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Cloth diapering budget

This post is not about how to cloth diaper, but about the cost of cloth diapering. We have not cloth diapered before. I really wanted to cloth diaper with our third pregnancy, but when we found out we were having twins, I feel like I talked myself out of it. In some ways I wish we had (budget); in other ways, I think it all worked out (convenience of disposables). Regardless, this time, I am cloth diapering come hell or high water.

Realizing this morning that I am almost 36 weeks pregnant, I figured it was about time to get baby #4's things together. My sister and I set out this morning to get all the last minute supplies I need before we have a newborn in the house (nursing pads, breast milk storage bags, pacifiers, etc). We also went by my new favorite local baby store and picked up all the things we will need to start off cloth diapering.

I'm pretty pleased when I look at the bottom line of cloth diapering compared to the bottom line of disposable diapering. As of right now, I have enough supplies to conservatively cloth diaper through the toddler years. I will most definitely be buying more cloth diapers (and possibly supplies) before our cloth diaper days are through, but this supply is a very good start. I know that some of these things (for instance, the hand-me-down prefolds) are not things that everyone has ready access to-- such as a first time mom-- but other things (like my used BumGenius Elementals) can be found if you keep an eye out.

So here are the numbers:

When I set out this time to cloth diaper, someone tipped me off to the BumGenius All-in-Ones. Since my husband is still somewhat skeptical about cloth diapering, I love that they work exactly like disposable diapers. The more I learned about them, the more I knew they would be the diapers for us. I firmly believe that chatting about these types of things with friends opens doors and in this case it definitely did. One of my mommy friends found a great deal on a local cloth diaper swap Facebook page and asked if I wanted to split the stash with her. Even better, they were the BumGenius Elemental All-in-Ones, the organic version of the All-in-One diapers I had decided upon. With that deal, I purchased 11 BumGenius Elemental All-in-One diapers for $87.50.
Approximate price I paid per diaper: $8
I went to my local baby store to chat with the gal about cloth diapers. She tipped me off that the regular size BumGenius All-in-One diapers (as well as the Elementals) are not ideal for the newborn days. I asked her what she recommended and she said that she really liked using the prefold diapers with the Thirsties Duo Wraps. I was excited about this because we used Gerber prefold diapers with our first 3 boys as burp cloths. I have an entire bin of them. The gal at the baby store said that 6 Thirsties Duo Wraps would be enough to get started cloth diapering in the newborn days, which is what I went with. I did not buy any more prefold diapers because we have so many hand-me-downs.
Price I paid per diaper: $13.50
One of the most convenient aspects of cloth diapering is the wet bag. I love the idea of throwing it all in my washer instead of sorting through soaking buckets. Since I'm setting up a diaper changing station for easier cloth diapering at home, I decided to go with 2 Planet Wise Pail Liners, one to use while the other is being washed.
Price I paid per pail liner: $18.00
The gal at the baby store told me that she uses just one wet bag for on the go. She said that when she gets home, she'll often just dump the contents of her wet bag into her diaper pail instead of having to wash it every time. So, to start with, I only bought 1 medium Planet Wise Wet Bag to use on the go.
Well, I bought an adorable wet bag with a monster design on it... Then I saw the adorable matching wipe holder. And I knew I had to get that to. This was my only frivolous cloth diaper purchase. Yes, I could do without it. Yes, it is super cute.
For wipes, most of my friends make their own cloth wipes by cutting up old receiving blankets and the like. I also plan on doing this, but I did decide to buy a pack of Thirsties Fab Reusable Baby Wipes just to help get me started. That way, at least, I have "nice wipes" to try and I can always buy more if I just absolutely love them over the ones I make myself. I did remember the diaper budget and so I only bought 1 pack of wipes. ;)
One thing I've been told about cloth diapers is that you need to be careful what you wash them in. I make my own detergent (read my blog post "Homemade Household Cleaners") and it has Borax in it. When I was talking to the gal at the baby store, she recommended using a detergent without Borax. Her store carries the Rockin' Green Classic Rock Motley Clean detergent for around $20.00 a bag. I was planning on buying a bag to try out. However, when I was at Babies'R'Us, they had the BabyGanics Loads of Love detergent at buy one get one free, $13.99 for 2. I couldn't pass up the deal and so I bought 4 bottles of it. We'll see how I like it. I've heard really good things about the Rockin' Green detergent, so I can always fall back on that if the BabyGanics detergent doesn't work as well as I would like it to.
The total cost for all of this is $290.54.

According to the chart on Aware Beginnings Doula Services, you will need 8-10 diapers between the ages of 6-12 months, if you wash daily, with that number going down further after 12 months; I have 11 All-in-One diapers. For the newborn days, the Thirsties Duo Wraps are a diaper cover with the actual diaper being the prefold, which I have a surplus of. The gal at my baby store said the Thirsties do not need to be washed every time, but on an as needed basis. Going off of this chart, the diaper supply I have built up at just under $300 could last me until toddlerhood!

Talking to my friends who have started cloth diapering and who have been cloth diapering for a long time (second and third children in cloth diapers), I know that there will be additional expenses along the way. For instance, when we are moving, we will have to figure out the cloth diaper situation. We still have to install a diaper sprayer in the bathroom we plan on setting up our changing station; running between $40-$60 new, I plan on having my husband build one himself (check out this blog post: "DIY Tutorial: Make Your Own Diaper Sprayer"). We will probably end up buying more BumGenius All-in-Ones. But what I'm most pleased about is that this is a great start. There is no rush to go buy anything else.

