Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cloth Diapers: Financials and Figures and Shopping- Oh My!

I had been tossing around the idea of cloth diapering since my youngest was born. I have to admit, it’s only been three months, but in that time we have already spent far more money on disposable diapers than I could stand. At $17.00 per week, the expense adds up quickly. I realize that babies gradually start to need fewer diapers per day as they grow. Diaper companies realize this too; larger size diapers have fewer per pack. I’m still spending about $15-$17 per week.

My older two kids were in disposable diapers until they were a little over two, then I switched them to the disposable training pants. The training pants made cleanups simpler, but didn’t really do much to encourage potty-training because the children were so comfortable in them. The cost of training pants? About $15-$17 per week.

Josie and JR were both considered trained at 32 months. Multiplying 32 months by 4.3 (weeks in a month) brings us to an approximate age of 137.6 weeks. Multiply that by $16.00 (the average cost of diapers a week), and you’ve spent $2201.60 just on diapers. That doesn’t include wipes- $2201.60 on poop collection alone!

If that number does not seem staggering to you, I need to mention that I live in a tiny town in a not hugely populated area of the Western Plains. The closest WalMart is a 70 mile drive and the closest mall is 100 miles (sobs). Buying diapers in town is fairly costly, local retailers mark them up several dollars over discount chains. Running low on diapers invariably means a trip out of town to purchase diapers, wipes and a bunch of stuff we really didn’t need but couldn’t pass up because it was a good deal. Frequently, we also eat out once or twice. Suddenly, $75 for a month supply of diapers and wipes just quadrupled. I know what you are thinking, “Buy local, idiot”, but who wants to take the easy way out?

So after months of comparing and researching, I decided it was time to tinkle or get off the potty and I invested $150.00 into cloth diapers. It amounted to 15 prefolds, three covers, wool yarn to make a few of my own covers, 5 diaper liners for bedtime or excursions, a Snappi and a few cloth wipes. I had the weekend to experiment with cloth diapering and overall, it went well but I am still very much in the learning curve. I did decide that the diapers I had were a bit full to fit in the covers the way I wanted, I really wanted to fold the diapers in thirds and lay them in the covers, and then just secure them when I wrapped the cover onto my baby. Unfortunately, I got the diapers so big they would not fit well in that manner. I have since ordered a dozen smaller diapers, another Snappi and a wet bag. Total investment at this point is $200.00.

I have been using cloth diapers at home for the whole week. Since I work full time outside of the home, I have been using a disposable diaper at bedtime, just for the convenience of guaranteed dry sheets in the morning (providing my breasts did not leak in the night). The first few evening of cloth diapering were fraught with mistakes. There were several times all three of the purchased covers were in the wash because I didn’t manage to get enough coverage to the necessary locations. But it has been getting easier with every passing day.

My biggest recommendation is to get plenty of covers. I would have done less diapering laundry if I had gotten just a couple more covers off the bat.

I’m still waiting for the smaller diapers to come in, and I’m getting more proficient with the larger ones while I wait. I will still use the larger ones as a back-up to be able to space laundry out an extra day and they really do make excellent burp cloths and changing pads! Besides, he will grow into them. They are still worth every penny. (Not to mention the fact that I'm not positive I'm done having babies and I will be able to use them for another baby later.)

I haven’t progressed to the point where I’m positive I’ll be doing this at daycare. I would prefer to switch over completely, but I want to have enough experience with it that I can present it to the attendants with more knowledge. I want to make it simple enough for them that it would be considered “just another diaper change” and not "a completely unfair task demanded by the dragon lady". Provided I make the switch, I would probably invest in some one-sized pocket diapers for their convenience. It would mean a pretty heft investment, so I want to make sure it will be a wise one.

Yes, I will still make occasional trips out of town. I would go mad if I didn’t! But hopefully I could spread them out a bit more and spend significantly less overall. If my predominant purpose for going were removed it would no longer be a “shopping excursion”, it would just be a happy family outing. We would have a lot more time for museums and events instead of trying to navigate a wobbly shopping cart through narrow aisles. My husband is already breathing easier.

1 comment:

Elisha said...

I'm planning on using cloth diapers too, though I'm aiming to make it as convenient as possible by using all-in-ones and some pocket diapers. I know the upfront investment will be sizeable, but I do have more children planned in my future. Also, I plan to buy the one-size-fits-all variety so I can use them for a long, long time.

I'll be posting about my own experience in cloth diapering when the time comes.