapers”. Usually when they see how easy it is, they think it is pretty neat and are happy to do what you’d like.

    You can also recoup some of your costs of cloth if you sell your diapers once they are grown out of. You certainly can’t sell the disposables after they are used :). One thing you will most certainly not have an issue with in cloth is the dreaded blowout. Since cloth has elastic in the back, I never had a single blowout and I had plenty when I used disposables on my son.

    I highly recommend going with cloth. It was a great experience for us.

  • Kansas Mom says:

    We recently switched to cloth diapers and love it. It was a little hard on the budget as we bought diapers for two girls at once, but I was able to spread it out a bit by borrowing some and buying some used ones in different sizes. Not only do I think we’ll save money in the long run, I believe they are healthier for the little ones (without all those chemical right up next to sensitive areas) and they leak much less often than the disposables so sometimes I feel like I’m actually doing even less laundry!

  • brenda says:

    if you’re looking for a great wet bag… check out
    http://www.wethappened.com/
    if you enter GCK at checkout… you will get 25% off … and there is also free shipping on wet bags too.
    they are awesome and keep the mess to one place in your diaper bag

  • Lauren says:

    I’m confused about cloth diapers and hopefully someone on here can help me out. I’ve seen Kushies’ cloth diapers and it recommends that one has 25 or so on hand to use. I think Kushies falls into the Fitted Cloth Diaper category above. But you can also buy liners to go along with it, so are the liners just for extra absorbency? I guess what I’m trying to ask is when you change the diaper do you completely change the Kushie (patterned part) or just the liner? Are there any cloth diapers out there where you “keep” the outside and only change the inside that are like the Kushie? I’m so confused!

  • deliarose says:

    Here is a cheaper diaper sprayer directions. My DH made mine. Supplies needed- you can get them at any hardware store-he bought them at Lowes.
    3/8″x3/8″x3/8″ tee
    barb splicer
    sink sprayer
    hose clamps 2
    toilet supply line

    1. Shut off water at the valve behind the toilet
    2. Remove supply line to toilet from the valve
    3. Install 3/8″x3/8″x3/8″ tee to valve (One end should be horizontal- the other two are up and down)
    4. Take the removed supply line and install it to the tee-the top of the tee
    5. Cut off large end of new toilet supply line
    6. Insert the barb splicer (this will connect the toilet supply line and the sprayer)
    7. Put hose clamp on the new toilet supply line
    8. Cut off very end of the sink sprayer
    9. Install on the other end of the barb splicer
    10. Add all of this to the other end of the 3/8″x3/8″x3/8″ tee-which is horizontal
    11. You are finished. You can buy a hook to hang the sprayer on the wall.

  • Tatiana says:

    I like the -idea- of cloth diapers but i have learned that while you might save a little they still have the same impact on the environment as disposables once you take laundering into account.

  • Nicole says:

    When we made the switch to cloth it was to save money so I didn’t want to buy them new unless they were on a really great sale. I checked out Craigslist where I got about 2 dozen prefolds, about 5 or 6 snappis, some home sewn doublers, one cover, and one BumGenius 2.0 for less than $30. I was very pleased with this deal. I also signed up for an email club at an online retailer who sent me a $5.00 coupon that I used during one of their sales and got free shipping. The latest way I purchased some was on eBay. I got a brand new Bumkins AIO for $8.50 and some pocket diapers with inserts that are very similar to BumGenius 3.0 for a little less than $10 a diaper. I also purchased a new set of 5 Kushies Ultra AIO diapers on eBay for $25 total. If you shop around enough you can cloth diaper without breaking the bank. It pays to be very patient.

  • Steph says:

    We use cloth and LOVE it.

    I think the key to remember on the estimate for a year’s worth of disposables is “the average person spends…” Couponers aren’t your average people! Some people will gladly pay $30 a box, but we all know that’s absurd. I do think that figure is suppose to be over the entire course a child is in diapers, not just a year.

    We recently went out of town for an extended period of time and used disposables, and I was more than happy to come home to my cloth. I’ve never had a rash, leak, or blow out in cloth, and I certainly can’t say that for disposables!

  • Tori says:

    Im very interested in cloth diapering and have been “researching” it for some time now. My daughter breaks out terribly if we use anything but Huggies. Ive also get another one on the way in 8 weeks. My only thing is im confused on the whole washing and drying thing. Ive heard you can only use natural detergents and then everyone in the whole house has to use those and so forth. Any one know the information to help me out or a website that would be good to go to for the information? Thanks.

