Over the weekend I had three very patient customers who helped me put this post together. The question to answer was basically “What is the cost difference between the different styles of cloth diapers and how many do I need to get a full stash?” So, without further ado…
Prefolds and Covers
This is the least expensive and least like disposable diapers option. The absolute cheapest way to get a full stash of cloth diapers – for a baby under 6 months “full stash” = 24 diaper changes, or 2 full days. As your baby grows he/she will go through fewer diapers each day so you can stretch out the time between washes a bit, or get by with fewer diapers. With the prefold + cover system, 1 diaper change = 1 prefold diaper PLUS you’ll need 1 cover for every 3-4 diapers. (You’ll reuse each cover, on average, 3-4 times).
The Econobum system by BumGenius is a one-size prefold + cover system. The Econobum Full Kit contains 12 diapers, 3 covers, and a wet bag for $49.99. Two of these come in at right under $100 and voila! you have your stash. (Econobum diapers will not start fitting till 8-10 lbs so they will not always fit a newborn from day 1). Your $100 for the Econobum system will pay for itself after just 50 days of use… that’s not even 2 months!!
The Thirsties Duo Wraps with traditionalPrefolds are another good option. Duo Wraps come in two sizes that roughly correspond with the infant size and regular/premium size prefolds. Size 1 Duo Wraps will fit 6-18 lbs and Size 2 fit 18-40. They WILL fit a full term newborn baby from day 1. You’ll need 24 infant size prefolds, 6 Duo Wraps, and a pack of Snappi diaper fasteners, for a total of around $130. Then when your baby gets to be around 12-18 lbs you’ll get the next size Duo Wraps and prefolds for the next size, which will last you till potty training. If you get another 24 of the next size up and 6 more Duo Wraps that will be another $136 for a total diaper expense of $266. A $266 cloth diaper stash would pay for itself in 133 days, or a little less than 4 1/2 months.
If you decide to use a one-size cover with your prefolds instead of the Duo Wraps you could try the Rumparooz one-size cover which will start fitting at 8 lbs – so either on day 1 or pretty close too it. 6 Rumparooz covers will cost $96, plus 24 infant prefolds, 24 regular/premium prefolds, and a pack of snappis comes to a total diaper cost of about $209. Not bad compared with $2000-2500 for disposables! The prefolds + Rumparooz cover system would pay for itself in 104.5 days, or just under 3 1/2 months.
AI2’s range in price depending on factors like diaper features, country of origin, one-size v.s. sized inserts, etc. Let’s look at the low-end and high-end systems.
The Flip diaper system with stay-dry inserts is the least expensive of the AI2 systems. The one-size cover and one-size inserts will fit babies from 8 or 10 to 35 lbs. They’re sold in “Day Packs” for $49.95. Each Day Pack contains 6 inserts and 2 covers – enough for 6 changes. So 4 Day Packs will be a full stash and will cost you just under $200. The Flip system will pay for itself in 100 days, or just a little bit over 3 months. If you choose to upgrade to the organic inserts for an additional $10 per day pack, the total cost of $240 will pay for itself in 120 days or 4 months.
The Best Bottom System is one of the higher-end AI2 systems. Inner gussets, fun prints, a double layer of waterproof PUL, and made in the USA status are all things that bump the price up from the Flips, but the biggest difference in the price comes from the fact that there are 3 different size inserts to use with the one-size cover. Different size inserts mean the diaper will be trimmer on a small baby, and more absorbent on a big baby. In fact, if you use the Best Bottom system and upgrade to the hemp inserts, you’ll be using one of the TRIMMEST cloth diaper systems around. The Best Bottoms full package deal costs around $407 for the stay-dry microfiber inserts (hemp is a little more). It will fit babies from 6-35 lbs, and you can purchase extenders (sold separately) to increase that range up to 50 lbs! This package would pay for itself in about 203 days or a little less than 7 months.
Pocket Diapers are easier to figure out how many you need because for 24 diaper changes you just buy 24 diapers, period. Between the BumGenius 4.0 and the Fuzzibunz Elite pocket diaper, a full stash of 24 will range from about $406-455. Both these diapers will fit from 8 or 10 up to 35 lbs. If you need a one-size pocket diaper that will definitely start fitting at 8 lbs, try the Rumparooz (though it is a bit pricier). A full stash of pocket diapers will pay for itself in about 7 months, closer to 6 1/2 months for the less expensive and closer to 7 1/2 for the more expensive diapers.
Our two most popular aio’s at time of writing are both BumGenius diapers: the organic cotton Elemental and the stay-dry polyester Freetime. Both are one-size diapers that will fit from 8 or 10 to 35 lbs. The Elemental is the other diaper besides the Best Bottom ai2 with hemp inserts that I would consider the absolute trimmest cloth diaper. Individual prices are 24.95 for the Elemental, 19.95 for the Freetime. With quantity discounts, 24 Elementals will cost around $530 while 24 Freetimes will cost around $410. This means they will pay for themselves in a little less than 9 months (Elemental) or a little less than 7 months (Freetime.)
We’ll talk about optional accessories next time like wet bags, wipes, etc.
*Estimated disposable diaper costs were figured by estimating 10 diapers/day at .20 per diaper, with the understanding that as babies grow and go through fewer diapers per day the cost per diaoper goes up. If you choose brand-name or specialty disposable diapers the costs will be significantly higher and the cloth diapers will pay for themselves even more quickly. I did not factor in the cost of washing the diapers mainly because I didn’t want to do the math but also because unless you are using a coin operated washer, the costs are negligible.