Steph's Pick - Cloth Diapering 101

Jan 24, 2010

Before starting - please know that the last thing I want to do is discourage a parent and make them feel not up to par. If you've made the choice to go with disposable diapers, that's ok by me (frankly - both us agree that disposables are MUCH easier). So, these posts are not meant to make those of you who choose to use disposable diapers feel badly.

I'm new to cloth diapering, so I don't have all of the answers. And I'll be honest, we hesitated for the longest time, mostly because it seemed like so much work. I think it may have even taken us all 9 months of my pregnancy to come to a final decision to plunge into the world of cloth diapering. But, my experience thus far has been positive and because many of you have asked me why we chose cloth diapers I thought I'd post about it this week. Today I'll cover the reasons why we chose cloth diapers and later this week I'll answer some common cloth diapering questions.

Our Reasons to use Cloth Diapers

1. Cost
This was our main reason. Disposable diapers are expensive. If a child is potty trained at 3, he/she will wear an estimated 8,000 disposable diapers — and buying Luvs, Pampers, or Huggies in their economy-sized packs at stores like Target, Babies R Us,, or Costco works out to an average of $.19/diaper. That’s an estimated $1,520 per child, assuming I buy the diapers at this economic price every time. If I buy the diapers in a regular-sized pack at a grocery store, the average price is $.24 — that’s a whopping $1,920 per child. (and to be completely honest - this was the BEST CASE scenario as most $ numbers I've seen have been much higher than this)

The price range varies for cloth diapers, depending on what kind you choose. I’ll be honest — we chose one of the most expensive kinds, the Bum Genius All-in-Ones (see picture below), the average price for those are around $16 per diaper. Now we bought a couple extra items – a 12-pack of flannel wipes ($12), a scent proof bag for her dirty diapers ($20) and a smaller version scent proof bag for my diaper bag ($15). That totals a little more than $400. You can use these diapers and wipes for every child, too, so you’re looking at barely more than $400 for all your diapering years. If you had three kids in disposables, that’s $4,500.

2. Good Environmental Stewardship.
In the U.S. alone, 18 billion disposable diapers are thrown in landfills each year, taking around 500 years to decompose. Disposable diapers make up the third largest item in landfills, after newspapers and food and beverage containers–a big deal, since they are a single product, used by a limited portion of the population. Once I started thinking about that, it just didn’t sit well with me.
But what about water use? Isn’t it good eco-practice to cut down our household water consumption? Sure thing. But washing cloth diapers at home uses 50 to 70 gallons of water every three days–about the same as a toilet-trained child or adult flushing the toilet five to six times a day. They’ll start doing that once they’re potty trained anyway.

Do I think that cloth diapers are for everyone? No. Has it suited my lifestyle and integrated well into my mothering? Absolutely. In the end, each mother (or father) has to do what best suits their lifestyle, and then be at peace with their decision.


Leah said...

Hey Steph, I'm due in June and BumGenius is something I am seriously considering. I have quite a few questions for you, I hope that's okay! First off, was Alan as excited about the idea as you? How many diapers did you get? In what sizes? Any extra liners? Have you found it easy to determine what size and what snap setting Nora's at? Have you found them to leak at all? Thanks for sharing your experience with them!

alan and steph said...

Hey Leah! Thanks for your questions. 1)Alan was excited about the possibility of saving money but not too excited about the diapers. I had to take him into our local cloth diaper store and show him how easy they were and then he was ok 2) They say you'll need 6-8 diapers/day. So I got 24. Some people suggest upwards of 32. 3) I haven't gotten any extra liners as of yet. But we've only used them for 5 months. 4) yes - it's pretty easy to determine when to move up a snap. 5) I'll be honest - they do leak some, but all diapers leak, right? I know we've had far fewer blow outs with the cloth than disposables. Hopefully I'll be able to answer some of your other questions in my upcoming post :) Let me know if you need any other questions answered.

Jenny said...

We love cloth diapers and use them for the same reasons. Plus, I think those fluffy cloth diaper bottoms are pretty cute. I have to admit though, after almost 2 years of diapers I'm pretty for Aiden to use the potty chair full time!

Katie Liz said...

I'll be honest Steph, when you first posted a few months ago that you were going with cloth, I thought you were nuts. But after reading this post, I think it might be something I will consider (eventually, in 3-5 years.) :)

SassySmurf said...

Oh boy...I plunged right in with the bum genius and gave up after about 3mths. Now I feel like trying again after reading your post!

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