Cloth diapers cost less than disposables, but is that enough?

Photo by Andrea Wood Photography

One of the most oft quoted arguments in favor of cloth diapering is based purely in dollars saved per child wearing cloth diapers. Most experts agree cloth diapers are less expensive than disposable diapers. The amount saved varies by source but usually ranges from $1200 – $2000 per child, assuming two years of use. For some consumers making the decision to cloth diaper, a monetary argument is sufficient to close the deal. However, for others, more value must be realized than the delayed impact of dollars not spent on disposables. So, let’s spend a few minutes talking about a few ways that cloth diapers add value to a consumer’s life; looking beyond the obvious value of retained revenue.

Unprompted, a young, single mom shared about the enormous intangible benefits of cloth diapering her baby on my Facebook wall yesterday:

“It has only been a little over 24 hours but I feel liberated, independent and self sufficient. This past year has, like any, had it’s ups and downs. But I am ending it on a high note. I only have 10 diapers now. But that can get me through a day. Today I exhale a huge sigh of relief, I had no idea how much this was a stress on me.” ~Jody Murphy

Like Jody, so many families trip over the cost of getting started with cloth diapers. Others are stopped by perceived (and it really is just a perception) inconvenience. They sense the environmental impact of using disposable diapers. Some use child-care that may not allow cloth diaper use in the facility. For those families, the cost savings isn’t enough to overcome the many factors influencing their decision making process. They give up and walk away. These families aren’t going to respond to the same marketing claim again. Re-engaging their decision making process will require a look at the monetary value that consumer might assign to the intangible benefits realized by cloth diapering their baby. Jody was struggling with monetary resources. She overcame some of her roadblocks by finding sources to underwrite her startup cost. You can sense the immediate relief of receiving those diapers in her words above.

So, what is “added value” and how does it apply to cloth diapers?

At a consumer level, it could look like this:
Value Added = Dollars Saved + Whatever You Do With That Money + How You Feel Because You Use Cloth Diapers + How You Feel Because You Did Something Other Than Buy Disposable Diapers + Environmental Impact + Convenience + The Value Of Your Time Saved

Here are a few personal examples:

  • BUSINESS: In our family, cloth diapers have kept us from spending thousands of dollars on disposables, but they have also provided employment for our family (and now many other families too).

    Value added? We’ve probably saved $5000 using cloth diapers with three children, but because we were able to start a business early in the cloth diaper boom, we’ve actually been able to add millions to the bottom line of the USA economy through domestic manufacturing, real estate leases, and employment in several communities. Similar stories have played out all over the world as small cloth diaper businesses popped up in play groups, on kitchen tables, and in garages; several growing to recognition on the Inc. 500 list. (Disclosure: Cotton Babies is a privately held company and choses not to publicly disclose revenue.).

  • CLOTHING: During times when our babies wore disposable diapers, we permanently lost many outfits, both mine and my baby’s. An outfit too stained to wear is not an outfit destined to share. Cloth diapers are intentionally designed to contain the biggest of messes. Many products have effectively resolved the issue of “up the back” leaks that disposable diapers frequently allow. Before Flip was created, I would actually travel internationally with an empty bumGenius One-Size Cloth Diaper OVER a disposable diaper just to be sure I saved the outfit.

    Value added? I’ve easily saved hundreds of dollars in clothing expenditures. Beneficiaries to the clothing we pass along are also enjoying those savings.

  • WELL-BEING: It’s hard to put a value on a general sense of well being or quality of life, but knowing that every cloth diaper used is saving a disposable diaper from landfills has a definite sense of satisfaction associated with it.

    Value added? It just feels right.

  • FOOD & UTILITIES: In 2002, our decision to cloth diaper our first child was driven by the need to eat and pay utilities. We couldn’t afford both diapers and food.

    Value added? We weren’t hungry. We had a warm home and food on our table.

  • TIME SAVINGS: Over and over again, cloth diapers have prevented midnight trips to the grocery store. I’m also avoiding the hassle of having to walk to the farthest corner of the grocery store to even find the disposable diapers.