  • jennsquared says:

    I just found out we are expecting our first child! I’ve been following this blog for quite awhile for coupon-ing, but now the baby series had been quite a help.

    I do have some questions on washing the cloth diapers though – I lived in a expensive state (CT). Utilities could be ridiculous. How many washes for each load? and How many loads do you do a week? I think that is important for me to figure out if disposable with coupon is cheaper or using cloth.

    Thanks for your great work!

  • Deb G says:

    I used cloth diapers with my youngest. We used them from the time he was in smalls (about 3 months) until he potty trained at nearly 3. We used just about every type out there: flats, prefolds, fitteds, pockets and AIOs. We had PUL, fleece and wool covers. We used wool and fleece pants as well. We had diapers with snaps and velcro, used pins and snappies. I have to say that my favorite was fitteds and fleece. Hubby liked pockets and AIOs.

    Budget wise, I only bought what I could afford at the time. I did make a lot of my own from materials I could buy at the local fabric stores with covers/pants being made from recycled wool sweaters and fleece sweatshirts. I was also able to find fleece pants on sale at Old Navy a few times and they added nicely to the “stash”. I bought PUL online through online stores and co-ops. I made do with what I could make for quite awhile but I did eventually buy them as well.

  • I would love to find a decent place to buy PUL in WHITE so it doesn’t show through clothes. Does anyone know a place? Google searches have left me empty-handed.

    For the last 4 years, I have constantly had 3 children in diapers. (I have 5 small children).

    I have gone back on forth with cloth and disposable, but, like Lindsay above, I have found the best deal on disposables without couponing to be the member’s Mark brand at Sam’s Club. (They are less than the Costco brand also). Here is the current price: $28.86 a box. Size 3= 160 diapers Size 4=140 diapers Size 5=124 diapers

    Using disposables, I change around 22-26 diapers a day. I have to change more often with cloth diapers.

    I don’t have a changing table and I have trouble with changing wet diapers; if I use a waterproof pad with prefold the pad gets soaked each time I lay the baby down to be changed. If I use all-in-ones, I don’t have that problem; I have used Bumkins and loved them more than other cloth diapers; I got them as baby shower gifts with my first baby. However, the price has gone up a LOT; they are one of the most expensive. I like them and I would love to make my own like them, but I cannot find PUL for them in white (I like white; it doesn’t show through little girl’s cotton dresses). They have 6 layers of flannel inside, with three of the layers sewn seperately to make drying quicker.

    If you sew, there are a lot of free diaper patterns here: http://www.zany-zebra.com/free-cloth-diaper-patterns.shtml

  • Sabb says:

    Wow, I can´t believe I did not yet think about cloth diapers. Thank you for bringing it back to my mind! THANK YOU!

  • Stephanie says:

    I agree that cloth diaper advocates often wildly inflate the cost of disposables. I didn’t use coupons at all two years ago when my son was in diapers, and I maybe spent $10 a week. I remember my LLL leader saying that diapers cost $60 per week!

  • Jill says:

    jennsquare – It is usually recommended that when washing diapers you do an initial cold rinse (to get the pee and #2 out), a whole hot wash cycle and then another final cold rinse. You need very little detergent (less than half of normal), but it does take multiple wash cycles. I have an extra large washer, so I do wash them on either the small or medium cycle, but most sites recommend that you wash the diapers on large. I’ve gotten away with less, but you would have to gauge how clean they got.

    I would say my electricity and water bills have not gone up that much, but utilities are cheap where I live. The only time I would possibly say that cloth would not be a good idea is in a place where water is scarce (like AZ or other places in the Southwest).

    When my son was a newborn and going through 12 or more cotton prefolds a day, I would wash every other day. Now that I change him less (probably 6-8 times a day) and I now use more disposables (he’s in part time day care), I wash about twice a week. But we store the diapers in an unfinished basement in a tight container. If they were in a container in the baby’s room or near living space, you might want to wash more often, since they really start to stink!

    My advice for anyone contemplating cloth would be to not stock up on any one diaper until you know it will work for your baby. Everyone I know loved Bum Genius, but they leaked like crazy for me. I now use Fuzzi Bunz instead, but early on prefolds were the best and the cheapest. Just like with disposables, diapers fit babies differently.

