Monday, September 26, 2011

Cloth Diapering a Newborn - the Cheap and Easy Way

If you are looking to try out cloth diapering your baby from birth, and you are not quite sure about it. This is the cheapest, easiest and most effective way.

This way can save you approx $185 over just four months - and that is a conservative estimate. Your stash could last until 6 months, so it would save you more like $305!

Most one-sized diapers don't really fit well from 0 - 3 months. If you are on the fence, then you are not going to like messing around with the big bulky one-sized diapers on your 7-lb-skinny-legged-precious-bundle. Yes, they are bulky,  and you won't be able to squeeze your baby into that squeal-worthy newborn outfit you maxed out your credit card with. More importantly, you won't like the extra messes if the fit isn't tight around the string-bean-legs. 

Add this to the overwhelming adjustment and sleep deprivation of a newborn, and you'll risk throwing in the towel even before you give it a chance.

Instead, this is what you do:

1) Buy at least six (6) small covers

My recommendations from experience is the Thirsties Duo 1 wrap cover. These fit babies 6 - 18 lbs. Mine lasted until 16ish pounds though, when my baby was around 5 months. The rise became too small, leaving her crack hanging out. These can easily be found second hand on Diaperswappers. You can get excellent to good quality from $10 - $6/each including shipping. So that will run you $36 - $60 for six covers.  (You can get six new for $80). 

Better yet, you can resell them afterwards on Diaperswappers. Assuming they are still in decent condition, after selling fees and shipping you should get back $25-$40, that you can reinvest in your next size up if you want to continue.

I recommend velcro (applix) closure over snap for this first round of small diapers only. This gets you a better fit, espeically needed when they are so small and have skinny legs. Velcro wears out fast, but you will only be in these for 3 - 6 months, and you are a newbie, so don' t risk snaps at first. 

I do recommend switching to snaps when the baby gets bigger because you want the cloth diaper to last you the rest of your babies diapering days (another year or two). Snaps do an amazing job at going the distance, and your baby when s/he gets older will have a tougher time getting the diaper undone. 

To illustrate this point. I've used my Grovia snap covers full time for almost 7 months, and they barely looked used. My applix (velcro) Grovia cover, however, looks pilly at the top and faded a bit. The velcro is still holding up well though.

2) Buy at least eighteen (18) small prefolds 

Do not be scared by the name. They are easy, dry quick, cheap, soft and all around awesome. 

It is just a rectangle that you can fold into thirds and lay into the cover. Other like getting more complicated with it and using cloth diaper fasteners (not pins). But let me tell you, those Thirsties covers are amazing. They have super gussets at the legs that keep the wet in. If you don't believe me, watch some reviews on You Tube.

Eighteen should last you 2 1/2 days, assuming baby wets 7 times a day. If you want to do laundry less, then buy more.

I recommend buying these new and unbleached. The cheapest are cotton, but you can get more fancy with hemp, or bamboo. Natural fibers hold up really well and are very absorbent. I love Swaddlebees (smalls). They are made with 4x8x4 layers of unbleached cotton twill that gets softer and more absorbent with time. I have some medium-sized ones that are still looking wonderful and feel soft after months of wear. You can get 18 for $36.

Here and here are two little videos showing how the prefold and cover goes one. 

3) Conservative Cost Savings

Using this method, if you get the six covers second-hand and the 18 prefolds new, the total cost is approximately $80! 

This $80 is spread over at least 4 months, if not up to 7 for smaller babies. Not to mention the $25-40 you can get back by reselling your covers! So that could be, to be conservative, net $55! To be fair, I do buy special cloth diaper detergent ($14 lasts about 4 months), and you also got to add in the the energy it cost to wash them. 

But, lets look at the conservative estimates of what generic disposables will cost. For the first four months of life, generic disposables will cost you at least $40 a month, maybe even down to $30 if you do it el-cheapo buying bulk at Costco or the like. Plus disposable wipes will cost you at least another $20 a month. (If you cloth diaper you might as well use cloth wipes too. An easy affordable way is to just cut and sew up your extra receiving blankets.)

The grand total, after four months of throwing away diapers and wipes is $240! Man, even by my conservative estimates that is a lot. 

4) The Cloth Diapering Extras

* You may want to invest in a wet/dry bag to hold the cloth diapers in at home and a small one when you are out and about. 

For at home, you could always just use a regular trash can with lid, and a plastic liner until you feel committed to cloth diapering. Or use a plastic grocery bag for your diaper bag when you are out. Then you can invest in the wet/dry bags later.You wash these bags and they will last for years. PlanetWise makes great hanging ones for home, or small ones for when you are out. There are other uses for the bag too, after you are done with it, like transporting wet bathing suits home. Cost for both is $51 (for the two).

* Biodegradable disposable inserts. These are great for travelling, overnight or when you just can't deal with it anymore. G-diapers small inserts work well in the small Thirsties covers, or the Grovia. If using the Grovia, DO NOT use the sticky backing, it will ruin your Thirsties PUL (polyurethane liner).

* Microfleece layers are nice to lie on the top of your prefold to wick the moisture away from your baby's bottom. You can just buy a yard of it and cut it up to fit on top, or cut up some old microfleece clothes or blankets.

* Store-bought cloth wipes are a fun extra. I recommend starting with a stash of 20.

* Cloth diaper friendly detergent. Rockin Green, or Charlies Soap have a good rep. Other regular earthy detergents work, as well as scent free main stream. Here is a good list.

* Cloth diaper friendly cream. You can use the regular stuff with a liner (even toilet paper on top of the prefold) so that it doesn't get onto the cloth and ruin it. But if you don't want to mess with it, check out my review on Grovia's magic stick. It works good on cloth or not, and goes on like a deodorant stick so there is no mess.

You might want to buy a few more covers or prefolds so you don't have to wash so much. Six covers and 18 prefolds should get you through 2 1/2 days.

Have fun! For $55, it is a pretty cheap way to test drive cloth diapering out. Plus you will learn what you like and don't for the next size of diapers. Let me know if you have any questions or have more wisdom to share!


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  2. I am very happy to read your articles it’s very useful for me,
    and I am completely satisfied with your website.
    All comments and articles are very useful and very good.
    Your blog is very attention-grabbing. I am loving all of the in
    turn you are sharing with each one!…

  3. I am very happy to read your articles it’s very useful for me, 
    and I am completely satisfied with your website. 
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  4. The article which you have written was very useful for many mothers and
    their newborn babies. If one mother is trying to switch over for cloth
    then she must read this article with all economical details.

  5. Very Informative post within your details of sharing. Thank you so much.

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