Babies can be expensive. I have heard an unbelievable figure thrown about. “Experts” say the average baby will cost his parents $10,000 in his first year of life. I have worked the numbers for my kids over and over, and cannot figure out how to get close to $10k per kid. Perhaps I am simply cheap. Or, perhaps the reusable lifestyle does not have as big of an upfront cost as some would have us believe. I only bought my cloth nursing pads once. I only purchased glass baby bottles once. My giant stack of rags serve as burp cloths, spit rags, cloth diapers, and for general clean up when needed. The baby clothes and gear were reused on the next baby. Last, but not least, our big stash of cloth diapers and cloth wipes can be reused without a monthly expense. Cloth is economical, and it can be from the get-go.
The Great Cloth Diaper Change is on again for this year. Join parents and caregivers all over the world to set another record for most cloth diapers changed at the same time! The GCDC is Saturday, April 21. Find a location near you and take part in this fun event!
In conjunction with the great Cloth Diaper Change is Real Diaper Week, running from April 16 – 21, and the focus will be advocacy and education. The theme of the 2012 Real Diaper Week is “Real Simple. Real Diapers.”, and each day will center on certain educational topics. The theme for today for Real Diaper Week is cloth diapering on a low budget.
Babies go through a lot of diapers. They also outgrow those sized diapers very quickly. In your baby’s first couple weeks she can easily go through 100 diapers per week. Despite the obvious cost savings cloth diapers can provide overall, there are a few reasons it can be tricky to make cloth diapering economical. If you don’t begin cloth diapering your baby until she is already eating solids around six months or older, then you likely only need six to eight diapers per day. When you only need a small stash, it can be pretty easy to get by with about $100 worth of pocket diapers if you wash every day. However, cloth diapering a younger baby can seem more daunting, especially for your pocket book.
Newborns eat at least every two hours during those first couple weeks and poop just as often. You will generally need to change your newborn’s diaper 12-16 times a day during the first few weeks.(It was closer to 16 with my son.) If you wish to wash diapers every day, you will need at least 12-18 cloth diapers. Because you may need so many cloth diapers for the newborn phase, and your child will likely out grow these small diapers quickly, newborn cloth diapering can seem more expensive than using disposables.
But it doesn’t have to be expensive.
If this is your first child and you plan on having more, you can keep your newborn stash for your future children. With each subsequent child the cost per use goes down.
You can also do a newborn cloth diaper rental. Many online cloth diaper stores have a trial or rental package available. You purchase the diaper package and can return it within a certain time to receive your money back minus a deposit. This option is much cheaper than buying a cloth stash, and even a bit cheaper than using disposables that first month. You not only keep hundreds of disposables out of our landfills in just that first month, but it also gives you a chance to try cloth without a huge investment.
Some people sell their gently used newborn cloth diapers when they are finished using them. A newborn cloth diaper stash can often sell for as much as 85% of the original cost. The cloth diapers are used such a short time in the first few weeks, they are in great shape and retain most of their resale value.
You can also make newborn cloth diapering economical by choosing the most economical type of cloth diapers for this phase. This means flats and prefolds with covers. Flats are a single layer of cotton, usually in a birdseye weave, and usually one size approximately 27×27 inches. They are cheap and effective. There are several different folds you can use to shape the flat for your baby. You can use pins or a Snappi to secure the flat and then cover it with your choice of waterproof diaper cover. Flats are one size so you can continue to use them with doublers throughout the diapering years. They make great inserts in pocket diapers when you fold them up. You can re-purpose them as dish towels or rags later on.
Prefolds are similar to flats, but already have more layers sewn in so you do less folding. Prefolds are generally sized in preemie, newborn, infant, and toddler. Prefolds are just a bit more costly than flats, but can be less intimidating. You use your preferred folding method and fix them with a fastener. Cover with your waterproof cover. Babies will outgrow the preemie and newborn sizes quickly. Prefolds can be resold or folded and used as doublers or as inserts in pocket diapers. I like using an old tiny prefold as extra absorbency inside a flat on my toddler. A newborn stash of Prefolds and flats with a few covers can cost as little as $100 with some bargain hunting. Depending on the size range of your covers and how quickly your baby grows, these can pay for themselves in a month compared to disposables. And they are much cheaper than a newborn stash of fitteds or pocket diapers.
How economical your newborn cloth diaper stash can be is really based on your preferences and situation. Sharing a newborn stash in a circle of family and friends, sticking to the old methods of flats and prefolds, using diaper trials, and reselling are all great ways to keep your initial cloth diapering costs down.
I chose a mixture of some of these techniques. I have some flats and prefolds I was gifted. I even re-purposed some flour sack tea towels into flats. Receiving blankets supposedly work as well. I have some all-in-ones passed on to me from a friend. Those AIOs are making the rounds through our little group and have been through a few newborns now. I have a few seconds from a sale(Second quality sold at a discount). I sold off my non-favorites from last time and I kept the rest of my newborn diapers from my son. Overall, I spent about $150 on my newborn diapers two years ago. And this time I technically spent $0. My covers are adjustable, so I will get a couple months out of them and years from my old flats. The traveling AIOs will go on to the next baby in need, and I can save the rest of my newborn stash for future children or sell them.
For more information on cloth diapering, check out the blogs in the linky below! Later this week, The Real Simple, Real Diapers Event will tackle topics like cloth diapering economics, traveling with cloth, waste reduction, and the health benefits of cloth diapers.