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Monday, November 18, 2013

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Low Income Diapering

One thing I have a lot of experience with, is cloth diapering as a low income family.  Things weren't always this tight for us and being a low income, single income family wasn't something we ever expected to happen.   Our first baby was born premature in March of this year.  I had a good job outside of our home but a month into my maternity leave I was called at home by my employer and was told that I no longer had a job to go back to.  It was a shock!  We were already living paycheck to paycheck when I was working full time and all of a sudden, there I was, home with a newborn preemie baby and unemployed.  I was a first time mom who had never had any experience what so ever with babies.  Honestly, the first diaper I had ever changed in my entire life was my newborn baby's.  I was already terrified about whether or not I could be a good mom and now, I had to worry about being able to support our family on one income.  I was afraid that we wouldn't have money for groceries.  I was afraid that we would lose our house.  There were so many things to be afraid of.  And one other thing that popped into my head...the diapers.  How would we afford diapers?

At the point when I lost my job, we were still working on building our cloth diaper stash.  Since my daughter was a preemie, she didn't fit into any of the One Size cloth diapers we had bought before she was born.  She had the teeniest bum I had ever seen and super skinny legs so nothing fit her.  I bought some Bummis Newborn Super Brite Covers and Organic Cotton Preemie Prefolds from Kelly's Closet as soon as she was born.  They fit her teeny tiny bum perfectly!  But we were using a mix of those and disposables to get us by until she got bigger.   But even once that happened, we had less than a handful of One Size cloth diapers, so no where near enough to do cloth full time.   Now...we had no money for more cloth diapers and we surely didn't have money for disposables!  At first I didn't know what to do, but I sat myself down one afternoon and made a list of ideas, I started searching the internet, I started talking to other moms and I found ways to make it work, and we found help!

Being a low income family doesn't mean you cant use cloth.  Honestly, in my opinion and from my own personal experience, cloth is the best option for low income families!  Trust me...if we had not used cloth, we would not have made it!  There are lots of ways to cut corners, pinch your pennies, get creative and crafty to make cloth diapers work.  And there are also a lot of people, organizations and businesses out there that help families with cloth when things get tough!

So here are my tips to making cloth work!

Cloth Diaper Banks and Cloth Diaper Share Programs

This is what allowed us to get started with cloth full swing!  Did you know that there are organizations out there that lend cloth diapers to families that cant afford the start up cost?  I contacted the owner of a local cloth diaper store here in Iowa.  I had actually contacted her because I was searching for cloth diapering moms in the area who may have used cloth diapers for sale.  I'm good with a sewing machine and was looking for super cheap diapers in need of new elastics or needed snaps replaced.  I was hoping that I could buy some "disaster diapers" as I called them at very cheap prices and I could repair them enough to make them work.  Well, she informed me that they actually have something called "The Cloth Diaper Share Program."  I literally cried when I read her email!  These "Share Programs" and cloth diaper banks supply families with a full set of cloth diapers to use as long as their baby is in diapers.  They are for you to borrow.  You do have to return them when you're done and you are expected to take care of them of course.  We were able to borrow a set of fitted diapers and Econobum covers and some bumGenius 4.0s.  They also sent us home with some cloth diaper laundry detergent, some cloth diaper safe rash cream and a wetbag to help get us started.  I remember feeling so proud after the first time my baby spent a full 48 hours in cloth.

Never be afraid to ask for help!  Here are some cloth diaper lending organizations that are definitely worth contacting!

- Share The Love
- Giving Diapers, Giving Hope
- The Rebecca Foundation
- Cloth For A Cause

Make sure to check with any local cloth diaper stores about lending programs.  Local business owners may offer these cloth diaper loan programs like the store near us or they may know of some great resources in your community that can help you get diapers!  Also, check with your local food bank, Salvation Army and local churches. Many of these places are able to help local struggling families in crisis.  Not all of them can help with diapers but they may be able to tell you who can!

Use Flats, Prefolds and Covers

Using flats, prefolds and covers is one of the cheapest ways to cloth diaper your baby. Cloth diaper covers are usually cheaper then most pockets or AIOs.  And the prices for flats and prefolds are much lower too.  Plus, a diaper cover can be worn multiple times before throwing it in the diaper pail so you don't have to own near near as many covers as you would other styles. When changing your baby, simply change the flat or prefold, wipe the inside of the cover with a damp cloth wipe and put it back on over top of a clean flat or prefold.  The cost of a cloth diaper stash consisting of flats, prefolds and covers is much less than as stash of other styles.

