I know many people, when starting to look into cloth, are scared off or deterred by the start up costs of cloth diapering. They see the price tag of $10- $20 for 1 diaper and think, well I can get a whole bag/ box for that price!!! But what people don't stop to think about is that box of diapers will be gone in a couple weeks. That one $10 cloth diaper you will use for months or years!
$100 in disposables is about 5 boxes, lets just say we are using size 3 diapers and I think there are about 100 diapers in the box. A typical baby under 1 year will need about 6-8 changes in sposies a day. So for this we will say 7 changes a day. A box of diapers would last a couple of weeks. So those 5 boxes would last lets say 3 months. After those 3 months and $100 that is literally thrown in the garbage. Would you like to know what $100 can buy you in cloth diapers? Well, I'll tell you!
Here I will give you the most popular types of cloth diapers and affordable options to try. I am going to try my hardest to keep total start up costs at about $100. I will start with the "easiest" systems, most similar to disposables and work my way down. Remember, there are TONS of options for each type of diaper, I am just going to try to keep things around $100. I am also going to try and get as close to 12- 24 diapers as possible. Because with cloth, you typically want to change every 2-3 hours, and 12 will get you through 1 day, but 24 will usually get you 2 days of diapering.
All In Ones or AIO- This is most like a disposable, it can either have velcro (aplix) or snaps to close the diaper. This has the waterproof layer on the outside and the inside is the absorbant part and it is all sewn together. AIOs are typically a more expensive diaper, but I am determined to find something affordable, so I will have to do more research on this. For now, I will give you the Thirsties Duo AIO. These are $15.75 a piece for solid colors and $16.75 for prints. So for less than $100 you can get 6 of these diapers. This would leave you washing every single day. One other thing is that this is a 2 size diaper system, meaning size 1 will be from about 6-18 pounds and size 2 will be from 18-40 pounds. Being a more expensive option also leaves no money for other things you may want or need for cloth diapering. AIOs usually take a longer time to dry as well.
Pocket Diaper- A favorite by many, and a good starter diaper, a pocket diaper is similar to an AIO, but with 1 small change. It has a pocket, or hole in the back of the diaper and your absorbant layer comes out. The shell of the diaper is waterproof. This allows for faster dry time since the diaper is 2 pieces. A good cheap but reliable pocket diaper is Sunbaby. It is made in China, and takes a few weeks to a month to get here. You can get 24 diapers with 24 inserts for $108. Most babies will need 2 inserts in these diapers as they get older or for overnight, so I recommend getting 24 diapers with 48 inserts. The cost on that is $144. There are also options to buy 6 or 12 at a time. For $60 you can get 12 diapers and 12 inserts. You will have to wash every day, but you can also get a wet bag or 2 (a waterproof bag to store dirty diapers in), some cloth diaper safe rash ointment, and maybe even a DIY diaper sprayer (its like a kitchen sink sprayer hooked up to your toilet to spray off the poop).
Photo from Sunbaby website
Another affordable pocket option that many people love are Kawaii diapers. At about $7 a piece, you can't go wrong. Plus they have good package deals making diapers around $6 each. They have a few different types of diapers so for the average price of $75, you can get 12 diapers or for about $120 you can get 20 diapers.
Photo from Kawaii website
All In Two (AI2)- a two piece system consisting of a cover and either a snap in insert or lay in insert. My personal favorite and cheapest of the well known brands is Flip by the makers of BumGenius Diapers. With a Day pack, you will get 2 covers and 6 stay dry inserts for $49.95. Double this for 12 changes for just under $100. There is also an organic insert option, but it will cost you a bit more.
Some other noteworthy options are Softbums, Best Bottoms .
Flip picture my own.
Fitted Diaper- not a waterproof diaper so this will also need a cover. Mother-Ease which is a one size and they run about $12. If you figure you will need 2 covers at ($18 -Econobums are a good cheap cover), you can still get about 6 or 7 fitteds and be right around $100.