    Value added? Sleep (try putting a monetary value on that!), plus probably fifteen minutes per trip to the grocery store and all the avoided impulse-purchase-decisions I might have made on the way to the back corner of that store. You could say that I might have burned more calories because I made that hike, but that caloric cost doesn’t quite stand up to the previously mentioned benefits.

  • INFLUENCE: A few weeks ago, I asked a group of moms about how many families they had personally influenced to use cloth diapers. During our discussion, we found that this group of nine moms had influenced nearly 70 families to switch to cloth diapers. Why is this significant? Think of it this way: Each of those families represented thousands of dollars saved for a single family. That retained revenue that is then available to be spent in a local economy or to be saved for that child’s future education.

    Value realized that day? That group of “moms turned cloth diaper evangelists” realized the potential social, environmental, and economical impact of their decision to cloth diaper. Their world became larger than the one they walked in with… and together, they left with a stronger vision for sharing their knowledge with more families.

In comparison to the huge financial benefits obtained by cloth diapering over the long term, an in-depth discussion of the potential actualized value associated with various intangible benefits brought about by cloth diapering may seem insignificant. It can take a family up to two years to realize the full monetary benefit of cloth diapering just one child. This can be a difficult decision to justify, particularly for a family in a tight financial situation. While monetary benefits may take time to accumulate, most of the intangible benefits of cloth diapering are realized nearly immediately, making them an essential part of the decision to cloth diaper. This is an important thing to remember, both when considering cloth diapers for your own family and when discussing the topic with families currently in the decision making process.

Since this post is destined to be read by thousands of parents who are researching diapering options for their own child, tell me how cloth diapers have added value to your family. More specifically, what are you enjoying that you might not be enjoying if you used disposable diapers? Can you assign a monetary value to that benefit? If you are currently using disposable diapers, tell me what it is that makes disposables worth the related tangible and intangible costs.

Comments & discussion below:

Comments
39 Responses to “Cloth diapers cost less than disposables, but is that enough?”
  1. Celina says:

    Ive been ill for a few months and on a medication that makes me incredibly weak. I can’t do much around the house but I can do some laundry and fold clothes. I can sit or lay next to my sweet Sebastian and tuck together his BGs for the next few days and frankly I don’t feel so useless. Thankfully I can also nurse him through this too and that really helps tremendously also. I know that we don’t have to add to our expenses of doctors trips and prescriptions, etc. because CDing really isn’t that difficult. It’s just such a normal thing for us already. But I’m thankful that this experience has made me count my blessings. We don’t really know what is going to happen for us health-wise but we’ve thankfully have not even had to reconsider our feeding and diapering choices. They just work:)

  2. Melanie says:

    All the reasons listed above, but it was such a relief to me not to be stressed over potty training. I’ve already bought my diapers. I don’t have a monetary interest in the issue. He can do whatever works for him on his terms and I’m not pushing him either way. Subtly encouraging, but not invested in the speed of the outcome. That’s a gift for both him and me. :-)

  3. LDL says:

    I was interested in cloth diapering when my oldest was born in 2002. Unfortunately, I found it difficult to find good resources and my ex was not at all interested in cloth diapering, so we only used disposable diapers with my first. Unfortunately, my oldest daughter has extremely sensitive skin (something she inherited from my side of the family, as my mother, brother and myself all have extremely sensitive skin). She would get rashes from everything (and not just diapers and wipes, but certain soaps, shampoos and laundry detergents would cause her to break out into rashes in other parts of her body). We changed her very often to try to keep the rashes under control, and often she wasn’t even that wet when we changed her, but she’d get irritation from the diaper anyway. We repeatedly had to take her to the pediatrician to try to deal with the skin irritation. So, it wasn’t simply parental negligence or diaper sizing issues as suggested by a PP. Unfortunately, her father was insistent that we keep going as we had been, simply treating the symptoms rather than preventing the problems. So, we had to constantly slather prescription steroid creams on her and continue to use disposables. I always felt so horrible about it, especially since she seemed so uncomfortable. I knew that if I ever had more children I wanted to try to find a better solution and actually prevent the skin problems rather than simply treat them as they arose.

