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Thursday, September 27, 2012

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Frugal Finds: Cloth Diapering on Any Budget

We are, for the most part, a single income family, and my husband is a state employee. I love the opportunity I have to stay home with my two kiddos- ages 3-1/2 and 2 months- but it comes with its own set of challenges. We initially looked into cloth diapering for environmental reasons, but when I figured out how much money we could save by switching with cloth, I knew we had to make the jump, especially after figuring out how much money we had spent disposable diapering our first for 2-1/2 years. After putting pen to paper, we figured out that we had spent over $1350 on disposable diapers in under 3 years. Thirteen-hundred-and-Fifty Dollars, and we always bought the store brand! Do you know what I would have rather spent that money on? Pretty much anything!

When we started to build our cloth diaper stash I tried to do it in the most economical way possible. What I learned is that you don’t have to shell out a huge sum of money to start cloth diapering. Yeah, there will be some start up costs, but families can cloth diaper on any budget. Here are some ways to make your dollar stretch further:

  1. Start with a budget in mind. I knew I wanted to save at least $1000 dollars by switching, so I vowed to not spend more than $350 on my cloth stash. Don’t forget to add in accessories such as pail liners, doublers, wet bags, and cloth diaper safe rash cream when you budget.
  2. Keep an open mind when considering systems. I was initially set on only using pocket diapers, but a wise friend convinced me to try out prefolds. I fell in love! Who would have thought? Flats or prefolds may not be for everyone, but they might work for you. All-in-two’s are also a convenient option, and they are usually less expensive than buying all pocket or all-in-one diapers.
  3. Also, keep an open mind when considering brands. You may fall in love with a certain well known brand, but if there’s an awesome sale on a good alternative, consider it. You can always return Wee Guarantee diapers that didn’t work for you to the Diaper Shops.
  4. Shop the sales. It’s my experience that everything goes on sale eventually, if you wait long enough. Look for free diaper coupons as well as “buy a certain number, get one free” sales. This is an especially good idea if you have your heart set on one particular brand. Patience is definitely a virtue when trying to cloth diaper frugally.
  5. Take advantage of second sales and gently used items. Over half of my diaper covers were purchased gently used and many of my prefolds are seconds. You can get great deals on fully functional items when they have minor defects or have been worn a time or two.
  6. Get a high quality product. Generally, you get what you pay for, and most of those ultra-cheap diapers offered by Chinese companies aren’t such a great deal when you consider how long they’ll last. It’s always a good idea to go through a reputable retailer, both for the warranties and the customer service. You want your diapers to last!
There are a myriad of reasons to consider cloth diapering, but saving money is foremost on many parents’ minds in this tough economic climate. Do research before you buy and stick to your budget. Know that it’s okay to build up a stash gradually; before you know it you’ll be saving thousands of dollars over the course of your child’s life!

Bio: Heather Hale - Heather is a work-at-home violin and piano teacher, but her full-time job is chasing after her two boys. You can follow her eco-friendly lifestyle changes at


Leah said...

When I decided to start cloth diapering we had $75 that we could spend on diapers. We planned on doing flats and covers, but were given a dozen used prefolds. I wanted to keep everything the same, so as not to confuse my husband. So we got prefolds instead of flats. I bought a dozen prefolds from for $21.

I love to knit so I made 2 soakers and 2 pairs of longies. I used mostly wool left over from other projects, I think I only spent about $10 on wool. Total spent for covers was $18, $8 for a knitting pattern.

We also got a trash can to use as a diaper pail. I think it was $8.
And a pack of 2 snappi's for $8.

Total spent = $39. This is less than what we spent on disposables per month.

We really lucked out by being gifted a lot of diapers. I have a pretty fantastic group of friends. And I was able to make covers.

In the 2 months since we've started I've picked up a few more things that I didn't need right away.

Laundry detergent. I was using what I had for the first few weeks, until my daughter (14 months) got a really bad diaper rash. I got All Free & Clear for $4, to see if it worked. Once the All is gone I am going to buy some from a local diaper shop. I think its $20 and should last us several months. Way cheaper than I thought it'd be. We also got YumBum Ointment to treat the diaper rash. (Worked beautifully, btw!)

So we started really cheap, but needed to make a few more purchases in the following weeks. Although it was still pretty cheap!

I do want to try out some more expensive systems. I love the thought of pocket diapers and am dying to try some out.

Josh Hill said...

I completely agree. Everyone needs to do research before making a choice. Flats, pre-fold, pockets covers, there is a lot to learn. Research...stop reading this and go.