Price Check: Are cloth diapers worth it?

Bringing Chloe home was an exciting and confusing time. After surviving the long drive home from the hospital (which was scary as hell with a 5lb baby), everyone went into action. Carl dashed to open the door, I leaped to unlatch the car seat, and Chloe pooped her pants.

Who knew such a teeny tiny preemie could make such a big mess? Awesome.

To deal with The Awesome (which was scary as hell considering Chloe was only 5lbs), I reached for the newborn-sized Pampers given to us by the hospital. Chloe must have been comfortable in her new home, ’cause before I could secure the fresh diaper to her nether regions, she peed on it.

cloth diapers cost

Now this wasn’t just your average pee. Nope. This was a tidal wave of pee. A flood of pee. Heck, this was the biggest preemie pee to meet a Pampers disposable diaper in the history of pees. I needed Noah’s Ark for survival. But with no lifeboat on the horizon, the Pampers withered in defeat.

Actually, the defeated diaper bubbled in excitement. What the heck is in the blue gel pee-absorbing stuff anyways? Gross. Tossed the sucker.

With a bare bottom staring back at me, I did what any new parent would do — I reached for a fresh diaper. I figured the ‘Battle of the Baby’s Bottom’ was over since both bladder and bottom were empty. My second diaper would be victorious. Right? Wrong.

Chloe fired again. This time I shall not say, but the diaper died a miserable death. Again.

Chloe: 2
Pampers: 0

Wearing a hazmat suit for my third (and final round) of combat, I managed to corner the target and secured the troops. Victory. Chloe was diapered, for now.

But the damage was done. At this rate of diaper disposal, I’d go through at least ten or more diapers a day. How much did these disposable diapers cost? And how much garbage would my baby’s bottom produce? Grumble.

So I did what any new parent (in the Squawkfox household) would do — I created a massive money crunching diaper spreadsheet, people. Could I win the war on disposables by forking out the cash for a stash of reusable cloth diapers?

Squawkfox: 1
Pampers: 0

You bet your bottom dollar, and my cost-crunching results might just make ya pee your (cloth lined) pants.

From newborn to potty trained.

Babies grow fast, but on average it takes girls 29 months to embrace the potty and boys 31 months to get toilet trained. Many diaper forums cite 30 months as a good age to go by, while big-brand diaper companies prefer you start toilet training just before the kids head off to college. Sigh.

Bottom Line: Let’s go with 30 months for $hits and giggles. Oh, and there are 30.4 days in the average month (365 days in a year ÷ 12 months = 30.4 days).

How many diapers die?

Expect to change around 7,354 diapers before your kiddlet learns to flush the toilet. That’s an average of about eight diapers a day, and all the spare time you thought you had.

thick cloth diapers

How did I arrive at the 7,354 diaper number? Check out my disposable diaper spreadsheet for numbers and references. I Googled around to see what more experienced diaper changers (yeah, real parents) and diaper sites had to say. Turns out babies and kiddlets need fewer diapers as they grow through their ages and stages.

Newborns could bottom out at 16 diapers per day, while toddlers may need around 6 diapers to get them through the next 24 hours of driving you crazy.

Bottom Line: An average of 7,354 diaper changes are in your baby’s future. Sorry to dampen your drawers.

The cost of disposable diapers.

The unit price of various disposable diaper brands (and sizes) can vary across Canadian Provinces and American States. Buying in bulk or using coupons can cut your daily disposable diaper cost by a few bucks. My survey around North America averages the sizes and brand differences into one tidy lump sum of 26 cents per diaper. Holy crap.

cloth diaper

Ready for the mathy math?

Bottom Line: Pamper or Huggie your kid in 7,354 disposable diapers over 30 months and you’re paying $1,912 to throw away baby doo (7,354 x $0.26 = $1,912.04).

That’s $63.73 per month, or $2.10 per day. It’s kinda like that Latte Factor, but with less coffee and more pee.

The cost of garbage removal.

Good luck taking out the diapers with the trash. Many municipalities burdened by too many bags of garbage now charge a fee for that extra bag sitting on your curb. Rates can vary, but it can be as little as $2 per extra bag (like in Vancouver) and up!

Since I live in the middle of a forest in the middle of nowhere, I don’t qualify for city garbage pickup. My disposal site changes a tidy $3.36 per bag ($3.00 + tax = $3.36) so Carl and I are super-careful when it comes to creating garbage since it pays to be garbage-free.

Bottom Line: Assuming one garbage bag stuffed full of diaper waste per week at $3.36 per bag, and you’re spending $14.56 each month. Over 30 months, that’s $436.80 to haul your baby’s $hit away.

