The Price of Cloth: Savings, and Avoiding the Cheapies

Can we take a minute to talk cloth diaper prices? I remember researching cloth diapers back when I was expecting my first baby, and, not knowing what to expect, being a little surprised at the prices. $20-ish EACH? But then I need, ...24? That’s…. (gets out calculator). There’s no denying that that number ends up being a hefty outright investment for many.

But, let’s talk about it in the construct of being an investment. A cursory glance at a big box store website and a few simple math equations can prove that using cloth diapers is still exponentially cheaper than using disposables. Let’s look at the big box of store brand of disposable diapers, at roughly $29 a pop for about 200 diapers. Let’s imagine that in that first year, you are changing 8 diapers a day. NOW LETS MATH!

200 diapers in a box / 8 diaper changes a day = 25 days worth of diapers

365 days in a year / 25 days of diapers = 14.6 boxes of disposables a year

14.6 boxes annually x $29 a box = $423.40 a year on disposable diapers

Now, okay, I know that there are variables here that this equation doesn’t account for, like that maybe you have a coupon to alleviate a small portion of that cost, or that maybe there is a price discrepancy between sizes or brands, or some days you will use 6 diapers but others you will use 10, etc., but this is a general idea of what it could cost to use disposable diapers for year. This is also right around (or a bit over) the total amount of money it could cost to invest in a full set of cloth diapers, that will last for your baby’s entire time in cloth diapers. Many children learn to use the potty between 2-3 years old. Already, then, you are spending at least 50% less on cloth diapers than you would be with disposable diapers.

Further, as long as you take good care of your cloth diapers (which you totally will, you rock star!) then they are going to be in great shape to use for another baby. Using the same set of cloth diapers on subsequent children is straight money savings. This is where your investment is really going to make you do a happy dance!

Okay, so we’ve very very briefly validated the cost of cloth diapers. Now can we talk about something else? Can we talk about the diapers you may stumble across in your search for the perfect diapering system? The ones that are like, $5 a diaper, in 17 zillion prints? The ones with the nickname that has the word "cheap" right in it?

While I completely understand the allure of the deal, I have to caution that cloth diapers, much like many consumer goods, are definitely a product that falls under the clause of “you get what you pay for.” Speaking from experience: when Jack was in diapers, around 18 months old, he suddenly took an interest in superheroes. I thought, “Neat, I’ll find him a super hero diaper!” Looking online, I could not find what I had in mind, until I stumbled upon a pocket style diaper with a red background and black spiderwebs. The perfect Spider-Man diaper! And only $5! With cautious excitement, I ordered right away. This diaper, guys, was just the worst. So ill-fitting, for one. Boxy, poorly stitched, an untied thread, weak snaps, ..the whole gamut of problems.

Looking over its imperfections, it made sense that the diaper cost next to nothing; next to my lineup of brands like GroVia and Thirsties and bumGenius, the cheap diaper looked and felt and performed in such a way that was exactly that: cheap.

See, the reason that The Big Brands price the way they do is for a number of reasons, the first of which being a high quality product. The diapers they produce are constructed with top of the line materials, meant to withstand the use, washing, and abuse of actual babies using them. I have so many of Jack’s original diapers that have gone through nearly three years of diapering him, and now just shy of two years diapering his baby brother. Aside from some very minor TLC, they have needed nothing. Any additional diapers that I’ve purchased have been for the purposes of my own preferences, new prints/colors, etc. I did not have to buy a whole new set for a whole new baby, because the brands that I purchased made products that were meant to last for more than one baby.

The GroVia AIO in this picture was Jack's diaper, and he wore it for more than two years. Here is Otto, almost 2, wearing the same exact diaper. Money well spent!

Further, and this is a big one, they cost more because they are paying more to the individuals who are constructing them. Brands like Sloomb, Thirsties, and bumGenius are able to pay a fair wage to workers in the U.S. to construct their products. Other brands, including those already mentioned, have small but mighty staffs of employees working tirelessly to provide the best customer service, and fast and reliable communication and shipping to their retailers (like us!).  I don’t have the proof to back this up, but it stands to reason that a product that only costs $5 to a consumer costs very little in material, and pays very little in labor to produce it. The way that we consume, and where we put our money, is an incredibly powerful thing. It can be very empowering to pay more for a well-constructed, high quality product, knowing that it is often a more ethically made product as well.

Still sticker-shocked at the big brand pricing? There are a lot of ways to make cloth diapering work on a smaller budget! Prefold diapers are very inexpensive per unit, and the waterproof covers/shells used over prefolds can be reused throughout the day multiple times by just replacing the soiled prefold on the inside. And while an ideal stash has around 24 diaper changes in it, you can work with less and launder daily until you can slowly build your stash to that magic number of 24. Creating a registry or a wishlist on our website for your cloth diapers is a great way to gently point your loved ones towards the diapers and accessories that you want, too. And take solace that the money that is invested in high quality diapers will serve you so much better in the long run.

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