    Fast-forward several years and I’m married to my current husband and we learned that we were expecting twins. From the very beginning, due to my prior experiences with my first child I really wanted to suggest cloth diapering, but I wasn’t sure how my husband would take to the idea, so I tried to do a lot of research. I gathered information and prepared for my “pitch” to him, when one day he asked out-of-the-blue if I was interested in cloth diapering. I hadn’t known at the time, but both my husband and his younger brother had been cloth diapered (in the early ’80’s) and he wasn’t freaked out about the idea at all. Further, he really did not like the idea of all of the disposable diapers that’d be sitting in the dump, let alone 2x the diapers with twins. So, to him, it was a natural conclusion that we should cloth diaper. The fact that cloth diapering is so much easier now than when he was a baby was just an added bonus to him.

    Cloth diapering has been a wonderful and amazing experience for us. Like their older sister, both of our twins have sensitive skin, one of them having extremely sensitive skin even compared to the rest of us. My twins were born a little early and had to remain in the hospital for a week and a half, and while there they had to be in disposables, which irritated them from the very beginning (and nurses are on a schedule for when they change diapers, so it’s not like they were being left for 8 hours in wet diapers). Similarly, when we went on an out-of-state trip for a friend’s wedding we used disposable diapers and both girls had terrible skin reactions to it. As soon as they were back in their cloth diapers both girls’ rashes cleared up quickly. The biggest value to us has been the health of our daughters’ skin. This doesn’t even address the benefit to me/my skin, since I cannot handle many irritants too (such as pretty much any store-bought baby wipe I’ve used), which is also a pretty big plus.

    Further, cloth diapering is so easy (I seriously do not understand why so many people make it seem like it’s so difficult). We have not noticed any significant difference in our utility bills, and spraying off the diapers isn’t an issue at all. In fact, I really do not at all understand the mentality that cloth diapering is disgusting if you already have to deal with dirty diapers anyway. If you’re already wiping up poo, what does it matter if you’re throwing it in a diaper pail/garbage or if you spray it off real quick and put it in a wet bad? It really is not that bad, and frankly, I cannot stand dirty diaper pails. We always had issues with the smell of dirty diaper pails with my oldest, regardless of the pail we used, and even though I actually dumped poo into the toilet, there would still be residue on the diaper (especially if it was a rather loose bowel movement). So, rather than using our diaper pail, we ended up just having to run all of our dirty diapers to the trash can outside rather than keeping them in the house. In contrast, we have had no issues with smell with our cloth diapers. We spray our diapers before putting them in the wet bag, and very little smell seems to escape the wet bag. Not having nasty smells permeating my home is another good value to me. In fact, we had guests over the holidays who were surprised to learn that we had a wet bag of dirty diapers in one of our bathrooms because there was virtually no smell (and it’s a pretty small space).

    Further, how is it more sanitary to keep a pail full of poo-containing diapers around? Very few disposable users I know actually flush poo first before tossing the diaper in the diaper pail (and that includes daycare’s I’ve seen). I remember people telling me I was way to OCD for taking the time to flush the contents of diapers first before trashing the disposable diaper. At least my cloth diapers waiting to be washed have been sprayed and contain only whatever trace amounts of fecal matter left after spraying. The idea of a diaper pail full of poo filled diapers waiting to be taken out is way more disgusting to me than cloth diapers.

    Some other values to us is that we feel good about our choice and are not constantly feeling guilting (whether it’s about doing something harmful to our children or harmful to the environment). We also like that not only can these be reused for our children, but reused for other people’s children. We’ve already given cloth diapers that our girls grew out of to other families who not only now know the benefits and ease of cloth diapering, but it also helped them financially by not having to front the costs for cloth diapers or having to deal with the reoccuring costs of disposable diapers. We like knowing that our money is going toward something that lasts rather than literally being thrown away.

