Budget Cloth Diapering (Guest Post by Laura)

We all got into cloth diapering for different reasons, but I am almost positive we were all enticed by the green we would save. Although you will still save compared to disposals even with the most decked out stash, there are also ways of cloth diapering for less (without having to use prefolds if you don’t want to~!). Laura gives us the low down on how she cloth diapered on a budget by knowing some tricks and with some savvy planning. Don’t forget sewing your own diapers is another great way to save money and I also list some of the resources Laura mentions as well as others in my resources section

How To Build a $1000 Stash for $500
By Laura K. Cowan

Like many of you, I’m a cloth diapering addict; but it’s not just about the fluff. For me, cloth diapering on a crazy budget is half the fun. The question has become: how close to free can cloth diapers get and still be cute, functional, and fun? Here’s how I have cut the cost of my stash in half. I promise, plastic pants do not enter into this equation—unless you want them to.
It started last year, when I determined during my first pregnancy not to spend BabyCenter.com’s projected $10,000 for typical first-year baby expenses. This meant a lot of things: Freecycle, hand-me-downs, Craigslist, and granola crunchy practices such as breastfeeding and cloth diapering. I had never really considered cloth diapering, thinking it meant smelly wet pails and diaper pins, but when I started investigating all the ways to get free diapers, cloth diapers kept popping up, and they looked pretty cute!

The options overwhelmed me at first: Could we afford fitteds? Why didn’t people like prefolds? Why were there one-size pockets diapers but not one-size diaper covers? I quizzed my only friend who cloth diapered, and she helped me come to terms with the fact that there was no one best way to do it. I was going to have to experiment to find which type of diapers worked for us, which meant not being 100% efficient. Not being efficient drove me crazy. Could I find a way to experiment without paying for it?

I registered at our local candy store fluff shop, The Little Seedling in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and asked for a combination of one-size diapers and prefolds with covers. Our somewhat skeptical friends listened when I said I wanted cloth diapers as shower gifts, God bless them, and we received a dozen one-size diapers, plus a full stash of infant prefolds and a few small covers.

Then my husband stumbled onto a blog giveaway for two newborn Kissaluvs, a newborn gDiapers starter kit, and 2 newborn BumGenius AIOs. I won! I was hooked on giveaways from that point on, going on to win a Gro Baby shell and an Etsy diaper cover (and a Boon feeding set, an Adiri nurser… I’ve got a new addiction).

A Freecycler gave me a few used diapers and wipes next, and I discovered that I could make no-sew cloth wipes by cutting up my husband’s undershirts (with his permission, of course! Ha ha!). I was on a roll. I even learned from Zany-Zebra.com that I could use Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild castile soap in water with a little peppermint oil to make cloth wipe solution, baby shampoo, and hand soap. After three months, we have yet to use more than a tenth of the bottle, which comes to a grand total of one dollar.

Finally, I took the monthly Amazon gift cards we receive as cash back from our Amazon Visa and slowly collected a stash of the fabulous new Thirsties Duo Wraps, as well as some cloth nursing pads, which have already paid for themselves many times over.

We received free newborn-size disposable diapers from Freecyclers and from Seventh Generation, Huggies, Kirkland, and Pampers samples (just call up the companies and ask for them), which we were planning to use until our baby girl grew into her size small covers. That day didn’t come soon enough, so we actually paid retail for some newborn covers. Well, two covers were gently used and 30% off.

Total for our stash of 30 prefolds, 18 newborn and small covers, 10 BumGenius one-size diapers, 2 Happy Heinys one-size, 10 Imse Vimse wipes plus a stack of homemade wipes, and 2 newborn-size Kissaluv fitteds, BumGenius AIOs, and gDiapers? Retail for this stash would be about $780, and we paid… $235. Actually, we sold the gDiapers after deciding we didn’t like them, so that netted another $15 to put toward our next purchase. Yay!

We still have at least $235 worth of premium prefolds and size two Duo Wraps to buy, or win, or find on sale. These adjustable diaper covers should save us from having to buy large covers, at least for the most part. I’m still debating whether we would be happy with factory seconds prefolds to save even more. If I save enough money I’ll splurge and try a one-size FuzziBunz or Rocky Mountain Diaper.