TOTAL COST OF DISPOSABLE DIAPERS: $1,912.04 (diapers) + $436.80 (garbage removal) = $2,348.84

The cost of cloth diapers.

There are a dizzying number of cloth diaper systems, brands, and fabrications available on the market today. The good news is there’s A LOT of choice for choosy consumers. The bad news is learning the cloth diaper lingo (AIOs, pockets, fitted, prefolds, wraps, etc.) and choosing the right system for your dollar and kid’s bottom can be daunting. Bummer.

cheap cloth pocket diapers

I’ll show you my cloth diaper stash hits and misses (leaks and catches?) in a later post and introduce you to the systems and fabrications available, but for now let’s just assume you can kit your kid in cloth for around $450. UPDATE: Here’s how to build a cloth diaper stash on any budget.

Bottom Line: Bet your bottom dollar that a simple cloth diaper stash can be had for an average of $450. Sure, you can spend less on certain systems (prefolds with wraps) or more on others (AIOs, wool, pocket diapers), and even less if you’re buying used, but let’s go with a middle ground so everyone can budget somewhere in the center for a new stash of cloth diapers.

How to build a cloth diaper stash on any budget

Babies & Kids

How to build a cloth diaper stash on any budget

What type of cloth diapers should you buy? I share the winners and losers based on price, convenience, and a little experience.

Read More »

The cost of cleaning cloth diapers.

It’s a dirty job. But not terrible. I launder Chloe’s cloth diapers every other day, and so far that’s around 17 diapers per load. Looking into my future of 7,354 diaper changes, I’ll have completed 433 loads of cloth diaper laundry.

wash cloth diapers

By using the dryer infrequently and hang-drying most of my diaper loads (the diaper shells will last longer), one load of laundry averages about $0.75, including cloth-safe detergent.

cloth diaper laundry

Bottom Line: My total laundry cost is around $10.83 per month, or $324.75 for 30 months of washing (433 loads x $0.75 = $324.75).

TOTAL COST OF CLOTH DIAPERS: $450 (cloth diapers) + $324.75 (laundry) = $774.75

Reselling cloth diapers.

There’s a fun catch when it comes to the value of cloth diapers — people love to buy used diaper stashes. Try reselling your used disposable diapers. HA! Seriously.

cloth diaper prefold

The going rate seems to be around 50% for all cloth systems in good condition, and 70% for newborn diapers.

So let’s assume you can sell your cloth stash for 50%, ’cause you can.

Bottom Line: Reselling your $450 cloth diaper stash at 50% brings $225 back into your pocket ($450 x 50% = $225).

NEW TOTAL COST OF CLOTH DIAPERS: $774.75 (cloth diapers and laundry cost) – $225 (resale value of diaper stash) = $549.75

Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers.

This is where Carl nearly crapped himself by volunteering for 433 loads of laundry.

cloth diapers
Cut the crap: Cloth diaper your kid and save $1,799 (77%) over disposables.

Bottom Line: Stop hugging your Huggies — making the switch from disposable to cloth diapers could save your family a stunning $1,799.09 (or 77%) on diapering a single child.

Diaper a second child in the same cloth diapers and you’ll save an additional $2,024.09 since you’ll reuse and wash your stash, thus avoiding disposables altogether.

So where am I going with this?

This post may be about saving money with cloth, but there’s an environmental impact to keeping disposable diapers out of the landfill. A few diaper facts to consider:

From U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:

  • In 2010, disposable diapers accounted for 3.7 million tons (2.3% total) of municipal waste.

From Environment Canada:

  • 1.7 billion disposable diapers are used each year.
  • Disposable diapers represent 3% of residential waste.
  • Over 4,000,000 disposable diapers are discarded per day in Canada.

From Green Living Tips:

  • Disposable diapers take about 450 years to break down in the environment, possibly much longer in a landfill.

Check out how to build a cloth diaper stash on any budget to see what’s in my cloth kit. What’s in your cloth diaper stash, and how much did you spend? Do you think cloth diapers are worth it?


Your two cents:

  1. Jess July 16th, 2012

    This is a great article. I’m an expectant mum in Australia and I’m all for cloth.
    I confess, my absolute over arching issue was with the environmental impact. I would pay more for cloth in order to reduce the waste.
    When I found out it actually costs LESS, EVEN with the fairly ‘expensive’ mcns (so much more convenient than wrangling the old fold and pin nappies).
    But there are so many more reasons to go cloth. Everyone says kids just don’t get the rashes with cloth that they do with disposable. They potty train faster. Never met a person that doesn’t think mcns look adorable either.