  4. A P says:

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I think if you think cloth diapers make or break your budget, then you probably can’t afford to have children, so you shouldn’t be having children. There shouldn’t be any late night trips to the grocery store for diapers. Are you not all adults, you can’t control your impulse buys when you do get diapers that late at night. Unless your child has severe skin sensitivities then disposable diapers shouldn’t be causing rashes. If that’s the case, then 1. you child is sitting too long in their wet diaper, 2. the diaper is probably too small. 3. If you child is having “blow outs” the diaper is probably to small then too. I work in a child care and I have seen many times parents not putting their child in the correct size diaper because the parent thinks that means their child is getting fat or they baby is growing up too soon. Seriously grow up people. Just say the main reason why you are getting cloth diapers, because it’s better for the environment and it saves money. I like saving the environment too but cloth diapers is disgusting. And working in child care I am not getting any closer to someone else’s feces than I already have too. Don’t you have to spend money on cleaning these diapers too. I’ll bet the costs are close. So are you really saving money or is this really all just for the environment.

    • A P says:

      When I said there should be no late night trips to the grocery store I meant because you should already have it planned in your grocery trip to get them. To avoid the late night trip.

  5. Ruth says:

    Cost was our foremost reason.
    They are so much cuter too. Even a plain white cover over a white prefold is cuter than a disposable.
    Rarely had even any redness on his bottom while using cloth.
    After bringing my son to the pediatrician in cloth she passed on her entire stock (her 2 children were out of diapers) to me. My stash was pretty small at the time & it was a great help. From that I was able to convert another friend to cloth & get her stash started.

  6. Bethany says:

    We recently got disposables for a week-and-a-half-long trip, with no washers/dryers. Before switching to cloth, we’d spend about 13 dollars per week and a half, and that’s on the cheap brands. And while I got used to the plastic smell, it was always unpleasant to me. Finally, I decided to just take the plunge and do cloth. My husband was not on board with the change, and refused to deal with diaper changes for a while. It was a difficult issue in our marriage, and I regret doing it without him.

    When we went to the store to buy diapers for the trip, my husband balked at the prices, especially since they went up with each size (now 16 dollars per week and a half, or 40 dollars in the expensive brands). He also disliked the smell, and the fact that you have to have the diaper sit in a trash can until it’s emptied; we continued to flush the poop down the toilet so our hotel room wouldn’t stink. Also, our daughter got the worst rash she’s had since the switch, and I absolutely detest Desitin, etc.

    My husband did forgive me, is fully behind doing cloth (I was amazed at how he talked it up to anyone who asked about it), and we both agree that it’s just as much hassle to use disposables, in various ways. Convenience is not equivalent to disposability, although it can sometimes be part of the definition. Also, if I could do it over again, I’d have handled the issue better; fighting is not worth it, although our story turned out well in the end. Do talk about it, but do it wisely.

  7. chgdiapers says:

    Like many other moms, cloth diapers have now allowed me to make a little money for my family, while still being at home with my children!

  8. Joan says:

    I love that my kids almost never have diaper rash, and when they do, it’s typically related to something they ate. I also like knowing that I’m putting only soft, organic cotton on their sensitive skin – I know they’re more comfortable that way, so they can focus on growing and learning rather than a sore bottom. I feel cloth diapers help my kids have a better quality of life. :) And think of all the money we save by NOT buying a ton of diaper rash creams, too!

    My husband and I are also CD “evangelists,” and have helped coach several families considering cloth. I even did a bunch of research on helping families who don’t have the funds for the start-up costs find a way to get a starter stash of cloth diapers from charities and/or seconds and gently used sales. One of my friends who is on a very tight budget decided to join the “Change 3 Things” movement after she saw me share it on my FB page. She got a few diapers on sale and on loan from another friend, and has been changing at least 3 cloth diapers ever since. They’re still using some disposables, but even 3 fewer per day is saving them money as well as reducing waste. It’s a great feeling to have had an impact like that!

    • One of my friends who is on a very tight budget decided to join the “Change 3 Things” movement after she saw me share it on my FB page. She got a few diapers on sale and on loan from another friend, and has been changing at least 3 cloth diapers ever since. They’re still using some disposables, but even 3 fewer per day is saving them money as well as reducing waste. It’s a great feeling to have had an impact like that!

