So, you’re back for more about cloth diapers, huh? Great! If you read Part 1 about cloth diapers, you learned why we chose to use cloth diapers vs. disposables in our family, how many diapers you’ll need if you choose cloth, and you read about all different types of cloth diapering accessories. In this part, we’ll discuss when you should start using cloth diapers on your baby, the B Family cloth diapering routine, traveling with cloth diapers, and we’ll talk cost. As in, are cloth diapers really going to save you money. Let’s get started!
When Do You Start Using Cloth?
This is certainly a debatable topic. Different families choose to start using cloth diapers at different times, but in our family, we simply chose to start using cloth diapers after we ran out of our disposable stash. We were gifted multiple boxes of newborn and size 1 diapers, and we were very grateful for them! We chose to use those up before starting on cloth diapers. Little man was 6lbs, 13 ounces at birth, so this gave him plenty of time to grow into the BumGenius diapers, which are supposed to fit babies from 7 pounds to 35+ pounds. I believe he was about 3 months old before he wore his first cloth diaper.
If we had not received so many diapers as gifts, I would have started much earlier. Some families choose to use ONLY cloth on their babies from day 1. More power to them! However, just my personal preference, I would wait until the baby is having normal poops (i.e. no more meconium) before I started using cloth. Meconium will permanently stain the diapers. It shouldn’t affect the absorbency of the diapers at all, but I like pretty diapers 🙂 Another thing to consider is the size of your diapers. Little man was so close to fitting in the 4.0s when he was born, but they still would have been a tad too big, especially in the legs. I would probably use disposables until he was big enough to fit into my one-size diapers, which shouldn’t take too too long unless you have a preemie. (He was over 7 pounds by 2 weeks of age). They DO make newborn diapers, but I don’t think I could justify buying that many newborn sized diapers (20-24 in order to have a 2 day supply) to use for only 2 weeks or a month at most! It would be cheaper to buy a big box of disposables and go from there.
Ah, the best part of this series! How do cloth diapers work in our family? Well, it has taken countless trial and error methods, but we finally LOVE our cloth diapering routine! I won’t be changing it any time soon (except to add cloth wipes, which will make it even easier!)
I keep all of my clean diapers in Little Man’s closet. I bought a hanging sweater organizer similar to THIS one, and it has worked out great! The clean dipes go in a stack up top, then clean inserts, doublers, and soakers are placed underneath. I keep extra wet bags and burp rags/prefolds at the bottom. Since we use different inserts during the day vs. at night, I do not pre-stuff my diapers after doing laundry. It is just as easy for me to stuff them to-order at changing time. Hubby has gotten really good at it, too 🙂 The only times I pre-stuff diapers are when someone is babysitting or if we’re running errands.
At changing time, I stuff the diaper first then get my wipes and any cloth-diaper-approved-creams ready. It helps to have everything ready to go, especially since the boy is a squirmer now… Hubs and I have both gotten pretty good at diapering on-the-go haha Nightime diapers get a SuperDo stuffed inside while during the day we use the “newborn” microfiber insert (comes with BumGenius diapers) plus a Hemp Babies Diaper Doubler.
Just line them up, stuff them in together, and smooth them out so they’re both flat. Next, take off the old diaper, and set it aside. Wipe, apply cream, then velcro the new one on tight, and voila, the kid is good to go! Tip: Let the squirmy kid go play before dealing with the dirty diaper 🙂 If the diaper is just wet, I shake/pull the inserts out, wrap the diaper up very similar to a used disposable, and dump everything in the diaper pail. If it’s a poopy diaper, I take it to the toilet, turn it upside down, and dump the contents into the toilet before pulling the inserts out and putting everything in the pail. (If you have a newborn, exclusively breastfed baby, you don’t even have to dump it out. It will wash out just fine in the washing machine!) You’re done!
This diaper is wrapped up and ready for the pail until wash day! Notice the velcro is secured to the “laundry tabs” to keep the velcro from sticking to and messing up other diapers nearby.
This is where cloth wipes would come in handy. Right now we use disposable wipes so we have a separate trash can just for the used wipes. With cloth wipes, we could just wrap them up with the used diaper, and throw it all in the bin! No separate trash can needed. (Again, a reminder that I need to get my cloth wipes ready)
As I mentioned in Part 1, I did laundry every other day when Little Man was tiny. Now that he’s sleeping 12+ hours per night, I’m only changing his diaper every 2-3 hours during the day which means we only go through 5-7 diapers in a 24 hour period. That means I only have to do laundry every 3-4 days. Can I get an Amen? 😉 I typically reserve Wednesdays and either Saturday or Sunday for cloth diaper washing days.
The washing of the cloth diapers is where most people get grossed out and decide to go with disposables. They think they’ll have to touch poo and scrub nasty diapers or that their washing machine will be disgusting, etc. They’re oh so wrong! Washing diapers is super easy!
On laundry day, I simply take the full pail liner out of the diaper pail and throw the whole thing in the washer. Period.
No touching poo. No scrubbing. And if your washing machine works properly, there should be zero dirty diaper residue left in your washer either. (Think about it… If your washing machine stayed dirty after you washed your clothes, towels, sheets, blankets filled with dog hair, kiddo’s muddy clothes, etc. we’d be having issues… the diapers are no different.)
To be honest, the washing cycle is a bit more complicated than your typical load of blue jeans, but its really just a matter of pushing a bunch of buttons on your machine (and not forgetting that they’re in there.) I talk all about washing cloth diapers plus how I make my own homemade cloth diaper laundry detergent in my guest post on Home Ready Home.
