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.
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.
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.
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.
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?