  • Jill says:

    “i have learned that while you might save a little they still have the same impact on the environment as disposables once you take laundering into account. ”

    I’ve read those studies too, and I think the ones that say that laundering has the same impact environmentally are usually flawed. It just doesn’t make sense that that would be true, and they never provide any concrete data on this. I mean – think about the transportation costs alone on moving all those diapers from the factory to the stores to your home. Then you have to factor the paper and other materials used to make disposables. Cloth diapers also take energy to manufacture and distribute, but they are for one diaper that you use repeatedly. I think the anti-cloth studies also don’t take into account new high efficiency washers that use less water and detergent. And don’t forget the strain on the landfills and the cost it takes to transport wet, heavy diapers to the landfill.

    But, yes, I do agree that cloth diaper advocates exaggerate how much disposables cost.

    Ultimately cloth diapers are both a financial and environmental decision. Both should be considered, and like I said in my previous post, your location and water resources need to be taken into account. I live in the Midwest where water is plentiful, but I don’t know if I would feel good about cloth if I lived in the desert.

  • we used Bum Genius…..I made inserts for them from old cotton blankets we had laying around….you get so many at your baby showers. all in all diapering my son with throw away diapers cost 17$/week for 3 years and for my daughter it’s only going to cost $17×4=68 PERIOD….the bum genius diapers are $17 each, they come with 2 inserts each…then I made about 20 extra inserts. I change the inserts every time I notice it’s wet/soiled….my husband rinses out the poop right away and we place them in a bag in an airtight container and we launder them 2-3 times a week.

    Miriam

  • Jill says:

    @Lauren
    I have a few Kushies and they are All-in-One diapers. The disposable liners that Walmart and other places sell for Kushies are so that you can more easily throw away solids and not have them stain the diaper as much. I have never used liners, but I have heard they are convenient. But you still have to wash the diaper after one use. The only thing that is multi-use is a diaper cover (the new version of plastic pants). They are entirely waterproof, and you can use them until they are soiled or stinky (whichever comes first!).

    Regarding Kushies, I would only sort of recommend them. The fit is awkward, but they are the cheapest all in ones you can find. I personally prefer pockets over all in ones.

  • Audrey Borkholder says:

    We used a diaper service with our first child and the price was really reasonable. It made cloth diapering much, much easier. With our second child, we had moved and there were no services in the area. I was able, though, to purchase diapers from the previous service and that was a real help. The whole cloth-diapering is not as bad as some might think!

  • Carrie says:

    I have eight children. I have used disposable diapers on all but my last child. I decided to use cloth diapers (pocket diapers from Cotton Babies) because they were healthier for her and also because it would save money. Oh, how I wished I would have used cloth diapers on all of my children. They really are not any more work than disposables. Yes, you do have to rinse out the b.m.’s but compared to having to run the poopy disposables out to the trash can or put them in another bag (increasing costs) to avoid having the house smell it’s no big deal. When it comes time to stuff the diaper pockets I remind myself how much money I am saving our family and it really becomes a joyful act of work.

  • tammy fulcher says:

    I used cloth diapers and just loved them. My mother had a neighbor that sold me hers–about 10–for a fraction of the cost. It saved us so much money. The liners made all the difference for the “stinkies,” and the one piece with velcro was wonderful (not sure they even make those anymore–my son is now 14). Since I only had 10, it did require me to wash and dry everyday, but it was so easy. Even when I went back to work, I still used those for many months. when I was done, I sold them at a consignment shop.
    Tammy from NC

  • Sarah G. says:

    Prudent Homemaker:

    White PUL can be bought at KidsintheGarden (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kidsinthegarden/), also PULPurchasePower (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PULPurchasePower/) is another choice. 🙂

    Also, to the person who said that her Fuzzi Bunz and Bum Genius stopped absorbing – I’ve heard that detergent and/or hard water buildup is the main culprit for that, and can be easily solved in many cases by “stripping” the diapers.

    For myself, I have no children, am not married OR anywhere near being so, and I love the idea of using cloth diapers! I’m in the middle of sewing myself a stash to put in my hope chest. 🙂

  • Nell says:

    We use Bum Genius 3.0 onesize. We have 35 of them and didn’t buy one ourselves. We registered for them and got a bunch from mom and grandma and then smaller bunches from friends. I wash about half of them every other day, so there are always extras if they sit in the machine for a bit. For the most part they don’t stain, but an occasional poop does it…then the clean diaper just takes a sunbath and looks pretty again.