Save Money By Making Flats

You can save a lot of money by making flats instead of buying them.  If you cant afford to buy flats, there are lots of things you can find around your house to use instead.  Receiving blankets are great to use instead of flats.  We received a lot of receiving blankets for baby shower gifts.  If you have lots of receiving blankets laying around, use them for diapers.  They are absorbent and soft on babies bum!  You can also use old t-shirts as flats.  My husband has so many old, worn out t-shirts that he doesn't wear anymore and a lot of the time they get thrown in the rag cabinet for cleaning rags.  But instead of tossing them out or using them to dust the furniture, use them for diapers!  They are also soft and absorbent and cheap!  If receiving blankets and old shirts aren't an option, consider kitchen or bath towels, washcloths and handtowels for newborns and preemies or even extra sets of cotton/flannel bed sheets cut to the size of flats!

Use Cloth Wipes

A great way to cut down on your diapering costs is by cutting out disposables wipes from your routine!  Instead use cloth wipes!  These don't have to be purchased.  You can easily make these or use other items.  If you have a lot of baby washcloths, use these as wipes!  Or you can use any other soft washcloths or large towels cut up into smaller squares. If you want to make cloth wipes, you can use old t-shirts and cut them up into wipe sizes squares or you can use large pieces of fabric.  I frequently shop local fabric stores such as Joann Fabrics and keep my eye on the clearance fabrics and the remnant section.  Joann Fabrics sells their remnant pieces for half off of the current price.  I keep an eye on their ad and when their 100% cotton flannel is on sale, I go and check the remnants.  Say 100% cotton flannel is on sale for 40% off, the remnant cost will be 1/2 off of the sale price!  Ive managed to create quite a colorful stash of cloth wipes in a variety of cute prints with this method.  My wipes usually end up costing a few cents a piece and I can reuse them over and over and over!  Another great thing about cloth wipes is that you can reduce skin irritation because if your baby's skin is sensitive to the solution used on disposable wipes, you can make your own solution or just use warm water.  We use warm water and I wet the wipe using the peri-bottle the hospital sent home with me when I had my baby.  You can also use a spray bottle or reuse an old disposable wipes container with a little water in it next to your changing area.  If you can cut down on skin irritation and diaper rash, then you wont have to spend extra money on rash ointments!

Line Dry Your Diapers

Line drying is actually better for your diapers then drying in the machine.  It helps reduce wear and tear and prolongs the life of your diapers.  When your washing dirty diapers every other day, line drying can drastically reduce your energy bill and save you a lot of money!  If you don't have a line outside or if its too cold to dry outside, you can drape your diapers over hangers and hang them on a shower curtain rod to dry!  Kelly's Closet also sells several great indoor line drying  products!  Be sure to add these to your gift registry!

There are lots of other ways to save money when creating your diaper stash that I mentioned in my article called "The Road To Cloth: Budgeting, Saving and Starting Your First Stash."  Be sure to read the article for all of my tips on saving money and getting a cloth diaper stash started.  But here are a couple of great tips from that article, if you're a low income family getting started.

Shop Kelly's Closet!  If you're going to purchase prefolds, flats and covers, keep an eye on Kelly's Closet and order when they are featuring a free diaper coupon.  Also, take advantage of the Free Shipping with a $49 purchase.  If possible wait to place your order until you can spend at least $49 to save on shipping.  And if they have a coupon for  free diaper with a minimum purchase, use the coupon to get a free diaper and free shipping on the same order!  Plus, Kelly's Closet has the Diaper Dollars Rewards Program!  You earn points for every dollar you spend and once you get so many points, you can redeem those points for gift cards towards free cloth diapers!

Ask for diapers as gifts!  Whether its your baby shower, a birthday or a holiday, don't be afraid to tell Grandma that you want diapers!  I actually love getting diapers for presents.  These days, with so many adorable prints, its exciting opening up a new diaper.  Kelly's Closet has a cloth diaper gift registry that you can use to create a cloth diaper wish list.  Go online to Kelly's Closet and choose all of your favorite diapers and cloth diapering necessities and when a holiday or birthday rolls around, download and print the Gift Registry cards to give to your friends and family!  They can order diapers for you without having to know a single thing about cloth!

Buy used!  Several websites can be used to buy used cloth diapers such as Craigslist and DiaperSwappers!  Buying used is a great way to save money on cloth.  You can also ask local cloth diaper stores about cloth diaper re-sales.  These are consignment sales that sell used cloth diapers.  You can sell your used diapers there and can also find some great bargains.

My last tip for cloth diapering as a low income family is to talk to other moms!  Not only can you learn a lot from other cloth diaper moms, but its a great support system and you can get some amazing and sometimes much needed encouragement from other moms who have been through it!  A great place to learn and meet other cloth diapering moms is the Cloth Diaper Support Group on Facebook!

It may be a rough road ahead and some days are better than others.   But when things get tough, cloth diapering doesn't have to be!

Wishing you all the best on your cloth diaper journey!

Bio: My name is Maegan and I'm a stay at home, cloth diapering, babywearing, blogging momma to one amazing little baby girl. Becoming a mom has been an amazing adventure.  I've always been an explorer, looking to venture out into the world to discover everything I can.  I've traveled the world but to tell you the truth...there really is no place like home! Check out my life and adventures as a new mom at The Bee Hive Buzz.

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