When you consider the fact that the average person will spend anywhere from $1800 to $2100 to diaper a baby with disposables from birth to potty training – it’s not far fetched that budget restraints are a common reason why many mamas turn towards cloth diapers. But while you really can save money by using cloth diapers, it’s hard figuring out where to begin. Here are a few tips to help you make the best cloth diapering choices:
1. Sample Before You Buy
If you’re new to cloth diapering, don’t buy a full stash of one type of diaper all at once. Just because a diaper receives positive reviews or a friend recommended a certain brand doesn’t mean it will perform great for you and your baby. Instead learn about the different types of diapers that are out there, and purchase a few to try before deciding on a whole stash. I also recommend waiting to buy your full stash until AFTER baby is born. That way you can buy more appropriately for your baby. For example, if baby has a sensitivity to a certain material, or has chunky legs - these factors will affect the type of diaper you buy.
2. Drive a Hard Bargain
Search cloth diaper retail sites for clearance or gently used items. Also check out sites like Swapmamas.com where you can barter with other mamas (e.g. trade 5 onesies for a cloth diaper). Finally, sites like Diaperswappers.com allow you to sell diapers that you didn't like and recoup some of your costs.
3. Buy Generic
Just because it has a title doesn't mean there's something special about it. Here are a few substitutes you can make.
Diaper Pail - Substitute: 13 gallon trash can
Large Wet Bag - Substitute: Waterproof tote bag from a sporting goods store
Cloth Wipes - Substitute: Thin Gerber wash cloths
Diaper Liners - Substitute: Buy thin fleece material from your local fabric store, cut and place inside each diaper
Diaper Pail Deodorizer - Substitute: Soak a 3 inch square piece of fleece in tea tree oil and toss in your pail
Diaper Sprayer - Substitute: Make your own for $10 with parts from a hardware store
Wipes Solution - Substitute: Make your own with water, olive oil and a few drops of lavender
4. Don't BUY Newborn
There are about 7 different types of cloth diapers out there. All of them except for prefold diapers are available in something called "one size". Cloth diaper manufacturers will say that their one-size diaper can fit your baby from 8 lbs to 35 or 40 lbs. In reality though, most one-size diapers don't really fit newborns well until about 10 to 12 lbs. For this awkward, but short stage, consider using a Newborn Rental Program or buying infant-sized prefolds. See Also Buying for a Newborn
5. Use Other Green Methods
Cloth diapers are a great start in shrinking your baby’s carbon footprint, but also consider other ‘green’ steps you can take like using cloth wipes and wool dryer balls. Cloth wipes are easy to use, and will reduce the amount of money needed for disposable wipes. Wool dryer balls can help reduce your drying time by up to 40% - saving you time and money.
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