Cloth Diaper Start Up Fees #SchoolofCloth

Starting cloth diapers.  There are a number of reasons why parents want to do it, but there are two main reasons why parents fear it.  Reason #1 is fear of poop.  After realizing that smells and contact with feces can be less in cloth, we get to objection #2… which has nothing to do with “number two.”  The last intimidating hurdle is the cloth diaper start up fees.

school of clothCloth Diaper Start Up Fees – Less in the Long Run

It’s really easy for people who are sitting back with a calculator to point out that the cloth diaper start up fees are significantly less than the long term cost of disposable diapers.  Sure, $3,000 is a lot less than $300… but if you’re doing great to manage the $12 for a pack of disposables, $300 is way out of reach.  If you’re doing okay financially, $300 can still be a good chunk of change to put down on something you’re not even sure will work for you.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to cost $300 up front.  There are ways to get around it and make it cheaper.  This way, the cloth diaper start up fees can be broken down into a more manageable, “bite size” purchase.

Start with All-in-Two Diapers

All-in-two or hybrid diapers from your big name manufacturers can make the cloth diaper start up fees far less painful.  If you’re in Canada, you can get a Flip Day Pack for around $61 at Cozy Bums.  (You can also find a Flip Day Pack at Nicki’s Diapers in the States for $50.)  A Flip Day pack will get you 6 diaper changes, which is a full day for a toddler and half a day for a very young baby.  Flip also has a disposable insert option if you’re having a rash problem, need to travel, or are not ready to cope with carrying a wet bag of dirty inserts for whatever reason.

Best Bottom also provides a cost efficient way to start.  You can get an equivalent package of Best Bottoms (2 shells, six inserts) for $65.50 at Cozy Bums or $57.60 at Nicki’s Diapers.

Prefolds and Covers

If you’re starting with a newborn, prefolds and covers are an absolutely fantastic beginner option.  Sure, they’re a lot like the diapers that your mother or grandmother would have used, but you can avoid pins and they’re wonderful for little newbies.  (Less amazing for bigger babies that will kick you in the face during a diaper change, but that comes later.)  You can get 6 newborn prefolds and 2 covers at Cozy Bums for under $35.  A same size package can be put together at Diaper Junction by hitting what’s on clearance at the time of post for $20.82.

These will provide you with about half a day’s worth for a newborn.  When your newborn outgrows that size, you can use those same prefolds for a ton of different things.

China Cheapies

I’m not going to tell you that your China Cheapie brands like AlvaBaby and Sunbaby are just as good as the premium brands out there because, well, they aren’t.  Not with their warranty, not with their ability to absorb.  But I will tell you that China Cheapies like Sunbaby can be an excellent place to start.  If your finances allow, you can always upgrade to better diapers later.  That being said, they are pocket diapers, which are popular because of their similarity to using disposables.  They are cheap, which puts them in reach for most people.  They can even be bought in co-ops if you can find one.

The only brights sides to them are that the prints are cute and they can be a “gateway drug” to finding better diapers out there.  The downside is that there are enough people who have problems with them that give up on cloth altogether because they think that all diapers are created equal.  (They aren’t.)  They can be found for around $45 for six changes, or less if you get them from a co-op.

Buy Used

What makes cloth diapers so amazingly sustainable?  Not only can they be used on more than one of your children… but they can also be sold when the family has no further use for them.  Buying used cloth diapers can be a great way to try a brand without making a huge commitment.  It can also cut your costs down by as much as half.

Find Sales

A lot of cloth diaper retailers have “price breaks” for buying multiples.   There are also diapers that go on sale because the manufacturer is having a sale or has discontinued a color or print.  You can get these diapers for 15 to 25% off, which can be a huge savings for you when you’re starting out.

Win Your Stash

This takes a lot of luck and dedication to entering giveaways on your part… but at any given time, there are at least 30 diapers up for grabs.  In fact, I currently have four cloth diaper giveaways up on my blog at the time of publication.  We do joke in my local community that one of our members has a Golden Horseshoe based on how frequently she wins giveaways.  It seems to be contagious; diaper wins in our area are up.  (And they aren’t just winning on my blog, either.)

Cloth Diaper Lending Banks

There are organizations out there that have one mandate in mind: get cloth diapers on babies’ bums.  These organizations are meant to be sustainable because it’s a one time loan per family, and that family can return the diapers when they are no longer needed so that they can be loaned out to the next family.  Cloth for a Cause is one such organization that services Canada.  Giving Diapers, Giving Hope and The Rebecca Foundation Cloth Diaper Closet offers assistance across the United States.

As you can see, cloth diaper start up fees can be easily adjusted for what your family can afford.  You can spend nothing or you can spend a fortune.  It’s all a matter of what you find that works for you.

What suggestions do you have for reducing cloth diaper start up fees?

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.


