There are a lot of myths out there surrounding cloth diapers. And no, I'm not talking about the ones that disposable diaper fans say, I'm talking about the ones that cloth diaper advocates tell you.
#1 - Cloth diapers are so much cheaper than disposables
This is a big argument that cloth diaper advocates use when they try to sell the idea of cloth diapers to someone. Let's face it, disposable diapers are expensive and kids, especially in the early months, go through a lot of diapers. I think the average figure you get is 7,000 diapers until potty training at about $1800, so a little under 27 cents a diaper. Of course that doesn't include wipes and the diaper cream that you use, but we are just going to stick with diapers here. Of course 27 cents is just an average of sorts. The cost per diaper usually ranges from 20 cents to 36 cents a diaper depending on what brand you buy. It also depends on where you bought it, whether you had coupons, and if it was on sell.You can use Swagbucks towards diapers. If you are a couponer and stockpiler, you can diaper your child from birth for pennies a pack - the deals are out there.
Right now you're saying, but most people don't get disposable diapers for next to nothing, and you still have to throw them away and start over with the new baby unlike cloth. Cloth can be cheaper, much cheaper (we're talking less than $200 or even $100 if you're crafty from birth to potty training) but there is something else - cloth diapers are cute. Like insanely cute...and they can be addicting. Twenty-four diapers is really all you need for cloth diapering, but many moms do not stop at this number. Cloth diaper stashes are treated as prized collections and built up to insane numbers. And these diapers aren't cheap - anywhere from $12 to $40 a diaper, and some of those still requiring a cover! Even buying them used or making them yourself can get expensive depending on the type. But they are so cute and some moms have a hard time not buying diaper after diaper because of the cute prints. Baby need a diaper for the big game? Time to buy one with a sports logo! Baby need a Halloween/Christmas/Thanksgiving/Valentine's Day diaper? Time to buy a holiday print one! There are many women who admit to spending way more on cloth than they would have on disposables...even those who have used disposables on previous children! I will admit to getting caught up in the cute diaper madness...but since I'm broke it was never too bad :)
Why do I tell you all this? Is it because I am a disposable diaper supporter? Of course not. I am in full support of cloth usage, but I wanted to clear up the misconception that cloth is always cheaper. If you are contemplating cloth diaper use you may be thrown off by this post and think that there is no way you can afford to cloth diaper, but you can! Here is how to keep from breaking the bank with your kid's diapers:
1) Buy what you need. I think this is the most important one. Newborns go through 10-12 diapers a day (more if you are my kid) but this number decreases to about 5 in the toddler years. So realistically there is no reason you need 50-75 diapers unless you have multiples. It can be hard to resist the cute diapers, but doing so will save you so much money.
2) Reuse. Okay, 'reuse' seems like it should go without saying, but I am not just talking about the day-to-day re-usage of the diapers. I am talking about reusing them on other kids. Whether that means using your same diaper stash on kids #1-5 or until they wear out or simply reusing anther person's diapers, reusing can significantly lower your out-of-pocket costs. There are internet forums devoted to buying and selling used diapers and people are always listing diapers on Craigslist. Buying used, as long as they are in good shape, can save you a bundle.
3) Budget. If you decide you are going to go with cloth before the baby comes, you can stretch out your diaper buying over several months. You can set aside $X in the budget every month and use that to buy a new diaper or two until you have what you need without feeling any extra pinch.
4) Simplify. You do not have to have 50 $40 all-in-one diapers. You do not have to have the priciest wool longies or the most expensive wet bag. You can use flats and a cover. You can make your own diapers out of upcycled materials. You can go with a middle-of-the-line diaper system that is in your budget but works well. You do not have to have the most complicated or expensive - you only have to have something that works and that you can use.
5) Diaper Trials. I've said it before and I'll say it again: cloth diapers are confusing in the beginning! There are so many choices on styles and brands and so many variables such as your child's body type, that even if you are dead-set on a vertain diaper it may not end up working well for your child. Maybe one-size diapers don't fit him well. Maybe you don't like unstuffing her pockets when wet and restuffing them when dry. Maybe prefolds are more work than you thought. Whatever the reason, sometimes we change our minds. That's where diaper trials come in. For a certain deposit amount a company will send you a variety of diapers and covers to test-drive for a certain period of time, after which you send them back and all but a small amount of your money is refunded. Now you won't get to try every single diaper there is out there. It also certainly isn't the absolute thriftiest way, but if it keeps you from buying lots of diapers that you end up hating and are either stuck with or have to resell for a big loss, than it can save you a bundle! Two companies to try are Diaper Daisy and Jillian's Drawers.
...to be continued. I will be back to dispel more cloth diaper myths and with more tips on saving.