Cloth Diaper Chat

As a doula, I frequently get asked by expectant parents about cloth diapering.  Is it hard? Is it gross? Does it really save money? As an experienced parent who cloth diapered exclusively for 4-5 years, I have some thoughts.

The answers to the aforementioned questions are: No. No. Yes.

My eldest in his fluff (non-professional snapshot, but still a fave!)

My eldest in his fluff (non-professional snapshot, but still a fave!)

From the day I learned that I was pregnant for the first time, I knew that I would cloth diaper.  My main motivator: Finances. While my husband and I have been fortunate enough to never struggle financially, we have always needed to maintain a relatively tight budget and strive to save money whenever possible.  Cloth diapering saved us an enormous amount of money.

Nearly thirty years ago when I was in my own set of cotton prefolds, there were only one or two options for cloth diapering.  Today, there is a wide variety of cloth diapers which come in countless adorable patterns (my cloth diapering addiction stemmed from the particularly cute fluffs).  As a new parent, I experimented with a lot of different styles of diapers and eventually decided that diaper covers and prefolds were the most economical way to diaper.

When I first started diapering, I needed a minimum of four diaper covers.  For beginning cloth diaperers, I recommend starting with only a handful of covers and then adding to your stash as you find necessary.  Ultimately, I ended up with more than four covers, but mostly because I loved the fun prints. I made it work with only four covers, but had more freedom by having 5-6 available. If you go the diaper cover route, you’ll need prefolds to put inside them. I was able to successfully cloth one child with eighteen prefolds (I added a few more when I had my second child and had two in diapers).  Now let’s do some math:

My favorite covers are about $15.  Doula Pro Tip: add them to your baby registry and watch for sales! I only paid full price for specialty print covers and got all I needed at my baby shower.   Six infant sized prefolds are about $14 and a set of six large prefolds are about $19 (I started with that combination).

Diaper covers: $15 x 4 = $60  + Infant prefolds: $14 x 3 = $42   + Large prefolds: $19 x 3 = $57

Grand total: $159

Another non-professional snapshot of my youngest loving her cloth!

Another non-professional snapshot of my youngest loving her cloth!

As a first time parent, I was able to diaper my child for the upfront cost of $159. Our diaper covers and prefolds lasted at least one year and many for nearly two years.  I have well water at my home and did not need to factor in washing expenses. Those who have city water should take into account their utility charge, doing one extra load every other day.  Further save money by line drying (which also preserves the integrity of the diapers). Homes without access to outdoor laundry lines can use mini drying racks or put a line up inside (we did the latter).

Families who cannot afford the relatively hefty upfront cost should contact cloth diaper banks such as The Rebecca’s Foundation or CottonBabies’ Share the Love program.

Doula Pro Tip II: there is a HUGE cloth diapering buy/sell/trade community online.  At one point, I belonged to at least five separate groups on Facebook. After figuring out what brands of diapers did not work for us, I sold those diapers and made back the money that I had initially invested in them.  Once I was finished diapering, I was able to resell the bulk of my stash.

I went the least expensive route for cloth diapering.  There are many other cloth diapering options available that cost more initially, but will ultimately cost less than disposables in the long run.

I chose to cloth diaper.  It saved my family a lot of money.  I felt good about not adding diapers to landfills. And my darlings’ little bottoms were irresistibly cute when dressed in fluff!

Buy your fluff locally at Green Baby Boutique!  Or rent some (and have them laundered) at The Stork Diaper Services.


If you are interested in learning more about cloth diapering and balancing life with a newborn, let’s talk!

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