  1. SUCH a great list. I’ve never had luck with Diaper Banks (they’ve never once e-mailed me back. not even to decline by application) but funding a stash isn’t that hard. It’s easy to get focused on all of the cute new more expensive diapers, but really prefolds and covers do the job just as well.
    Kristen LaValley recently posted…I am Enough.My Profile

    • Oh, no! Kristen, PM me on Facebook. If you still need assistance, I can make sure that your app is found. Sometimes we drop the ball on people. 🙁 (I just ended up opening up an email conversation this morning with someone that I dropped the ball on this morning!)

  2. Oh my goodness these tips are so helpful. I too am going to cloth diaper when I have kids. I did a review of Glow Bug diapers and just fell in love. It may be a little bit harder at first but in the long run you are saving so much money, and so much of the environment. They are also just better for baby. I like Glow Bug diapers because you only ever need one size. Great tips and a great post. Thanks for sharing.
    Renee recently posted…The State Fair oh my!!!My Profile

  3. We went the least expensive and non-committal route with prefolds (and a bunch of bumGenius pockets that I hated). Like breastfeeding, I had it in my head that there were no other options — we would cloth diaper and I would figure out what I needed to do to make it happen. Funny thing is that we switched to AIOs and AI2s when my son was around a year old, and my husband actually prefers to use our prefolds 😉
    Lauren recently posted…Mom Fail!My Profile

  4. Nicole Bear says:

    We were lucky enough to receive money as baby shower gifts, which I used to start our stash. I began with Flip and GroVia hybrids.

  5. I was very lucky and blessed that my Grandma gave me $250 to buy diapers when my first son was born. She did not care what I bought, cloth or disposables, she just wanted to give a practical gift. I was able to stretch that money even further since I found a store that was closing out and bought the majority of my stash for 40% off. It took a lot of pressure off my shoulders that I was able to try cloth diapering without it costing me a ton of money.

  6. I’ve used all of these resources except lending banks. I also like to shop used / consignment sales.
    Bianca recently posted…Your Holiday Card will stand out with Simply To ImpressMy Profile

  7. I have done the prefolds/flats & covers, and I can say, yes, it works. Installment purchasing? YUP, works too. Initial investment in cloth? $60 for 12 flats & 1 wool cover. Used them & disposables as I slowly added more over time.

  8. Wish I had seen this beforehand. 🙂

  9. I would also add watch the shipping charges! Try to find a place local for pickup if possible, or when a seller is having free shipping or within the $$ amount to get free shipping. If you are Canadian, the shipping costs from the states can be around $10, the cost of a china cheapie. I would recommend reading reviews on diapers while pregnant so you can digest what you want and while you are still working (ideally if your not a SAHM) purchase a variety of diapers in different styles.. you never know what you will like or prefer, and you can watch sales or Kijiji this way rather than buying in a state of desperation.

  10. Jennifer H says:

    You can also add “Sew Your Stash.” If someone has some skills and a sewing machine (or one to borrow), a thrift store wool sweater can become a couple of soakers and a pair of longies, and a bunch of worn-out towels or flannel sheets can become some homemade prefolds or flats.

  11. I get anxiety spending $20, so the start up was definitely a worry of mine too, but in the end I decided it was well worth it…but we’ve still done our best to save where we can on them. We were gifted two Flip day packs at our shower (another tip I didn’t see mentioned- REGISTER)- fell in love with them and used our leftover shower $ to buy another. They make up the majority of our stash and really are a great inexpensive option. We’ve also bought used, tried China cheapies (not horrible, but definitely not our preferred) and won giveaways to build it up. As a blogger myself, I’ve also been able to do reviews and build up a few more that way 🙂 Overall, we’ve spent a total of probably about $100 (not counting the shower $) and have enough diapers to go about 3 days between washes. So glad we decided to go for it because I know we’d have spent more than that in 3 months on disposables!!!
    Randi S recently posted…I’m Getting Nuttin’ For Christmas {A Shaun Video}My Profile

  12. i dont know about the china cheapies but we did a great low budget job on handmade flats, prefolds, and covers. flips in the seconds sale were a great buy!

  13. I got some of mine from my baby shower, won a couple, and purchased the rest. Hanging out for sales (such as this coming Friday!) is a good way to get good deals. Also, you can save money by talking to the cloth diaper store staff to work out what would work best in your individual situation.

  14. I love grovia AI2 shells with flats! The covers are super cute and the flats are inexpensive, easy to line dry (money saver) and so versatile. I like to just padfold and lay in the shell and the mesh in the grovia shells helps keep them from shifting too much.

  15. These are great suggestions. I started with a rental which is another good way to reduce your potential financial commitment. You do have a large deposit, but you can get much of it back at the end. A diaper service can also work if you just want to try out prefolds and cloth diapering without putting down a lot of money.

  16. Judith Martinez says:

    The two main sources for my stash are giveaways and a generous member of our local freecycle group. Asking on freecycle can be a good way to get some diapers and also meet an experienced cloth diapering parent in your community.

  17. This is such an awesome post! Just came across it and I’m going to share it with a friend of mine who is considering fluff. Thank you!!

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