I went through a lot of trouble to procure and prepare cloth diapers for Gibson before he was born. And now that we’re almost two months in, I thought I’d write an update about the experience for those who are considering or curious about cloth diapering. Other folks may have different experiences, but this is mine.
For starters, ask me how much money I’ve spent on diapers since Gibson was born. Go ahead, ask me.
Nothing. I haven’t spent a dime on diapers.
By now, Gibson would have used 400 to 500 diapers (assuming he needs 8 to 10 changes a day for the last 50 days.) There are 216 diapers in a large pack of Pampers size 1 Swaddlers. Meaning I would have bought at least three boxes by now. And the cheapest I found gives me a price of $45.97 for a box. So that would have been $137.91 before tax. Since we bought our Kawaii Baby stash of 24 diapers and 48 inserts for $125 during a Valentine’s Day special on the website (with free shipping!) that means our diapers have paid for themselves.
We also have pre-folds and some Kissa fitted diapers that we pair with Thirsties diaper covers. All of these were gifts, so I’m not including them in the cost I totaled above. I do wholeheartedly recommend having some of these on hand in addition to something like the Kawaii pocket diapers for several reasons.
For starters, the Kawaii diapers fit babies at 8 lbs and up. If you have a smaller baby, these won’t be your go-to diapers initially. Also the Kawaii diapers still cover my son’s belly button, which is fine now that the umbilical cord stump has fallen off, but not good when it was still healing. Also they have a few setbacks in the washing department. The inserts of my pocket diapers are microfiber and easy to toss in the dryer. But the diapers themselves are made from PUL waterproof fabric that can’t take the heat of the dryer for too long without compromising the waterproofing properties. This means I have to put the diapers on a table flat to dry which can take a day. You can put them outside if it’s sunny, but since my son was born in March this wasn’t an option in the beginning.
Despite all that, the Kawaii diapers are my husband’s favorite when he has Gibson on the changing table. When they are fully prepped and waiting, they are beyond handy. Almost like using a disposable diaper. The pre-folds require Snappis to hold them in place. And, of course, there’s no waterproof layer with the Kissas either so both have to be used with a diaper cover. Personally, I enjoy the process of using the pre-folds. I guess the origami aspect of how to roll them to make them the most secure while keeping a wiggling baby in place is sort of fun to me. But in a time pinch, the pocket diapers are the way to go. They also absorb a hell of a lot more than the Kissas or pre-folds which is why they’ve become our overnight diaper.
Now, back to the money aspect of all this. Just because we’ve saved money by not having to buy disposables doesn’t mean that we have avoided spending any money on diapering. Because we want our pocket diapers to last at least two years, we decided that we would adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions on how to wash the Kawaii diapers. And that means finding a detergent that does not include optical brighteners, softeners, etc. I wrote a lot of about this issue in my post about prepping the diapers.
So the two products we use to clean the diapers are Rockin Green detergent and Bac-Out. I use three tablespoons of detergent per load of diapers- one tablespoon during my first rinse/spin cycle (along with a tiny dollop of Bac-Out in the water,) two tablespoons during the actual wash cycle and none during the final rinse/spin. I found that one bag of detergent lasted us through the end of April. Now we did use the disposables we got from the hospital for one week, so I guess make that just a little over a month of washing two to three loads of diapers a week. So that’s an additional cost of $15 a month plus shipping since we couldn’t find this particular detergent in our local stores.
We use the Bac-Out on any truly soiled diapers our son produces for us. Once they are rinsed off, we spray the stained areas and toss the diapers into the pail to wait for wash day. By doing this and adding the Bac-Out to the initial rinse cycle, our Kawaii pocket diapers have no stains. The same can’t be said of the Kissa fitted diapers. They do have some minor staining despite the Bac-Out.
When we first purchased it, we got a 32 oz. bottle. And I think by the time we used up the detergent, only half the bottle was empty. So it lasts twice as long as the Rockin Green. That may change as our son grows and produces more soiled diapers. Right now he’s only producing them every few days instead of every day. (The pediatrician assures me this is fine for a breastfed baby.)
Okay, so that’s $15 a month on detergent and approximately $15 every two months on Bac-Out. Plus the water bill I suppose, but I don’t have a number for that right now. So we’re looking at spending about $270 to $350 a year on supplies for cloth diapering minus the water used. And comparing that to purchasing disposables is no contest. I’d try to calculate how much you’d spend on disposables in a year, but as the baby grows there are fewer diapers in a box. Despite that, the price of the box doesn’t change.
I did manage to find a baby cost calculator online. Their estimate is that we would spend $1,104 a year on disposables. If that’s true, for me it’s a savings of $754 to $834 a year. Another bonus would be if the rumor is true that cloth diapered babies potty train sooner than disposable wearers. The cloth diapers wick away a lot of moisture, but not as much as disposables. So, in theory, that would mean the baby would be more uncomfortable in a wet cloth diaper than a wet disposable and thus be more inclined to potty train sooner. I’m not sure if it’s myth and legend perpetuated by cloth diaper advocates, but I’d like to think it’s got a grain of truth to it.
Also, I want to report on the diaper sprayer we chose. Now that it’s being pressed into regular service, I think I can give my opinion. It’s still got plenty of kick to knock off the sticky concoctions my son creates. Sometimes this means that they water hits the diaper and then goes flying out of the toilet bowl onto feet and the bathmat. Which is a bit disgusting, but it gets the job done. That really is more of an issue of user error than a flaw of the product.
We were concerned that some of the pieces felt “cheap” upon installation. I’m happy to report that this sprayer does not leak when it is turned off. There’s a button you must slide to turn it on and off. You slide the button and then pull the lever to make it spray. If you are say, bleary-eyed at 6 AM, you might forget that once you were done with the actual spraying you must also slide the main button to the off position. If you do not, the sprayer will leak. Also, the sprayer will drip any remaining water left in the head if you don’t tap it off in the toilet bowl after turning the main button off. But that leaking is nothing compared to the leaking that will happen if you forget to turn it off entirely.
Though I have to be extra cautious, I’m pretty happy with this model of diaper sprayer. Mostly because it has the power to really knock off the “grime.” I fear it may not last us the two to three years we will be in need of it though. Only time will tell on that one.
And to sum up, I’m also pretty happy with our choice to cloth diaper. Maybe if I was switching in the middle of the game from disposables to cloth, I might find the process more of a pain in the ass. Maybe when my maternity leave is over and I’m back at work full-time, I’ll think it’s a pain in the ass. But right now, it’s the right choice for us. I hope we stick with it.
I was not compensated by any of the companies I linked to
or mentioned in the above post.
I only included them because they are part of the process I use.