      Thank you for helping us to share the C3T challenge. I love hearing stories about families who were encouraged to try cloth diapers because they found the idea of three diapers manageable. I’ve heard some amazing testimonies this year and am looking forward to another great year for the program in 2012. Thank you again for participating and sharing. It means the world to me.

  9. Naomi says:

    My number one reason for cloth diapering was to keep the massive amounts of unknown chemicals off of my babies. I would have paid a lot more than disposables just for this benefit. My babies have never had a diaper rash. They get a little chafed here and there but NO red or pussy bumps my poor disposable diaper friends get on their babies.

    Of course everything else you mention here are also great benefits too! Cloth diapering also took the urgency out of potty training for me. Me and my toddler potty trained when we were ready because I didn’t have the nagging feeling of how much I would save when she did.

    Some of mu friends try to argue that laundry makes up for the environmental issues disposables present but I can’t imagine how anyone can believe this to be true!?

    • My number one reason for cloth diapering was to keep the massive amounts of unknown chemicals off of my babies.

      Naomi,

      While I don’t disagree, I don’t often speak to issues related to chemicals because the foundation for the claims of dangerous chemicals in disposable diapers seems tenuous, at best. If you know of solid research, feel free to send it to me at jenn@cottonbabies.com.

      I also wanted to speak to your friend’s concerns about environmental issues. There is a study showing that you can actually reduce your diapering-related carbon impact by 40% if you use your diapers for a second child, line dry and wash in temperatures under 120F. If you wash in very hot water, use your diapers for one child and always dry in the dryer, your carbon impact is approximately equal to that of a disposable diaper (this claim does not calculate the carbon impact of that disposable diaper after it’s thrown in the trash). I hope that helps!

      Jenn

  10. Kellie Hogg says:

    One benefit I never anticipated is the opportunity to influence my older children. We began using cloth with our middle child just after his second birthday; I know, rather late in the game. Because we felt we could handle it, we decided to fully cloth diaper our third child who was born this July. Our oldest, Elsie, turned five the day before her sister was born, and I have been amazed by how much and how precisely she mimics my parenting choices. She watched me change her sister and questioned me about why we used cloth diapers rather than disposables. She watched other people throw diapers away. After a discussion of the financial and environmental impact disposables have, she adamantly declared that she, too, would cloth diaper her babies when she grew up. Our choices are affecting our family now, but are also destined to influence generations. That is powerful.

  11. Barbara says:

    I think clotj diapers smell less. That was one of the convincing factors for my husband. He now prefers cloth over disposable and has even tried to convince other men that “they’re not so bad.”

  12. Marvelyn says:

    Besides the points you mentioned, it has brought out my creative side. Although BGs are still my favorite manufactured diaper, I got into sewing my own diapers and love picking out fabrics, snaps, elastics, etc to make a cute, one-of-a kind diaper. DS will often request to wear a certain pattern or character, so we had fun picking out a diaper when it was time for a change. I have also experienced early potty training with both of my kids. DD was done around 2.5 and we have a good start going with DS who is just over 2.

    The best benefit of learning about cloth diapering was going cloth for me! Once I made the decision not to expose my children to the chemicals in disposables, I thought, why not me? I either use mama cloth or a Diva Cup and will not ever go back. When my daughter is of age, I will educate her on alternatives to disposable feminine products. That is a HUGE benefit both cost wise and health wise!

    • Bethany says:

      Yes! I have been trying mama cloth (eh), and recently got a Diva Cup, despite the reviews that it’s long/large. It fits wonderfully (trimmed the stem) and has NO LEAKS. And it’s easy to clean.

    • You know, I keep having this thought and need to look into these options. If I won’t expose my baby to it, why would I expose myself?

  13. Ariane says:

    As a foster parent, my stash of cloth diapers means I always have the right size diaper when a new child comes into my home. And using one-size diapers means I only have to pack one kind of diaper, no matter how many little ones we have.

