I’m kicking myself. Over the last two and a half years, I’ve spent close to $1000 on diapers! I just found out that I could have spent a quarter of that to diaper both my first child, my second child (now 3 months), and any other children I can convince my husband to have. Yikes!

I ran the numbers again and again. I’m a good couponer and try not to spend more than $0.13 per diaper, but I go through an average of eight diapers a day which adds up; not to mention the extra I pay for overnight diapers. All that hard-earned money now in a landfill. It’s a shame diapers don’t biodegrade as quickly as dollar bills would. For those of you who aren’t as dutiful at finding the best diaper deals, consumer reports estimate you will pay $1500 to $2000 per child.

I’ve been getting most of my diapers from Amazon, but with their recent policy change on “subscribe and save” discounts, I was back to the web looking for the most bang for my buck. Guess what I found–cloth diapers! If you’re cringing, you don’t know about the cloth diaper revolution! Forget the dingy-white cotton fastened with an over-sized safety pin. Instead, imagine your adorable baby’s bum covered in a deep blue shimmery fabric or a vibrant zebra print adorned with the daintiest white snaps!

These diapers look more like accessories than necessities! Could they really save me money? I decided to take the plunge and try them out. After all, I couldn’t imagine spending another $1000 on baby number two without trying an alternative. Entering the world of cloth can be overwhelming. There are many options, brands, and acronyms to get familiar with. Thankfully, I have two girlfriends who use cloth so I was able to learn the basics during a play date.

A Few of the Basics:

  • If you want to use a whole new diaper each time you change, go for a pocket diaper or an all-in-one. These are the easiest for quick diaper changes, and might be the best choice for child care providers. An affordable option is Kawaii.
  • If you want to do less laundry, go for a hybrid. You reuse a cover for multiple changes, replacing an absorbent insert each time. An affordable option is EconoBum.
  • If you are diapering more than one child, or you simply don’t want to buy more diapers as your child grows, get one-size versions. (Both the Kawaii and EconoBum carry them.)

I decided to try a hybrid first. I ordered a starter pack of Flip diapers. I found good selections and reasonable prices at Thanks Mama, which has free shipping on orders over $60. The moment they arrived I was hooked. They are so cute and easy to use! They fasten easily, fit well, and hold in the mess. Best of all, I paid just $50 for two covers and six inserts. This isn’t quite enough for a day at my house, but it’s a good start.

What about hidden costs?

  • Special detergent: You can’t use one of the hundreds of bottles of Tide in your stockpile to wash cloth diapers. You have to use a completely additive-free detergent. I purchased a 5lb box of Country Save for $8.05. I figure I’ll have to buy this every two to three months. I ordered it online, which had good deals on lots of natural/organic products. Use code ZOF523 for $5 off your first order. They also offer free samples and free shipping of orders over $20.
  • Utilities: Since I’ll be doing more laundry, I imagine my utility costs will raise an extra $3 to $5 a month.
  • Extras: There are a lot of accessories to make cloth diapering easier and, of course, each comes at a cost. I could purchase new diaper pails, pail liners, wet bags, and diaper sprayers, but these things aren’t immediately necessary.

So far I’ve paid $58.00. Of course I’ll need more diapers, and probably some of the extras, but I won’t come close to paying the $1000 I would have with disposables. If only I had discovered cloth before my first child was born! I’ll just have to have more children to maximize my savings.

This has been a guest post by Rachel from Ocean City, MD
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Cushion Your Budget & Your Baby: The Perfect Way to Save on Diapers