Part of the homestead life for us is to re-use/re-purpose/recycle items. We try to decrease our trash and increase the items that can be made to be reusable, instead of disposable. We have been really happy with the cloth napkins I made last year, as they have significantly decreased the number of paper towels we use and throw away around here. A few years ago we started using microfiber cloths with water, as well as rags and cloth sponges to clean our home and kitchen, which also greatly decreased our paper towel and disposable sponge usage.
Well, with baby #5 on the way this last year, disposable diapers became the topic of conversation. I began to research and see what cloth diapering was all about.
Have you seen the latest in cloth diapering? It’s not the safety pins and plastic pull-on covers with harsh elastic leg bands of the 70s. Nor is it the wool covers of our grandmother’s times (although some people still use those). Cloth diapers have taken a whole new turn in the last decade and are really easy to use and comfortable for baby. They are better fitted, use snaps or velcro, and the covers are made of a fabric that feels soft on the outside, and is waterproof on the inside. No plastic feel! Add to that the fact that we have automatic washers and dryers these days, and you can completely erase the pictures in your mind of grandma boiling diapers on the stove when your mom was a baby.
We were shocked about the amount of money we wasted using disposables on the first 4 kids. Based on my internet research, we could have saved $1500-$2000 PER KID for our first 4 kids if we had used cloth. The articles I read took into account the cost of the disposables, as well as the extra trash costs to throw them away. They also took into account the cost to buy the cloth diapering supplies, and the cost to wash and dry the diapers at home. And really it could be more savings than that because I could re-use the cloth diapers with each subsequent baby, but would probably have to do some purchasing of new ones after the first two kids or so. That means we have wasted at LEAST $6K in the last 12 years on disposable diapers. Bummer. Can you imagine the things we could have done on our homestead with $6,000!?!? Greenhouse, fencing, finishing my kitchen remodel…..the list could go on and on. But instead we literally threw it in the trash. Live and learn.
In addition to the financial aspects, there are also the environmental factors. One child goes through approximately 7,000 diapers before they figure out the potty. That means our family alone has added about 28,000 diapers to the landfills. Ouch. Not happy to think about that. That’s not the self-sustaining homestead life we want to live.
Lastly, there is the whole concept of what is in disposable diapers to make them so absorbent and whether or not that is the best thing to put against our baby’s skin. Putting soft cotton fabric against his skin seems like such a better, more natural option.
It didn’t take much research for me to override the “ick” factor and get on board with cloth diapering. Especially with the amazing new covers and supplies on the market that make it so easy.
Easy as it was to make the decision to go for it…it was a million times harder to figure out which way to go with the many MANY cloth diapering options available these days.
Going with the all-in-ones would definitely be the easiest, they are practically the same as a disposable as far as how to use it, but instead of putting it in the trash when you are done, you put it in the laundry bag. They seem like an awesome option, but since you put the entire diaper in the laundry each diaper change, that means you would need to have at least 20 of them (and more realistically 30). And with how expensive the AIOs are, it seemed to me that it would override all the savings I had just read about in my research. So as much as we would have liked to go with AIOs, they weren’t in the budget for us.
***However, if you are planning to use AIOs, please check out The Little Bee Co and consider buying from them because for every diaper purchased, they donate one of their AIOs to an orphan in need around the world. I know from personal experience the difference these cloth diapers can make for the orphans and the orphanages that need them.***
Many of the brands have one-size diapers that are adjustable so you don’t have to buy so many different sizes as they grow. They are available in the all-in-ones or in just the covers. That sounded like a great option to us.
Ultimately, we decided to use pre-folds inside of the one-size covers. Each change the pre-fold goes in the laundry bag, but with 3 out of 5 changes the cover is still clean and can be re-used, which means we need a lot less covers, which saved a lot of money. And I only have to wash them every 3 days or so. We were able to get all the pre-folds we should need to fit him the first year, plus all the covers, and two waterproof laundry bags to hold the soiled diapers until washings all for about $200. The covers we got are adjustable so they should last until potty training, but as he gets bigger (by next year) we will probably need to spend another $50 or so on larger pre-folds. That will bring our cloth diapering total to about $250 for the supplies. And as for wipes, we are using scrap pieces of flannel with the edges serged. I have a water squirt bottle at the changing station and wet them down with it at the changing. We also have some that are terrycloth on one side and flannel on the other, serged together. Quick and easy to make, and can be made from scraps of fabric and towels we already have around.
Most of the sites I looked at that were comparing the prices of cloth versus disposable were guessing an average of $450 in supplies. So our savings should be even higher since we were able to put together our stash for less.
Now, this all looks good in theory and on paper, but how did it play out once little blessing arrived and we started using them?
The first several weeks little guy was way too tiny for cloth, even the ones that said they fit at 6 lbs. And we had been gifted many packages of newborn disposables, so we just used the disposables on him. But in the last few weeks, once he got over 8 lbs and we ran out of disposables, we have switched over to the cloth diapers and we are really loving them. They are very easy to deal with, both in changing and washing. The “ick” factor hasn’t been as big of a deal as I was worried it would be, and the thoughts that we are not adding to the landfills, and saving money each changing make us even more happy with the decision. We are very glad we chose this option, and are kind of kicking ourselves that we didn’t choose it 4 kids ago.
So, I would encourage you, if you are in the years of diapering babies, or headed for those years, look into cloth diapering. You might be surprised to see that they ain’t the cloth diapers of long ago.