  14. Lindsay Welch says:

    You forgot my favorite part! Aesthetic value. Cloth is so cute to look at, and no matter what the ads say, blue dyed ‘jeans’ disposable diapers don’t come close to the prints and colors you get with cloth! Even the plain white ones look better :)

    • Mel says:

      And the colors and prints on cloth diapers don’t leave their colors behind on clothes and skin! The dyes on disposables rub off onto my daughter’s clothing and sometimes even her skin a little. She has many pairs of pj’s that are permanently stained from wearing overnight disposable diapers. We didn’t start using cloth until our 2nd child. I am so happy that both are now in cloth. Both of my children can wear fun colored diapers and I never have to worry about it rubbing off and leaving marks or stains. That is a nice bonus. My main joy and relief from cloth diapering, though, is not having to scrub poop out of my baby’s cloths. I did that so much with my first, my knuckles would get raw. We hardly ever have any poop leaks with cloth and if we do, they are very very small.

  15. Nathan Hale says:

    Jenn,
    As a cloth diapering dad who convinced his wife to try cloth earlier this year, I can honestly say it’s one of the best decisions we have made for our daughter and as a couple. We are on a very strict budget which does not allow is to spend hundreds of extra dollars on diapers. For us, the decision and solution was simple to go cloth.
    We both work for the Walt Disney Company, so naturally, many of our friends have young children or have plans to have children in the near future. Like us, their budgets are also very tight. We have such a great opportunity to share the savings and rewards of being cloth diapering parents.
    I wish I could see more dads posting on your blogs and Facebook pages. Most of the time, we are the ones that are the hardest to be convinced of good ideas unless we think of them ourselves ;-)

  16. Samantha Moore says:

    They just look cuter! All the colors and prints! So adorable on your babies bum

  17. Kaitlin says:

    When my husband and I found out we were pregnant, we were trying to figure out how we could afford to have a baby right after college graduation. I was due in August and we graduated in May. I wasn’t sure how we were going to afford diapering a baby on less than $1200/month. I did some research online, but found the information overwhelming and I wasn’t even sure how they would look or work. Thankfully, a friend and her husband just moved into town and was telling us about how she and her husband were planning on using cloth. She let me come over and look through her stash and even showed me and let me practice on her baby before mine came. When I told her we were sold on cloth, she offered to do the shopping for us and we could reimburse her.

    It was the best decision we ever made! No blowouts and the only stains we’ve ever had were on her covers or diapers. In fact, the only reason our daughter needs more than one outfit a day would be for spit-up incidents rather than diaper leaks. We did it for the money, but I’ve been able to share our story with so many other people. Our pediatrician and even our WIC health department employees are impressed when we walk in. I even lived in an apartment complex without our own washer/dryer. To save money in that arena, we bought a hand-crank mini-washer online and my husband built me a drying rack for our living room. I did our diapers every other day that way for 4 months before we moved. Thanks to cloth diapers, my husband and I don’t have to worry about making more money just to afford our diapers. We can pay our bills, eat, and even afford Netflix and Internet access =)

  18. Kellan says:

    We slipped into cloth diapering more slowly and carefully than many families. I bought a few used cloth diapers for my son, figuring that they’d either be an investment or they’d pay for themselves in three weeks of wear. At the end of those three weeks, we used a little of our diaper budget every week or two to build up our stash. Pretty soon, our diaper budget didn’t have to go to diapers anymore. It has been so nice to slowly decrease the cost of diapering while slowly increasing the quality of what goes on our baby’s little bum.

    We also love cloth diapers for the dignity it gives our son. Because he is in cloth diapers, he “knows when he goes” and can let us know so we can change him as soon as possible. We might change diapers a little more often, but that beats letting our son sit in his own waste for hours. We’ve also been able to offer the potty; at just over a year (and a former preemie besides!), he’s peed and pooped on the potty many times without any pressure or stress. The relief on his face when he can pee into a toilet (and not into his own pants) is enough to be worth it. If he potty “learns” early, all the better!

    Finally, it is so nice to have more “permanent” possessions in such a disposable culture. Instead of just throwing away what we’ve used up, we get to teach our son about responsibility and about respecting items. This is one of those lessons that transfers over into life beyond diapers: if we can put effort into keeping our things nice, maybe we can see the connection to keeping our relationships nice, by nurturing and caring for those too.

