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Purchase the "Do It Yourself" Cloth Diapering Handbook: The most complete and comprehensive introduction to cloth diapering today! Endorsed by Natural Family Online.

Save Thousands of Dollars with Cloth Diapers

By Mary McCarthy

If you are a mother of a baby or young toddler, you know that babies need diapers. A majority of parents use disposable diapers for their convenience, but have you ever actually calculated the cost of using disposables?

The average baby is in diapers between two to three years and uses between 8,000 to 10,000 diapers. How much does this equal for the average parent? Allow me to do the math for you: On average, each diaper will cost you about .35. How did I come to that conclusion? The prices of diapers range between .19 (for newborn size) to .46 (for toddler size). So I based the price of .35 on an average of all of these prices combined, because no baby stays in the newborn or even 20-pound range forever.

Based on the cost of an average diaper by the number of diapers the baby will use, you can expect to spend between $2,800 (for 8,000 diaper changes) and $3,500 (for about 10,000 changes, which I believe to be the more accurate number). This estimate does not include applicable sales tax or even the gas used to drive to store for those late-night runs for diapers. So for every child who uses disposable diapers, parents will spend roughly between $3,000 to almost $4,000.

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Gone, gone forever
Unfortunately, when the baby is finished with disposable diapers, they are gone -- poof! You can never use them again. Many parents spend a significant amount of their hard-earned money on trash. That is pretty depressing!

Now I can hear many of you in the background shouting, "But wait, washing cloth diapers cost money too!" And they do -- just not nearly as much as you think.

For starters, washing a load of cloth diapers two to three times per week equals the same amount of water that a young child uses to flush the toilet five times a day. And as far as the energy used to wash and dry your diapers, you are looking at spending a $1.25 each time you wash cloth diapers (including detergent, a rinse cycle and drying the diapers). You'll save even more money by drying your diapers on a clothesline.

First things first: quality
The first thing many moms will do after hearing these facts is to rush out to the nearest discount store to purchase some inexpensive cloth diapers. But wait! Before you do that, please consider that you will get what you pay for. In the area of diapers, cheaper is not better.

My personal introduction to cloth diapering was not a pleasant one, until a good friend told me about the "other" diapers that were available by mail order only. Gerber diapers just don't cut it. Believe me, I know from experience that if you use the cheap products from Wal-Mart, you will have leaks -- and lots of them.

So what do I suggest? For starters, look up the keywords "cloth diapers" in a search engine on the internet. Once you start surfing, you'll find a multitude of diaper companies that sell high quality diapering products that are not available in stores.

How much should you spend?
How much will you need to spend on a complete cloth diapering layette? This is what I suggest to fellow dollar-stretchers: use diaper covers and Chinese prefold diapers. The benefit to using prefolds and diaper covers is that you'll be able to reuse them with the next baby or donate them to another mom to use.

All-in-one diapers are popular for their convenience, but they are a more expensive choice (although still less expensive than disposables).

There are dozens of great products available; you just have to find them. Here's a sample cloth diapering layette:

3 dozen newborn Chinese prefolds:
($18.50/dozen) $55.50

6 small diaper covers, Bummis brand:
($9.25 each) $55.50

3 dozen regular Chinese prefolds:
($27.50/dozen) $82.50

6 medium diaper covers, Bummis brand:
($9.25 each) $55.50

I also recommend flushable diaper liners, so that parents will not have to dunk diapers. Parents start using these when baby is around 6 to 8 months old, when the baby starts solid foods. The cost for 1,000 diaper changes is 65.00.

So for a basic diapering layette, you are looking at spending around $314.00. This is a "leak-proof" and absorbent diapering system, and your baby will be in these diapers until about 30 pounds. Then you will either need to move up to the toddler size or potty train.

The benefits just keep coming
Again, the benefit is that you when baby is done diapering, you'll have diapers to use all over again! You will probably need to purchase new diaper covers for the next baby because after so many hundreds of washings, the waterproofing material will wear out. So you may need to spend another $150 to $200 on the next baby.

The total cost of buying and using the diapers for three years comes to around $900, including the cost of washing diapers three times per week. This is a far cry from $3,000 to $4,000 for disposables. Which seems like the smarter choice? With cloth diapers, we save an additional $50 per month that automatically goes to our money market fund, just because we do not purchase disposables.

Give cloth diapers a try. Not only will your baby have less frequent diaper rash (cotton is a breathable fiber, unlike paper or plastic) but your pocketbook will be much happier, too!

Reprinted with permission by the author.

Mary McCarthy is a work-at-home mom and owner of Comfy Bummy Diapers. She enjoys gardening, reading and saving money. To subscribe to Comfy Bummy’s mailing list and learn more about cloth diapering, send a blank email to [email protected].

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