Using cloth diapers on a budget – How to build that stash!

Using cloth diapers on a budget – How to build that stash!

The most economical and historically effective commercial method of cloth diapering is simple flats or prefold diapers. Families can cloth diaper for around $100 by using one-size waterproof covers and prefolds, or cloth diaper for even less by using items around your home.

With a tight budget, there are alternatives to help build a stash of cloth diapers:

1. Create a baby registry for cloth diapers. Consider having a “cloth diaper shower.”

2. Buy gently used diapers.

3. Use items that you have around the home.

4. Try an economical system like flats and prefolds.

5. Save a little money each week to buy your diaper stash. Build your stash over time.

The following chart shows how to build a stash of cloth diapers over time.  Prefold diapers will be used in the example assuming the average prefold costs $2.80 and the average disposable diaper costs $.20.  For the purposes of this chart, initially you will need to purchase one prefold.  Replacing one disposable with one prefold every day for two weeks will allow you to save another $2.80.  You will now have two prefolds to use every day.  The effect is similar to a debt snowball.

After two months, you will have enough prefolds to use cloth full-time!

In reality, you will need an inexpensive diaper fastener (such as a pin, Snappi or Boingo) or a waterproof cover to hold the prefold on the baby.  These can be purchased up front for around $15 or you can make a cover and inserts from items you already have at home.  You can slow down your purchasing snowball to buy additional covers or use your extra savings at week 9 to purchase more.

Diapers can be hand washed while you are building your stash and only have a few.  An alternative is to wash each diaper with towels or other items that you will be washing in a machine on hot water.

You can use the diaper purchasing snowball with any cloth diapering system.  Just evaluate your goals, your budget, and what type of diapering system you prefer.  The timing of the complete conversion to reusable cloth diapers will change depending on the variables.  The most important aspect is that everyone can cloth diaper, and everyone can be freed from the economic bindings of disposable diapers.  Enjoy your savings from week 9 through potty learning!

- Elizabeth Pilgrim, Oklahoma Real Diaper Circle Leader

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