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I spent around $1,500 on disposable diapers when my first son was born. It was a significant expense ($45 each month) and also made a hefty contribution to our local landfill.

When I was expecting my second child, I decided it was time to make a change. I did some research and learned that cloth diapers are more economical, better for the environment, and actually very easy to manage on a day to day basis. Cloth diapers actually minimize diaper rash, and, according to one study, cloth diapers are even better for a child’s respiratory health.

Here’s why cloth diapers are worth trying and how to make the transition easier:

Risk-free guarantee

There are many different types of cloth diapers, and one of the biggest challenges is figuring out what is right for you. The world of cloth diapers might seem intimidating at first. Fortunately, there are great companies out there to help make the transition painless!

Kelly's Closet offers the Wee Guarantee Diapers Program, in which they will refund your money within 30 days if you are not happy with your purchase. You can actually wash and use the diapers and send them back if you don’t like them! In addition to a great guarantee program, Kelly’s Closet has a terrific blog with all the information you could ever want about cloth diapering.

Jillian's Drawers has a 21-Day Diaper Trial Program in which you can try a variety of diapers for a small fee. You will pay $154 up front for a package that includes several different types of cloth diapers. Use them for 21 days, then return them, and you’ll receive a refund of $134. So, for $20 (which you would have spent on disposable diapers during that time anyway) you can figure out if cloth diapering works for you and which type you want to purchase for permanent use. They also offer a 30-day return policy in which you can get store credit if you’re not happy with your purchase.

Cost difference

While the cost of an individual cloth diaper may seem steep at first (and is an initial investment), I quickly started seeing savings. The average cloth diaper ranges in price from $15 to $20. I chose the Fuzzibunz One Size Diaper, ensuring that I wouldn't have to buy bigger sizes as my child grew, further cutting costs. The cost of this diaper is $19.95. With large enough orders, shipping can be free on several purchase sites. In addition, sites like Kelly's Closet and Jillian's Drawers offer rewards programs and weekly specials.

Unlike disposable diapers, cloth diapers can require some extra “accessories” for optimal use. Some suggested supplies:

  • Attachable toilet sprayer: Approximately $45. Depending on your child’s habits and your access to a laundry utility sink, this may not be necessary.
  • Special laundry detergent: Approximately $18. It is highly recommended to use special detergents on your cloth diapers. The Fuzzibunz site does give more mainstream detergent options to further cut costs.
  • Laundry bag: Approximately $12 to $20, depending on size. Since cloth diapers aren’t washed immediately, a designated storage place is critical.
  • Cloth wipes: Approximately $1 each. This is totally optional. Disposable wipes work fine; just remember to throw them in the trash and not get them mixed in with your cloth diapers!

I purchased eight diapers at $19.95 each, and I also purchased the diaper tote bag to keep the "dirties" in for $11.95. My total was approximately $170. The sites sell many other accessories such as sprayers that attach to the toilet, special detergents, special wipes, and diaper pails. It's really up to you to decide what you need. For me, I wanted to keep it as simple as possible. I still use regular wipes, and I have found that a sprayer is not really necessary. By my calculations, it only took four months to recoup my initial investment (four months of disposable diapers costs $180). And remember, if you have more than one child, you’ll use the same diapers which will further save money (approximately $1,500 per child!).

Additional tips

I have found that eight diapers are enough for my child, but I would recommend logging the average number of diapers your child uses per day and then purchase accordingly. You can always have a pack of disposables as backup!

Learn more about cloth diapers and get additional practical tips by reading this KCL post on cloth diapering basics.

This has been a guest post by Kristen from Arlington, VA.
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