Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Cloth Diaper Experiment

This is a follow-up post about our decision to cloth diaper.  After nine months, we're throwing in the towel cloth.

Our initial decision to cloth diaper was to save money. So let's break down what we paid to start:
Cloth Wipes: 12 GroVia and 12 Thirsties = $22.78
Prefold Diaper Supplies: 3 Snappies = $11.50, 5 Rumparooz covers = $70, 12 Prefolds $25.98
Pocket Diapers: 12 LBB = $73.98
Cloth Pail Liners: 2 Planet Wise = $33.44
Cloth Wet Bag: 1 Thirsties = $15
Initial investment = $252.68

So here's the thing we discovered about Prefolds- they aren't super absorbent. Also, you have to keep on purchasing the next size up. Since we had been hoping to just make the investment and be done with it, having to continually buy prefolds and experiment with absorbency didn't seem like the best option. So after getting one more size up, we switched to doing all pocket diapers- which necessitated buying twelve more, bringing the total up to 24 diapers we could use for the rest of our diapering experience.

But then we discovered that once babies start solids you have to get the poo off the diapers (breastfed poo is water soluble so we could just throw them in the washer). A diaper sprayer is the most economical, but also messy. So we opted for flushable diaper liners. Then, we started having the same leaking problems with the pocket diapers. We tried to double stuff them at night, but we still would have to change them every 2-3 hours- not something we were in the mood to do at midnight, 2am, 4am, etc. Although there are cloth diaper options for night time, I really didn't want to try to buy more diapers when each one would be around $20 and have to experiment all over again. So we switched to disposables at night. But our leaking problems continued during the day. If there was only one insert in, we would have to change Dash's outfits about 4 times a day, despite our best efforts to make sure he was changed every 1-2 hours. I think this was because we had stretched out the pockets by double stuffing them, so that if only one insert was in, it would no longer fill the pocket properly. Add to that the fact that we washed, dried, and stuffed the pocket diapers every other day and the hassle started to build.

Subsequent Purchases:
Next size up for Prefolds = $24.00
12 more pocket diapers = $67.96
12 more pocket inserts (to double stuff) = $36.70
Diaper Liners (600 liners- a 2 month supply) = $42.84
Total Investment: $424.18

If we exclusively did cloth diapers (even at night), we would average 10-12 diaper changes a day, even though Dash is in the 8 diaper change a day 'zone.' I realize that every baby is different, and that these are just averages, but when Dash hates getting his diaper changed anyway, battling with him a few more times a day just isn't worth it. Also, we have to keep moving up his clothing sizes because cloth diapers are so bulky.

Let's look at how often one changes a diaper to see how much disposables would have cost:
0-1 month
1-5 months
5-9 months
9-12 months
Assuming we bought diapers for 20 cents a diaper (averaging different sizes) for the first 9 months we would have spent $412. So we basically broke even- or a little bit ahead since I haven't calculated wipes into the cost. In the end, cloth diapers will save money, but with the absorbency issues we are facing it's just not worth it anymore. We'd have to invest in another set of cloth diapers (who knows how much that will cost and if they will fit our needs) or we could just switch to disposables.

That said, here are some of the pros to cloth diapering:

  • You don't really have to worry about "running out" of diapers or having to do a late-night diaper run. Just wash them and you have your supply back!
  • Cloth wipes are amazing! Instead of going through a handful of disposable wipes every poopy diaper, you usually only need one cloth wipe.
  • Until adding flushable inserts into the mix, we didn't have to really add diapers into our monthly expenses since we made the initial investment.
  • Dash hasn't had too many issues with diaper rash- which I've heard is less common with cloth diapers.

Final note- I put a lot of effort into comparing brands, types of cloth systems, and ultimately I picked the cheapest best-rated options. So I guess I got what I paid for- diapers that weren't as absorbent and stretched out quicker. Should I have invested more initially? Maybe. But then when would I hit the point of breaking even? At a year?



  1. Nice job! In economics you count your "utility" (which is a fancy way of saying your happiness) into the equation. Perhaps, the simplicity of throwing a diaper away will increase your "utility" and thus making it worth to buy disposables. We found that sometimes stores like Target will give you discounts if you buy in bulk for baby products, making diapers even cheaper. Check the target promotions webpage frequently and make sure to ask the cashier for any discounts on spending more than $100 on baby stuff.


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