Cloth diapering is one of the biggest ways you can save hundreds of dollars. And in some cases, you can even save thousands of dollars throughout your motherhood journey.
There is almost no other lifestyle change related to motherhood that saves quite as much money as cloth diapering does. Especially if you have more than one child, cloth diapering can lead to HUGE savings over time. For instance, let’s say you purchase cloth diapers when you are pregnant with your first child. You could reuse those diapers with every child you have in the years to come. That’s a lot of diapering savings! This article will cover the very basics of cloth diapering.
If you are able to put in the extra work that it takes, you can really save BIG! However, there is a learning curve. I’m here to share cloth diapering basics and tips to get you started. Here is everything you need to know to get started on saving hundreds of dollars on diapering your baby.
Why Cloth Diapers?
There are so many benefits to cloth diapering, including saving hundreds of dollars throughout your child’s diapering years. Here are some of the benefits to consider when thinking of cloth diapers.
Cloth diapers are less wasteful. Diapers take a long time to decompose. By switching to cloth diapers, there is less harm done on the environment. Cloth diapering your children means there are less landfills filled with disposable diapers.
Cloth diapering can help babies with sensitive skin. If your baby is prone to eczema or rashes in disposables, cloth diapers may be a good alternative. The soft fabric can be less irritating on their skin.
Children may potty train earlier when using cloth diapers. Many natural mamas can agree that this is common among the cloth diapering community. This is probably due to the fact that cloth diapers do not wick moisture away from a child’s bum. Therefore, the wet sensation may be uncomfortable for a child. I have yet to experience this, but I hear that it does help with potty training.
Cloth diapers resell very well. Just type in “cloth diapers” to any local mommy group or neighborhood trading app, like OfferUp. Used cloth diapers sell for hundreds of dollars. If cloth diapering doesn’t work out for you, you can sell them to break even on your investment. Or, you could even make a profit!
They are just plain cute! They come in various colors,prints, and a big fluffy butt underneath your baby’s clothes is adorable.
Cons to Cloth Diapering
However, there are some very real drawbacks to cloth diapering as well that should be mentioned. It absolutely IS more work than disposable diapers. This is something important to consider if you’re an ultra busy mom on the go.
Cloth diapering your baby makes laundry more difficult. On average, using cloth diapers will add around 3 more loads of laundry a week to your normal laundry routine. That is a lot, especially if you struggle already with keeping up on the mountain of laundry (I’m with you, Mama!).
The cloth diaper loads take longer to wash as well, because they need to be run for two cycles. Tumble drying them takes longer because they are thick, so it is similar to drying towels. And even if you hang dry them, there is still the extra work of hanging them with clothespins to dry on the line. There is no denying it, cloth diapering adds more laundry to your life.
It’s just not as convenient
Another con to cloth diapering is that it can be inconvenient. It is just plain easier to use disposables when you have a long day out and about running errands. For example, you can throw a disposable away in a nearby trash can while running errands. But you have to keep a dirty cloth diaper with you until you get home. This is not a problem if you have a wet bag in your diaper bag. But it can be easy to forget about the wet bag when you get home. And it also makes for a bulkier diaper bag.
More frequent diaper changing
And finally, if you decide to cloth diaper, you will likely be changing your baby more frequently. Because cloth diapers do not wick away moisture, you’ll want to change your baby right after they pee. This will keep them from getting a diaper rash. That can be a challenge at night, and also for busy moms with multiple children. An option to help with this is to use disposables part time, or only at night.
You can get away with going longer between diaper changes with disposables because there is less liquid. A wet diaper can irritate a baby’s bottom. And diaper rashes with cloth diapers can be very frustrating, because not every diaper cream is cloth diaper safe. Not only that, but yeast rashes can become a nightmare with cloth diapers. Yeast can be very difficult to get out of cloth diapers, and often involves a good bleach soak.
The unbiased truth
I hope that I presented an unbiased picture of cloth diapers for you, mama. I know firsthand that honest information can be hard to come by! Eco-friendly, natural mama blogs are great, but they tend to paint a very biased view in favor or cloth diapers. When I was doing my research, it seemed like nobody wanted to talk about how hard it actually was! I realize now that those blogs were typically written by super eco-friendly bloggers. And while I try to do my part for the planet as well, being eco-friendly was not a huge motivator in my decision. Saving serious money was!
Cloth Diapering Saves Hundreds
Are you a pregnant first-time mom? If so, you are in the best situation to save the most money on this journey! Be sure to add as many cloth diapers and accessories as possible to your baby registry. That way, you can hopefully receive cloth diapers as gifts at your baby shower.
If you don’t end up receiving them as gifts, you can still use any gift cards you receive to purchase them. This can make your initial investment of diapers close to nothing!
You can save money by receiving cloth diapers as gifts. But you can also save money by reusing the diapers on any future children you have! It truly is the gift that keeps on giving. I have heard of moms diapering 3, 4 and even 5 kids with the same cloth diapers over the years.
They are extremely durable, and when washed properly, it is very sanitary and safe. It is similar to passing down the same pair of jeans through multiple children over the years. If you take care of them, it is totally possible.
In order to use them for multiple babies, you’ll want to start out with a large stash. This is not necessary. But it just makes sense that the more diapers you have to choose from, the less often each one will be used. And therefore, the longer they will last. This is also a great option if you plan to have children close in age. For instance, both children may have a period of being in diapers at the same time. In that case, you’ll need more diapers to start out with.
