Guest post by Hannah VW.
I have used cloth diapers on my son for 19 months and I love them! The internet is full of articles explaining why cloth might be a good choice for your family, so I’ll keep that part short and say that many people are choosing cloth diapers for health reasons, environmental reasons, saving money, less leaks and blowouts, or just because they can be so cute!
There are lots of options as to what style you can use, but most of them secure with velcro or snaps and are quite easy to put on. There are even flushable paper liners that you can lay in the diaper to make disposal of waste easier.
But I know the big question in your mind is “will I really be saving much money if I choose cloth, especially since I’m such an awesome couponer?“. This is a good question. If you purchase 24 new bumGenius or FuzziBunz diapers (two popular brands of “pocket”-style diapers), you will spend about $400. Not bad, considering they adjust in size so you can use them basically from birth to potty training (they might not fit little newborns), and will likely last at least partway through a second child. But $400 is still a big chunk of money, especially since you don’t get to pay it little by little like you do with disposables. Add in laundering costs and a few accessories, and it can seem like you’re not coming out very far ahead (here is a calculator that will help you actually crunch the numbers).
Here are some ideas that help keep the initial and ongoing costs down:
1. Put them on your baby registry. bumGenius diapers are available at target.com and in some Target stores. Many online cloth diaper stores offer registries as well.
2. Buy “seconds” and watch for sales. Companies often sell diapers that have small cosmetic defects at a reduced rate. Sign up for the email mailing list at several of your favorite online diaper stores for notifications of these seconds sales, because they sell out fast, sometimes within hours. You can also “like” many diaper brands on Facebook to be alerted to other sales or coupon codes. There are often great sales around holidays.
3. Buy used or borrow; resell your diapers when you’re done with them. If you’re comfortable buying used or borrowing from a friend, you can try out different styles without spending a lot of money. Look at Craigslist, Diaper Swappers, Under My Crib, Re-Diaper, or the “gently used” section at online stores such as Nicki’s Diapers or Mom’s Milk Boutique.
4. Take care of your diapers. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and dry them on a drying rack or clothesline when you can. This way they will stay in top condition to use with another child. Skipping the dryer also saves on utility costs.
5. Try cloth wipes. A few dollars worth of baby washcloths can replace lots and lots of disposable wipes. Just wash them with the diapers. Some people prefer to keep disposable on hand for the yucky diapers and use cloth wipes the rest of the time.
6. Sew diapers. Do you sew, or have a friend or relative who does? You can buy a kit that includes all the proper fabrics and velcro pieces, or there are many free patterns online. Use recycled flannel baby blankets, T-shirts, or other fabrics, and you can make diapers for next to nothing. If you can’t sew, locally made diapers are often available at a very reasonable cost (and as a bonus, you can see the diapers before you buy them and there is no shipping cost). Check out TKCuddlers for locally sewn diapers if you’re in the Tri-Cities, WA area.
7. Consider a two-part diaper system. Pocket diapers or all-in-one diapers that go on “just like a disposable” are very popular, but with an “all-in-two” diaper like Softbums, GroVia or Best Bottoms, you are able to use the outer waterproof shell for several diaper changes, replacing the snap-in cloth insert when it is wet. This cuts down on how many diapers you need to buy. The main type of diaper I use is a prefold diaper folded in thirds and laid into a diaper cover and just velcro’d on. No need to use pins.
9. Be wise with detergent. Some of the man-made fabrics in diapers can be “picky” about detergents: if there are scents or softeners that don’t rinse away, they can build up in your diapers and cause problems. Plus, this is going next to your baby’s bottom so you don’t want anything too harsh. There are specialty cloth diaper detergents, but they can be hard to find locally and getting them shipped is expensive. I like to use Country Save, which is cloth diaper safe, and is available at many grocery stores (I buy it at Yoke’s). A lot of people also have success with unscented Tide.
10. Be creative. Do you earn Amazon.com gift cards from credit card reward points or Swagbucks? Use them to get “free” diapers and accessories. Entering giveaways can also be a fun way to possibly get cloth diapers. Do you have any suggestions for getting good deals on cloth diapers?
If you are interested in trying cloth diapers, I hope these tips help you get a good deal! Here’s to clean, dry, frugal bottoms!