  • ladygoat says:

    I used cloth diapers almost exclusively while I was on maternity leave, and now use disposables for daycare and nights, and cloth in the early evening and weekend days. I actually like having the choice of either, so it’s definitely not a one or the other thing. The cost of disposables doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the hassle of having to run out every week to pick more up.

  • Nell says:

    We wash once on cold, then on hot both times with Country Save detergent that I found on amazon.

  • Emily Mitchell says:

    Hello –
    About the care of the diapers
    I get by on a very basic rinse cycle, then I add the rest of my laundry and then a regular wash cycle. The diapers only take up 1/4 to 1/3 of my laundry. So, if I need to wash the diapers once every two days or so, I am only doing one resultant load and 3 rinse cycles. Not too much more laundry.
    I think a lot of people have different ideas on how much rinsing is necessary and also whether or not they are comfortable adding in the rest of their clothes.
    As a sidenote, we should all be concerned with minimizing what is contributed to a landfill no matter what it is that goes into our trash – I think it’s important to realize that landfills are built to be as dry as possible and contained. Since items are not exposed to the elements, it is not a place where things biodegrade as intended. Every effort is made to contain the leachate that drips from a landfill and to treat it, however there is of course the possiblility that it can contaminate groundwater.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landfill
    http://www.howstuffworks.com/landfill.htm

  • We spend under $500/yr on diapers (1 pkg/week)….just for the record. 🙂

  • Shelia says:

    We used cloth for our second child and will (to some degree anyway) for our third — who will be older because she will have been adopted. We used regular old flat fold diapers to line diaper covers that closed with velcro snaps. The diapers cost almost nothing because I asked for them as baby shower gifts. The covers were purchased along with the few extra diapers we got at thrift and consignment stores. I doubt we spent more than $100 all total for everything.

    I also just rinsed solid waste in the toilet water. I didn’t have any kind of sprayer.

    I would never EVER use exclusively disposables again. I LOVED cloth diapers and so did our son!

  • Dawn says:

    We use cloth on our 14 month old, and we love it! My husband was a little hesitant initially, but now he is glad to tell people how easy it is and how much money we save.

    We’ve spent about $400 on cloth diapers/cloth wipes/2 wet bags. Most of our stash is FuzziBunz or BumGenius. Some of this money is what I’ve earned through ebates, Inbox Dollars, and (now) You Data.

    We’ll soon have 2 babies in diapers, so whenever I reach about $30 in my paypal account, I’ll buy a few diapers on sale or at DiaperSwappers.com. It doesn’t cost me anything out of pocket at this point, thanks to earning $$ online!

    We don’t have a diaper sprayer. Most messes are easy to shake into the toilet, and if they are a little messier than normal, we keep a spatula under the bathroom sink to do a quick scrape. I rinse it with hot water & spray it with Lysol after use. (I could only imagine that flooded bathroom if my curious 14 month old got hold of that sprayer, yikes!)

    We store the diapers in a 13 gallon trash can with a PUL liner, and we wash 2 – 3 times per week (aim for 2, but if they’re stinky, we’ll wash a little sooner). We do a cold rinse, hot wash, and another cold rinse. Every once in a while, I’ll do a cold wash with bleach before doing a hot wash with detergent. Setting the diapers in the sun is another way to remove stink/stains.

    As far as detergent, there are a few websites that offer good suggestions for detergents. It’s okay to use one detergent with your clothing, reserving your “special” detergent for washing diapers. Right now, though, we’re using Arm & Hammer detergent for all of our washing. It’s reasonably priced, and seems to work well with the diapers.

    http://www.pinstripesandpolkadots.com/detergentchoices.htm is a good website for finding a good detergent for cloth diapers.

    We keep a few disposables in the diaper bag for church nursery, but they rarely get used.

  • Dee says:

    Thanks for all the information! I am actually pregnant with my second right now and just did a post on whether or not I should do cloth! I think I’m going to go for it!

  • Joy says:

    What a great post on cloth diapers! I’ve never used them and don’t intend to now, but I’m sure this is extremely helpful to those who are perhaps interested, but afraid or unsure where to start. I’m not sure where the figure for disposable diapers comes from though. I find that I typically spend between$30-$40/month per child on disposables and that is without coupons. It is generally one jumbo pack per week with a cost of around $10/pack. This is even for brand name diapers. With sales and coupons, I am usually able to get that down to around $5-6/pack. So, for my two in diapers, I’m spending less than $600 per year, not the thousands listed. And while as a newborn they use more diapers, there are also more in a pack for the smaller sizes, so I’ve found that no matter what age they are, they still use around one jumbo pack per week each.