    The amount of people that have tried to convince hubby and I out of this however is astonishing and all falls along the lines of “it’s so much work, trust me you’ll be over it pretty quickly”. And some of these people are otherwise quite environmentally conscious.
    I dunno, we have some pretty fancy modern appliances nowadays. we have a wash/dry combo machine. I know chucking mcns in the dryer isn’t great for them, but for the times we’re both just too wrecked to hang out laundry, they can just be chucked on the wash/dry setting overnight and hey presto – clean in the morning.
    and as for the comments about it being gross to deal with all the poo etc.
    Well, my mum did it. Her mum did it. Her mums mum did it (and probably had to hand wash then toon). Who has a baby and can’t handle poo?

    Totally agree with the commenter about the spray gun – I’ve seen quite a few people in mums groups glorifying this invention beyond compare. Looking to DIY install our own. 🙂

  2. Sarah July 17th, 2012

    Kerry, we used cloth diapers on my son but as soon as he was able to object, he objected strongly. He screamed whenever we tried to put one on and ripped it off immediately even if we managed to. We tried, but the kid has something to say about it too.
    It might help to never even introduce the baby to disposables…
    Also diapering with cloth makes baby a bit more prone to diaper rash — you’ll see.

  3. Jeni July 17th, 2012

    Hi! I really enjoyed reading about your diapering adventures. I have only used dPampers. I have a 5 year old who was potty trained 2 weeks before turning 3 and an 18 month old that I have not yet started potty training. I considered going the cloth route but it does take more time and preperation and I just wasn’t willing to put in that extra time. And I do think your time needs to be taken into consideration. Especially when you have more than one child. I barely have time to go to the bathroom myself most days. And also you really need to shop around on prices because I have never spent more than .17 per diaper. There are/were internet sites that give awesome discounts and deliver to your home for free within a couple of days. I haven’t done the math using my costs. Using cloth might be and probably is still some what cheaper and for sure better for the environment. But this girl is all about convenience these days. I recycle and do a few other things to try and do my part to help the environment. But I do commend everyone who uses cloth diapers. It’s a messy job and I’m glad there are those willing to take it on.

  4. Angie July 19th, 2012

    I used cloth on all my three, and rarely had a problem with diaper rash. With each of them, I bought a tube of diaper rash cream before they were born, and ended up throwing it away not even half used when they were trained.

    I washed the diapers every second day, and never noticed an odor. I used vinegar in the final rinse, which helps get rid of soap residue and also brings the pH level of the diaper closer to the child’s skin, which helps a lot with rashes. I know it made a difference, because a few times I had run out of vinegar and they did get a rash.

    It didn’t seem to make a huge difference in our utility bills either – when you have kids you’re doing laundry all the time anyway so what’s a few more loads a week?

  5. bearing July 21st, 2012

    The cheapest and most environmentally friendly solution — whether you use cloth or disposable — is to potty-train as early as possible. Difficult for parents who use extensive child care, because child care workers don’t want to deal with it, but if you’re home with your baby most of the time it’s do-able. I’ve had three of my four children potty trained by 18 months. (The first one was trained more conventionally).

    I did it by borrowing methods from the “diaper free baby” movement (sometimes also called “elimination communication” or EC), even though I never actually went diaper free — my kids wore diapers most of the time. So, for example, I established a “cue” to teach the baby to pee on command; I held them over potties once or twice a day from birth; and as soon as they could sit up we had plastic potties available in every room of the house. You can use these methods to go diaper free if you want to, but even though my schedule didn’t allow for me to be attentive enough to go all the way with it, I was able to use it to cut total diaper use significantly. YMMV.

  6. Kevin July 22nd, 2012

    Hi, I totally agree on using cloth diapers. When my kids were little that really all there was available and we survived just fine. I notice with my grand children that they are wrapped up in disposable diapers which makes me wince.

  7. Emily July 31st, 2012

    It’s not a coincidence that everyone can relate to a newborn peeing and pooping AFTER the diaper has come off. Infants are born knowing not to soil themselves, and we actually train them to use a diaper. Then after a few years we have to train them to NOT use a diaper. How much better for the infant, the environment, and wallet, to learn to read the infant’s cues and provide an appropriate place for them to pee and poop without soiling themselves and their clothing. Google “elimination communication”. It’s a wonderful way to feel connected to your infant, meet her needs, and save money.

  8. Emily July 31st, 2012

    (I’m not sure why my post, above, says it’s 3:48; it’s actually 7:48 am.)