We were lucky to discover cloth diapers before our baby shower, which covered a lot of the cost, but even if you’re just getting started well after your baby’s birth, you can still save money by finding sales, entering contests, joining your local Freecycle group, or using a site like DiaperSwappers. It just takes some time, which makes every fluffy mail delivery that much more special. The best part is, you can use the savings for other things you really want or need.

By my tally, that intimidating $10,000 figure was whittled to $6500 by the generosity of our friends and family, breastfeeding, budgeting for some used gear, and by using cloth instead of sposies. After I used the above techniques to find cloth diapers as well as free baby clothes and other gear, that number has been hacked down to a slim $3400, with over $500 in cloth diaper savings alone. That’s a number I can live with, and it even includes a splurge on an all-terrain stroller and both a brand-new co-sleeper and full-size crib, purchases that have been well worth the hard-saved money we spent on them.

…But am I doing all I can? That question will never leave me. I’m obsessed with efficiency! What are your techniques for saving on cloth diapers? If only I could make my own barrier cream….

Laura’s DD sporting a blossom bumGemius

About the Author:
Laura Cowan is a professional editor and writer living in Michigan, who is just a teeny tiny bit obsessed with cloth diapers and blog giveaways. You can find her blog about working in the media and automotive industries here and also find her on Twitter.
{If you enjoyed reading Budget Cloth Diapering (Guest Post by Laura) I would be tickled pink if you left a comment. To read more about my green(er) parenting aspirations, advice and adventures be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed or get updates via email.}


By Emi Stapler. I am a cloth diaper advocate, green parenting blogger, mother of three and a military wife who enjoys sharing my motherhood adventures and advice. Follow me at The Cloth Diaper Report on Facebook, Twitter @TheCDReport , Google +, Pinterest and Instagram.

Latest posts by Emi (see all)


  1. The Jacobsen Family! says:

    Thanks so much for this! I'm bookmarking it and TOTALLY using these ideas!

  2. I have a blog that address this!
    Cheap Fluffy Butts.

  3. Attila & Tamara says:

    I found this recipe for homemade diaper cream (is that what you meant by barrier cream?) not too long ago. I haven't tried it yet, but I am hoping to! http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2009/09/homemade-natural-diaper-cream-lotion.html

  4. Amber Liddle says:

    http://www.clothdiaperblog.com has a great article about using prefolds and wraps, which can be way cheaper than even trying to get pockets. I love craigslist for used diapers–I've gotten most of mine from there. And swapmamas.com has a bunch of ladies swapping their CD supplies, you only pay for shipping your item out.

  5. HappilyDomestic says:

    That's the way to do it! I wish I had found out about blog giveaways before. I spent at least 4-5 hundred dollars on my stash start up. :-(

  6. newmami_rgv says:

    Yup, I've saved lots with freecycle and diaperswappers. I also use prefolds and covers from thirsties, but only buy from their outlet! Wayyy cheaper!

  7. Attila & Tamara, I mean a zinc oxide cream, like Burt's Bees diaper cream, because DD has a recurring thrush rash that only a zinc oxide cream will solve. Is there something like this out there? I don't think olive oil- or shea butter-based creams will do the trick for this.

    Thanks everyone for your additional resources! I'm off to discover new favorite blogs and stores. :)


  8. I wish I would have had this information when I started. I had a few prefolds and fitteds when my son was born for part-time CDing. After he kept having reactions to the checmicals in disposables, we committed 100% of the time to cloth. We scrambled to build a bigger stash even asking for diapers for my son's first Christmas! :o)

  9. I am on my 3rd child, but my first experience with CD'ing. So far we are using prefolds and Thirsties covers.

    But I'm wondering what I am going to use once we start solid food.

    This post gave me some great ideas.

  10. Hippie4ever says:

    Love the enthusiasm!! I don't know if this will work for you…but, my son had horrible rashes with both sposies and cloth until I started using coconut oil! Just bought a jar at the health food store lasts forever and bonus doesn't seem to cause build up and leaks! YAY!

  11. dirtydiaperlaundry.com says:

    I used many of those methods to start, and craigslist. I never calculated the savings but I know it was only a couple hundred vs 600$ plus.

  12. mojoraven says:

    Thanks for all these tips. We are new to cloth diapering and don't have money to spare right now.

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