Dollars to donuts you are looking for ways to save money as often as possible. Raising a child can be profoundly intimidating in both scope and cost. When I decided to research cloth I was amazed at the range of prices that somehow were labeled "affordable." Sure, even if you purchase 30 of the fancy designer diapers and the matching accessories package you will not be even close to the price of disposable diapers, but a couple hundred dollars is quite the upfront investment.
After trying many, many different types and brands of diapers and reviewing their pros and cons as well as price, I can recommend whole-heartedly, an affordable cloth diaper solution.
Since I am the great combination of frugal and lazy you will get a two-for-one here.
Okay, down to brass tacks ... prefold diapers and good quality one size diaper covers for around $125.
There it is, my affordable cloth diaper option, diaper birth to potty for less than the cost of 6 months of disposables.
Oh, so you would like more details? Well, I guess we can delve deeper into the mystery that is cloth diapering on a budget.
For one baby you can usually get by with about 24 diaper changes worth of diapers and do laundry every other day. As baby grows you will need less diapers daily and could decrease to laundry every 3 days. To purchase 24 premium size prefolds (these will get you all the way to potty time) will run you anywhere from $2-6 per diaper. One size Diaper Covers (the waterproof layer) can be from $6-$25 a piece and I would recommend 6-10. While you need to wash your absorbent layers every time diaper covers can be reused for multiple changes before they need to be washed. Just wipe any liquid off and hang to dry near your changing station. I tend to get those covers into the wash routine if they have come into contact with poop or if I know I haven't washed it in 3 days. A sturdy wetbag will help in storing the dirty diapers awaiting a wash, diaper liners, and 2 dozen cloth wipes will make changes a snap. Cloth diaper safe detergent and a clothes line round out the group.
Okay, for those playing along at home:
24 prefold diapers ($48-144)
6-10 one size covers ($36-250)
1 wetbag ($10-25)
24 cloth wipes ($25 or free if you have some old cotton fabric or baby wash cloths laying around)
diaper liners ($10 for 100 liner roll of disposable or some fleece/cotton fabric mentioned)
detergent (less than $0.32 per load)
clothesline (grab some at a discount store for an easy $1 investment)
Total birth to potty cost will include water and detergent costs which I am not going to estimate here. You may also choose to purchase a pail liner and other accessories as you continue your journey, but we are talking basics.
But, to get you a baseline for the tangible purchases: $95-455
With prefolds there are tips and tricks to fold the diapers to best fit baby as they grow. I practiced folding the diapers several ways using a curious george stuffed animal we had lying around the house. When baby is quite small you may chose to fold the diaper to add a small pocket at the rear for those messy up the back newborn poops. We know back is best, but we want to be sure everything stays in the diaper not on our playmat!
Setting up your changing station with diapers folded and inserted into the covers can add efficiency as well as placing a wipe or two inside the diaper so you aren't looking for things when gross strikes. I liked to fold the diapers right out of the dryer and have them set up for the next day. Save an extra prefold to double stuff your night time diaper if you have a heavy wetter overnight.
With six covers you can have them all stuffed and ready for the day. As you change one diaper you can wipe out the cover and hang it near the table, usually by the time you change the next diaper the previous cover is dry and can be paired with a new prefold. We had a window in our nursery so the curtain rod often became the cover drying rack.
Urine soaked prefolds can be removed from baby and placed directly into the wetbag to await wash day. If I recall my baby math correctly, as soon as you change a barely wet diaper that is when baby will poop. Prefolds with breastmilk poop require no extra work and can also be placed directly into the wetbag (I did like to rinse these in the toilet though, especially if baby had a cold or particularly colorful poop, because i worried about stains). If you are dealing with real kid poop, if you don't know what the difference is, you soon will :), you need to take the prefold to the toilet and get all that poo where it belongs. For an indepth (pardon the pun) explanation of this see my Cloth Diaper Care Part One. Once the prefold is properly rinsed it can join the others in the wetbag. Any covers that get messy should also be rinsed in the toilet and added to the bag.
On wash day follow the routine from Cloth Diaper Care Part Two, prefolds are pretty easy since they are only the absorbent layer without snaps or other materials to worry about. A good quality prefold can be prewashed on cold, long wash on warm/hot, and double rinsed hundreds of times before it needs to be replaced. If you have issues with a lingering smell on on them 1/4 cup of white vinegar can be added to the rinse once a month or so. Good quality covers can be machine washed with the diapers or you can handwash.
Once the load is washed it is time to decide if you plan to use a dryer. Prefolds will be softer and fluffier out the the dryer, but do not use dryer sheets as these can leave residue that can cause a decrease in absorbency. Covers and wetbags should be line dried whenever possible. These dry very quickly. If you have a sunny day get those prefolds out there as sunlight is a fantastic solution to remove stains and get them smelling like a fresh spring day. Beware of putting your fanciest covers and wetbags in the sun as the designs are prone to fading.
Once everything is clean its back to the beginning again. Keep in mind, the more diapers you have the less often they will be used and washed, which can contribute to a longer diaper lifespan. In addition, the longer diapers wait to be washed the more opportunity for stains to set in and smells to linger. Diapers are sold with care guides, so be sure to check those so that you do not inadvertently void a manufacturer warranty with your diaper routine.
No joke, this is the very basic version of cloth diapering I have attempted. If you are truly frugal, you are likely less lazy than me, you may be able to make your own flat style diapers out of old shirts and sew some diaper covers on your own, saving even more. The reality is that alternatives to disposable diapers are endless as long as you remember to have someplace for urine and feces to go and a way to keep it from getting on everything else. I applaud you for taking the first step and would appreciate your tips and feedback on my affordable cloth diaper option.
I am a highly opinionated and sassy mother of three and wife to one. I hope you enjoy reading about my efforts to tackle the infuriating obstacles of life using straight talk and humor. If I say it, I mean it, or maybe I am being sarcastic. I like to focus on topics from my everyday life: parenting, cooking, crocheting, and a whole list of other things that inspire my rage.