A couple of weeks back, I posted on my Facebook page that my husband and I were planning to try cloth diapering. Responses ranged from ultra-supportive to ”Wow, she’s crazy!”
There are a lot of reasons not to cloth diaper. There are also a lot of reasons to do it. They are better for the environment, softer for baby’s bottom and cheaper. It’s that last reason – cheaper – that won me over.
When I first got a registry list of all the things we would “need” for baby – I almost died of shock. Seriously. I’m a naturally skeptical person, so I knew we wouldn’t need ALL the items on that list but after calculating the must haves… I immediately started revising our family budget.
One question I keep getting is, “Is it really worth it?” That depends largely on your tolerance for scraping poop into a toilet. Today though, I thought I’d share with everyone what I found when asked myself that question and did the math.
Before I lay out the numbers, I need to mention that there are many different types of cloth diapers and my husband and I plan to try one of the more expensive – albeit more convenient – called Pockets. Here’s a breakdown of the major types.
So here we go. We’ll start with disposables. First, finding an “average” cost for a disposable diaper in the U.S. can be a bit difficult. Thankfully, smarter people than me have done cost breakdowns that are easily available on the web. Click here or here to see what I mean.
As baby grows, they need bigger diapers and bigger diapers generally cost more, since there aren’t as many per box. Price per diaper (also called unit price) as a result, can range from $.15 to $.45. Let say then, for purposes of simplifying the math, that an average price per diaper over baby’s early years will be $.30.
According to the University of Michigan, the average time it takes to potty train a child is about 2.5 years or 30 months. Using an average of 8 diaper changes a day (adjusting for a larger number of changes when baby is small and fewer when it is older) that brings us to a disposable diapering cost (8 changes x $.30 per change x 913 days) of $2,191!
But wait! There’s more!
- Wipes @ $.03 per wipe (average based on my cost per unit observations) X 7,304 total changes (8 x 913) = $219.12
- Diaper pail and/or Diaper Genie = $50 (including liner refills)
Total Disposable Cost: $2,460,12
Here are our expenses in going “cloth” as I calculate them:
- 24 cloth diapers & 48 inserts (CB pockets, one-size until potty trained) = $479.96
- 30 CB cloth organic wipes = $48.57
- 2 wet bags (to store/launder diapers in) = $40.00
- Additional water/detergent usage (via @Mint estimate) = $252
Total Cloth Cost: $820.53
TOTAL SAVINGS = $1,639.59
A few key points…
*Modern cloth diapers can be reused for a second child provided they are well cared for, dramatically increasing the possibility of savings.
*The brands we chose for cloth diapering in the example above are higher-end and there are much cheaper options available on the market, providing the opportunity for even more savings.
*Disposables for many families are just easier to use. In fact, many who use cloth diapers end up using throwaways for long trips or day care, so those may need to be added to the cost estimates for cloth diapering in some cases.
This is by no means an scientific analysis but to me the potential savings was just to enticing to ignore. Then again, this being our first little tot, we haven’t yet had to face “mountains of doodie” as one of my dearest friends likes to call it.
Parents, what do you think? Does the math above win you over? Or do you think cloth diapering is way too much hassle? Sound off below!