Forget scrounging up disposable diaper coupons or trying the store brand. Switch to cloth, a.k.a. reusable diapers, a big trend in diapering that's a huge cost cutter.
"You can expect to shell out about $2,500 on disposable diapers from infancy until potty training," says Heather McNamara, the executive director of the Real Diaper Association in San Diego, which promotes the use of cloth diapers. "A stash of reusable diapers that will last from infancy all the way through potty training costs about $500," she says -- a $2,000 savings. And that's if you're using pocket diapers, a popular option that consists of a moisture-resistant cloth cover stuffed with an absorbent insert. Pocket diapers are one of the easiest types of cloth diapers to use, McNamara says.
Save $2,400; use prefolds-- a rectangular cloth diaper with absorbent padding in the middle that's secured with a Snappi, a rubber fastener, instead of old-fashioned (ouch!) pins and a water-proof cover. "By using prefolds, you can do an entire infancy-to-potty-training diaper stash for $100 or less," McNamara says.
Another budget-friendly option? Using used cloth diapers. "To save money, I bought all of my reusable diapers used through Diaperswappers.com," says McNamara, who now has a 3 ½ and 5 year old. By using used reusable pocket diapers from the start, your entire pocket diaper stash will likely only cost you $300, a $200 savings compared to starting out with new pocket diapers. The popularity of cloth diapering has made Craig's List a hub to buy and sell reusable diapers, McNamara says.
If multiple children are in your future, your initial cloth diaper investment sets you up from your first to your third since reusable diapers can last from baby to baby. And when you're finally done, you can sell the diapers to get some of your money back.
The poop on reusable diapers
Cloth diapers are more labor intensive. You'll need to change your baby's diaper more often. If your baby hasn't done a number two, which necessitates a diaper change no matter what type of diaper you use, you can't go four to five hours between diaper changes like you can with disposables. You'll routinely need to change cloth diapers every two hours, to prevent leaks, diaper rash and irritation.
You'll also need to keep up with the laundry, washing diapers every two to three days, which adds up to about two to three extra loads per week, McNamara estimates. To clean cloth diapers properly, you'll need to set your washing machine so the diapers will be rinsed in warm water, washed in hot water, and rinsed twice in warm water, which is just one extra warm rinse at the end. Use a laundry detergent without fabric softeners or optical brighteners, which make cloth diapers less absorbent. Steer clear of scented detergent too, which may irritate your baby's skin.
Jump on the diaper pail
The Great Cloth Diaper Change will be held on April 21, 2012. It's an attempt to break the Guiness World Record for the number of cloth diapers changed at the same time. To learn more the event and find a Great Cloth Diaper Change location near you, visit www.greatclothdiaperchange.com.