By Rebecca Keenan from Playground Confidential
There are many reasons to cloth diaper a baby. There’s the environmental impact and the feeling of soft cotton against your baby’s skin. Cloth diapers will make it easier for your baby to feel wet and might facilitate easier toilet training. Or maybe you have a deep, subconscious yearning to fold squares of cloth just so, fostered by years of setting napkins out in fine dining restaurants. Ahem. But I digress.
But the number one reason for cloth diapering a baby is … drumroll … to save money. This isn’t entirely a given, however. Cloth diaper companies, no matter how what their eco cred, are out to make a profit and it’s easy to spend more on cloth diapers than you would have on disposables. I’ve seen estimates on the cost of using disposable diapers that are way out of line with what people actually spend. I can promise you I didn’t spend $3000 diapering my second kid — not even close. Using generic brand diapers and keeping an eye on sales, most people can get away with spending no more than $30 a month on disposables. That’s $1080 over three years. That’s the number you have to keep in mind when you’re purchasing cloth diapers.
Here’s how to get away with spending way, way less than that:
- Look for hand-me-downs: Someone you know may be more than happy to give you some of their old cloth-diapering stash or to let you use some diapers while they’re between babies. I was loaned a few wrap-style covers six years ago when my first baby was born and am using them now for the third time. (I swear I’m giving them back!)
- Buy used: I know this sounds gross at first, but guess what? As soon as your baby pees and poos in a diaper, it’s used anyway. They are designed to be washed thoroughly, sanitized and to last for a long time. Barely-used diapers are very easy to find, too.
- Flats and prefolds are your friends: There are all manner of fancy fitted and all-in-one diapers on the market, and if you get some handed down or find some used ones cheap, that’s great. But prefolds are easily folded or pinned into any cover, clean better, last longer and cost less. Old fashioned flats (like the kind your grandmother would have used) are even cheaper. With a bit of practice they can be folded in various ways (Google it!) or doubled up to fit any age baby almost as well as any fitted. They’re thin enough to line dry quickly and only take ten minutes in the dryer. I love them.
- Don’t try to buy three years worth at once: All of those barely-used cloth diapers on Craigslist and Kijiji? They’re there because cloth diapering doesn’t work for everyone. Or maybe it only worked for a few months. Or maybe they had more than they needed or they didn’t like those particular diapers. Start with the basics and go from there. You can always buy more if and when you need them.
- You don’t need as many as you think: I’m personally rocking a meager two dozen diapers right now with five PUL covers (and a stash of larger covers and prefolds to dip into if I run out). This means I do a load of diapers every two or three days. It also means I do a load of something else while I’m at it and I’ve never been more caught up on the laundry! It takes no time to dry and fold my diapers and they never get too gross waiting to get laundered. You may want to be able to go a couple more days in between washing and that’s fine. But you don’t need to.
Do you have any cloth diapering tips?
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