Maternity Leave

Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers And Your Baby Budget

Baby in Diapers

By: Katrina

Deciding whether cloth diapers or disposable diapers are right for your baby budget takes some research. The more you plan the better you will be able to make informed decisions before your baby arrives. Easier said than done, I know I was once in that position and with so much information in books and online it’s hard to figure things out.

Sometimes testing out products is the way to go and the only way you will know what’s right for you and your baby. That’s probably why I like to get free product samples because it gives me a chance to use products before I purchase them. Just don’t give up as easy as  I did when it comes to deciding on which diapers to choose.

When the pregnancy test confirms you are pregnant all sorts of new emotions and thoughts scatter in you mind because you now have to think about a baby. A couple of weeks after my son was born my mom convinced me to give cloth diapers a try. We went to a local baby store to research the cost of cloth diapers and more about how they might work for my baby. I learned one thing quick…they are not cheap!!

My mom had offered to make the initial investment for me, but being as I was kind of on the fence about whether or not I wanted to use them, I wasn’t comfortable making that decision on the spot. After some consideration we decided to purchase 3 sets, diaper, diaper cover and inserts. I can’t remember the exact figure, it was a few years ago, but I recall spending around $50.00 for everything.

Using Cloth Diapers

I took the cloth diapers home and I quickly made my decision faster than anticipated. After using the diapers for one full day, I knew they weren’t for me. After having to change my son’s clothes 4 times in a few hours I was done!

I know there are different kinds of cloth diapers out there and I’m sure some work better than others but I still wasn’t convinced. Considering the fact that I wasn’t really sure I wanted to do it in the first place I was discouraged from looking into any other cloth diaper options. Looking back now I do have some regrets.

We are a diaper-free household now and I am so happy for that. Not only because of the cost of diapers but also a major decrease in garbage. Both of my kids were in diapers past the age of two. Based on 2 kids being in diapers for around a total of 5 years, that’s 260 weeks and some of that time they were both in diapers. I figure I spent around $3600 on disposable diapers. Wow!! All that money just to throw away a diaper.

Purchasing my own cloth diapers would have been a rather large investment initially but I believe they would have been much cheaper for me in the long run. The most common recommendation for how many cloth diapers to buy is 24 and that’s based on a 2-day wash cycle. As your baby grows you will require less diapers, but 7-10 diaper changes a day is normal for a new born.

The cost per cloth diaper varies depending on the brand and style you choose, but a full diaper complete with a cover and inserts can cost anywhere from $5-$20 per diaper. That number can be hard to grasp when you think about how disposable diapers can be purchased for less than 25 cents each, even less if you use coupons or buy store brands.

Baby Budget

Preparing for maternity leave and how your budget will be affected with your new baby needs to be planned well  in advance. I did my best to save money wherever I could. Occasionally coupons for store brand diapers can be found but almost always you can find coupons for Huggies and Pampers.

You can even order coupons by calling SC Johnson Baby each month or by ordering coupons online. I always took advantage of stockpiling baby items when I had coupons to save money in my baby budget especially for when I went on maternity leave.  I did use some Pampers coupons in the beginning when my son was newborn then realized that the store brand diapers were cheaper still without a coupon. They worked just fine for us.

Disposable Vs Cloth Cost Comparison

For this comparison I am going to use the higher end, $20.00 cost per cloth diaper and an average of 8 diaper changes per day.

Disposable Diapers      

  • Monthly Cost
  • 8 per day @ 0.25 each = $2.00   $60.00/month>>Over 2.5 years=$1800
  • For myself that is times 2 as I have 2 children=$3600

Cloth Diapers

  • $20 per 24 diapers=$480.00 Initial investment

Note* depending on the brand you choose, you may have to purchase bigger cloth diapers as your child grows. $480 x 2 purchases=$960.

I could have reused the cloth diapers for my second child and saved an additional $2640.00 on the initial cost of diapers alone. You now understand why I am regretting my choice to use disposable diapers as I may have potentially saved money in my budget but also eliminated diapers going to the landfill.

You should keep in mind time, laundry detergents and water/hydro costs which will vary depending on where you live. Although you won’t be buying as many garbage bags to dispose of the diapers, so in turn reducing that cost. Cloth diapers do also require a wet bag for storing when outside of the house, and a pail of some kind at home to store. Both may cost a total of $50.00 combined.

Additional inserts may be desired or required which will cost you $$.

Cloth Diaper Services

To ease the amount of washing and the time involved with cloth diapering, there are diaper services that will deliver, pick up and wash the diapers for you. Like any convenience you will pay but for some this cost might make sense to them.

A local company in my local area is Bear Bottoms Diaper Service. They will do this for $19.95 a week. This would have ended up costing me around $5200.00 for this service. It may not be the most cost effective way to use cloth diapers but if you really have your heart set on it, it can ease the amount of soaking and washing you will have to do.

Looking back now I should have taken the time to really think this through and do a bit more digging around. Talking to other mom’s who have used both diapers to get feedback on costs would have also been a smart decision as well.

The convenience of disposables really outweighed the messiness of a cloth diaper. Had I done enough research I could have saved a lot of money in my budget. With a little bit of patience I might have been more successful with cloth diapers than giving up after giving them one shot. After seeing multiple friends use and enjoy cloth diapers over disposable diapers while saving a ton of cash, I wish I made the choice to use cloth diapers.

What kind of diapers do you use? Do you wish you had made a different decision?

Editors Note: Thanks Katrina. Although we don’t have any children it’s great to learn from those with experience such as yourself especially when it comes to an expensive cost such as diapers.

katrina cbb

Post Contribution: 

Katrina is regular contributor for Canadian Budget Binder and is as passionate about personal finance as she is gardening. Katrina is a horticulture graduate with over 10 years experience with landscaping and greenhouse production.

Her goal is to share her knowledge and experiences blogging about gardening and her continued passion for personal finance in hopes of motivating others. While being a single mom of two and an in-store marketing representative  for major retail shops she also runs her own Landscaping Services in Southwestern Ontario.

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