  9. Stephanie August 19th, 2012

    Maybe it is because I am a super saver but my math comes up to only $960 for 30 months of diapers, of course I use prime on amazon and get 20% off of diapers. My son is 7 months now and because I am a student I can only purchase diapers every three months but I make my 612 diapers (three cases) last about 4 months and they are Luvs. I have done the comparison on cloth diapers and disposable and so far It is about the same if not cheaper for my luvs. And since I have a newborn nephew, all of the diapers my son grow out of goes to his cousin even if it is 2-3 because very diaper makes a different when you are on a budget. But I am also a super saver and make sure to get the best deal even if I am only saving $.02 a diaper. When you do the math on that on a package of 204 diapers, you are saving $4.08 and that is half a box a wipes. And if you check out you grocery outlet they sometimes have diapers. We found a box of 258 pampers diapers for $29.99, which is an amazing deal for pampers. So really shop around to save the most if you don’t want to use cloth diapers.

  10. Kelsey September 28th, 2012

    I just got a bunch as gifts and because I have an HE machine my soap will go much further as I also have very soft water. If I were to outright have bought my cloth diapers it would have cost me $10/ AIO Hipkiddo diaper plus tax, and then the cost of the rock’n green detergeant 22.99 for 90 loads if you are using a TBSP but I use 1 TSP which triples that to 270 loads. Not only that but I recently found information on making my own wipes so going to save another bundle there too.

  11. I’ve always been concerned about the cost and garbage of traditional diapers. I’ve always wondered what the savings were, so thanks for this ! Now I am even more sure that I will buy cloth when the time comes, and hopefully get a used set for cheaper!!

  12. fishy November 21st, 2012

    Great post. And most people focus more on the convenience when using disposal. They’re not taking into account the effects on the environment and also total cost.

    We live in such a disposable society. So sad

  13. Tim Chan January 12th, 2013

    Another option is to use a cloth diaper service. We’ve used the Happy Nappy Diaper Service for a year now, and it costs about $100/month.
    My wife wrote 3 reviews about this service here:

  14. Amy C January 17th, 2013

    Well I guess I’m the minority here because our diaper costs were actually MORE than you listed. Between the most expensive “green” diapers, wipes and creams we spent about $1600 in the first 6 months of my daughters life. We tried every brand and type under the sun and they all gave her horrid rashes. Finally out of desperation we tried cloth to see if that would help her rash. It went away OVER NIGHT. Were talking a bum that had not been rash free since the first diaper. Now that she’s a toddler and rebelling all forms of potty training I’m happier than ever we don’t pay for dipes any more! Especially with number 2 on the way.

  15. Emily January 18th, 2013

    You’re incredibly thorough research astounds me. I always assumed cloth would be cheaper, but the numbers are amazing to see. Your efforts are greatly appreciated!

  16. Jess January 18th, 2013

    Just thought I’d add an update since my last 🙂
    My son is 2 months old now and we loooooooove our cloth.
    We did install the spray gun, easily. For a more expensive (not much more so) option you also have flushable liners which catch the poo so you can just chuck it down the toilet.
    Kerry, you mention this in another post, but I would reiterate, kids, parents and nappies are all widely different. It is very much worth your time to borrow a few different varieties before buying up a nappy stash as you will almost certainly hate one type and love another. And your opinion will be widely different from your best mummy friend. If you buy up a stash before bub is born (or before you’ve tried then out) you’ll regret it and waste your money.
    The work has been minimal, even with a newborn going through a gazillion nappies. We also have a stash of about 40cloth wipes and chuck those in the bucket for washing too. We keep the clean ones in a cheap lunch box with a bit of bicarb and water.
    As for the chore, maybe I’m a bit weird but I just love hanging all those cute things out to dry, folding them and putting then away.
    Ooh one more saving tip, have a stash of the old skool terry squares. You can use them for everything; a change table cover, a stand in blanket, wipes, a vomit and drool cover for your shoulder, and of course as a last resort: what they’re actually made for!

  17. David March 30th, 2013

    Even worn out cloth diapers have a resale value. Not 50% but a resale value. Ask your local diaper service what they charge. Chances are they have none in stock BTW.

  18. Brandi May 10th, 2013

    Great info! I’m trying to start a cloth diapering class at my local crisis pregnancy center, hoping to help moms get started with cloth. this will definetly help show the savings with cloth.

    You should definetly add in the savings if you use cloth wipes. With my son we did not use cloth and I was going through the big box of wipes from target (what is it like 10 packs) at I think $13 a box every other week. With my little lady I am all about cloth and we also use cloth wipes. That Is another $26 a month that I’m saving and they work great for poopy butts, runny noses, and dirty faces. I didnt switch to cloth wipes right away but once I did I never looked back 🙂

  19. adora August 5th, 2013

    It’s a great post. Very good analysis.

