Mothers who are parenting on a budget should seriously consider cloth diapers. While disposable diapers are “easier” in their own ways, cloth diapers are far more financially friendly. It’s not hard to make this method practical, even for the busiest moms.
The Basics: How Do Cloth Diapers Work?
I’m going to make a confession: I didn’t use cloth diapers with either of my kids and I regret it. Cloth diapers are so cute it’s almost painful and they are easier to clean than you might think. There are a gazillion different brands and cloth diaper options and some seriously detailed cloth diaper reviews out there.
My advice is to go with either a hybrid or pocket-style cloth diapers. By placing super-absorbent inserts into the pockets, your clean up time is minimized in a big way. This does require an additional cost but if I were to do it all over again (you never know!) I think the cost would be worth it.
One obvious major benefit of cloth diapers is that they’re completely nontoxic. Disposables are created with chemicals like dyes, dioxin, plastics, fragrances, and more – but cloth diapers come in a range of options, such as organic cotton or bamboo fabric. Your baby won’t be itchy or scratchy, because these fabrics are soft and gentle. It’s good for your wallet AND the planet!
How to Wash Cloth Diapers
Whether you choose cloth or disposable diapers, you’re going to touch baby poop. There’s no getting out of it. When my son Evan was a newborn, my dear friend and veteran mom Nicole came over for a visit. We were chatting away when Evan made it clear it was time for a new diaper. It was a doozey and required a good 6 or 7 wipes to get him cleaned up. Too exhausted to get up, I left the diaper shrapnel on the floor next to the couch. Minutes later, my graceful, yogic friend stood up from the couch and squished her foot DIRECTLY into the poop. I will never forget her reaction…or lack thereof. She didn’t even flinch. Any other human being would have squealed and potentially dry heaved. Not Nicole. She went way above and beyond the call of duty! ( couldn't resist!)
There are several easy methods for washing cloth diapers. After removing the diaper’s liner, shake off excess waste into a toilet. Some parents soak dirty diapers prior to washing to prevent stains, but some manufacturers recommend not soaking. Before washing, a quick pre-wash cycle loosens stains as effectively as a long soak.
To protect against detergent build-up, use a zero residue detergent free from dyes, fabric softeners, and perfumes. The best cleaning products should also be free of oils, UV brighteners, stain guards, and enzymes. Some parents use vinegar or baking soda as a pre-treatment but this can pose a problem for some elastic or rayon diapers.
Drying diapers is easy and an important step in keeping your baby healthy. Cloth diapers can be dried and sanitized by line drying or machine drying. It takes between one and two hours to completely dry diapers and make sure to check the diaper’s recommended drying instructions. Any detectable smells after diapers are dried may indicate bacterial growth and diapers should be rewashed.
Cloth Diaper Cost-Saving Potential
Here’s one of the most important things about cloth diapers: they last. In addition, they’re highly adjustable, far more so than the average disposable. An infant and a toddler nearing three years old can often wear the same size, which means you won’t have to buy new diapers until your child is potty trained.
Reports from cloth diaper aficionados have established that cloth diapers can save parents big money. Take a regular pack of Huggies, and do a little math – you’ll probably come up with around 36 cents per diaper. With 36 cents per diaper and between 5-10 diapers used per day, you’re looking at between $600 – $1200 in one year of diapering. The average baby will need around 6000 diaper changes before being potty trained – which means thousands of dollars in disposables!
With cloth diapers the cost will vary based on a few factors including which brand, material, and style you purchase, how many diapers you purchase at once, and how many children make use of each diaper. You may spend as little as $200-300 to diaper one child from infancy through potty training. Like I said, I'm not sure why I didn't do this!
So whether you’re rocking Louboutins or Birkenstocks, grab yourself a latte and consider cloth diapering as a serious option. Think of all the extra shoes, oops, I mean baby gear, you could buy with your savings!