  • Julie says:

    we’ve used cloth & diposables interchangeably with our 2 kids, and i like them both. we got started with cloth when our oldest was a newborn. i knew $ was going to be really tight, so i was intending to try cloth from the beginning. my mom bought us a gift of a whole start up set of prefolds and covers from a friend who had used them very briefly and then decided not to use cloth, so everything was in new/nearly new shape. doing all the extra laundry is an expense, especially when energy costs are high, but it still has saved us a lot of money.

  • Sunshinesavings says:

    Does anyone know the least expensive place to buy fuzzi bunz (new) online? thanks 😉

  • Ashlee says:

    We are cloth diaper users and I love them! My son is almost 11 months old and we’ve been using them since he was about 1 month old. It took us a month to figure out what kind we liked enough to get a good supply of them. We choose pocket diapers because they adjust in size so we would only have to invest in one set of diapers. We tried a one size pocket diaper of 4 different kinds: Happy Heiney, Mommy’s Touch, Bum Genius and Haute Pockets. I did not like the Mommy’s touch- it leaked around the legs a lot (it may work better with a bigger baby but not my 10 lb new born). The Happy Heiney leaked a few times but the velcro sticks to everything in the wash. My favorite are the Haute Pockets. The snap closures last longer and they aren’t peeling and sticking to everything. My second choice are the Bum Genius. We use those only at night. The HP’s are more breathable so we use those during the day. We don’t have any rash problems or anything. You can get HP’s for about $14/piece so you can get a couple of days worth for under $300.

  • Jill says:

    Sunshinesaving – Most prices of the pocket diapers and all in ones are standardized – i.e. I imagine the stores have a contractual agreement to carry them at a certain price. Therefore, you will be hard pressed to find Fuzzi Bunz for cheaper than $17.95. You might be able to find them on clearance somewhere, but they go fast. I would try ebay. You might get them cheaper than then standard price. I like nickisdiapers.com because they have free shipping on pockets and covers. You could also do what someone suggested and buy from diapers.com and get $10 off. You could also try to find seconds. Also, if you buy in bulk the price goes down, but not much.

    Be glad that they are $17.95 – Fuzzi Bunz raised the price to $19.95 last year and then lowered them back (I guess people stopped buying them). Personally I think cloth diapers are WAY overpriced, but it is still a niche market. I’m encouraged that stores like Walmart (online at least) and diapers.com are starting to carry cloth diapers. This will eventually lead the price to go down.

  • Kim says:

    We have cloth diapered all three of our children. While they do save me a lot of money, that is not the main reason that we cloth diaper. I do not like all of the chemicals in the diapers. I do not want that close to their skin and bottom. I made my own diapers with this pattern for our third.
    http://handmadebyrita.blogspot.com/2007/10/classic-rrp-ritas-rump-pocket-pattern.html I have really liked it.

  • Hey everyone! I agree that the disposable diaper estimate is high. I checked three sites and they all said roughly the same amount. One even said higher. So I went with it. But we all know as couponers that disposables don’t cost that much. the average must take into account people who just spend whatever, and don’t really watch the cost.

    I am so happy you all enjoyed the post! Feel free to stop by those tutorials and I’d be happy to answer your questions there.

  • Stephanie says:

    If anyone is interested in cheap prefolds, here’s a great link to check out… http://hyenacart.com/preciousdignity/index.php?c=38
    She has 60 cent pfs!

  • We love our bumgenius diapers! We also use Fuzzi Bunz and gDiapers with prefolds or with the flushable inserts for traveling.

    We just hosted cloth diaper week last week at GiveThemRoots & we are giving away a 3-pack of Bumgenius one-size diapers!!! The giveaway ends on 3/6/09. Check it out here. http://www.givethemroots.com/2009/02/bumgenius-one-size-diapers.html

  • Kama says:

    Yes, but having an HE machine with cloth diapers is not the way to go. I’ve been using my BG 3.0 with my son and he’s being breast-fed and it’s just not a pretty picture. I end up having to bleach every load in the sun to get out stains. Just sharing!

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