When it comes to diapering your baby, the choices can seem endless. But making the decision to use reusable diapers versus disposable ones can be a little more involved.
How much will it cost? Will it save money? How much work will it be? Are cloth diapers worth it? These questions have an impact on what type of diapering system is right for your family. And here’s a hint — it doesn’t have to be all or nothing!
Many people choose cloth diapers because they’re environmentally friendly and safer for babies’ sensitive skin. Make sure your household cleaners do the same by checking out my top picks for green cleaners!
Why cloth diapers?
Photo credit: Britt Franken Photography
There’s no doubt that reusable diapers save money. Even the most expensive cloth diapering systems will save money and have an impact on the environment that’s much more positive than disposable diapers.
But are cloth diapers worth it? Here are a few pros to using reusable diapers:
- Cloth diapers reduce waste. According to the Real Diaper Association, “no one knows how long it takes for a disposable diaper to decompose, but it is estimated to be about 250-500 years, long after your children, grandchildren and great, great, great grandchildren will be gone.”
- Reusable diapers have gotten so much cuter over the years. Sharp diaper pins and plastic pants are no longer a requirement; modern cloth diapers are seriously cute!
- Don’t want to wash them yourself? Diaper services exist in many U.S. cities and will pick up the dirties and leave clean diapers on your doorstep, saving you time and energy that (let’s face it) you probably didn’t have anyway.
- Health and comfort are common reasons parents choose reusable diapers. Disposable diapers contain chemicals that make them super absorbent, but those can irritate sensitive baby skin. Using cloth diapers can help parents avoid certain chemicals coming into contact with their infant’s skin.
Disposable diapers are easy to put on and easy to take off, but modern cloth diapers now include super convenient Velcro fastening tabs that make them easy to use, as well.
While reusable diapers are better for the environment, traveling with a baby is a lot easier with disposable diapers. Some reusable diaper brands make travel-friendly inserts, but there’s no question that tossing that dirty diaper is the easiest solution!
Opportunities to save money on diapering exist no matter which route you choose. There are coupons available for top diaper brands while stores tend to advertise sale prices for their own brands to keep costs competitive.
Many cloth diaper brands offer sales in conjunction with major holidays and Earth Day. In fact, many families opt for a combination approach for money saving and environmental reasons. Overnight diaper needs can vary depending on the child — many families take the opportunity to experiment with this one!
Coupons and sales aside, what’s the real cost breakdown for cloth vs. disposable diapers?
Investopedia estimates the average baby will need more than 2,700 diapers in their first year. This adds up to more than $550 if you estimate an average price of 20 cents per disposable diaper. For cloth diapers, they estimate a cost of about $19 per month.
Of course, this cost doesn’t take into account the cost of washing the diapers yourself — let alone a diaper laundry service. If you’re running your cloth diapers through the wash, The Simple Dollar estimates the cost of cleaning three dozen diapers to be approximately 50 cents — and that’s using homemade detergent, too.
Of course, there are other ways you can save money on cloth diapers. Shop thrift stores for gently used ones, ask for hand-me-downs from other parents, family members, or even reuse cloth diapers from an older sibling.
Your turn! Are cloth diapers worth it to you? Do you have any other cost-saving tips for reusable and disposable diapers I didn’t cover? Let me know in the comments below!