  19. Caro says:

    I think wearing cloth helped my son potty train much sooner because he could feel when he was wet. I don’t have any comparison, obviously, but he was trained at 2 years 4 months, which I’ve always heard is very early “for a boy.” His being trained then allowed us to avoid having to put him in disposables when he went to camp last summer and preschool this fall b/c neither place will accept cloth diapers.

    Another benefit for us was that using cloth opened the door to other natural/greener/old fashioned methods. One example: we didn’t use disposable pull-ups for potty training. Instead, we used cotton “big boy shorts” with plastic diaper covers if we were leaving the house. The big boy shorts are still my son’s underwear (try finding underwear in size 2T at any regular retail outlet. I have not found any and order the training pants off amazon). HUGE savings there of money and time.

    We live in St. Louis and the folks at Cotton Babies have been an invaluable resource not only for our diaper (bG 3.0 and 4.0) questions, but also for our Ergo carrier, which I didn’t even purchase there. Cotton Babies employees helped us figure out why our diapers were leaking and find solutions. Do the people at Pampers care if your diapers leak? I doubt it.

  20. Laura Sheridan says:

    I was interested in cloth diapering when we had our first child in 2002, but I didn’t know much and no one else was doing it! After the birth of my fourth child in 2010, I really wanted to look into it. I had a few friends who had been doing it for a few months and I peppered them with questions! I did research, and bought some bumgenius elemental AIOs from a friend and some prefold diapers and a few covers. That was more than a year ago, when my son was not quite 6 months old. I still use disposable at night, but am trying to phase those out. I wasn’t sure they would “hold” everything from my heavy-wetting son. I was wrong. Cloth diapers have made all the difference! No more ruined outfits! I wish I had used them with our first because our savings would be in the thousands now! I love not having to spend my grocery and household money on diapers every week, especially now that food prices have gone up as well as gas. The “convenience factor” is that I am never out of diapers, and I can wash a load every night before bed, if I want, and let it air dry on a rack all night. I can then toss them in the dryer in the morning to “fluff” and we are good to go! Our family went to Walt Disney World on vacation this fall for a week. I took disposables just because I didn’t want to do laundry while we were gone. However, we had a couple of “blowouts” and I remembered why I love cloth diapers so much! Next time, I will use the hotel laundry facilities and take cloth! My 22-month-old appears more ready to use the potty than any of my other children at this age. As soon as he is wet, he comes to get me to take his diaper off, then he goes to sit on the potty. He always wants to flush even though he has yet to go on the potty, and then he wants a new diaper. All this is his doing as we have not been trying to potty-train yet. I am currently looking for cloth training pants, as I think he will be more successful in those than in disposable training pants we have used in the past. I can’t wait. I am currently researching other CDing options for possible children in the future, to see if there are other options for our family. My husband appreciates the financial savings of cloth in the long run as we are currently a family of 6 with less than $35,000 annual income. I look forward to using cloth in the future, and passing along my stash that is still useable when we are finished. If you are considering cloth diapers, do research, and I promise there is an option that will work for you!

  21. Melissa says:

    Another reason is the rashes that disposables cause. I’ve had to use disposables a few times, and every time she gets a rash.

  22. Krysta says:

    As a mom of a former micropreemie I love knowing that I can expose him to as few less chemicals. I also love being able to walk past the baby asle in the stores. My sister still prefers disposables even though they are just as broke as we are, she is willing to pay for the “convenience” which I don’t think is very convenient at all. Even when my hubby couldn’t find a job, diapers were one item we didn’t have to worry about. We have had a few leak issues, but that is due to the fact that my son is incredibly skinny, due to his prematurity and heart condition. I have seen way more disposable leak issues (usually poo) than I have had with him, his leaks are usually pee, which doesn’t ruin outfits.
    He had open heart surgery during the DryMax fiasco and the hospital had insisted that he wear the pampers they provided… And received a chemical burn. Since then he has never had another disposable on him.

