Thrifty Thursday: Cloth Diapers

fuzziSo, as the number of days get smaller until I have this new baby, I am looking for some creative money saving tips for children.  For the next few weeks, I’ll be focusing my Thrifty Thursdays on kids.  This one may not be for everyone, but it is something that has saved our family hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.  Cloth Diapers. 

When I was pregnant with Henry, I never really considered cloth diapers seriously.  I pictured the lumpy, dumpy prefolds with pins and plastic pants.  They seemed messy and a lot of work, and well, frankly, I didn’t know sh… er, um, BEANS, about cloth diapers.

Thankfully, my friend, who had moved to Texas with her military husband (and was thus meeting new people with new ideas) sent me a list she had one of her new friends make for me of baby essentials.  On the list was Fuzzi Bunz cloth diapers.  I had to check them out. 

Fuzzi Bunz are really cool.  Like no cloth diaper I had ever seen before.  They are a pocket diaper, meaning they have a soft, cloth exterior with snaps that are waterproof, a fleece lining to wick moisture away from baby’s bum, and a pocket in between where you stuff an absorbent micro-terry (or hemp or whatever else you choose) insert to absorb the pee.  The idea of cloth diapering with these appealed to me.  I mean it is greener and they say kids potty train earlier.  And disposables stink and are expensive.  You put them on like a disposable, except with snaps instead of tape, and you just wash both the diaper and the insert in the washer.  Seemed easy. And, they come in fun colors (I’m a sucker for colorful things).

I stared doing research and found there are tons of alternative cloth diapers out there: Bumkins, Fuzzi Bunz, Bummis… there’s a long list actually.  Some are called All In Ones (AIO), some are pocket diapers like the Fuzi Bunz, and there are still some traditional pre-folds and plastic (or wool in some circles) covers.  There really aren’t pins any more though.

Cloth diapers are an investment.  Like buying meat in bulk or joining a CSA, the cost is upfront, but the saving over the lifetime is HUGE.  When we bought Henry’s Fuzzi Bunz were about $14 per diaper.  We did a lot of research to figure out what kind of cloth diaper we wanted to use, and where we could get them for the least amount of money.  The cheapest we’ve found them new is at fuzzibunzstore.com.  They have a registry. 

So we registered for a package called the “Everything You Need to Cloth Diaper Special” for about $385.  This included cloth wipes, detergent, two diaper pail liners, a wet bag (travel tote for dirty cloth diapers), and 18 Fuzzi Bunz with inserts.  There were a few other accessories in there too.. just can’t remember them all. 

We got a couple gift certificates at baby showers towards this, and Rick and I ponied up the rest.  We ordered 15 of our 18 diapers in size small, and three in size medium.  Then, when Henry moved up to mediums at 5 months old, we bought 18 more, used, on ebay for $10 each.  When he needed the larges at his first birthday, my mom bought half for us, and we bought the other half, all new.

In all, we spent $736.49 on diapering Henry from birth until potty training.  He still wears his size large Fuzzi Bunz to bed at night (with plenty of room to grow if needed).  But wait… we sold the size mediums.  I bought them for $10 each on ebay, and sold them for $10 each on Craigslist when Henry out grew them (I didn’t love the colors and decided if we had another baby, I’d get new mediums then). So I can deduct $180 from that.  So the total for diapering our first born is $556.49.

Now, I know that doesn’t factor in water usage in washing them and flushing the toilet a few extra times for the poopiest of diapers.  Yes, I’m sure our water bill is slightly higher due to running the machine a few more times a week.  But I can’t give an accurate picture of what that cost is, since the diaper washing started at the same time as all the newborn-spit-up-on-clothes-and-sheets-and-blankets washing did too.

But, for only $556.49 (which doesinclude detergent, since I bought special detergent from the FuzziBunzStore for the diapers only) I diapered not only Henry for two plus years, but I saved the size smalls and the larges (which, as mentioned, still get nightly use).  So those will carry over to the new baby. 

