When our son was born, as much as I hated the idea of adding thousands of dirty diapers to local landfills, the thought of using cloth diapers seemed like a ton of work and frankly, pretty gross. My brother and his wife had given us a handful of bumGenius diapers they had used for their boys, and they sat nicely packed in a bag in my son’s closet.
For the first six months, we used disposables and never thought twice (or even once!) about those cloth diapers chillin’ in the closet. Then, (and I’ll leave out all the unnecessary details) we suddenly found ourselves living paycheck to paycheck and looking for ways to cut costs. One day while my husband was at work, he sent me a text: “You wanna try the washable diapers?” It sort of came out of nowhere, but it suddenly seemed like something worth trying to save some cash.
Being a numbers nerd, I did the math of how much we were spending on disposable diapers. Curious what it costs? For a newborn and up to size 2 diapers, I estimated $40-50 per month. Sizes 3 and 4 were $45-60 per month, and it just kept going up from there. The initial investment for cloth diapers is considerable, yes, but once you have them, the only ongoing costs are water and laundry soap, which to us seemed like nothing. Plus, if you plan ahead and register for cloth diapers, you can get them as gifts, saving that upfront cost!
Health is another big concern when choosing cloth vs. disposables. Babies are much less likely to get diaper rash in cloth diapers than they are in disposables. Guess what diaper rash leads to? That’s right – a fussy baby with a sore bottom.
Cloth diapers also do a better job of containing “blow-outs” than disposables. I don’t think I need to go into any details on that one. Just trust me, a contained blow-out is a manageable one.
Finally, the impact on the environment was a huge for me. After six months of doing more than my fair share of filling the local landfill, I felt good about switching to cloth. Empty a diaper pail a time or two, and you’ll feel the same way.
Now, the first question everyone asks me is, “So how many do I need?” Most people recommend having 20-25 cloth diapers if you’re planning use them exclusively. We currently have 14, and I wash roughly every 48 hours. That seems pretty good to me. Ideally, I’d like to get to 18. In case you’re wondering, why 18? It’s because 18 is the number that will fit perfectly in the dresser drawer while he’s wearing one. Ha! That might seem silly, but it would give us a cushion of a few more to wash less often and still be able to store all of them in one place. One note on the number: newborns go through more diapers in a day than older babies and toddlers. If you’re planning to use cloth from the get go, it’s important to remember newborns go through 8-10 diapers per day.