Thought Provoking Thursday
Thought Provoking Thursday's goal it to offer a new-ish perspective to saving on necessary items aside from our grocery and household needs. Each week I will bring an idea to the table to share how I personally tackle areas of my own family's spending. I am hopeful that my faithful readers will feel the freedom to offer more advice through comments below each post.
Have you ever considered cloth diapers?
Honestly, cloth diapering is a HUGE finance saver! Forget the images of diaper pins, plastic pants and dunking diapers in the toilet... cloth diapers have become FAR more civilized over the last decade... I promise!
Since I planned to be a stay at home mom after my son was born, I set out to find ways to cut our financial obligations since the bacon that I was bringing home was pretty lean... OK, non-existent!
I knew of several people who were using cloth diapers, but I wasn't close enough with any of them to have the "bare your child's bottom- so I can see your diapers" kind of experience!
My brother and sister-in-law had had a baby just before Dave and I got pregnant with Boaz, and when I was about midway through my pregnancy I mentioned that I was planning to cloth diaper our baby. My brother-in-law about barfed, but my sister-in-law tucked that thought away and eventually she began researching different kinds of cloth diapers. I gleaned the majority of my thinking from my sister-in-laws research! (Thanks Nicole... I love when you share your research with me!!!)
Dave and I settled upon using BumGenius cloth diapers since they were the easiest/well made diaper on the market (in our opinion).
We purchased 24 diapers at $18/each before Boaz was even born. Our diapers are One Size, made especially to grow with our son from 8-35 pounds.
$450 for cloth diapers sounds a little bit pricey, but $450 in disposable diapers are gone... in the trash... in the landfill... gone forever... in an average of 9 months! Typically, 9 months of disposibles are packaged in 40-45 (or $10-$12/pack) packages of diapers. Our cloth diapers, on the other hand, have far outlasted Bo's first 9 months!
While cloth diapers, financially speaking, are savvier than the disposable counterpart, the time expense is much higher. With a disposable diaper, you change and toss. A cloth diaper needs a little TLC post changing.
Here is how I take care of our cloth diapers:
After I have changed my son's wet diaper, I remove the absorbent core from inside the pocket (BumGenius diapers have "pocket" to slide an absorbent inner layer between the outer water-proof layer and the inner layer that touches a baby's skin.), I fold the diaper in half, and I set the diaper into our diaper pail (lidded trash can).
When I have changed my son's dirty diaper, I take the diaper over to the toilet and I dump anything that falls out into the toilet, and then I do the same steps as a wet diaper. This is the most uncomfortable step for many parents. I, however, don't think that this is a big deal... especially since as children grow bowel movements become less frequent. *Did you know that it is technically illegal to throw away feces? All diapers, disposables included, should be without fecal matter when they are set out for trash pick up!!!
Along with cloth diapers, you could also choose to use cloth wipes. The average family uses 3-4 tubs worth of wipes per month... that's $9-$12, or at least $8 in large refill packs. Over the course of a year, that would be around $100 for trashed wipes. If you were to purchase 2 dozen wash cloths, and mix a simple solution of baby wash and warm water to soak your wash cloths in, you could save another $100-ish/year.
Another time expense for cloth diapering is the washing of the diapers. Cloth diapers need to be double-washed every three to four days. The first wash is in cold water, with very little detergent (we use Tide Free and Clear) with an added extra rinse. The second washing is in hot water, (again with very little detergent) with another extra rinse. I have read that the extra water used for washing cloth diapers adds up to about $5/3 months, but I have not tracked this specifically for my own family.
Additional benefits that only apply to cloth diapers are continued use and resale value.
We purchased our lot of cloth diapers to use for our first child. We are thrilled to have cut our diapering expenses for the end our first year of diapering and for our second year of diapering. Now we have FREE diapers until our son is officially potty trained and diapers to use for our children who may follow! Then, when we are done with diapers in our family, we can either pass our diapers on to another family or we can sell them online at sites like Diaperswappers. (Did you hear that? Use our diapers and then get PAID to get rid of them?)
So the BOTTOM LINE, in my opinion:
Pro's for cloth diapering are:
1. Cloth diapering is far less expensive than its disposable counter part.
2. There are many brands and designs to choose from (I love our blue and green diapers).
3. FREE diapering for subsequent children.
4. Many say cloth diapered kids are potty trained more easily/quickly! (?... my son is 22 months)
Con's for cloth diapering are:
1. Steep up front cost.
2. TLC necessary post diaper change.
3. Double washing.
Personal insight: Although we purchased our cloth diapers to be financially savvy, I have really fallen in love with how easy they are to use, and how cute they look on my son. Now that I have become a 'hard core' coupon spender, I realize that I could beat the pavement for the best deals on disposables... but I honestly prefer the cloth diapers!
*We purchased our cloth diapers before my son was born, but we were given enough diapers to keep his little bum covered disposably for about 10 weeks. I am happy that the early icky diapers were disposable- especially for the middle of the night changes.
*We have travelled with our cloths's, but I prefer to stock up on 'sposies for vacations and days away from home.
*We put my son is a disposable at night since he is a very heavy wetter while in dreamland.
***BumGenius has recently released two new lines of their cloth diapers, Flip and Econobum. Both of these lines are reasonably priced and very easy to use. I may have to look into them further for when we have our next child!
If you are local and are interested in 'test driving' a diaper or two, there is a local location where you can pick them up. The Little Seedling, Ann Arbor.