How many disposable diapers could you get for $560?  How long would they last you? 
On diapers.com (the site I understand to be the money saver in disposable diapers??) you can get a case of 4 Seventh Generation diapers for $43.99.  So if you bought them all at once, you’d get 12 cases.  Depending on the size of diaper, that’s 176 newborn diapers per case, or 104 size 5.  The price difference for Huggies and Pampers is with a dollar or two.  A newborn goes through about 8-12 diapers per day.  For easy math, I will say 10.  So one case will get you through 17.5 days. This does not include buying any wipes.

I’ll leave the exact math to you, but Mary McCarthy of NaturalFamilyOnline.com estimates that a child goes through 8,000 – 10,000 diaper changes before potty training. Based on an average cost of .35 per diaper (since no baby stays either a newborn or 20lbs forever), that comes to $2,800-$3,500 per child, not including wipes and trips to the store or sales tax if not bought online.  I’ve seen other averages as low as $1850 and as high as $4500 as well.  For one baby. 

Don’t even get me started on the environmental impacts of all of this. 

So what about the second baby?  Well, I need new wipes and a new wet bag (the wipes are so dead by now, you don’t even want to know).  And we need to buy the size mediums.  The price is a bit higher now than it was in 2006.  But I expect to sell all of my diapers for about $10/each after our second is potty trained.  I should have around 45 or 50 total diapers by then.  That will bring a big chunk of the investment back. 

All in all, cloth diapering is a very affordable choice.  And there are lots of options.  We chose Fuzzi Bunz because despite their higher initial investment cost , they had a high resale value as well.  The potential for recovery there was the greatest.  But if you are less worried about resale value, there are even more affordable cloth diapering options.  Check them out.  You might find a brand that is the perfect fit.

Look for more Thrifty Thursday tips with Katie Jean.

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Categories: Thrift, Urban Homesteading | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Thrifty Thursday: Cloth Diapers

  1. So thankful for the info you passed along to me about cloth diapers! We’re getting along with them just fine, just having to get used to how much laundry we’re doing! We’re using our drying rack so we can cut down use on our dryer – hopefully we can continue that through the winter.

    One thing I wanted to ask was if it was possible to just buy the FuzziBunz ‘shell’ diaper and not the insert through the website? I’ve not found that option. Do we need to buy new inserts every time we buy new shell diapers?

    Have you thought about making your own wipes? There’s that great fabric store near you and surely they would have a nice soft flannel you could use to sew your own wipes. I would even do it – just because it’s dealing with a square and straight line sewing! Ha! Only thing – I don’t have a serger (sp?) machine to finish the edges, although there are plenty of other options for finishing the edges.

  2. Anisa

    The laundry gets better as the babes get older… thankfully the slow down on the number of diapers they use per day eventually!

    I’m sure it’s possible to buy the diapers without inserts, but keep in mind that the inserts get bigger as the diapers do… so a medium insert will fill the medium diaper. The small insert would probably cause the medium to leak. Make sense?

    Great suggestion for making your own wipes! I hadn’t even thought of it, so if I don’t get any at my shower, I will probably do that! I don’t have a serger either, but I’m sure I can figure something out. :) Thanks!!

  3. I didn’t even think about how the size of the inserts would ‘grow’ with the size of the shell. Thanks!

  4. Thanks Anisa, I remembered you talking about Fuzzi Bunz in a post before, and you helped me to decide which cloth diaper to go for. I had no idea about the difference in cost, I was mostly interested in the environmental impact — but now I am thrilled I will also be saving money!!

    I have a request, could you perhaps post or e-mail me the list that your friend from Texas gave you? I will be a new mom in December or January, and I am pregnant with twins. I haven’t really got a clue where to start at this point! ;-) I will keep sifting through your archives for more ideas.

    I am interested in trying to find a hook-on to the table baby feeding chair, but have seen mixed reviews, do you have any experience with those? We were wanting to try and avoid having two high chairs in the dining room… Thanks!!

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