    But what about value of time? How much time is used in washing? New parents are so busy that most of them are probably better off with disposables. I see that additional $1.5/day as a fee to get out of washing. If you spend more than 6 minutes to save $1, you’re working under minimum wage. $1.5 translate to about 9 minutes a day or 1 hr a week. I’m pretty sure you’d have to spend more than an hour a week to wash cloth diapers.

    I mean, if you don’t mind the work, sure. But I think even low income family can benefit from using disposables. You’re actually buying time when you use disposables.

  20. Steph September 17th, 2013

    I would agree with most of this post, but I have to be picky about a few things:

    1. If you are smart about buying disposables and buy in bulk from certains places when they are on sale (Superstore, Costco, Wal-Mart, Target), you will not be paying .26 per diaper. I rarely spend more than $40 a month and often it is more like $30. That price per unit will make a huge difference on your bottom line.

    2. Majority of people I know that cloth diaper do not do it full-time. If you are buying disposables for travel, long car trips, sleeping, outings, daycare, etc., that is going to add a big cost to the initial cloth investment.

    3. Again, majority of cloth users I know (myself included), do not use them from birth to potty training. Most seem to give it up after a year or so (especially if both parents are working outside the home). If you only use them for a year or so you are losing money on the initial investment.

    4. Re-sale value. They are only worth what someone will pay. I paid about $25 each for new Bumgenius pocket diapers a few years ago. They were used very sparingly and in pristine condition. I was able to sell them for $8 each. It’s also important to note that cloth diapers do get worn out if they are used a lot. It’s like washing your favorite shirt over and over… eventually it’s going to pill, tear, etc. If you wash the same diaper even 1-2 times a week over the period of three years, chances are it’s not going to be in very condition.

    From my experience, cloth did not save any money and ate up a lot of extra time with the laundry (not to mention the extra clothes laundry as the cloth seemed to leak way more than disposable). And I know many would disagree, but there is not a huge environmental difference. You’re either using up resources in the form of laundry water and electricity/power for the dryer, or contributing to landfill space. Neither is great, but to say cloth is “good” and disposable “bad” is majorly over-simplifying the issue. Just my two cents.

  21. Jessica September 17th, 2013

    Using cloth full time takes a bit of research, it’s not as simple as cloth on bum, wash cloth, dry cloth etc.
    people who don’t stick with cloth either don’t care about the environmental factor to begin with (and regardless of consumption, there’s still landfill to consider) or don’t research the process.
    For instance, what type of detergent is used? Most clothes detergents contain chemicals that break down bio matter while dry. These chemicals build up in diapers making them less absorbent and prone to leaks.
    Additionally, if you approach the task at hand with a negative attitude to begin with, focussing on how hard it’s all going to be, rather than say using the attitude of mums before 1980 which is to assume there is no other option and rather focus on how to best get it done.
    Disposable was never an option for our family. I think the chemicals are nasty on baby’s bottom, you’re digging up great swathes of earth to get to oil to make something that will be thrown away, that will stay in that format for a good five hundred years- a legacy I do not want to leave for my great great great great grand kids.
    Our son is 10months now. We researched a few brands to settle on what worked for us, this brand has a resale value on some of its styles that’s actually more than the original price, even worn out. We have a large ‘stash’ so they don’t get used all the time thereby keeping them in pretty good condition. We used disposables for the four days we were in hospital and we will never ever put a disposable on his bum again. Even my husband scoffs at the idea that its so much hard work. It’s not. It’s attitude.

  22. Steph September 18th, 2013

    Often when people are passionate about something (i.e. the environment), they are not always the most expert on the topic. I came at this from a very neutral standpoint and did a lot of research and talked to what I feel are professionals on the subject (I have a few friends that are environmental engineers). Eventually I came to the conclusion that diapers in general are not great for the environment. Cloth diapers can have a smaller impact if they are used the majority of the time (not switching back and forth) and you follow a strict washing schedule (having enough diapers to only wash them 1-2 times a week and line-dry them). Even so, they are still not “good” for the environment, just slightly less of an impact than disposables. And if you’re using “modern” cloth diapers the numbers are even closer. Most people don’t realize that the majority of pocket and all-in-one cloth diapers are almost entirely made of man-made fibres (namely polyurethane, polyester and rayon / micro fibre). You can get true cotton or hemp diapers but they are very expensive and not as readily available.

