My most recent post on Money Talks News is “How to pay bottom dollar for diapers.” I was startled to see how much people can spend to cover their babies’ butts: anywhere from $1,900 to $2,500.
Myself, I used cloth diapers and highly recommend that route, especially since the diapers have gotten much better. They’re prefolded like disposables, so you just tuck them into covers (no more plastic pants). In fact, they’re so well-made that they have resale value after Junior gets toilet-trained.
That bonus is part of the reason that Kerry Taylor at the Squawkfox personal finance site says she spent only about $550 for her daughter’s didies. That includes the initial purchase, the extra utility costs (she washed nappies every other day) and a butt-friendly detergent.
I can go her one better: I paid $2.99 per dozen for cloth diapers when my daughter was born. Believe it or not, they were “slightly irregular.” Yes, I bought factory seconds.
What’s more, for 15 months I washed the diapers by hand on a scrub-board, because as a broke and exhausted single mom in Philly I could afford neither the time nor the money to go to the laundromat. I hope none of you are ever that hard up.
Cloth diapers really aren’t as awful as people think. Yes, there’s a bit of an “ick” factor but let’s face it: If you have a baby, you are going to have to touch some poop even if you use disposables.
So how to save money on cloth didies? So glad you asked.
1. Buy them at consignment stores. Parents like Kerry are doing a butt dance of their own after their kids are toilet-trained – and they want to make back some of the money they spent. Definitely cheaper than the first-run, as it were.
2. Buy directly from other parents. Look on a parenting board, check Craigslist, put it out in the universe when you’re expecting.
4. Get a diaper service. This is surprisingly affordable in some areas; check the National Diaper Service Directory for options in your area.
5. Use a combination of cloth and disposables. Cassie and Alex Michael, aka “The Thrifty Couple,” use cloth at home and paper when they go out.
6. Make your own. Do a search for “how to make prefold diapers.” Then do another search for “how to make diaper covers.” People are making such items from yard-sale flannel sheets, thrift-store sweaters (which get felted) and all sorts of other thrifty things.
7. Try the “no-diaper” movement. Also known as “Elimination Communication,” this greatly reduces the number of diapers you use. Some parents say they don’t use any at all.
If you’re using cloth, some parents (like Alex and Cassie Michael) swear by a “diaper sprayer” to attach to the toilet. This lets you rinse off the solids instead of doing it the old-school way of sousing the diaper in the toilet and then wringing it out. That method is not much fun. Trust me on this.