  23. Coley Dabney says:

    I am the mother of a toddler and newborn twins. When we started cloth diapering for just one 9 month old it was for fashion & cost savings. Now, with 3, although there is a significant cost savings, it’s the stress relief I appreciate the most. Packing up 3 children to go anywhere takes TWO HOURS at this point. Going to get diapers is one less outing I have to prepare for – or return from stressed out.

  24. Sarah says:

    We switched to cloth diapers shortly after having our second child, and realized that almost half of our weekly grocery shopping budget was going towards disposables, I waited for tax returns and purchased 17 one size diapers. I haven’t looked back! Now we can afford both food and our utility bills and sometimes a lil extra! Never look back again, and even encourage new moms about cloth diapers.

  25. I wanted to cloth diaper my first back in 2004 but it didn’t seem like an option at the time. Information and resources were very scarce. We struggled enormously with the cost, my daughter struggled with allergies to a lot of the brands, and we lost a lot of the really beautiful clothes she was gifted from blowouts. She was also 3 and a half before being ready to potty train.

    When I had my second last year there (2010) was no hesitation when it came to diaper choice. Finally there were endless sites filled with information, I could finally go and see the diapers up close in my local stores, and best of all, it was amazingly affordable. Which turned out to be a good thing because my son was born with a form of spina bifida that required expensive surgery and endless followups, many of which are not covered by our insurance, and which mean I can no longer work full time. We were also homebound for most of the winter, having had to give up our second car that we could no longer afford. Knowing that I didn’t have to figure out when and where I was going to buy diapers all the time, or how I was going to pay for them, has lifted one extra stress from my life at a time when I couldn’t manage many more.

    I’m also very happy to report that we were able to convert our daycare which had not previously experienced cloth diapers, to the extent that they now list in their handbook that cloth diapers are welcomed!

  26. Shannon says:

    The money I save by not buying disposables goes directly to savings. We are planning to buy a house in the near future. Of course just the cost savings of cloth vs disposables hasn’t been enough to buy a house but not having to spend that money every week for diapers we’d throw away has allowed us to save faster. Our utility bills have not gone up significantly either.

    I love the closeness and sense of nurturing that comes with cloth diapering. My son & I have a ball washing, drying, folding (or unfolding when he’s helping) the diapers. He thinks it’s hilarious to take his clean, wet diapers out of the dryer then put them back in. You couldn’t do that with disposables. Once it’s used you throw it in the trash. If your baby were to try playing with it you’d be horrified.

    It wasn’t money that first prompted us to cloth diaper though. Our daughter was 5 months old when we started in 2007. She had a continuous raw, red, bloody, oozing rash no matter what disposable we tried her in. We tried every brand from cheap to most expensive. We tried cream after cream inclusing Rx ones. Nothing was working. I finally decided to give cloth a try. With the first diaper change she was already looking better. In a few days her bottom was completely clear. She never had another diaper rash her entire time in cloth. When our son came along in 2010 it was a no-brainer. Cloth would be the only thing to touch his bottom. Haven’t looked back since. I love cloth diapers.

  27. Melanie says:

    Cloth diapers are extremely valuable to me. As a young woman in a conservative rural area feeling the strain of isolation, they allow me to forge my own path, make my own decisions, and think for myself. There’s a lot to be said about the cloth diaper journey. From that first moment I saw a modern cloth diaper and thought, “that’s adorable!” to the next moment when Google searches made me think, “why not our family?” to that feeling of complete satisfaction when you get that first order of “fluff mail”. It’s a beautiful journey! As parents we get to have a more intimate relationship with one aspect of our children’s lives. We get to be involved in an important part of their childhood: protecting them from unnecessary chemicals. I feel a larger respect for myself as a person and as a mother for purchasing cloth diapers. That in itself is worth all the money in the world.

  28. Bandora says:

    I stopped calculating the monetary savings but using cloth diapers have helped us in so many ways. What started as a rebellious desire turned green wish, turned fashion statement, evolved into a healthy and convenient solution for our family.

    We’ve never had a blow out, we’ve never had to make emergency trips to the store, when my work hours got cut and we could barely afford to eat I didn’t have to worry about how to catch my son’s poop. There are still more benefits but you have covered most of them.

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