    In the grand scheme of things, diapers are not that big of a deal environment wise. Throwing away disposables takes up a very small amount of landfill space (the majority going to food and paper – stuff that can be composted / recycled. It is estimated that diapers take up about 2-3% in North America). And washing / drying your own diapers isn’t all that different of a footprint than showering, flushing a toilet and running a dishwasher on a regular basis.

    In short, I would never begrudge someone for using cloth diapers (I used them myself for a time). But, doing my own non-biased research, I have found that there isn’t a huge environmental difference between the two. And the popular brands (bumgenius, fuzzibunz, etc.) are very expensive for what you get. It really comes down to personal choice. If cloth works for you, great. But I think you’re kidding yourself if you believe it’s making a huge environmental difference. If you truly want to have the least environmental impact AND save money, use old fashioned flat cotton diapers (the ones that are folded and pinned) with plastic pants. But most people don’t want to do that (myself included) because they are cumbersome and don’t work all that well.

  23. Lea September 19th, 2013

    Just my two cents worth. 🙂 We do disposable diapers and we pay quite a bit less then the estimate here. Our monthly diaper budget is $20. Sometimes less if we find them cheaper. We look for good deals and stock up when we can. This is less then $250/year. This seems to work out well for our family and is quick and easy, too. Also, as someone else already mentioned, play the diaper contest game at your baby shower. We did this and received hundreds of diapers. Some are back in storage now for the next child, as my son outgrew them, but this saved us lots of money. Just something to think about if you are not going to cloth diaper. If you are willing to save money and not buy the most expensive diapers, Pampers, etc, it is very doable. In the end, you just have to do what works best for you and your family!

  24. Jane October 3rd, 2013

    I agree that if you are super-thrifty, you can find disposables that don’t cost you a whole lot more than cloth diapers. However, there are many benefits to cloth and you can very easily resell them when you are finished diapering babies for added value. My biggest advise is to find good deals on your cloth diapers to begin with. Whether you pay $20 or $10 per diaper on your stash makes a big difference when you consider purchasing 20+ diapers. Whenever I consider purchasing more cloth diapers, I visit a webpage that lists out all of the cloth diaper clearance sites. I always find a great deal!

  25. Kav Birch January 17th, 2014

    Absolutely love this… your writing is so clear and real! I was convinced after child #1 who at month 33 is still messing around (argggg) that Im not spending that amount of money from my budget to buy disposables again. I live in Jamaica so disposables (the “good” ones) work out to be far more expensive than what you’ve quoted so imagine my distress. This solidifies my drive towards cloth diapering. I found some cheaper alternatives for cloth diapers on ebay (seller named grape-apple)and a store in china called Assunta (…

  26. DryKids Coach January 17th, 2014

    Ditch the Diapers: when it’s time to potty train (wait till the child want to, 30 months, to avoid bed wetting later) then ditch the pull-ups and tape PUPPY TRAINING PADS (.30 EACH) on top of the sheet, with dollar-store duct tape. Much cheaper than Bed Pads. Next, avoid milk and citrus within 2 hrs of bedtime. Don’t restrict water.

    Restricting water is a common cause of bed wetting! It causes constipation and a slight headache. To help children get over bed wetting, amongst other remedies I get great results by having kids drink a big glass of water before bed!

    While I’m at it,why not mention MUSHY POOP! If you don’t have enough fluid in your body during the night, kidneys take water out of your poop, so monitoring hydration is simple: you should have MUSHY POOP every morning.

  27. Robin January 23rd, 2014

    While I was pregnant with our first baby, this article convinced me, and more importantly my husband, to look into cloth as an option. I started my journey with newborn size G-diapers received at my baby shower ($0!!) then spent $250 over 6 months building a stash of over 40 mostly new & gently used pocket diapers. I made cloth wipes out of used receiving blankets (free!) launder every 3 days, and use the power of the sun whenever possible to dry & erase stains. While it may not be for everyone, I share my cloth experience and this blog w/others tolet them know there is an alternative. Thank you Kerry, for this article and for doing the research on how to build a great stash. You have changed how my family lives and saves green! ($$$ and environment)

  28. nicoleandmaggie February 1st, 2014

    Another vote for if you really care about the environment, you do elimination communication and forgo diapers altogether… you know, if you *really* care about the environment, as in your comment to Steph. To paraphrase, people who don’t stick with ec either don’t care about the environmental factor to begin with (and regardless of consumption, there’s still landfill to consider– those plastic fiber cloth diapers end up somewhere in the end, not to mention laundering’s environmental impact) or don’t research the process. If you’re going to get self-righteous you should go all the way and not use diapers.