Cloth Diapering 101
There are plenty of different options when it comes to cloth diapering, depending on your preference and lifestyle. Here are the very basics of each cloth diapering method to get you started.
For the super busy, or lazy mom (that’s me!), I would recommend All-In-One (AIO) cloth diapers. Laundry aside, these are truly just as easy as disposables, and work the same exact way. There is no extra prep, so diaper changes truly do take just as long as using disposables.
The only drawback to All-In-One diapers is that they are the most expensive of the options listed. If you have gift cards on hand, I highly recommend using them to purchase a few AIO diapers. Even if you decide to choose another method, they’re just plain convenient to have on hand.Here are the All-In-One diapers that we used and loved.
For a full stash, I would invest in at least 24 one-size-fits-all AIO diapers. If you decide to do this method, you should also pick up a cheap drying rack. Or, hang up a line to line dry your diapers, because many AIO’s are not meant to be put in the dryer.
Pocket diapers are next on the list for easy diapering. They are a two-piece set-you stuff the inner lining into the diaper, and voila! You’re ready to change your baby. You can also prep these diapers as you fold laundry, so they are really just as easy as all-in-one’s or even disposables. If you have multiple children or you’re a busy mom on the go, I would recommend all-in-one’s or pocket diapers.
I love the bumGenius brand because they are one-size-fits-all in sizing. Because of that, the diapers I use for her now that she’s 8 months old are the same that I used when she was a newborn, thanks to the adjustable snaps.
Next, we have the method that I personally use: pre-folds. These are also a two-piece system. You fold the cloth diaper, which just looks like a bulky burp cloth (you can find them here), into thirds. Then, you lay it inside the cover that you’re going to use, and you’re ready to diaper your baby.
As you can see, this takes just a step longer than the All-In-One’s or pre-folds. It’s not much, but it involves the 5 seconds or so to fold the cloth into thirds. Like pre-folds, though, you could potentially fold these as you’re folding laundry to make diaper changes a breeze.
We loved these Osocozy pre-folds in size 2, and had about 30 of them. We used them with 9 one-size bumGenius covers I found on OfferUp for a great price. We also had 4 newborn Thirsties Duo Wrap covers when she was a newborn. I was thankful for the Thirsties covers because the fit was more snug than the bumGenius covers for those early weeks. That stash was plenty for us!
The pros for this method are that they are cheap, easy to wash, and resell very well. The biggest con to this method is that drying time is very long for pre-folds. The reason being is that the cloth diaper material (the part that looks like a burp cloth) is very thick. I would only recommend this method and our next method, flats, to stay-at-home moms.
And finally, flats. Flats just look like a big, linen napkin that you would find at a restaurant. They are the most time consuming, because you need to fold them to get them in the shape of a pre-fold (in smaller thirds). Then, you lay them in the cloth diaper cover or fold them onto your baby. They are the absolute cheapest of all the cloth diaper methods, and they are also the most old-fashioned method. This is how your great grandmother diapered her babies.
Flats are the easiest to wash, the easiest to strip and disinfect, and they are the quickest to dry. They are also the most customizable depending on your baby’s size, because you can fold them in all kinds of different ways. This can prevent leakage and fit your unique baby perfectly.
However, the biggest drawback is that they are slightly more time consuming as they require folding. But of course, it CAN work for any mom in any situation if she is committed to this method. Find what works for your family and take these suggestions with a grain of salt.
How I Wash Cloth Diapers
Every mom’s washing routine may differ, depending on a few factors. For example, breastmilk poop is different from formula poop because it’s water soluble. Therefore, the washing routine may vary a little. Or, some mom’s really prefer to use natural laundry detergent. Other’s have extremely hard water and require a water softener. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to washing cloth diapers.
Resource For Your Washing Routine
You can find out all about the perfect washing routine for you at http://www.fluffloveuniversity.com/
Fluff Love University is the ultimate website for washing cloth diapers with your particular washer and brand of diapers. But, for example’s purposes, I will share how I personally would wash my baby’s cloth diapers.
My Washing Routine
Because I’m a breastfeeding mom, my baby’s poop was water soluble before starting solids. This meant I could just throw the diapers directly into the washer drum without a problem. Every 2-3 days I would dump the pail of dirty diapers into the washer, throw a big scoop of Tide in, and run a normal wash on the coldest setting. Then, after that cold wash, I would run the washer one more time, this time on the hottest setting. I would throw in a scoop full of Tide and some White King water softener because I live in an area with extremely hard water.
After those two runs through the washer, I would line dry the covers. My pre-folds and wipes would go into the dryer to tumble dry. My diapers always came out smelling wonderful and totally clean. But if there were any stains, I would leave them out in the backyard for a day so the sun could get any stains out. Again, depending on a few factors, your washing routine may look a little different.
Save Money with Cloth Diapers
Cloth diapering can be an incredible way to save hundreds or even thousands over the course of your children’s lives. Even if you choose to only use cloth diapers part time, you’ll still save hundreds. I hope these cloth diapering tips helped you on your path to being a mom on a budget. For more money saving baby tips, check out this post. Ih this article, I share 12 ways to save money every month of baby’s first year! Now, I’d love to hear from you! What is something that would hold you back from cloth diapering? What type of cloth diaper do you think would work best for your family? Comment below!
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