These are the diapers we bought for our children in the past:

Pampers Swaddlers Newborn Size: 88 count at $19.95 with Amazon Subscribe and Save
$0.22 a diaper

Pampers Swaddlers Size 1: 148 count at $25.99 with Amazon Subscribe and Save
$0.17 a diaper

Pampers Swaddlers Size 2: 132 count at $25.99 with Amazon Subscribe and Save
$0.19 a diaper

Pampers Baby Dry Size 2: 160 count at $31.99 with Amazon Subscribe and Save
$0.19 a diaper

Pampers Baby Dry Size 3: 180 count at $27.68 with Amazon Subscribe and Save
$0.15 a diaper

Pampers Baby Dry Size 4: 180 count at $36.79 with Amazon Subscribe and Save
$0.20 a diaper

Pampers Baby Dry Size 5: 160 count at $37.75 with Amazon Subscribe and Save
$0.23 a diaper

Pampers Cruisers Size 3: 174 count at $36.70 with Amazon Subscribe and Save
$0.21 a diaper

Pampers Cruisers Size 4: 136 count at $36.26 with Amazon Subscribe and Save
$0.26 a diaper

Pampers Cruisers Size 5: 96 count at $28.46 with Amazon Subscribe and Save
$0.29 a diaper

Target Brand Diapers (Up & Up) Size 5: 138 count at $28.99
$0.21 a diaper

With our oldest, we used Pampers Swaddlers from newborn size up to size 2, then we switched Pampers Cruisers (the Baby Dry diapers made him rash).

With our twins, we used Pampers Swaddlers from newborn to size 2, then we switched to Pampers Baby Dry before eventually switching to Target Brand. When we could, we bought biodegradable diapers, but, for the most part, we used Pampers.

For wipes:

Pampers Sensitive Wipes: 448 count at $8.78 with Amazon Subscribe and Save
$0.019 a wipe

The chart from Aware Beginnings Doula Services says you will change 10-12 diapers a day up to 6 months of age. Using their statistics and the prices of the diapers I bought for our kids in the past, here is the estimated cost of diapering one child for the first 4 months, about the time my girlfriends have been switching from Thirsties to All-in-Ones:
10 diapers a day x 28 days = 280 diapers / 88 diapers in Newborn Swaddlers = 3.18 boxes of diapers
4 boxes of Pampers Newborn Swaddlers = $79.80
+ 1 box of Pampers Sensitive Wipes = $88.58 for the first month of diapering
10 diapers a day x 28 days = 280 diapers / 148 diapers in Swaddlers Size 1 = 1.89 boxes of diapers
2 boxes of Pampers Size 1 Swaddlers = $51.98
+ 1 box of Pampers Sensitive Wipes = $60.78 for the second month
10 diapers a day x 28 days = 280 diapers / 132 diapers in Swaddlers Size 2 = 2.12 boxes of diapers
3 boxes of Pampers Size 2 Swaddlers = $77.97
+ 1 box of Pampers Sensitive Wipes = $86.75 for the third month
10 diapers a day x 28 days = 280 diapers / 160 Size 2 Baby Dry = 1.75 boxes of diapers
2 boxes of Pampers Baby Dry Size 2 diapers = $63.96
+ 1 box of Pampers Sensitive Wipes = $72.74 for the fourth month
For four months of conservative disposable diapering, the total cost of diapers and wipes is $300.07

Buying all of the supplies to cloth diaper cost me $290.54 and that number includes diapering from newborn to toddlerhood.
The $300.07 does not include Diaper Genie Refills, which we also use, and it also gave a conservative estimate on wipes. Some months we used a lot of wipes and some months not as much. We did use roughly a box a month.
I do also want to note that when you look at the price of the links I have for cloth diapering, most of the numbers on Amazon are slightly lower than the prices I listed from my local baby store, usually by about a $1 or $2. Shopping online is so convenient as a stay-at-home mom and I do it often. However, I love to support local businesses when I can (usually used book stores). Local baby stores are a great way to save money on items like these because most of them offer a customer loyalty program. When we bought our Baby Jogger City Select, that is how we saved money buying all of the accessories. That is why I made the choice to shop at a local store versus buying everything off of Amazon.


Jillian said…
What a great resource!
Lauren Tamm said…
I love cloth diapering! And dare I say, that I bought many of my cloth diapers used?! This lowers the cost even further. It's totally worth it and not much extra work! Thanks for this great post!
Katelyn said…
I thought about cloth diapering with my singleton after twins... but man, it's just so much easier to use disposables! And after those first few months when you change a lot of diapers, one big box of diapers at like $20ish dollars last us most of a month and we don't use wipes fast at all. To me, it's not that bad - $25-30 a month for diapering. But, obviously, long term cloth is way cheaper!
Spring said…
Great post!
I cloth diapered our trio & LOVED it! No running out for diapers, no lugging a smelly bag from a diaper genie to the trash, just a simple load to wash every other day or so :)
2 of my boys reached 35lbs sooner than expected & I had to switch to disposables until they were ready to potty train which I hated, mostly because of the cost & effect on our budget. Can't wait for the last one to finally be potty trained!!!
Kimber said…
We've been cloth diapering for two weeks now and love it!!! Here is the link to my post:

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