After the diapers are all clean and washed, I hang the covers up to dry (in the garage for now) and tumble dry the inserts. In the summer, if the weather’s nice, I’ll roll my little clothes rack outside and hang everything up to dry in the sun! Believe it or not, the sunshine will get any remaining stains out of the diapers!
When the diapers are dry, I simply stack them up in his closet, ready for the next change.
Ok, be honest…Can you really say this is THAT much more work than disposable diapers? I’ll answer for you…No, It’s not! And the cost difference is more than worth it! Read on!
What about Traveling?
When I’m out of the house running errands, I simply pre-stuff a couple of extra diapers and keep a wet bag in Little Man’s diaper bag. (I’ll probably keep disposable wipes in there, too, just for convenience.) When I get home, the dirty diapers and wet bag go in the pail with everything else until wash day.
When we are out of town, we just switch to disposable diapers for a couple of days. Although we haven’t been to a place yet that didn’t have a washing machine available, and we could make it work…its just easier and much more convenient to use ‘sposies when out of town. It also means less luggage we have to cart around. There are plenty of people who make traveling with cloth diapers work for them, and I am in awe, but in our family, the extra $8 for a small pack of diapers is worth the convenience.
The Cost Analysis: Cloth vs. Disposables
Alright, this part is important! I like to save the math for last because people tend to tune me out, but you’ll want to see this!
We talked about needing about 10-12 diapers per day for your newborn, and anywhere from 6-10 for a toddler. This applies to both cloth diapers and disposables. So if we go with a conservative average of 7 diapers per day, (7 x30) and (7 x 365) you’re looking at approximately 210 diapers per month or 2,555 diapers per year. Then, take into consideration the average potty training ages: 29 months for a girl, 31 months for a boy according to The University of Michigan and you’re looking at around 6,250 diapers in your child’s lifetime (conservatively.) That is a ton of diapers!
Now, there is a wide range of prices in both disposable diapers and cloth diapers so that must be taken into consideration, but I’m going to talk about what I use, and you can make calculations on other brands if you’d like. I’ve tried several disposable diapers, and I must say that it is completely worth it to buy the more expensive diapers. After one too many leaks, poo explosions, and wet, unhappy baby episodes, I settled on Pampers for my go-to diaper. I used Pampers Swaddlers when he was little, and now use Pampers Baby Dry. I’ve not had problems with either one.
Pampers run an average of 30 cents per diaper (more for smaller packs of diapers, less for gigantic diaper boxes…more for bigger diapers, less for smaller sizes…more for Swaddlers, less for Baby Dry)
0.30 x 6250= $1875 for 2.5 years worth of diapers. Let that sink in for a little bit. Almost two THOUSAND dollars JUST on diapers. No wipes. No creams. And that’s if your child is potty trained by 2.5 years old AND if they only use 7 diapers per day…they will most certainly use more when they’re little.
Again, I use BumGenius 4.0 diapers, which are one of the more expensive cloth diapers. I bought a 12 pack of BumGenius 4.0 diapers for $203.00 (You can pick and choose colors, snaps vs. velcro, etc) and was gifted another 10 diapers, so I have 22 diapers for about $200. But let’s say you’re just starting out. You need 24+ diapers for 2 days worth of changes for your newborn, and you’re going to buy them brand new. Let’s get you 30 diapers so you’ll have some laundry wiggle room.
Two BumGenius 4.0 12 packs ($203 each) + another 6 pack ($104.70)= $510.70
Are you excited yet?
Even if you add in extra disposables for their first few weeks ($63), more for traveling ($126), a diaper pail liner ($16.50), 15 Hemp Babies doublers (15 x $3= $45), and 3 SuperDos (3 x $12= $36) your total will only be $797.20. You’re still saving over $1000!
Want to know how you can save even more?
- Use the diapers for more than one kid. If you use cloth diapers for your first child, you’re already saving over $1000, but if you have a second kid and use the same diapers, you don’t have to buy anything else! You already have everything you need. So now you’re going to save an additional $1875.00!!! Do I even need to mention the 3rd kid? Sure, you might need to make some repairs to the diapers after so much use, but repair kits for BumGenius diapers only cost $1. ONE DOLLAR. And that helps you replace the stretched out elastic and velcro tabs. With a little bit of sewing skills and some elbow grease your diapers can certainly last through 3+ kids.
- Buy your cloth diapers used! You can find great deals on gently used diapers on CraigsList or sites such as Diaper Swappers or Cloth Diaper Trader. Just wash thoroughly before using on your baby. As I mentioned in Part 1, I bought my first set of diapers off of CraigsList to try them out. I paid $140 for 24 BumGenius diapers! (And then sold them back a few months later for the exact same price and bought brand new ones with the money!)
- Find other used cloth diapering accessories. Look on those same sites for doublers, soakers, pail liners, and more!
- Buy less diapers and do laundry more often… ok so not the most convenient option, but if you’re really strapped for cash, it will work!
- Buy a few at a time. I didn’t have enough money up front to pay for everything all at once. For example, I bought a few doublers at a time until I had as many as I needed.
- Make your own cloth diaper detergent! You’ll quickly find that your diapers need special detergent to work right, and those specialty detergents can cost a pretty penny, but you can make your own in less than 10 minutes! I teach you how to make your own detergent on my guest post on Home Ready Home.
What do you think?
Are you willing to give cloth diapers a chance? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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