Thursday, August 26, 2010

From saving money to being healthier and greener

Every mother (or father) who chooses to use cloth diapers has a variety of reasons why they choose them. I think the top ones are:

- Better for the environment. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure that one out. Although paper and disposable diaper companies will tell you the water used to wash the diapers and the electricity to dry is just as much of a waste as throwing away a disposable. I doubt it. I was diapers once every five days and line dry. Two extra loads of laundry vs. the nearly 35 disposables I'd throw away in five days...I'm not buying it.

-No chemicals. This is especially important for baby's with sensitive skin. Although some of the chemicals and biproducts in cloth diapers have been linked with asthma and other issues, including fertility issues. Kinda creepy. ( -- midway down the page there is a section about the various chemicals found in cloth diapers and the studies done.)

-Cuter. This is just a "duh" factor (to me anyway). I can put my little boy in a cute green or blue or red or yellow or some kind of print (we have monkeys, trains, zoo animals and farm animals and camo) or I can put him in a bleach white paper diaper with elmo on the velcro.

-Cheaper. Ultimately...this was my big reason...but I had no idea it would evolve into so much more!

When I got pregnant, I immediately started pricing diapers, clothes....the things I thought I'd need with a newborn. (Side note...I didn't bother pricing formula. I knew from the time I was a little girl that I would breastfeed my babies. It wasn't even a question.) I started making lists and making a budget. Everyone warned me that babies were VERY expensive so I was determined to be prepared.

I looked at diapers forever. I read reviews. Most everyone liked Pampers for newborns and then Huggies seemed to be my best bet for a more mobile baby. I also had the option to go "greener" with 7th generation and Earth's Best but they were very expensive.

I made myself a budget. I would go ahead and buy diapers each trip I made to the grocery store...start a stash and then maybe it wouldn't be as big of a shock. I figured I would need newborn diapers for at least three weeks. I was told that newborns need about 10-12 diapers a day so I bought myself a big box of Pamper's Swaddlers (216 count) on for around 40 dollars including shipping and handling and a coupon. I figured that would last me about 2.5 weeks. So I gave myself a budget of $100 for the first three months when I figured we would go through the most diapers.

Everything I read, everyone I spoke to said that around 3 months I would start using closer to 6-8 diapers a day. At that point my diaper budget went down to around $65 dollars for a month for diapers.

These budgets included a little extra in case I couldn't find a coupon or the store was out of the brand I normally used. I also threw in ten dollars for wipes. I decided to use Pampers at first and then try out Huggies and Luvs.

The math kinda made me sick. By the time Andrew was 6 months old, I was going to have spent $495.00 in diapers and wipes. That was nearly 1000 dollars in his first year of life. Um, that could be college money!!!

I remember complaining to my mom about it being ridiculous. She just simply said to me "That's why ya'll were in cloth diapers."

It was like a lightbulb came on. But I was wary. Cloth diapers. All the folding, the plastic pants and the pins?? The dunking in the toilet and all the washing? Did I really want to do that?

I decided to look into it anyway. I'm so glad I did.

Cloth diapers have changed, drastically. Diapers are not equipped with snaps or velcro, they can grow with your child, they can have designs, can even find diapers that can be embroidered!! And the washing is so simple. I'll write a follow up post about how awesome and easy it is to use cloth diapers but just know this....if you can change a disposable, cloth is JUST as easy.

I was sold. I figured I could spend about 300 dollars on buying diapers, wetbags and accessories total for Andrew and then I was least for his first year. I just recently hit that 300 dollar mark on a few weeks ago, at 14 months. Below I laid out how much I spent on diapers.

Before Andrew was born I bought 18 pocket diapers (three of which were one size), 3 All-in-ones, 2 covers and 20 prefolds. At the baby shower I was given 3 pocket diapers and 5 prefold diapers and a cover. I also bought a wetbag and a diaper pail. After he was born I used the disposables I had been given and he was in cloth full time by 3 weeks. By about 5 weeks I had figured out what brands worked and what brands didn't and what I liked and didn't like. I sold what I didn't like a bought a few more with the money I made from selling diapers.

During his first year of life I spent $258.97 on just diapers. I also spent $7.90 on snappis for the diapers and $13.00 on a wetbag. My total for Andrew's first year was $279.87. That was roughly $24.00 a month. I liked that figure a lot better when it came to budgeting.

In the next few months I've bought a few more things to increase our stash. I bought four more covers, three more pocket diapers and some special detergent which is phosphate free and smells amazing. (Hello Rockin' Green!). I also bought another wetbag because mine got a hole in it from our *wonderful* dog. ;)

But my grand total for diapers in the first 14.5 months? $353.44. It comes out to almost 25 dollars a month. You know, I have yet to find disposable diapers at THAT cost, including the store brands.

Even with the money I'm saving...I've learned that it's not the real reason I use cloth diapers for Andrew, though it was the main reason we started out.

I can honestly say that during the course of having Andrew in cloth diapers, it's really made our family think a lot about the products we use. We quit buy paper towels and I made cloth wipes for kitchen messes. We use cloth napkins at meals. I quit buying tampons and pads and switched to a Diva Cup (which is the best invention ever.) We've quit using plastic bags and we've switched to reusable bags. I even use reusable bags for produce at the grocery store! Each one of these decisions has not only saved our family money, but it is also a healthier and "greener" choice. We've also started buying a local markets and we've gone from filling up our trashcan in the kitchen twice a week to barely filling it up once a week.

It's amazing how being a crunchy mama has changed my perspective with everything else.


  1. I think it's awesome that you're doing all of this. The only part about cloth diapers that makes me wary would be the clean up, but I'm sure I would grow accustomed with that after a few weeks at the most. Props to you for switching to the Diva Cup, too. I love being green, but I'll never be able to give up my tampons lol. Btw, this is Kayla from Xanga :)

  2. I'm interested in hearing about clean up! You might have me sold....-Carrie, from Xanga