Photo from nickisdiapers.com
Prefolds and covers- What your grandma used minus the plastic pants! Prefolds are going to be one of your cheapest, most versatile options. No you do not want to use the Gerber prefolds from Target or walmart. They aren't very absorbant. Now there are 2 ways I will talk about using prefolds, either snappiing the prefold around your baby, or Trifolding(folding the prefold in 3rds and laying it into the cover).
The most recommended brand of prefolds I have ever seen are GMD(greenmountaindiapers) prefolds. I will use the price for the red edge infant size since its from about 14 pounds on and recommended for babies between 5-18 months. A dozen GMD prefolds runs $32. You will want 2 dozen for $64. Covers, I will recommend Econobum again, since they are a OS(one size) cover and run about $9. I will suggest 4 covers with prefolds. This gets you at $100. If you choose to snappi, those are about $3 each. Another option is using the Econobum system. I will tell you right now though, the Econobum prefolds are not my favorite, because they are supposed to be a one size fits all and they are not at all. I think they fit better on an older baby, over 1 year old, if you are just trifolding them into the covers. On a smaller baby, they are extremely bulky. The Econobum Full Kit is a huge bang for your buck however, and you can make the prefolds work on a smaller baby. The Fill Kit includes 3 diaper covers, 12 prefolds AND a wetbag is included! This Kit is $48.95 for 12 diaper changes.
Photo from cottonbabies website.
My personal favorite diapering system is actually prefolds and covers. It is so very simple, versatile and cheap! My preferred covers are flip covers at $13.95 a piece or Thirsties Duo covers at about $12 a piece. and the cottonbabies indian prefolds in infant size. I trifold into the cover and the infant size works perfectly on my 20lber. This has been a bulletproof system for us and I never have to worry about leaks. For night time, I just add a fleece liner or a stay dry booster.
Even cheaper than prefolds are Flats. Flats are basically your flour sack dish towels! And as a matter of fact, many people use the flour sack dish towels as their diapers!
"Flat diapers are large squares of single-layer material; typically made from Birdseye weave cotton. These diapers can be folded a number of ways in order to fit your baby and require fastening with either diaper pins or a Snappi.
- The absolute most economical cloth diaper available
- Can easily be hand-washed and dries very quickly (excellent for camping)
- Multi-purpose uses; due to the softness and texture these make wonderful cloths for facials"
If you want something a little more absorbant than a dishtowel, you can get Birdseye cotton flat diapers for about $2 each. Pair again with a cover and you are good to go!
Other Things Needed for Cloth Diapering
Many people like a wetbag or pail to store their dirty diapers in. A hanging wetbag is nice because it can hang almost anywhere and doesn't take up a lot of space. A lot of companies make wetbags but a very trusted company is Planetwise. They make wetbags big enough to store 2 days worth of diapers and as small as to hold you cloth wipes, or 1-2 diapers.
Detergent- A lot of people and websites say you HAVE to use the fancy cloth diaper safe detergents. If you only feel comfortable using these that is fine. I have used them too. And what works for one person won't neccessarily work for another. What is important while shopping for a detergent to use on your diapers, is one that does not have fabric softeners enzymes, brighteners or dyes. What I CAN tell you, is that I have tried a few cloth safe detergents that didn't work for me, but Tide Original Powder DOES work for me. Again, detergent usage depends on your water type(hard/soft) and how many/which minerals are in your water. This is a try, try again deal. It may take a few tries before you find the right detergent that works for you.
Many new cloth diaperers have questions about wash routines. Through my own experimenting, I have found a winning combo for me and my machine. Here is my routine and what is almost always recommended by every site out there.
COLD rinse to get all the yuck out on a medium or large wash setting
HOT/COLD heavy/long wash cycle with detergent, (the cold is a rinse cycle) on large wash setting
At the end add 1 more rinse cycle. Some recommend on cold, some on warm, some hot. This will rinse out any leftover detergent so you don't get buildup in your diapers.
(Since my machine only has a cold rinse option and I have extremely hard mineral full water, instead of just a rinse at the end, I do a short cycle wash/rinse on warm/cold.)
The goal is to get as much water moving through your diapers as possible, that's why it is recommended to use large wash settings.
I think this will be it for now. It's late and my kids will be up early. I hope this helps!