One of the biggest costs associated with having a baby is diapers. When we had our son Noah, we started out using disposables and I was amazed by how many diapers we were going through every day. It only took a few months before we decided to switch to cloth diapers. While it can save a lot of money in the long run, the initial start-up cost can be intimidating, especially when a lot of the diapers out there are $20 a piece. We didn't have hundreds of dollars to spend on cloth diapers, so I scoured the internet for ways to cloth diaper our son on a tight budget.
During my research, I stumbled on this article about a recent Yale study showing that 1 in 12 low income mothers can't afford to buy diapers for their babies. Often times these mothers have to choose between buying food and buying diapers, forcing them to reuse disposable diapers. Hearing that broke my heart. I couldn't imagine how hard that would be for a mother and I wanted to find a way to help.
I've found at least four options that will fit even the tightest budget. Each option includes the basics needed to start cloth diapering for $70 or less. A case of diapers for a month costs about $25, so in less than three months you will have made up the cost.
The first option is to buy Birdseye flats. They are very versatile, fitting from newborn to potty training depending on how they are folded. Flats take a little bit of getting used to, but well worth it once you figure them out.
- 1 dozen flats = $19
- 2 Snappi's $6
- 2 Kawaii diaper covers $15
- DIY cloth wipes (find the tutorial here) FREE
The flat’s diaper kit comes to a total of $39.95 + tax
These prices reflect buying new, but even further savings can be found by purchasing used cloth diapers. Another option is to make your flats. I found this tutorial that shows how to make two flats for 50 cents. I made a couple and was pleasantly surprised by the results.
The second option is to buy China Cheapies pocket diapers. There is a bit of controversy in the cloth diapering world about these as they are inexpensive and not made as well as several of the American made diapers. However, I have found Sunbaby cloth diapers to fit great and for the price I'm pleased with their quality. They probably won't last through several children, but they're holding up strong with my first child. My husband isn't a big fan of flats because of the folding involved, so these are his go to when it's his turn to change Noah's diaper.
- 12 pocket diapers with microfiber inserts $63 (tax included)
- DIY cloth wipes - Free
The Sunbaby pocket diaper kit comes to a total of $63
For some families though, the budget is so tight that there isn't $70 to spare. The good news is that there are several resources out there to help in these situations.
Most areas have a Pregnancy Center that offer help for women facing an unplanned pregnancy. The Worldwide Directory of Pregnancy Help Centers can help find one near you. Many Pregnancy Centers run off of donations, so their supplies can vary from location to location. They work hard to keep the basic necessities stocked, including diapers. Anyone is welcome, as there are no income based requirements. Simply contact them via their website, call or walk in. They are more than willing to help with whatever they can.
To get a better understanding of how a pregnancy center works, the Wyandotte Pregnancy Center in Kansas City offers a point system for the women they minister to. The center offers informational classes which earns them a certain number of points for each one they attend. Points are then used as currency to shop for necessities such as donated diapers and clothing. The center also offers free pregnancy tests, sonograms and counseling.
Cloth Diaper Banks
A simple Google search displays several websites for diaper banks throughout the United States. Some focus on dispersing disposable diapers to low income families and some focus on cloth. I personally love the idea of a cloth diaper bank because it's kind of like that old adage, Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. A set of twelve cloth diapers can last a family from birth to potty training whereas 12 disposable diapers would only last a little over a day. For that reason, I'm going to focus on the cloth diaper bank called Share the Love, started by Cotton Babies.
A cloth diaper bank loans out cloth diapers to families in need for a set amount of time, in this case three years. The family then returns the diapers at the end of the term and the cloth diapers can be lent out to another family in need. To qualify for the program, a family must currently be enrolled in WIC. Once that criteria has been met, a simple application is required including a small essay describing the impact the program would have on your family.
If you or someone you know no longer needs their cloth diaper stash, please consider donating to one of the above organizations. Knowing that diapers are taken care of can be a huge blessing for a family somewhere.
Rachel graduated from Benedictine College where she met her husband, Jordan. They got married right after graduation in 2011 and welcomed their son, Noah, into the world in October of 2012. Rachel stays at home with Noah, but is able to work part time from home as well. She writes about food, health, budgeting, her DIY projects and motherhood over at Efficient Momma.