    Also all those dire warnings about early potty training have no scientific basis. Diaper Free Before Three discusses the actual evidence. It’s harsh potty training that causes problems, not the timing of potty training. The readiness signs were invented by someone working for Pampers and coincide with the terrible twos/threes, which is actually one of the worst times to start potty training. Prior to disposables, the average age for potty training was 18 months for boys (now it is 3 years 2 months for boys), and earlier for girls.

    Disclaimer: We do all three (cloth, disposables, and ec) but certainly do not look down on people who do one or another.

  29. DryKids Coach February 2nd, 2014

    As a bed wetting coach,all of my little (age 6 to 26) clients missed their toddler night training. What I’ve learned…

    Regardless of what age you try drybed training, a child needs everything in his favour to succeed in triggering vasopressin, to put kidneys into ‘night mode’. Basically a child has to go to bed comfortable in mind,and body. I find that most older bed wetters had a problem – emotional or physical – that started it at age 3 or 4 years. For instance, 40% of bed wetting boys just happen to have a sister 3 years younger… or they eat Eggos every morning .. or they had constipation caused by restricting water.

    So have the child drink water an hour before bed, no milk or OJ within 2 hours of bed, and tuck him in to be sure he’s happy when going to sleep. I do offer a free Toddlers Training ebook on my site, or see my youtube video at the DryKids Coach channel.

  30. Sheryl Bjorn February 3rd, 2014

    I used disposables on both of my children 6 years ago.
    But I really am curious …. What do you do with your diapers when you are not home? We traveled a lot when my children were younger and I am just curious, what do you do on trips where you are away from home for days at a time?

  31. Cindy February 4th, 2014

    Your numbers are wrong. There is no way we go through the average number of disposable diapers you claim. We spend $40 max per month on diapers. Cloth diapers are nasty. I’ve seen a tub of poop coloured water when diapers have been “stripped”. Gross x 1,000,000. That means you’re putting poopy, pee filled diaps back on your baby. I’m sorry about the landfill issue but the amount of water and electricity – not to mention coins if you have to frequent the laundromat – and it’s all the same.

  32. Sebastian Whittaiker March 22nd, 2014

    Okay, I am on the fence with cloth vs. disposable, every site that I have done research on has added some non-usable information into disposable. Just an example, in this one it was mentioned that I would pay $1,912.04 for 30 months which works out to about $764.82 a year, also $436.80 a year to have it hauled away. of which I have no cost extra for hauling my trash because if its 2 bags or 20 bags, the cost is included in my rent which I have to pay even if I don’t use the trash. So for me that works out to be $764.82 a year.

    $450 for cloth diapers and $324.75 for laundering which works out to $130 a year. This comes close to the $584 initial cost of diapers for 36 gDiapers plus 48 liners and then still the $130 a year for laundering. which comes to $454.75 – $714.00. But this all depends on how many diapers you get, if you get for example 10 diapers and inserts of which you must wash once a day that comes to $0.75 per day on average for laundering, where as with was dry and detergent you are looking at more around the cost of $1.50 – $3.00 per wash which makes it more around $45 a month %540.00 a year or even if you had the $.75 per load per day, that would still run you at $270.00 a year bringing the new cost up to $594.75 base cost. It seems if you make a large investment in the reusable that you must at least get 30-40 diapers to even see the benefit within the first year. Then there is the hassle of storage of the dirty diapers and $hit scraping duty because not all diapers are going to be pee diapers.

    I guess if I resorted to air drying the diapers, and liners that would bring the cost down. But again, storage of the dirty diapers and cleaning of the poo filled ones. My daughter usually does the number 2 business at least 2-3 times daily.

  33. Laura Connell November 6th, 2014

    Thanks for the great post. Will be sharing this evening on our Cloth For A Cause page

  34. bob November 10th, 2014

    I highly doubt a load costs 75 cents!!! You need to factor in the costs of hydro, water, and detergent. Many places in Canada have a high, mid and low peak hydro times. Low is late evenings and weekends so unless you ALWAYS wait to do laundry then you miss out on savings.

    Then there are people that consider their time to be worth something. Doing an EXTRA 2-4 loads of laundry a week is time consuming and tiresome. Many would rather use that time for hobbies, relaxation or other things. Which in their mind is worth something to them.

    I don’t doubt that cloth is cheaper than disposables but I highly doubt the numbers are as skewed as you make them out to be.

