Cloth diapering is a choice we make at our house. We used disposables for each child for about a month, and then jumped into our cloth diapers and never looked back. We love, love, love them, and that's why I would like to post about our babes in cloth in a short series, Cloth diapering at our house. In no way do we want to demean parents who choose the disposable route - everyone makes their own choices just like we made ours. I am not an expert on cloth diapering and you probably won't find the answers to all your cloth diaper questions here. It's just that my husband and I never thought we'd be cloth diapering parents and now that we do it and both enjoy it so much, we like to share our experience.
Why do we cloth diaper?
* It's cheap.This is the reason I do many things and the biggest reason we do cloth. I don't even remember what wild hair I had when I was five months pregnant with Mini Me and decided to look into cloth diapering but when I did, I was soon convinced that cloth diapering would save us money. I haven't looked at the numbers of it all since 2008, so let's take a fresh look.
A (very) rough estimate on what we could have spent on disposables:
A package of Huggies diapers at our local grocery store cost $19.99 for the #2 size and there are 100 diapers in it. = $.20/diaper
As the diaper sizes go up, the price per diaper goes up (more materials used to make it). So, a package of Huggies diapers at our local grocery store costs $19.99 for #5 size and there are 70 diapers in it. = $.29/diaper
Newborns go through 8-10 diapers a day. My 13 month old goes through 5-7. Mini Me is the only child I've potty-trained and he was trained at about 27 months old. He spent roughly 821 days in diapers.
This is big math for me. Hold on.
Let's say 365 days x 8 diapers a day = 2920 diapers in the first year.
Now let's say 456 days x 5 diapers a day = 2280 diapers from 12 months - 27 months.
Now let's figure out cost.
2920 diapers x $.20/diaper (the cost of size #2 diapers) = $584 for diapers in the first year.
2280 diapers x $.29/diaper (the cost of size #5 diapers) = $661.20 for diapers from month 12 - month 27.
To disposable diaper one child from age 0 - age 27 months cost roughly $1245.20. Roughly. Keep in mind this includes no coupons or sales and is based on my personal parenting experience as well as my not-extremely-precise mathmatics.
What we spent on cloth:
We first spent $150 on a cloth diaper sampler pack with a variety of different kinds and brands of diapers.
Once we found what we liked, we spent $600 on a set of 27 one-size pocket diapers, four wet bags of varying sizes for storing the dirties, a diaper pail, and a diaper sprayer that hooks to the toilet and is used to spray off poo.
After Little Lady was born I decided to spoil myself (yes, I know that sounds weird) and get a new set of cloth diapers. It was unnecessary because our first set would have lasted, but to me it was a fun splurge. I was able to sell our first set for $250 and then purchased a new set of 24 cloth diapers for $410.
To cloth diaper two children we have spent $150 + $600 - $250 + 410 = $910. This figure could be much less if you bought a less expensive type of cloth diaper, or purchased used cloth diapers.
Continuing with the disposable diaper figure from above, it would cost us $2490.40 to disposable diaper two children (assuming we can potty train Little Lady by 27 months, too).
Roughly, we have saved $2490.40 - $910 = $1580.40 by cloth diapering.
I didn't factor in water and energy costs we have incurred by having to launder our diapers. I did notice a rise in our monthly water and energy bills after Mini Me was born but... well... babies make more laundry. Clothes, sheets, burp rags, and so forth all need to be washed, and washing a few loads of diapers in there, too, pretty much went unnoticed by us. My point is that yes, the water and energy costs do make cloth diapering more expensive but it has been a cost that doesn't stand out amongst the regular laundry.
For our household, cloth diapering has been significantly cheaper. Plus, no frantic trips to the store to get diapers because we've run out. No wasting space packing closets full of diapers that were purchased in bulk.
* It's better for my children's bottoms.
I know there are studies and opinions out there on this but I don't have any links ready. All I know is, I would rather have nice, soft cloth next to my own bottom as opposed to papery, plasticky stuff and I'm going to assume that my babies feel the same way. Cloth simply feels better against skin!
* It's better for the environment.This WebMD article and this blog are good places to start if you are interested in the environmental debate of cloth vs. disposable. I'll be honest: I haven't done a lot of reading about the environmental impacts of my diaper choices. We primarily chose cloth for economic reasons and thought, "Well, if we help the environment in the process, that's great!" As I skim articles and studies that investigate cloth vs. disposable, I have noticed that many of the statistics are dated in the 1990s or early 2000s and surely we have more efficient washers and dryers these days, right? Again, we do not cloth diaper for environmental reasons only and I'm not well-read enough to debate it. Just know that there is a lot of info out there should you choose to enter the 'green' debate.
I will say that it aligns with my common sense that not throwing away approximately 4000+ disposable diapers per kid to sit in landfills seems like a good 'green' choice. At our house, we wash our diapers in the most efficient way possible with an environmentally gentle diaper detergent. We line-dry part of our diapers, thus saving on the energy used for the dryer.
This interesting article also notes that both the AAP and the APHA advise that feces and urine not be disposed of together in the regular trash, and that World Health Organization guidelines are being violated whenever human feces goes into landfills. I did not know of these things before doing some light reading as I was learning about cloth diapering. I had never heard of anyone shaking the poo out of disposable diapers into the toilet before tossing them into the trash. I've also never heard of the local police coming to enforce the "no human waste in the trash" ordinance, but I think in some communities, it is a rule. With cloth, all the poo goes into the toilet and is flushed so we avoid the feces-in-the-landfill problem for the most part. Also note that when the poo gets flushed, the smell goes with it. That is my "environmental" joy!
* I like hearing my husband talk up our diapers to his other daddy buddies.He does. I have seen him make a point to "show off" the diaper (of both children in their infancy) and then mention how easy it is to deal with. Sometimes he brings up the money we save. He loves our cloth diapers so much that if you flat-out ask him, he'll say, "I like them and yup, they're easy to use and yes, I do wash them." He won't even try to hide behind a joke or a macho show of indifference. He outright brags.
* We don't have to take out the trash as often.We do use disposable wipes so those fill the trash can but not anything like disposable diapers would. Many people that cloth diaper also use cloth wipes. Can you imagine how much trips to the garbage that saves? And... no poopy trash smell!
* They are cute.We don't even own the kind of diapers with prints, patterns, and fun things. Cloth diapering opens up a whole new world of baby fashion that you cannot even fathom! Ours just have a few different solid colors and look how cute they are!