  35. Irina Johnson November 18th, 2014

    Cloth Diapers are the way forward for parents as that is the only way we are going to preserve the environmkent

  36. Kristen December 21st, 2014

    If you really want to save money on diapers I would suggest Elimination Communication. With our cloth diapers we took our savings to a whole other level with elimination communication. We stopped using diapers completely after 18 months with my daughter and 22 months with my son. And even before we stopped completely we were “catching” quite often, so we typically used less than half the average number of diapers each day. It saved SOOOOO much money! And with EC you also save on laundry costs because you have less diapers to clean.

  37. Kayla February 28th, 2015

    I am cloth diapering twins! So you can imagine after doubling everything how much we save. We have enough diapers for 3 days worth of changes but was every two days. Most of yhe cloth stashes I see are about the same size as my twin stash. Another factor in saving money is multiple child can use the same stash. Some of the cloth diapers can be hand me downs for your next children. For me its not just about the money situation, I love the prints and colors. I love the idea of less trash. It is honestly less messy, smelly, and gross than disposables. I wish more people would be open minded about cloth. I get so many upturned noses.

  38. Jason March 21st, 2015

    Great article! When I compared the cost of disposable diapers and cloth diapers in 2015, here’s the costs I found:
    $1,228 – cost of disposable diapers
    $306 – cost of cloth diapers

    You can read more here:

  39. Jeanne March 24th, 2015

    We used prefolds and cheap covers, and the total cost for cloth diapers for my son was $150 (US). We did use fancy unbleached disposable diapers for about six weeks after a move, and I think it’s safe to say that the cost for those came close to what we spent on his cloth stash.
    I must say that I have never liked the smell of a disposable diaper. They are horrific when soiled, but even before they are used, the smell is very offensive to me, regardless of the brand of diaper. Cloth diapers smell like sunshine to me, when they’re properly cared for.

  40. Stacey March 27th, 2015

    I bought Alva Baby diapers from a co-op for around $4 each and then charcoal bamboo inserts for about $1.25 each because they are more absorbant. I have about 30 per kid so my stash costs around $315, plus maybe a total of around $50-100 more for the wet bags and liners. I’m assuming I’ll probably get at least half of that back.

  41. Kristi April 28th, 2015

    I am looking forward to trying cloth diapers with the little one on the way! I did find to very reasonable sites to get diapers from that don’t cost $25 a pop. Nubunz and Sunbaby. Nubunz is where we ordered mine. I will say that their customer service is not that great and I was worried that they even had a live person still there, but they did ship my diapers yesterday after about 1-1/2 weeks.

  42. Beth June 23rd, 2015

    My husband was NOT onboard the cloth train, so we had to go disposable. But I’m happy to say that with coupons, and alot of eagle eye shopping, we’ve come in under $300 for the first 15 months. Not too shabby.

  43. Cecile November 27th, 2015

    When it comes to saving, cloth diaper would be a very good choice. I’m also using disposable diaper, but only at night. Most of the day time, I’m using cloth. 🙂

  44. Karen June 6th, 2016

    We have been using cloth diapers on our baby since he was six weeks old, and we have never looked back. I am so pleasantly surprised by how easy it has been. There was a pretty steep learning curve the first week or so, but now we’ve got it down and I’m in a rhythm of washing every other day. I was able to buy my stash for under $100– I use Alva Baby, which is way less expensive than other brands, and has worked just fine for us. I also got very lucky– my sister-in-law had purchased about 30 diapers, used a few, and decided (prematurely!) that they weren’t for her…so she sold the entire load to me for $60. I bought an additional set of six for about $36, and I’m set. Not sure exactly how much I spend on laundry, but I have a HE washing machine, I wash it all in cold water with one extra rinse, I use Ecos detergent (which is not pricey at all AND does not hurt the environment) and use vinegar in the rinse, and I hang everything up to dry. The diapers always come out fresh and clean. Using cloth diapers is the best decision I’ve made for my baby and I feel so good about making the right choice for both him and the environment. SO many people told me I’d give it up because it’s “so much work”– I don’t know what’s so hard about throwing a load in the washing machine??? I can throw a load in and later hang it up to dry in less time that it takes me to get the baby ready to go to the store. It’s all about priorities; you make time for what’s important to you. Leaks– we very rarely have leaks. I will say, you must be a little more vigilant with cloth diapers and change them more frequently, but no baby should sit in his own waste for hours anyway! I see it as a plus. I just check him more often. Our baby has not ONCE had diaper rash, either. We have saved SO much money. For me, it’s more about my son’s health and the environment than saving money, but it’s actually been a win-win-win situation. So everyone with the negative comments, keep throwing money away on disposable diapers and trashing the environment…I’ll keep saving money and being kind to the Earth. Our babies, after all, are the ones who will inherit our planet.

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